ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday welcomed review of British travel advice for Pakistan saying it would strengthen bilateral ties and improve people-to-people contact between the two countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “This is great news as it will address two most important economic issues facing Pakistan today: employment and our current account deficit, by bringing in tourism and investment which in turn will provide employment opportunities especially for our youth”.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while commenting on the development, tweeted: “Pakistan; Land of peace and progress with incredible natural beauty, warmth & hospitality. This change in travel advice is encouraging, the first major update to the UK’s travel advisory to Pakistan since 2015. This will further strengthen Pak-UK relations. Welcome to Pakistan!”

British High Commission in Islamabad earlier announced that the travel advice for Pakistan had been updated reflecting the improved security situation in the country. “Today’s announcement is the result of a comprehensive review of UK travel advice for Pakistan, based on a wide-ranging assessment of the country’s security situation. This is the first major update in the travel advice since 2015,” it added.

Updated advisory allows road trips to country’s north, Kalash and Bamboret valleys

The statement noted that the improved security situation allowed for the return of British Airways to Pakistan in June 2019 and the visit by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in October 2019. The advisory said there were an estimated 484,000 visits by British nationals to Pakistan in 2018 and most of the visits were trouble-free.

Among other changes, the advice now allows for travel by road to the north of Pakistan as well as the Kalash and Bamboret Valleys, according to the statement.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner said: “Following my arrival in December 2019, I made this review of the travel advice a priority. It is great credit to the hard work of the Government of Pakistan in delivering improved security over the past five years. I am delighted that British nationals will be able to see more of what Pakistan has to offer.’’

While commenting on the development, FM Qureshi said he was glad to hear about it as he had talked with the UK’s foreign minister in this regard, adds APP.

Pakistan had also talked with the US President Donald Trump in that regard, he said.

Besides, Mr Qureshi said, Pakistan was in talks with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Malaysia about tourism and hoped that the three countries would help Pakistan in promotion of tourism. Prime Minister Imran Khan had also discussed with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman about Saudi investment in the tourism sector of Pakistan, he added.

The foreign minister said the credit of this achievement went to the nation and the armed forces of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2020