UK’s travel advisory

January 26, 2020

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WITH the UK changing its travel advisory to Pakistan to reflect the improved security situation in the country, officialdom here has been given some breathing space.

In a statement, the 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.”

The statement went on to say the improved security situation allowed British Airways to return to Pakistan as well as the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

This is a welcome step by the UK government and will hopefully send a positive signal to other countries also. It is indeed remarkable that in a span of five years, Pakistan has successfully broken the back of terrorism and brought life back to its normal rhythm.

Very few countries have achieved this level of success in combating terrorism in such a short period of time. This success has come at a steep cost in terms of precious lives lost and property destroyed. Now that we have overcome this threat, it is critical that the state initiate deep-seated reforms that address the root causes of extremism in our society so that this success becomes a permanent reality.

In the meantime, however, the world must appreciate and recognise the improved security situation and take steps that help Pakistan reinforce its more positive image. It is hoped that more countries will follow the UK’s example, re-evaluate their travel advisories and encourage their citizens to come experience Pakistan in all its living colours.

Pakistan may want to specifically market its regions for greater travel and visit opportunities. If there are some areas of concern in terms of security, those need to be focused on. Our aim should be to translate this improved security situation into a larger inflow of people coming here for tourism and business. In this respect, Karachi deserves special attention being the hub of commercial activity.

The city has suffered from law-and-order issues but can also boast success in overcoming this challenge. We need to now aggressively market this new normal across the world and reap the dividends of this success both in terms of perception and foreign exchange.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020