Visit Pakistan, anyone?


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Satuarday, August 2—–August 2008
THE news of two Italian mountaineers being rescued from the ‘killer peak’ of Nanga Parbat may once again bring the issue of tourism in Pakistan into sharp focus. Among the many hare-brained notions that have been put forward by the government was declaring 2007 as the ‘Destination Pakistan’ year. Ironically, where the tourism ministry had set the target of a minimum of a million foreign tourists for the year and planned over 50 events across the country to woo visitors, their number was far less than in the previous year. There is much to be said about the poor timing of the endeavour given the presence of violent religious elements in the most scenic regions as well as the weak projection of Pakistan as a ‘destination’ as good as any other on the globe. The number of tourists is expected to fall further this year owing to turbulence in the country.Pakistan offers archaeological, cultural and natural wonders that had once held the world spellbound, attracting sightseers in droves and that too without effort on Pakistan’s part. However, if the current insurgency is allowed to persist, tourism initiatives can hardly venture beyond mere rhetoric. From the murder of Daniel Pearl to Mullah Fazlullah’s rabid oratory, Pakistan’s historic and picturesque value has been eclipsed by the dark shadow of terrorism, which has to be addressed with aggressive campaigns as well as actions.

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