GILGIT -- Hundreds of motorists have safely completed the Pakistan Motor Rally Tuesday (October 31), driving more than 3,000km to commemorate the nation's 70th year of independence.
More than 300 jeeps, 500 bikes and 150 vintage cars from 23 motor clubs across the country were involved in the rally, which the Pakistani army organised.
Motorists began driving October 21 from Khunjerab Pass, near the border with China, and passed through Gilgit, Islamabad, South Waziristan, Quetta and Karachi with a final destination of Gwadar, Balochistan Province. The military protected drivers and secured the route.
The Pakistan Motor Rally covered "the entire length and breadth of the country to send a message of hope and peace, promote adventure sports, showcase tourism potential, cultural heritage and sports talent, network piecemeal and scant clubs dealing with the motorsports and encourage vintage preservation in Pakistan," Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
"The routes and areas selected for the rally are relatively less visible, developed with extraordinary efforts, and serve as seeds of prosperity for Pakistan," the statement said.
Pakistan won independence from British rule on August 14, 1947.
A message of peace
Many motorists and other citizens called the rally a real message of hope for Pakistan. With more than 1,000 participants travelling through Pakistan's rugged mountains and plains, the rally indicated that much of the country is now safe after years of insecurity and fear.
"The successful conclusion of the rally [conveys] to the international community that Pakistan is a peace-loving country," said Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, who saw off the riders at the starting point October 21.
The rally is "a message of hope and prosperity for all Pakistan, which is now bound to prosper after winning [against] the environment of terror", he said.
"We are here just to spread love, peace and hope for a better Pakistan and a better world," Mahjabeen, a female participant driving a vintage car, told Pakistan Forward.
Cultural, economic opportunities
Hamid Ali Khan, a Lahore classical singer, joined others to witness the rally during the stretch from Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to Zhob, Balochistan Province.
Khan told Pakistan Forward that he had been worried about coming to Waziristan but that "life is normal, peace is all around -- I am so proud and happy that the Pakistani army has won the war against terror."
"Such rallies and through such routes, which used to be unsafe, are peaceful today," he said. "They show that Pakistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorism."
Pakistanis are proud to tell the world that peace has returned to the country, which defeated terrorism with the the help of the army and public support, he said.
"It's a message for the world that Pakistan is a safe place for art, culture and music and that the rest is just the past," said Khan.
Saleem Marwat, a biker participating in the rally, told Pakistan Forward that the rally "will be a great hope for Pakistan" and "attract local and foreign tourists as well".
Tauqeer Zia, another participant, spoke of the presence of foreigners attending the rally. "It's a good sign; it will bring in more investment and investors to this country."
"More jobs and employment for the youth of these underdeveloped areas will be a severe blow to the nexus of terror, which has been exploiting jobless Pakistani youth," Zia said.