Peshawar: After the tragic incident of killing of foreign tourists at Nanga Parbat base camp, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has banned foreign tourists to visit Kaghan Valley. The Dispatch News Desk (DND) reported.
According to sources, the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has directed Pakistani tour operators not to take foreign tourists through the shorter summer route of Kaghan-Naran-Babusar-Chilas due to security concerns.
Kaghan Valley Road
Kohistan and Mansehra districts are situated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province whereas the neighbouring Diamer district, surrounding Nanga Parbat, is part of Gilgit-Baltistan.
For the last many years, reports were received of Pakistani tourists visiting Lulusar Lake and Babusar Pass being looted by armed men but no arrests or visible security measures were ever taken by the district administrations of Mansehra and Diamer as these incidents occurred on the border of both the districts. Last year, an Astore bound bus was attacked by some armed men who killed around two dozens passengers mainly belonging to Shia community of Astore Valley of Diamer district. A couple of jeeps carrying foreign tourists came under attack at the same time who escaped back to Naran un-hurt.
There were similar incidents of looting and attacking Gilgit and Skardu bound buses plying through the longer, all weather route of the Karakoram Highway. Since last year, no vehicles were allowed to travel through the Kohistan-Diamer section of the Karakoram Highway between 4 pm till 7 am whereas all vehicles were directed to travel in conveys, escorted by police, from 7 am till 4 pm.
A foreign tourist on his motorbike on the Karakoram Highway, Besham bazaar.
It is not out of place to mention here that between Abbottabad and Gilgit, there are at least two dozen police check posts where foreign tourists have to get down from their vehicles and get themselves registered with the police.
Talking to DND, a leading Pakistani tour operator said that the system of security check posts, coupled with security threats, the foreign tourists are being discouraged to travel through Karakoram Highway. On the other hand, frequent flight cancellations due to bad weather, small airports and / or in adequate landing facilities have made air travel to Gilgit-Baltistan un-predictable and un-reliable. He appealed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to direct expansion and up-gradation of Skardu, Gilgit and Chitral airports to make them suitable for international flights. This measure would link Pakistan’s northern tourist paradise with the neighbouring countries of China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkeministan. This will give a boost to tourism, trade and economy of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.