MINGORA: Tourists thronged Kalam valley to attend the Fifth Swat Tourism and Trade Festival at Ushu Ground on its inaugural day on Thursday.
The five-day event was scheduled to be opened on August 11 but was postponed to express solidarity with Chitral people affected by the massive flash floods lately.
According to organisers, the festival slated to end on Sept 7 is meant to promote tourism, strengthen peace and increase socio-economic activities for creating job opportunities in the region.
Peshawar corps commander Lt-Gen Hidayatur Rehman was the chief guest in the inaugural ceremony, where Malakand GOC Major General Nadar Khan, Malakand DIG Azad Khan, Swat DC and DPO and the newly-elected district nazim were also in attendance.
Organisers say five-day event to strengthen peace, increase socio-economic activities
Major General Nadir Khan welcomed guests and assured them all possible facilities would be made available to them.
“The festival is an important step to promote tourism in Swat valley. It will also contribute to efforts for durable peace and prosperity in the region,” he said.
Peshawar corps commander Lt-Gen Hidayatur Rehman said peace had returned to Swat valley, which offered excellent tourist and commercial opportunities.
“Participation of the people from across the country in this festival is an open message to the whole world that Pakistan is a peaceful country and that foreigners come here, especially Swat, fearlessly,” he said.
Lt-Gen Hidayatur Rehman said security forces had eliminated anti-state elements from the valley in a very short span of time and thus, restoring peace.
“The Pakistan Army, civil administration and people are capable of tackling any challenge and can easily put the country back on the track of peace and prosperity,” he said.
Activities like tent pegging, motorcycling, paragliding, gymnastics and a performance of trained dogs were parts of the inaugural ceremony.
Folk dances from all four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir also performed at the event to the delight of tourists. The organisers said funds would be raised to help flood victims of Chitral.
TV anchor Noorul Hassan, who was also present in the ceremony, said if people wanted to have spirituality and enjoy peace, they must visit Swat valley. “The environment is so peaceful and pleasant that it looks like real paradise,” he said.
Tourists appreciated holding of the festival and excellent arrangements for it.
“Last time, we missed the summer festival in Kalam but we’re lucky to be able to participate in this one. I must say Kalam is the most beautiful place in the world. It has everything for tourists from scenic places, beautiful rivers, fascinating waterfalls, lovely lakes and mesmerising mountains spellbind tourists,” said Maham Bilal, a tourist from Islamabad.
“There is no comparison of Swat’s beauty anywhere in the world. It has its own atmosphere and uniqueness. People from across the world must come and enjoy its beauty,” said Tayyab Naeem Akhtar, another tourist from Islamabad.
Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2015