KARACHI: It is not the first time that a photographer has exhibited the ethereal beauty and rich culture of Pakistan. Photographer Muhammad Rehan Khan’s collection ‘My Pakistan’ depicting the four provinces of Pakistan, showcased at the Sadequain Art Gallery, Frere Hall, has reportedly achieved a record of visitors far and wide.

Held in the memory of Defence Day, Mr Khan’s fourth exhibition portrays different sides of Pakistan which he has captured over five years.

Explaining the idea behind the gallery, Mr Khan who is a senior director at Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) spoke about how he wanted to change the perspective of Pakistan. “In my earlier exhibitions I had also put up pictures from other countries that I had visited and that led to a comparison between Pakistan and different countries. After that I wanted to focus solely on Pakistan,” he said.

One of the reasons he cited was to change the image of Pakistan which has dimmed due to negative propaganda. “I wanted to show that Pakistan does not harbour terrorism rather it is a cradle of culture and beauty. Another reason why I chose to display photos was that it’s not possible for many people to visit these areas so for them it was like putting Pakistan under one roof,” he added.

Muhammad Saleem, a guardian of the gallery, told Dawn that this was the first time since he started working that such a huge turnover was witnessed at the gallery, so much so that the duration of hours as well as number of days were extended for visitors.

“The gallery normally shuts down after seven but this exhibition saw thousands of visitors, some of whom stood for hours and revisited memories. Especially those who have shifted to Karachi reminisced of their times in villages,” he said.

Elderly people as well as children actively participated and took pictures of the gallery. Mr Saleem added, “I have never seen such an overwhelming response to an exhibition before and I think the reason is that it actually shows Pakistan in its entirety with special convergence to its beauty and culture.”

Starting from Sindh, the photographs took the attendees on a journey through Pakistan by taking them through Karachi, Hyderabad, and Mohenjo-Daro among other historic areas and showing famous sites like Ranikot Fort, Pukka Qila and older Frere Hall.

On the other side, snowy Ziarat and Quetta reminded of the beauty in Balochistan. Further on, lush green valleys and snowcapped peaks of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mesmerised many who gazed at some pictures for a long time.

However, a picture of Attabad Lake caught the eye of many which showed a boat carry tourists, a car and a bike from one side of the lake to the other. It was interesting to notice that Mr Khan had also explored religious and cultural diversity as he had not only taken shots of mosques like the Badshahi Mosque and Wazir Khan Mosque but had also shot the famous Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and Katasraj Mandir in Punjab.

Many visitors were surprised to see pictures from areas they belonged to primarily because of the difficultly to reach them but Mr Khan tried his best to display photos of many such places. The exhibition which was to be wrapped up on September 9 continued till September 13.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2015

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