Explored: Jhal Magsi, Balochistan

Published December 28, 2011
Our Red Bull sponsored ride from Karachi to Jhal Magsi. Needless to say, it gave the passengers contortions, not ?wings?. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Our Red Bull sponsored ride from Karachi to Jhal Magsi. Needless to say, it gave the passengers contortions, not ?wings?. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
We reached our destination in 16 hours. Along the way, we passed Larkana where we dined at an imitation Bar-B-Q Tonight. It did not disappoint. The temperature dropped drastically as we move farther away from Karachi and our first night in Jhal saw us layer up, thaw around the bonfire and sleep with our shoes on. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
We reached our destination in 16 hours. Along the way, we passed Larkana where we dined at an imitation Bar-B-Q Tonight. It did not disappoint. The temperature dropped drastically as we move farther away from Karachi and our first night in Jhal saw us layer up, thaw around the bonfire and sleep with our shoes on. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
The morning sun brought with it some respite and stunning views around our camp site. The terrain had more shrubs than I had imagined in a supposed ?desert? environment. In fact, there were areas with thick vegetation as well, which showed that there was more to this land than minerals and ores. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
The morning sun brought with it some respite and stunning views around our camp site. The terrain had more shrubs than I had imagined in a supposed ?desert? environment. In fact, there were areas with thick vegetation as well, which showed that there was more to this land than minerals and ores. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
The other thing that stood out immediately was the ease with which people in the area were able to converse in regional languages including, Sindhi, Balochi and Pashto. Not Urdu, of course. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
The other thing that stood out immediately was the ease with which people in the area were able to converse in regional languages including, Sindhi, Balochi and Pashto. Not Urdu, of course. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
A driver of the Magsis took us to Mula in the day, where all the participants of the Jhal Magsi Rally and Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi were treated to lunch. Mutton of the Nawabi variety is a truly memorable experience. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
A driver of the Magsis took us to Mula in the day, where all the participants of the Jhal Magsi Rally and Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi were treated to lunch. Mutton of the Nawabi variety is a truly memorable experience. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Along the way to Mula, there were some truly memorable sites. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Along the way to Mula, there were some truly memorable sites. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
The Turkish trio of Burcu Cetinkaya, Cicek Guney, Nehir Yilmaz, the foreign attraction of the rally, got their hands on a lot more than the wheels of their Toyotas. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
The Turkish trio of Burcu Cetinkaya, Cicek Guney, Nehir Yilmaz, the foreign attraction of the rally, got their hands on a lot more than the wheels of their Toyotas. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Mula also offered what I did not expect to see in the middle of an arid terrain: a riverine of crystal clear water without no apparent source. I have since learned that this is a frequent sight in Balochistan. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Mula also offered what I did not expect to see in the middle of an arid terrain: a riverine of crystal clear water without no apparent source. I have since learned that this is a frequent sight in Balochistan. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Smooth, white pebbles and cobbles; blue water; yellow and green shrubs; and brown mountains made for an amazing sight. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Smooth, white pebbles and cobbles; blue water; yellow and green shrubs; and brown mountains made for an amazing sight. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Sunset at Mula adds to the character of the place. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Sunset at Mula adds to the character of the place. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Mula is also where I met Kareem Bayer from Turkey. He was filming the rally for the sponsors with a Turkish crew. ?This is the life. Rugged landscapes, guns and great food,? Bayer jokingly said. ?This was my first trip to Balochistan. I have been to other parts of Pakistan but this experience has been completely different from what we hear in the media. Pakistan, let alone Balochistan, is painted in such a way that you often come here thinking: chaos. There is much to see in Pakistan, I could do this for a living.?
Mula is also where I met Kareem Bayer from Turkey. He was filming the rally for the sponsors with a Turkish crew. ?This is the life. Rugged landscapes, guns and great food,? Bayer jokingly said. ?This was my first trip to Balochistan. I have been to other parts of Pakistan but this experience has been completely different from what we hear in the media. Pakistan, let alone Balochistan, is painted in such a way that you often come here thinking: chaos. There is much to see in Pakistan, I could do this for a living.?
The next day at the qualifying race, I met Nehir Yilmaz, one of the navigators from Turkey. ?This was my first trip to Pakistan and after landing in Islamabad, I came directly to Jhal Magsi. So I really did not know what to expect. Balochistan is a completely different experience, even in professional terms. The track prepared for the rally is unbelievable, so varied that you experience all surfaces. It is no doubt a very difficult terrain. From the little bit of sights we have seen, I think Balochistan was a good
