Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan’s hospitality,beauty captivate Dutch traveller


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, August 9—-August 15, 2008

By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Britt Das, a Dutch lady on a global peace walk, on Friday termed Pakistan a safe as well as enchanting destination for tourists, as she arrived here after concluding her trip to the country’s Northern Areas.Das, who also writes for a Dutch newspaper, said she wanted to show a different side of Pakistan to the people, who had wrong impression about the country.“I never felt any threat during my stay in Pakistan and it was really an exciting experience,” she told a press conference. Prominent mountaineer Nazir Sabir was also present on the occasion.About her meetings with the locals, who came across her during her journey inside Pakistan, she said the people wanted peace and education. She stressed that education was vital to create awareness among the people.She said she started her journey for peace on foot beginning in the Netherlands in August last year walking across Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, part of Badakshan in Afghanistan, Nepal and China.She flew from Kabul to Islamabad on July 7 and then to Chitral next day, as she was not permitted to cross the border from Afghanistan into Chitral.After witnessing Shandur Polo Tournament, she drove back to Chitral and started her peace walk from there across Booni, Mastuj and on top of Shandur. Her walk then continued from Shandur to Phander, Gopis, Darkut, down the valleys of Punial reaching Gilgit, Chilas while ascending and crossing over Babusar Pass into Naran, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Hassanabdal, Wah and finally reached Islamabad on Thursday.She said during the peace walk in Pakistan she had covered a distance of approximately 1,000 kilometres.She said during her 20-day walk across the northern belt she enjoyed the hospitality of the local people of the beautiful NWFP and Northern Areas who had welcomed her with open arms and at times accompanied her in the walk.Das said so far she had traveled to 16 countries, adding that the number at culmination of her journey would reach 19. She said she would be leaving for India at the next leg of her journey in the next couple of days. She also plans to visit Srinagar.Asked if she thinks she will be allowed to enter Srinagar where India had put an iron curtain to conceal the blatant human right abuses, she said she hoped so. Das said from India she would enter Nepal and then Tibet, China to culminate the journey.Britt Das said she wanted to raise her voice for peace in the world but more so across the region she set her foot for freedom of those oppressed people who had been denied freedom.She, however, did not give a clear answer when asked as to who was disturbing world peace.

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