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Through a foreign lens: The Other Pakistan

Updated Apr 10, 2015 10:45am

Though instability continues to plague Pakistan and many areas are dominated by social conservatism, some of the country's more affluent residents have worked to fashion a very different kind of lifestyle for themselves.

Writing on her photo feature, Algerian photographer Zohra Bensemra says:

"Welcome to Pakistan, a country of 180 million people whose residents are as varied as they come. Among them are millionaires and beggars, child brides and female executives, the Taliban and an ultra-chic international jet set.

Many Pakistanis feel angry that headlines about their beloved nation are dominated by violence and extremism, saying that a number of troublemakers has been allowed to define their country’s image."

Pictures of men and women taking part in all sorts of activities and professions - from being a pilates instructor, to a textile retail entrepreneur, to a member of a rock band - offer a different view of Pakistan to images of conflict that often make the news.


Zahra Afridi


Zahra Afridi runs her own interior design company with her most recent project being the Classic Rock Coffee cafe in Islamabad.

Zahra Afridi (R) kicks a punching bag during a kickboxing training session at her home in Islamabad February 10, 2014.
Zahra Afridi (R) kicks a punching bag during a kickboxing training session at her home in Islamabad February 10, 2014.
Interior designer Afridi uses a circular saw as she sculpts a stone guitar outside the Classic Rock Coffee cafe in Islamabad March 8, 2014. Afridi runs her own interior design company.
Interior designer Afridi uses a circular saw as she sculpts a stone guitar outside the Classic Rock Coffee cafe in Islamabad March 8, 2014. Afridi runs her own interior design company.
Interior designer Zahra Afridi (L) talks to a carpenter at a workshop on the outskirts of Islamabad February 10, 2014.
Interior designer Zahra Afridi (L) talks to a carpenter at a workshop on the outskirts of Islamabad February 10, 2014.
Zahra Afridi (L) talks to a carpenter at a workshop on the outskirts of Islamabad February 10, 2014.
Zahra Afridi (L) talks to a carpenter at a workshop on the outskirts of Islamabad February 10, 2014.


Sana Mir


Captain of Pakistan's women's cricket team, Mir was enrolled in an engineering degree at a national university, but left to pursue her passion for cricket.

Sana Mir smiles as she stands at home in Lahore February 23, 2014.
Sana Mir smiles as she stands at home in Lahore February 23, 2014.
Sana Mir (C), captain of Pakistan's women's cricket team, sits with a physical therapist (L) and a team-mate during a training session in preparation for the 2014 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 competition in Muridke February 22, 2014.
Sana Mir (C), captain of Pakistan's women's cricket team, sits with a physical therapist (L) and a team-mate during a training session in preparation for the 2014 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 competition in Muridke February 22, 2014.

Captain of Pakistan's women's cricket team, attends a training session in preparation for the 2014 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 competition in Muridke February 22, 2014.
Captain of Pakistan's women's cricket team, attends a training session in preparation for the 2014 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 competition in Muridke February 22, 2014.
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Fatima Kasuri


Educationalist and model Fatima is the CEO of PDLC Beaconhouse, and her mother-in-law is the founder of Beaconhouse School System, a network of schools.

Fatima walks past the swimming pool after working out in her gym at her house in Lahore May 28, 2014.
Fatima walks past the swimming pool after working out in her gym at her house in Lahore May 28, 2014.

Educationalist and model Fatima (R) uses her mobile phone while her Filipino domestic worker holds her glass of water at her house in Lahore May 28, 2014.
Educationalist and model Fatima (R) uses her mobile phone while her Filipino domestic worker holds her glass of water at her house in Lahore May 28, 2014.
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Naadiya Manzur


Naadiya Manzur is the director of Treehouse Nursery and Kindergarten school in Islamabad.

Naadiya Manzur (C), watches television with her husband Omar and son Zidaan at her house in Islamabad March 8, 2014.
Naadiya Manzur (C), watches television with her husband Omar and son Zidaan at her house in Islamabad March 8, 2014.
Children take part in a reading session at the Treehouse Nursery and Kindergarten school run by Naadiya Manzur in Islamabad March 6, 2014.
Children take part in a reading session at the Treehouse Nursery and Kindergarten school run by Naadiya Manzur in Islamabad March 6, 2014.

