MY recent visit to Pakistan began with my landing at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore. It wore a deserted look, in sharp contrast to that of Bangkok, where I stopped over before.
Pakistan is blessed with the wealth of history, culture, and bewitching natural beauty from K2 in the north to verdant lands of Punjab, the rugged barren rocky table land of Balochistan to the delta of the mighty Indus, from the silver-like cotton growing region of south Punjab and upper Sindh to sandy beaches of Sindh and Balochistan.
All that crossed my mind when I walked out of the airport. There was no foreign tourist on the half-empty plane that brought me to Lahore. The next venture of mine took me to the scenic valley of Swat. It was a sheer disappointment. The road to Malam Jabba was almost non-existent. The city of Mingora, which serves as the gateway to Swat, was far from being decent. It was literally under a blanket of dust as there was hardly any roads left.
The PTI ruled the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for five years and some of its stalwarts come from Swat, yet the largest city of Swat was in a shambles. As if this was not enough, the worst came when I boarded for Mingora.
After more than six hours of travelling I was shocked to note that the driver and the cleaner of our bus quickly got onto another bus back to Rawalpindi. The transfer of the driver and cleaner took place in the middle of the road by blocking traffic.
On inquiry I was told that this is the company policy, and drivers have to obey. This practice is outrageous and puts the life of drivers and passengers at stake. The government of “Naya Pakistan” must look into it. Pakistan is a haven for tourists. I am sure Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, as promised will tap this vast potential of tourism for economic growth in Pakistan.
Malik Atif Mahmood
THE government has also added tourism it priority list. But there are lots of problems faced by tourists.
Recently, we visited Mushkpuri, the second highest peak of Abbottabad. The road from Islamabad to Nathiagali was good, but we faced many problems such as lack of communication services, heavy rush on the trail to the Mushkpuri hill top, lack of ATMs, poor facilities at restaurants, and no public toilets.
While climbing Mushkpuri top, we observed that the trail was not properly maintained. When we reached the top it was raining. But there were no facilities for tourist. The harsh weather hit us hard. The women had a tough time in that cold weather. Mobile signals dropped on the trail.
While coming down we realised that the trail was too slippery owing to the rain. Many tourists fell and got minor injuries. When we came to the only dispensary it was shut down. No ATM was not available. There was only one toilet in a restaurant and both men and women had to use it.
The tourism department should take measures to address these issues.
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2018