Chitral- Tourism policies, vision and ground realities

.. by Prof R.K Baig

Soon after the PTI government? rose to power in at the centre as well as in Khyber Pakhton khwa, they gave due priority to Tourism? policy was with a high profile publicity and visits to foreign countries were made by ministers with a number of subordinates? to learn lessons from the experiences? of high profile? developed countries in the field of Tourism and one of those countries was Thailand where this sector had received ultra modern modifications, giving it Industry level position with many packages for raising its income to boost their national economy and? its benefits were reaped. This was a real copying of their map and structure of Tourism which unfortunately also includes sex tourism- both hetero and homo. Can we copy? such a thing?.? It was taken by our representatives as a model and policies were fashioned and twisted according to their models and modules. The idea was to gain financial benefits from their policies to promote this sector in our home land. This type of copy system is a bad practice; there are so many other countries in the world? with better structures to be studied and followed not in toto but in piece meal manner.

It is to be noted that Thailand is a different country with different cultural values and traditions of Buddhist culture that are incompatible with our Faith and cultural values. They have got a very different history and very conflicting trends that dominate their socio-economic? approaches. They clearly don?t know about our faith and culture. They can help in secular ways which cannot be accommodated by our state with its unique ideology. The ludicrous thing about such naivee efforts is that we have not done proper homework in this discipline and get impressed by what? many nations have done in very different? environments but we copy it before we discuss it with experts, policy makers, stake holders etc. What I mean by ? without proper home work? means that the heads of the Ministries concerned down to Deputy secretaries, know very little about on ground realities e.g. recently three foreign? teams were seeking NOC for skiing and climbing Terich Mir ( one Japanese team, the second from Russia and the third from US ) but NOC? was not issued to them after keeping their applications? for over? two months by the Agencies and the prime minister knows nothing about such refusals in spite of his great interest in promoting Tourism nor do the provincial ministers about this negative approach. Early this year it was proudly announced that? 1. Visa on Arrival? and? 2. E-visa system has been introduced to promote Tourism and this announcement brought a large number of applications from abroad. The ?Visa on Arrival?? Option was prone to misuse as in this case any terrorist including Daghish could enter Pakistan and get Visa and this same offer was later criticized by China? but the E-visa? announcement still stands but applications? Online are not entertained speedily as expected by foreigners and delay in processing their applications has discouraged potential customers and thus we have lost thousands of foreign tourists.

The Hindu Kush chain of mountains inside Chitral territory has the largest conglomeration of peaks and? the range from Terich Mir up to Kohe Baba Tangi in upper Yarkhun valley is called high Hindu Kush and it forms an insurmountable border of gigantic barriers? with Wakhan, and? the whole steep wall is > 6000m glaciated range of steep sierras that have always been impassable since its creation so this section of Hindu Kush that include Terich valley, Oveer valley, Ziwar valley,? Booni Zom, Thui Zom and Koyo Zom groups are 100%? well within Chitral territory so it makes no sense to withhold NOCs to potential mountaineers who want to climb? the? peaks situated in these valleys which means that Agency?s refusals? to issue NOCs to our foreign customers? are? just stumbling block in the path of promotion of adventure tourism in Chitral that is a discriminatory policy as no NOC is? needed in GB province and all foreign mountaineers and trekkers go to GB? without any? NOC,? and in this way? all adventure tourists are driven to the Karakoram, and? it may be? concluded that a calculated drive? to deprive Chitralis from? their share? out of? adventure Tourism sector, has been introduced by high ups. ( it is an intrigue against Chitral). The fruits of foreign adventure tourism in High Hindu Kush which Chitralis had? been getting ever since climbing and trekking began in these mountains i.e. since 1893,? is now being refused to them? by our own authorities without giving any reason? for the refusals. My plea is:? Open the high Hindu Kush peaks of Chitral for foreign climbers ?and allow tourists to come to these mountains? according to their applications and choice of peaks which are located deep inside Chitral borders.? The pretext of NOC is a big nonsense.

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