The next day at the qualifying race, I met Nehir Yilmaz, one of the navigators from Turkey. ?This was my first trip to Pakistan and after landing in Islamabad, I came directly to Jhal Magsi. So I really did not know what to expect. Balochistan is a completely different experience, even in professional terms. The track prepared for the rally is unbelievable, so varied that you experience all surfaces. It is no doubt a very difficult terrain. From the little bit of sights we have seen, I think Balochistan was a good
Qualifying day also dispelled one other myth: that Nadir Magsi always wins all the races (by rigging). All I can say is that he is truly a legend. He was electrifying in his orange Land Cruiser, finishing on pole and leaving behind the second fastest Ronnie by seven seconds. His control on the wheel is exceptional and it can be said without a doubt that he is top draw. Here he is Magsi mobbed after stepping out of his car. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Qualifying day also dispelled one other myth: that Nadir Magsi always wins all the races (by rigging). All I can say is that he is truly a legend. He was electrifying in his orange Land Cruiser, finishing on pole and leaving behind the second fastest Ronnie by seven seconds. His control on the wheel is exceptional and it can be said without a doubt that he is top draw. Here he is Magsi mobbed after stepping out of his car. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
In Jhal, his celebrity appeal easily outshone that of Burcu Cetinkaya, pictured here trying to throw off her navigator Cicek during a TV interview. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
In Jhal, his celebrity appeal easily outshone that of Burcu Cetinkaya, pictured here trying to throw off her navigator Cicek during a TV interview. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
Race day brought with it great excitement and a finally the top-billed Magsi-Cetinkaya showdown. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
Race day brought with it great excitement and a finally the top-billed Magsi-Cetinkaya showdown. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
It was also an opportunity for some to make a little bit more money than usual. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
It was also an opportunity for some to make a little bit more money than usual. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
For Jamal Shah, a mechanic and member of a team from Sindh, the event did not bring about a big financial gain. ?This was a once in a lifetime experience. Great cars, brilliant drivers and good food.? -Photo by Taimur Sikander
For Jamal Shah, a mechanic and member of a team from Sindh, the event did not bring about a big financial gain. ?This was a once in a lifetime experience. Great cars, brilliant drivers and good food.? -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Working with the event management crew, John from Lyari, surprisingly not a football fan, also enjoyed the experience of being in Balochistan for the first time. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Working with the event management crew, John from Lyari, surprisingly not a football fan, also enjoyed the experience of being in Balochistan for the first time. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
'Peer Saeen' had come in especially to 'pray for a Nadir Magsi' win. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
'Peer Saeen' had come in especially to 'pray for a Nadir Magsi' win. -Photo by Taimur Sikander
It was serious business when the rally began. -Photos by Raheel Qureshi
It was serious business when the rally began. -Photos by Raheel Qureshi
Several drivers ?did not finish? due to crashes or technical issues ? it wasn?t the easiest of rides and Burcu Cetinkaya termed it the ?toughest she had experienced.? -Photo by Taimur Sikander
Several drivers ?did not finish? due to crashes or technical issues ? it wasn?t the easiest of rides and Burcu Cetinkaya termed it the ?toughest she had experienced.? -Photo by Taimur Sikander
No points for guessing who the crowd is scrambling for. Nadir Magsi completed the 194-km track in two hours three minutes and 40 seconds. The much-vaunted challenge of Burcu Cetinkaya saw cold water poured over it, literally. She was unable to finish the race after experiencing malfunction while crossing the riverine in Mula. Magsi, however, was lucky as runner-up Qasim Saidhi completed the last part of his race with a shredded tyre, almost on a rim. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
No points for guessing who the crowd is scrambling for. Nadir Magsi completed the 194-km track in two hours three minutes and 40 seconds. The much-vaunted challenge of Burcu Cetinkaya saw cold water poured over it, literally. She was unable to finish the race after experiencing malfunction while crossing the riverine in Mula. Magsi, however, was lucky as runner-up Qasim Saidhi completed the last part of his race with a shredded tyre, almost on a rim. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
The winner and runner up trophies and memorabilia. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
The winner and runner up trophies and memorabilia. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
The man of the moment. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi
The man of the moment. -Photo by Raheel Qureshi

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, yet it has acquired an almost fabled status among many. The mention of Balochistan is almost immediately punctuated with facts about its rich natural resources, its ‘plunder’ and numerous other theories. Its beautiful landscapes, of which only a tiny bit have been captured in images, often leave one asking, “why has the world not seen this?” Quetta, Ziarat, Gwadar and Hub are the few places that have already been explored by people, largely for economic activity. Other than that the paranoia surrounding Balochistan is almost comparable to that of a foreigner visiting Pakistan for the very first time. So when the prospect of a trip to Jhal Magsi came up, there were no second thoughts, only nervous excitement. Text by Taimur Sikander, photos by Dawn.com

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