A NEWS report that appeared in the media about a fortnight ago said that foreign tourists were barred from visiting Gilgit-Baltistan without an NOC. If the government is serious about promoting Pakistan’s soft image it should create an enabling environment for the tourism industry.
In my opinion it is pointless to impose the condition of an NOC on the movement of foreign tourists in the open zone areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. The reason: visitors are issued visas after a long scrutiny process by Pakistan’s security agencies. Thus they should not be asked to pass through another tedious process to obtain another NOC.
The government should improve its security system by establishing security posts at important points manned by properly trained security staff. Specially trained police should patrol the Karakoram Highway during the tourist season to keep a vigilant eye. Security committees should be set up at the local community level to keep an eye in their respective areas.
There should be close liaison between the Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tourism departments to facilitate private sector tour operators and hoteliers. Wasting money on festivals and publicity is useless; there is already enough tourists traffic coming in. Our weakness is tourist facilitation and proper management at tourist spots.
I request the federal government to withdraw the NOC requirement.
Aftab ur Rehman Rana
Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2017