A girl attends a piano lesson at the Treehouse Nursery and Kindergarten school run by Naadiya Manzur in Islamabad March 6, 2014.
A girl attends a piano lesson at the Treehouse Nursery and Kindergarten school run by Naadiya Manzur in Islamabad March 6, 2014.
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Erum Ahmed and Aleena Raza


Erum Ahmed, chief executive officer (CEO) of the textile retail brand So Kamal, started the brand three years ago. She encourages women to work at her company located in the city of Faisalabad.

Her daughter Aleena Raza manages textile retail brand So Kamal.

Erum Ahmed sits in her study in Faisalabad February 25, 2014.
Erum Ahmed sits in her study in Faisalabad February 25, 2014.
Aleena Raza reads a book in her bedroom in Lahore May 29, 2014.
Aleena Raza reads a book in her bedroom in Lahore May 29, 2014.
Erum Ahmed, chief executive officer (CEO) of the textile retail brand So Kamal, talks to workers as she visits a factory in Faisalabad February 25, 2014.
Erum Ahmed, chief executive officer (CEO) of the textile retail brand So Kamal, talks to workers as she visits a factory in Faisalabad February 25, 2014.
Aleena Raza stands behind her three-year-old son Ryan as he plays on a tablet computer in his room in Lahore May 29, 2014.
Aleena Raza stands behind her three-year-old son Ryan as he plays on a tablet computer in his room in Lahore May 29, 2014.

Aleena Raza gets ready for a party in her dressing room in Lahore May 29, 2014.
Aleena Raza gets ready for a party in her dressing room in Lahore May 29, 2014.
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Zainab Abbas


Zainab Abbas opened her fitness studio, Route2Pilates, in Lahore, after receiving training in Bangkok, Thailand. She carries out rehabilitation workouts for people with joint problems as well as specialised workouts for pregnant women.

Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas (R) smokes a cigarette as she sits with a friend after lunch in Lahore February 19, 2014.
Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas (R) smokes a cigarette as she sits with a friend after lunch in Lahore February 19, 2014.

Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas (L) leads a class at her fitness studio in Lahore February 19, 2014.
Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas (L) leads a class at her fitness studio in Lahore February 19, 2014.
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Ansa Hasan


Ansa Hasan, a marketing manager at Porsche Pakistan, gestures as she prepares for an upcoming event, outside the Porsche showroom in Lahore February 21, 2014.
Ansa Hasan, a marketing manager at Porsche Pakistan, gestures as she prepares for an upcoming event, outside the Porsche showroom in Lahore February 21, 2014.

Ansa Hasan, a marketing manager at Porsche Pakistan, plays with a parrot at her house in Lahore February 21, 2014.
Ansa Hasan, a marketing manager at Porsche Pakistan, plays with a parrot at her house in Lahore February 21, 2014.
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Nazia Parveen


Rock climber Nazia Parveen is originally from a Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata). She said she wanted to change the image of women in these areas, and that nothing was impossible for a woman if she had a goal in mind.

Parveen descends during training in Islamabad February 15, 2014.
Parveen descends during training in Islamabad February 15, 2014.

Rock climber Nazia Parveen (R) jokes with her trainer Imran Junaidi during their practice in Islamabad February 15, 2014.
Rock climber Nazia Parveen (R) jokes with her trainer Imran Junaidi during their practice in Islamabad February 15, 2014.
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Others


Lead guitarist and songwriter, Khurram Waqar (R), vocalist Umair Jaswal (L), bass guitarist Rahail Siddiqui (2nd L), and drummer Asfendyar Ahmad of the rock band Qayaas rehearse at a private studio in Islamabad April 30, 2014. The band feels that the current security situation has hampered the country's music scene. Most of the band's performances are at schools, colleges or private festivals.
Lead guitarist and songwriter, Khurram Waqar (R), vocalist Umair Jaswal (L), bass guitarist Rahail Siddiqui (2nd L), and drummer Asfendyar Ahmad of the rock band Qayaas rehearse at a private studio in Islamabad April 30, 2014. The band feels that the current security situation has hampered the country's music scene. Most of the band's performances are at schools, colleges or private festivals.
Sarah (R) and her brother, artist Usman Ahmed (2nd R), smoke a water pipe, also known as a narghile, as they sit with friends at home in Islamabad May 8, 2014.
Sarah (R) and her brother, artist Usman Ahmed (2nd R), smoke a water pipe, also known as a narghile, as they sit with friends at home in Islamabad May 8, 2014.