social media

#EverydayPakistan: An Instagram project gives Indians a glimpse of the life of their neighbours

It’s a slice of real, diverse life from a country that political tensions have prevented most Indians from seeing.

In April, Anas Saleem, a Lahore-based freelance writer, posted an image on Instagram of the Katas Raj temples, the ancient Hindu site in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Soon after, the 21-year-old received a message from a follower in India, saying she had shown the photo to her 85-year-old grandfather who wanted to speak to him over the phone.

Saleem called up the elderly Indian, and their conversation quickly moved from English to Urdu and Punjabi. It turned out that before Partition carved India and Pakistan into two separate countries, the man had grown up on the other side, making several trips to the sacred site.

“He shared with me stories from before 1946 when, as a youngster, he used to visit the Katas Raj Temple. He expressed a desire to visit his hometown in Pakistan, but due to the political situation, it was difficult...” Saleem explained. For him, the phone call was a surprising sign of the influence of a documentary photography project he had started on a whim.

Inspired by Everyday Mumbai, an Instagram project that curates images of life in India’s financial capital, Saleem realised there was no similar account for the cities of Pakistan. So he created one on his own, launching Everyday Pakistan this February.

“My primary objective is to document daily life in Pakistan, and show the world that Pakistan is not what they see in mainstream media,” he told Quartz in an email.

Besides Saleem’s own photos, the project features the works of local photographers who use the #everydayPakistan hashtag. The collection shows urban and rural scenes that capture the country’s unique architecture and culture, rarely captured by the mainstream media which is focused more on sports or conflict. Followers of Everyday Pakistan get a chance to see everything from an old sign of Teejays, the country’s first fashion brand, to a traditional koshti (wrestling) match. Young skullcapped boys joyfully celebrate Eid outside a mosque, while women in red t-shirts and black shorts pose before a logo of Karachi United, a local football club.


In short, it’s a slice of real, diverse life from a country that political tensions have prevented most Indians from seeing – and understanding. Saleem says he has been overwhelmed by the positive response from Indians, who make up some 23% of the project’s count of nearly 56,000 followers. He’s received messages from people across the border praising what they described as honest and refreshing images that break the stereotypes associated with Pakistan. Some of the followers are also descendants of those who, like the 85-year-old Indian Saleem spoke to, migrated during Partition from the region that became Pakistan.

“I never thought or imagined it will become this popular in India,” Saleem said. “I was surprised they are very much curious to see everyday life in Pakistan where their ancestors spent [their] childhoods.”

After all, any mention of the neighbouring nation in India draws impassioned responses, mostly in the extremes. In India, Pakistan is usually associated with the conflict in Kashmir, successive border scuffles and wars, or strife borne of religious identities. In the political rhetoric that has kept alive the rivalry between the two countries for decades, the humanity of people is routinely forgotten.

But Saleem’s on a mission to change perspectives, revealing the corners of Pakistan that Indians and other foreigners have never seen before, besides promoting the work of young photographers.


This article first appeared on Quartz.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


The National Geographic exclusive is a landmark in television and is being celebrated by the #untoldstory contest. The contest will give 5 lucky winners an exclusive pass to the pre-screening of the documentary with the Hon’ble President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can also nominate someone you think deserves to be a part of the screening. Follow #UntoldStory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to participate.

This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.