He has a different agenda.
Moin Khan said he wants to shed a light on the positive side of Pakistan, a side he says most Americans never see.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, Khan will present “Rediscovering Pakistan — The Untold Tale,” a documentary about the 14-day motorcycle journey through Pakistan he and a group of eight Californians completed.
Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Khan, 28, came to the U.S. in 2005 to attend San Francisco State University. During his time as a student, Khan said he was struck by the negative media coverage on Pakistan. Media, he said, have a way of casting shadows over the positive aspects. The country is actually a gorgeous place, he said, and the people are incredibly hospitable.
Khan began his organization, ADifferentAgenda, with a 6-month motorcycle trip in 2011. He rode his motorcycle 25,000 miles, through 22 countries from San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to Pakistan (taking a boat oversees).
His travels caught the attention of many through an online motorcycle forum. Khan found a way to show Americans a different side of Pakistan through motorcycle tours.
The 50-minute documentary follows one of Khan’s tours of Pakistan in May 2014.
Natalie Goode, 52, is a Long Beach resident who joined the tour with her boyfriend Scott Asimont, also 52. Goode said that when she first introduced the idea touring Pakistan, her friends and family advised against it.
“Everybody was worried, saying, ‘You’re going where? There’s the whole rest of the world to visit and you’re going to Pakistan? We don’t think you should go,’” Goode said. “They were all just fearful and worried for me. In light of all the negativity the media associates with Pakistan, their response is normal.”
That opinion didn’t dissuade Goode.
“When we flew over, we spent a few days in (Khan’s) hometown in Lahore,” she said. “I got to meet his friends and family, and that's when I fell in love with Pakistan. Whatever notion we had going in, it totally changed.”
The group included Americans Goode, Asimont, Alex Yermolovich, Rebekah Burchard, Harold Kim, Dustin Travis, James Eckerman, and Malaysian TK Jong.
Kim, 40, from Modesto, said the opportunity for an adventure in Pakistan doesn't come around every day.
"Lets face it, Pakistan is not in the same tourism category as Hawaii," Kim said. "Riding a 150cc scooter across an underdeveloped country and sharing the road with chaotic traffic, herds of goats and potholes the size of a truck is not anyone's idea of a vacation, but it is if you want an adventure. Each day was quite the grind and I was exhausted when it was all over, but the experience will never be forgotten."
Goode said the experience changed her life.
“It was an adventure,” Goode said. “It was crowded and full of other motorcyclists. We (women) were kind of an anomaly because women don’t ride motorcycles there.”
Khan said he recognizes the need for women in Pakistan to be empowered. That’s why when he’s not traveling or making plans to travel, he’s running an all-girls school in Pakistan in an area where girls had no schooling.
“Everything is free for the girls and the money that is left over from the motorcycle tours goes towards the funds for this school,” Kahn said. “I also started a motorcycle school for women in Pakistan. I teach them how to ride and try to empower them so they can use this awesome machine which is fuel-efficient and cheap to go around.”
Khan said that Pakistan is a country made for bikers and foreigners.
“I think Pakistan is truly a biker heaven,” Khan said. “The media does an amazing job of scaring us away from Pakistan, but it is an unbelievably beautiful land, with hospitable people. They love Americans and foreigners. We don’t get to hear about this side of Pakistan in the media.”
Art Theatre of Long Beach is at 2025 E. Fourth St. The screening Jan. 24 is free but donations of $10 are suggested. For more information on ADifferentAgenda and the documentary, visit www.facebook.com/adifferentagenda.
Rebecca Y. Mata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.