here's some very recent info on Pakistan : we are in Lahore for the moment, on our return journey (overland from Belgium to India and back). Crossed the border Pak-India yesterday without the slightest problem and accompanied by many many smiles.
We travelled through P in May/June (at the height of the Pak-India tensions) for 6 weeks, and had no problem whatsoever, anywhere. The Pakistanis are very VERY friendly people, happy to help, happy to give information, happy to talk (even to women). And they are very unhappy with the "NO tourist" situation. Back in June, for instance in the Hunza valley (major tourist attraction), we were 4 --yes four!-- foreigners...
Of course we cannot deny there have been REAL attacks on REAL people - just a few days ago another attack on a Christian school. And there are unstable, easily-lit, aggresive factors in this country - sure.
But we count on the fact that :
- we are "moving targets" meaning we do not stay in concentrations of resident foreigners;
- we avoid Fridays around the mosques;
- we will be gone before 11.9, i.e the "First anniversary of the martyrs" (or something of this kind);
- we avoid nighttime riding - actually anywhere any time for plenty of reasons;
- we avoid stopping in the middle of towns or even villages for a coke or a tea. Instead we stop at truckstops : fewer people and all the same facilities;
- we avoid big crowds alltogether, just like resident foreigners do here;
- we try to get inside parkings for the bikes where-ever we can - for safety of the bikes and for 'invisibility';
- we obviously avoid the "no-go" areas : Zob and the whole tribal area close to the Afghan border; even Peshawar though we heard very positive reports from travellers there (backpackers); Azzad Kashmir;
- we inform our Embassy of our whereabouts and our route on a couple of occasions (via e-mail) and they have our home-contact addresses;
- we ONLY met very friendly helpful people, as anyone who has travelled here will tell you.
We have met and we still meet peole travelling to and from Pakistan (very few though), and all have simular stories.
This time we will cross P much faster : from Lahore to Multan (few days), then Loralai, then Quetta for a few rest days, then on to Dalbandin (a hotel 20 kms before which we saw on the way going), then across the border to Zahedan (Iran). This entire section will take us 8 to 10 days, and it's the shortest distance through the country (you could surely ride it in 5 or 6 days if you don't stay longer then one night in each place).
I don't know when you're coming, but if it's not later then the end of September, you could still ride the KKH ! Have a look at the pictures on our website. The people along the KKH, north from Besham (!), are very very friendly. In Gilgit go to Madina GH and say hello to Yacoob from us. And then stay in Hunza for many days - Ismaeli people, a more liberal sect of Islam.
OK, the alternative is to go to Bander Abbas (south coast of Iran), ship or fly your bike to Dubai, then from there to Mumbai. For customs in Mumbai : DO take an agent. A Swiss guy took this route and spent 3 full weeks in customs.
Other alternative is flying from Tehran. There should be (or will be shortly ?) a very good address in Tehran on the HorUnl from a mechanic who helped out already many bikers for this trip. Besides being a very helpful mechanic especially for BMWs.
If you come from the other side, you can certainly fly from Delhi to anywhere, or ship from Mumbai to anywhere.
Good luck, and humid but relaxed greetings from Lahore,
Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, often travelling on motorbikes (now on DR650SE's)
2nd overland from home to India, April-October 2002
[This message has been edited by iris_trui (edited 13 August 2002).]