The Express Tribune Editorial 17 October 2020

Tourism promotion

 

Realising the revenue-earning potential of tourism and the significant role that the tourism industry plays in carving a soft image of the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan has regularly been emphasising the need to promote this important sector. Presiding over a recent meeting of the National Coordination Committee, he said the government was focused on eco-tourism in order to simultaneously ensure environmental conservation and upgrade facilities at the tourist spots. He assured the provinces of all assistance from the Centre in promoting tourism.
At the meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari presented the Tourism Development Plan, which will mainly focus on human resource capacity building, preparation of master plan for 40 places of tourist attraction, seven theme parks, development of 60 new spots, and the National Standards and Mechanism and Certification mechanism to provide quality service to tourists. This is an ambitious plan. However, the intended results will depend on how the development schemes are carried out. Words will have to match the deeds.
The government is also taking other measures for promotion of tourism. Anti-encroachment drives and waste disposal operations are underway at tourism sites. The tourism sector is being promoted under public-private partnership and the government is to provide incentives for import of machinery and equipment relating to tourism. Besides, the government has undertaken a substantial amount of development work for promotion of religious tourism. This is specially attracting tourists from Buddhist countries, as Pakistan has many ancient historical sites of religious significance. These sites date back to the times of Mauryan emperor Ashoka and other rulers of this dynasty. A sizeable number of rock edicts from Ashoka’s and later periods are in Pakistan. These archaeological sites hold special attraction for history enthusiasts.
Pakistan has great potential to attract tourists both from within the country and abroad. All efforts should be aimed at making the worth seeing places worth going to see.

 

 

Spike in attacks

 

Thursday brought a gruesome reminder that terrorists remain a potent threat to Pakistan. At least 20 security personnel and private security guards were martyred in separate attacks up north in Waziristan and down south near Ormara in Gwadar district.
In the Gwadar incident, at least seven soldiers and seven security guards were martyred after terrorists attacked a vehicle of the state-run Oil and Gas Development Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) on the Makran Coastal Highway. The vehicle was headed from Karachi to Gwadar. The only silver lining in the entire incident appears to be that no civilians were killed or injured in the attack.
The Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar, a banned militant organisation, has claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other separatist groups in the province have conducted similar attacks in the past. As recently as April this year, 14 people, including 11 military officials, were martyred after terrorists offloaded them from buses on the same highway. The Balochistan Liberation Front, Balochistan Republican Army, and Baloch Republican Guard all had claimed responsibility for the incident. All three have been linked with India.
Meanwhile, in the North Waziristan incident, six Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred by an improvised explosive device. The convoy of soldiers was attacked in the Razmak area of the former Fata region and the victims included a captain. This area has been a favourite hunting ground of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is now almost entirely Afghanistan-based.
We have been told for decades that India is involved with the TTP and Baloch separatists. The government and military have occasionally also released information to prove this to the public. Even on Thursday, government ministers quickly linked the attacks to India and the economic threat it perceives from CPEC. Unfortunately, Pakistan has not been able to build a strong case against India at the international level. It is high time for the state to build a bulletproof case to call out Indian involvement.
The problem also goes across the border to Afghanistan. The Doha peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government in Kabul remain stalled. This does not serve the interests of the Afghan or Pakistani people. It does, however, serve India and its terrorist pawns. A stable Afghanistan would quickly become a country whose territory could not be used for attacks on Pakistan or other regional countries. This would be a death knell for the planners in India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which is behind New Delhi’s efforts to destabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In fact, even though Waziristan and other border areas had ostensibly been cleared of terrorists during Operation Zarb-e-Azb and its follow-ups, a local member of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly recently said that at least 200 civilians had been killed in targeted attacks since February 2018. All of these attacks have links to TTP terrorists that relocated to the lawless regions across the Afghan border.
The role of India also becomes suspicious because of the recent uptick in violence, which has coincided with efforts by Pakistan to get the Afghan talks moving, and senior Pakistani officials making strong accusations of terrorism against India in international forums and even to Indian media. Just this week, two soldiers were martyred in a rocket attack in North Waziristan, while September and August both saw several soldiers martyred, despite successful military operations on high-profile terrorists and militant commanders.
The prevailing situation is a constant reminder that the fight is not just against terrorists but also their benefactors.

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