IT’S just a leisurely drive from Islamabad, some 140 kilometres on the Grand Trunk road.
Leave the GT road in the middle of Kharian town in Gujrat district and pass through a narrow road that winds through a busy bazaar and eventually comes out in a welcoming landscape of acres and acres of lush green wilderness. Pass behind a military base as the road takes you deeper into the rural area. Here, tractors and trailers run with noisy engines and Attaullah Essakhelvi’s Punjabi and Seraiki songs blare from their speakers.
One expects to end up in a traditional Punjab village with smoke curling up from the earthen hearths, buffaloes grazing, and goats and sheep running around. But there is a surprise in store. There is no village here.
Instead, there are sprawling villas as you enter the main street. Teenage boys are in fine trousers and T-shirts and have spiky hairstyle. Luxury cars are parked in and outside the villas, air conditioners are installed on the top storeys and generators are running to provide electricity during loadshedding hours.
This is a mini Norway in Pakistan.
Out of around the 2,000 people who officially live in Aalam Pur Gondlan village, 400 are settled in Norway. Others have gone to the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Canada, Italy and the Gulf to earn a living.
This migration to Europe and other parts of the world has completely changed the dynamics of life in this village, where now only 400 people live permanently. The majority is in Norway, whose total population is a little more than five million. This fact has made Aalam Pur Gondlan a point of interest for the Norwegians as well as those inhabiting neighbouring villages. The place is frequently visited by Norwegian diplomats.
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