Winter Tourism Pakistan

A step towards revival of tourism in Dir

In the past few years, the situation and crisis through which the people of Malakand had to pass is a different chapter of history. Three years back the wave of militancy and an army led operation to crush this wave started a vicious circle as a result of which the people of Malakand had to pay the price in the form of extremism, terrorism, migration and destruction of infrastructure.

In view of this scenario, not only the basic infrastructure of health and education were destroyed but the most vital sector of Malakand Division the tourism industry suffered a major back lash. Thousands of people who were affiliated with this industry and were earning their livelihood, were the worst sufferers of terrorism.

Prior to militancy in the area, the heavenly areas of Malakand Division such as Kalam, Malam Jabbam MAdin, Bahrain, Wadi Talash, Wadi LAram, Shahi, Wadi Kamrat and other areas were a great tourist attraction not only for locals but also for foreigners but militancy destroyed not only the homes of the people but the hotels which were once populated with tourists had started giving a look of ghost hotels.

The Swat hotel industry suffered Rs 7.5 billion in losses until last year, estimated Swat Hotels Association President Zahid Khan.

“Those who have suffered losses at the hands of terrorists need to be compensated properly by the government”, Khan said, adding that the industry needs interest-free loans to upgrade its facilities.

The effort to revive Swat tourism has become a priority.

After successful offensive launched by the army against the militants, all efforts are being made to revive the tourism industry both domestically and internationally. IN this regard several sporting events such as Peace Fairs and Sports festival were organised to lure the people.

In this endeavour, a three day Shahi Winter Sports festival was organised by the Pakistan Army with the cooperation of Tourism Corporation KPK (TCKPK)on January 28, 29 and 30.

Hundreds of tourists, local youth, journalists and personnel of security forces enjoyed different games played on the snow-covered ground at scenic Shahi area near Pak-Afghan border in Dir district.

Different games including volleyball, tug-of-war, football, skating, rugby, paragliding and baseball were played among various visiting teams during the three-day `Winter Sports Gala`.

A colourful function was held on the final day. Brig Saqib Rashid Ahmad, Col Kamran Aslam, Col Ashraf Ali Lako and other officers distributed trophies, medals and prizes among the winner and runner teams and players.

Addressing on the occasion, Brig Saqib appreciated TCKP for extending cooperation to army in arranging the event. He also praised the players for participating in the sports gala. “Complete peace has been restored in the border areas and the three-day sports gala is its proof, ” he added.

The participants enjoyed the sceneries of snow covered grounds and hilltops. Youth also performed dances and presented tableaus on the occasion.

Talking to journalists, the players expressed pleasure over taking part in the event. They urged the government, army and TCKP to arrange more such events for youth of the area.

They said that such events would prevent a lot of youth from militancy. The army provided lodging and food facilities to all the visiting people.

With regard to tourism, it has been the bad luck of the people living here, no provincial or federal govt has taken interest to make this industry viable. The infrastructure of roads is deplorable and hence making it difficult for tourists to reach the scenic Swat valley.

When we looked at areas in Swat that is Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Shangla, Buner and other places they were depicting a sorry picture as floods took away everything.

Analysts believe that Malakand Division has suffered the most and its tourism industry is virtually bankrupted.

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