Moin Khan, a biker, a traveler, an adventurer works on the agenda of changing the negative impact of Pakistan created through media, all over the world.He is one of those people who are portraying their love for their country and through this effort of putting their love for the country at forefront are setting up examples of patriotism that we all can look up to. He is an entrepreneur of a dynamic mind who invites foreigners from all over the world to visit Pakistan and see the other side of Pakistan, the positive side; the mix of his passion with a mission resulted in the outcome of ‘a different agenda’. He initially started his journey on a motorbike from San Francisco and after passing through California, reached Lahore, Pakistan. His work is that of a continuous kind and that demands most of his time. In an interview with him we tried to capture a picture of how he works and manages his travelling and tours, and how does he synchronize his life with travelling.
Tell us a little about yourself and about how this journey of travelling started? And what were you doing earlier in life before taking up this travelling venture?
I am Moin Khan, born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. I moved to California in 2005, when I was eighteen, for my graduation. I was working as a swim instructor while attending a full time school. As far as I can remember I was always passionate about motorcycles. So once I was in the states I bought my first motorcycle and rode it everyday, be it rain or shine. Now, California is a heaven for motorcyclists with a bunch of cool roads to ride all year round. I made a lot of friends through different motorcycling forums in this time and I learnt a lot from them.
You have a very unique name for your project ‘A Different Agenda’ and your agenda is different indeed, how did you come up with such an idea and name?
Well, living in States and away from home, Pakistan; I realized what I was missing, I fell in love with Pakistan after I left Pakistan. After falling in love with my country I wanted to show the world and my fellow riders and friends, a side of Pakistan that they never get to see through the media in the United States. I wanted them to see that this country is a lot more than the media portrays and that’s how I started a different agenda.
What fears and expectations you had when you started working on something that you had been passionate about?
Well, when you are passionate about something and you decide to pursue it, its always hard in the beginning. There is no permanency of a nine to five job here, there is no paycheck waiting for you at the end of the month. You have to work hard ALL the time and make something out of yourself, yourself. I am still fighting that fight. and I think its a fight within, its ongoing and one just have to stay focused and strong and only then he/she pulls through…. I have had it great for the last five years and I see it grow.
What do you think about travelling in Pakistan and do you think it is confined mainly to North of Pakistan, if so what are the reasons behind this in your view?
I have been to over thirty countries and I am gonna try to not be biased when I say this but Pakistan is by far my favourite country to travel around. The hospitality of the people of Pakistan is unmatched, the scenery just keeps getting better and better. I have toured the Northern areas of Pakistan more time than I can remember and I am always making more plans. I have been on the road for last five years and four of these years have been in Pakistan and I think I have only seen five percent of it. It’s crazy how amazing this country is and it offers more than any other country, its an adventure seekers paradise. Its not just the north, the south is amazing too. Although I have spent more times in the mountains as we have the biggest, the mightiest mountains in the world. The mountains just never stop and they just call for me more than anyplace else. However I have explored Sindh and Baluchistan a little bit but not as much. I have done my research on Baluchistan and that province will inshaAllah see me a few times in 2016. But I am a mountain guy so I cant stay away from them for too long.
And which parts of Pakistan, that you have traveled, need attention and care to attract more tourists from around the world?
This country can run on tourism alone, there is unbelievable potential and with security situation getting better, the tourism industry is only going to grow. The North has the biggest mountains ranges in the world, the hardest mountains to climbs, some of the highest lakes to some of the biggest glaciers in the world. The South has the biggest deserts to the biggest deep see port in the world.. This country has everything. Just come on over, let us show the hidden Jewel that hasn’t been found by adventurers.
You have traveled different parts of world, what do you think where does Pakistan lack behind when it comes to tourism? And what do you think about contribution of people of Pakistan in promoting tourism in Pakistan?
The security issue has taken its toll on the tourism industry. The media does an amazing job in scaring people away and I think the perception needs to change, the Pakistani ambassadors in different countries need to step up their game and educate people around the world.
One thing that needs attention is the Visa Paper work. The process is too complicated at times and that needs to be worked out somehow. Nobody in the world has time to drop in the paper work themselves, then come in for an interview and the a few days later come in to pick up their passports. Too many people get rejected and mostly based on nothing. Visas can take up to three months and that’s ridiculous. Pakistan is ready to host you. Come on over and you’ll forget about Switzerland, I promise.
Tell us about the places that you have traveled so far and few of your future plans and projects that you are working on?
As I said earlier, I have been to over thirty countries. I rode a motorcycle from San Francisco to Pakistan in 2011. Then I went to Thailand/Vietnam and then Mongolia earlier this year. But between all of this, I have made, maybe thirty trips within Pakistan and I just can’t get enough of it. Shandur and Deosai plains are two of my favorite places in Pakistan while I am on a motorcycle. Passu in Upper Hunza Valley is also a spot where I like to relax for a few days every year. It’s the most peaceful place in the world. Barely any cars passing by, not enough electricity lit up so you see stars up close. Its magical. Currently I am on a solo adventure. I am riding a Sohrab bicycle, from Khunjerab to Karachi, a hundred day bicycle trip.
Has the society in general and your community in particular been supportive of your travelling expeditions?
I’d like to say yes. Society and community don’t really matter when its your passion that you are exploring. They like it or not, I am going to keep doing what I love to do but so far I have gathered a decent amount of fans who I bump into while I am up in the mountains and they usually tell me they came up into the mountains after watching my videos/pictures and that I motivated them to leave their comfort zone and go out on an adventure. This makes me the happiest. And of course different companies in Pakistan have been supporting me and that’s been paying the bills so far, I am grateful to each and everyone who has been helping me into doing what I do best.
What do you think about the future of travelling and adventure in Pakistan? Do you think we can do something about incorporating tourism courses in our syllabus?
I think keeping your country clean is more important than anything else. Teaching young children the importance of only leaving your footprint somewhere and not your garbage is quite important and I feel that because the parents were never told to keep it clean, and to not throw the trash out side of their cars, the kids never got to learn either. So educating kids about keep it clean should for sure be taught at school and that would in a way help attracting tourists.
You are an inspiration to many and I am sure many young people would take up travelling by treading on your path. What piece of advice or motivation do you have for those who plan to take up travelling and tourism as a career in Pakistan?
I don’t have advice for anyone who wants to take up travelling and tourism as a career because I haven’t done much to be giving advice just yet. However I will tell you one thing, not everyone was born to be a doctor, and not everyone was born to be an engineer. Allah has given each and every one of you some skill, some talent. You have to figure out what that talent is. If He put in a “Lawyer” in you, you can never take up travelling, if you do you will fail, eventually. Allah happen to put a lot of love for Pakistan in me and I have just been exploring that. Hence I started inviting people from different countries and started showing them this beautiful country and from the past 4-5 years it has worked out for me.. So my advice for you is to find out what you love, what are you are passionate about, what do you desire. When you find this out, you just do that. Don’t think about the money, doing what you love to do is more important than anything else in this world. Money and success and fame etc etc will come eventually.
When everything is going wrong, go right.
Stay Hungry – Stay Foolish