Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

5 Mar, 2024

Photo exhibition gives Thais a chance to witness Pakistan’s stunning scenic beauty

Bangkok – Nearly 200 photographs capturing the scenic grandeur of Pakistan are on display at The Living Hall, 3rd Floor, Paragon Shopping Complex in Central Bangkok until March 10. Meticulously shot by David Lau, a renowned Bangkok-based adventure photographer, the images are on display as part of events marking the 77th National Day of Pakistan. Mr Lau will also be leading a personal tour of Pakistan between 23 October-2 November 2024 (details below).

More than 200 diplomats, business leaders and executives attended the launch function on 04 March, hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Pakistani embassy, Mr Yasir Hussain. They included Deputy Interior Minister, Mr. Chada Thaiseth; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Busadee Santipitaks; Secretary to President of the Thai National Assembly, Mr. Muk Suleiman; and, Director of The Halal Standard Institute of Thailand, representing the Islamic Council of Thailand, Prof Pakorn Priyakorn.

Ms Busadee Santipitak presenting a bouquet of flowers to Mr Yasir Hussain

The stunning photographs speak for themselves. Students of sustainability and ecotourism will find them worth exploring.

As Thailand also holds observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Countries, the event provided a good opportunity to recount the social, cultural, spiritual and political relations between the two countries.

His Majesty the late King Bhumibol and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit paid a state visit to Pakistan in 1962, one of the most important milestones in Thai-Pakistani relations. As Crown Prince, Thailand’s present King HM Maha Vajiralongkorn visited Pakistan in January 2006, during Pakistan’s devastating earthquake. It was his third visit to Pakistan as Crown Prince. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Srindhon paid an official visit to Pakistan in March 2012.

In 2022, the volume of bilateral trade remained US$1,666.01 million, with Pakistan’s exports worth US$390.50 million and imports US$1,275.51. Negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement are under way.

In his remarks, Mr Hussain highlighted the role of migration from Pakistan to Thailand. “Merchants from modern day Pakistan started to settle-in in the land of Siam in the early 19th century. These people are now called Thai-Pathans. Their number is estimated around 200,000. The Thai-Pathan community has made its mark in business, civil service, social work and politics in Thailand. Our Chief Guest today, Honorable Deputy Interior Minister Khun Chada Thaiseth is one among them.”

Mr Yasir Hussain

He said there are about 5,000 Pakistanis engaged in businesses, working for multinational companies and international organizations, including the UN. In the field of education, around 1,000 Pakistani students are pursuing higher studies in various Universities in Thailand and a similar number Thai students are enrolled in Pakistani educational institutions.

One important aspect of relations is to promote Pakistan’s monumental Buddhist heritage and further support people-to-people engagement. On the occasion of the 72nd Birthday of HM Maha Vajiralongkorn, an Exhibition of the Buddhist-Gandhara Artifacts is to be held in Bangkok this year. The exhibition would afford a lifetime opportunity for ordinary Thais as well as other Buddhist people across the region to witness first hand and pay homage to the sacred Buddhist relics.

In his comments, Mr Chada said, “As a descendent of Pathan Muslims from Pakistan, I am proud to have made contributions towards Thailand and served the Thai people. Over the past 73 years since our diplomatic ties were established in 1951, Thailand and Pakistan have maintained a cherished relationship based on mutual trust and understanding.””

He noted that Thailand – Pakistan share historical and civilizational ties through Buddhism for over 2,000 years. Taxila or Takashila as it is known to Thais and other Buddhist peoples of the region as the Capital City and Centre of Knowledge of ancient Buddhist Gandhara civilization, is located in Pakistan.

In 2023, the Venerable Sakyawongwisoot and Venerable Phraratvajarasuttiwong brought over Thai Buddhist pilgrims to Pakistan to visit the rich historical and heritage sites. He also lectured on his trips to Pakistan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last November 2023 under the theme of “Dhamma Diplomacy”.

Mr Chada said Thai people are increasingly getting to know Pakistan’s rich civilisation and unique treasures. More Thai tourists are travelling to the beautiful landscape especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan which showcases Pakistan’s tourism potential and opportunities.

Over 400 Thai-Muslims are studying in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Alumni graduating from Pakistan have made positive contributions to Thai society in various careers such as senior politicians, medical doctors, entrepreneurs and teachers.

Mr Chada noted that Thailand has offered scholarships to Pakistan for technical cooperation and training through the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA). During 2019 – 2023, Thailand supported over 51 Pakistani delegates attending short courses in Thailand, for example in Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP), Public Health and Agriculture.

Mr David Lau, the photographer.

Mr Lau also briefly addressed the participants. His personal narratives of the photographic expedition can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/100067136354488/videos/450693523952394/?__so__=permalink

Those wishing to join his tour can check out the details here:

Thais need visas to go to Pakistan. Mr Hussain said applications can be submitted online and are cleared in four working days. Thai Airways International has flights from Bangkok to Islamabad and Karachi.