Yeh Roshniyoun Ka Shehr: What Do You Think When You See This?

Posted on May 21, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Art & Literature, Photo of the Day, Travel
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Adil Najam

One of my all-time favorite posts on ATP was a picture similar to this and with a very similar headline (also see here). We used it as an ATP Quiz and asked people what city in Pakistan it was. Most people got it wrong (frankly, I too would have). We repeated the quiz again later; similar results.

But getting it right or wrong was not the point.

The point was that the picture – in that case, as in this, of Quetta at night – contradicted our mental image of the city. The assumptions and presumptions we have made about it. And in that moment of surprise was also the opportunity of reflection. To think about what assumptions and presumptions we have about ourselves. Any why? And how they impact how we see ourselves as well as how others do?

Today, I saw this very similar picture of Quetta- in Dawn, and from an exhibition called ‘Pakistan through a Lens’ which features photographs from 25 contemporary Pakistani photographers, including Agha Waseem Ahmed who took this photograph of Quetta.I was attracted to it for the exact same reason I was attracted to the earlier very similar picture of Quetta. And, once again, the exact same questions rose in my mind.

Maybe our readers can help me think through the answers. Even if not, enjoy this spectacular photograph and think about what image would come to your mind if I said “Quetta.”

21 responses to “Yeh Roshniyoun Ka Shehr: What Do You Think When You See This?”

  1. Saadia says:

    i knew it was quetta, after seeing almost half of the world i still feel there is no place like quetta. its sad i can not go back thr anymore but i hope INSHAALLAH one day things ll get better…

  2. qasim says:


  3. Thanks Saadia Malik, The Daily Dawn and Adil Najam,

    I was posted in Baluchistan at Quetta for almost three years and It was the most beautiful part of my life and service ,I can not forget the poeple (Baluchs ,Pashtuns, Hazaras and Baluchistanis), the contrast of Land (Rugged mountains, Deserts, lush green apple orchards,waterfalls etc) , cornucopia of culture ,the weather and countless other things specially the love ,affection and hospitality the people of Baluchistan offered .

    Quetta though ignored by most of people is a lively ,vivid and dynamic city and can be compared to Karachi or Lahore and I even rate her much better. I am not here to write a complete article about Quetta but to tell you people that our petty differences are growing by each day .Baluchs are as good nationals of Pakistan as of any other province. Just have confidence in them, they are much deprived and ignored citizens then another part of the country. Let them have their due right to live with equality and dignity.

    You can view more about about Quetta and Baluchistan on

    P.S Its not a photo shopped Shot as ;

    Sajida says:
    May 22nd, 2010 8:43 am

    This has to be photoshopped. That moon at the top is too cute to be real.

  4. -Farid says:

    Excellent Post.

    I remember reading something like this somewhere: “Our assumptions are our windows on the world. From time to time we need to clean them, or our view becomes unclear.”

    And so the more we think we know about something, the more we need to be careful that our assumptions have not becomes our blinds.

    I think we seriously shortchange ourselves as a country.

    We spend so much times trying to put ourselves down just to prove ourselves right that we forget that the battle to prove ourselves wrong is as important as the need to prove ourselves right! (This quote from:

  5. Aziz Akhmad says:

    This post sent me searching for the first post on the subject, posted in 2006. I found that I had also commented on that post. That post and the comments are relevant even today, probably more so. I copy it below:

    Aziz Akhmad says:August 23rd, 2006 1:18 pm


    It’s interesting to see that no one — almost no one — thought of Quetta when guessing the city in this picture. This shows that when we, including myself, think of Pakistan we mostly think of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad (and, of course, Rawalpindi) and sometime Peshawar, but rarely of Quetta or Balochistan. Balochistan in our minds is a vast emptiness, bereft of people and their problems, just like the vast darkness that surrounds the small concentration of lights in the picture.

    You have said something very important in the post that “The beauty of the picture taken from afar should not make us oblivious of the real issues and challenges up close.” And Faiz (it is always Faiz who comes to our help when we can’t find words) expressed the same sentiment in his poem, “yahaN say shehr ko daikho” :

    Jo saaye door chiraaghoN kay gird larzaN haiN
    Na jaanay mehfil-e-gham hai, keh bazm-e-jaam-e-saboo

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