I ONCE went to Murree more than a decade ago. Places undergo transformation over time, but one thing has remained etched on my mind; the attitude of the locals. I could totally relate to what has been said and written about in the wake of the recent tragedy in connection with how the majority of the locals reacted in what were clearly grim circumstances.
This was not for the first time that the tourists faced such opportunist behaviour of the Murree locals. This has been the norm for long. The worst part is that people tend to have short memories, for they will in all probability visit Murree once again the next season to get exploited.
The major reasons, in my opinion, why tourists throng Murree are perfect roads, availability of accommodation and transport, security, and its proximity to the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
There are other spectacular areas in the country that can serve as alternatives to Murree. One of those regions is the erstwhile federally-administered tribal areas (Fata) — from Bajaur to South Waziristan. People there are responsible and hospitable. They welcome tourists regardless of the season. The only thing which can make that region even a better option for tourists than Murree is better roads, communication and other facilities, such as hotels and transport.
The tourists should give the region a try, explore its lush green mountains, picturesque villages, and, above all, enjoy the hospitality of the local people there.
The government must develop the region as yet another tourist destination for people from across the country.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2022