Monday, June 10, 2019

Improved Security and New Infrastructure Boost Pakistan Tourism Industry

Large numbers of Pakistanis headed north for respite from summer heat during Eid ul Fitr holidays last week. Tens of thousands went to Swat using the newly built Swat Expressway while others chose even cooler temperatures in the heights of the Karakoram mountain via the improved Karakoram Highway.

Karakoram Highway

Some of the preferred tourist destinations included Hunza, Astore, Fairy Meadows, Neelum Valley, Swat and Kumrat. In addition to using tents in camping areas, many tourists found accommodations in public rest houses ordered opened by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Fairy Meadows near Nanga Parbat in Gilgit Baltistan

Swat Expressway:

Over 60,000 vehicles used the expressway to enter Swat Valley over Eid holidays, according to local officials as reported by Pakistani media. It's a far cry from early 2009 when the Taliban appeared to be in control of Pakistan's Swat valley, and the US politicians and international media were deeply concerned about the insurgents closing in on Islamabad.

Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in 2009 that Pakistan was “abdicating to the Taliban”. Various western commentators and pundits went further by predicting Pakistan's "imminent collapse", and the usual foreign policy rags chimed in with their shrill talk of Pakistan as a "failed state".  By 2011, Pakistan Army cleared Swat of the militants, brought refugees back home and began to restore tourism.

Swat Expressway

Built by Pakistani military's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) under contract for Khyber Pukhtunkhwa privincial government, the Swat Expressway is a state-of-the-art 81 kilometers (50 miles)  long 4-lane controlled access motorway that is opening up the hidden treasures of Swat, Chitral, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Mohmand and Bajaur districts to the world. It's been funded by a $50 million grant by the Saudi government. Its southernmost point is Karnal Sher interchange in Swabi District on Peshawar-Islamabad M1 Motorway and goes north to Chakdara Dir Lower district after passing through 21 bridges and 1300 meters twin tunnels on National Highway N-45.

Karakoram Highway (KKH)

Karakoram Highway:

Karakoram Highway (KKH), the highest paved road in the world, is a 1,300 kilometer (810 miles) Pakistani national highway that extends from Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province via Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) prvince to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, where it crosses into China.  KKH upgrade is a $1.3 billion project expected to be completed as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by 2020. After the upgrade, widths of its various sections will be in the range of  12.5 meters to 30 meters. Minimum widths of lanes will generally be between 2.5 to 3.25 meters.

KKH has opened up a world of unmatched natural beauty and splendor of places like Hunza, Astore and Fairy Meadows for domestic and foreign tourists. It has connected many cities and towns including Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram, Besham, Pattan, Dasu, Chilas, Gilgit, Aliabad, Gulmit, Sust, Tashkurgan, Upal And Kashgar.

Hazara Motorway M15 Connecting M1 Motorway With Abbottabad & Mansehra in KP

Pakistan's tourism industry, currently estimated at $20 billion (6.9% of GDP in 2016), is booming, according to data available from multiple reliable sources. World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts it to grow to over $36 billion within a decade.

Hazara Motorway M15 Connecting M1 Motorway With Abbottabad & Mansehra in KP

Economic Impact of Tourism:

Pakistan tourism industry generates $20 billion in revenue and supports 3.6 million jobs directly and indirectly, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Foreign visitors generate nearly a billion US$ in exports.

Economic Contribution of Pakistan Tourism. Source: WTTC

Tourism Growth: 

Significantly improved security situation has helped boost annual tourist arrivals in Pakistan by 300% since 2013 to 1.75 million in 2016, while domestic travelers increased 30% to 38.3 million, according to the state-owned Pakistan Tourism Development Corp.  Hotel bookings increased 80 percent in 2016, according to Jovago, Pakistan’s biggest hotel booking website.

Courtesy: Nikkei Asian Review

By contrast, foreign tourist arrivals in the country’s larger neighbor, India, jumped from 6.97 million in 2013 to 8.8 million in 2016, according to Indian government figures. 88% of India's and 92% of Pakistan's tourism revenue is domestic. India's tourism industry is worth $209 billion (9.6% of of GDP in 2016), according to WTTC.

Malam Jabba Ski Resort in Swat Valley

A story in the Financial Times, a British newspaper, quotes British tour operator Jonny Bealby as saying,   “While I am sure this will raise some eyebrows, we are starting to see a marked increase in tourism to Pakistan".  Bealby's company arranged 55% more clients to Pakistan in 2017 compared with 2016, and advance bookings are more than 100 per cent up on this point 12 months ago, according to the Financial Times.

Top Adventure Tourism Destination: 

British Backpackers Society has recently ranked Pakistan as its top destination for adventure tourism.  The Society describes Pakistan “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination”.

Pakistan Tourism Promotion in Jakarata, Indonesia
Pakistan's northern areas are a top destination for adventure-seekers interested in mountain climbing, white water rafting,  extreme kayaking and helicopter skiing.

Pakistan Brand Promotion on London Buses

Pakistan Tourism Promotion: 

Pakistan government's tourism campaign — including covering buses in several major world cities with beautiful pictures of Pakistan's tourist attraction — have helped raise the country’s profile. Increased investments in roads, airports and other infrastructure have helped ease travel.

Pakistan government has announced its decision to provide 30 day tourist visa on arrival for visitors from 24 countries on three continents.


Improved security and new infrastructure are boosting Pakistan's domestic and international tourism. The industry in Pakistan is booming with 300% increase in foreign tourist arrivals since 2013.  Tens of thousands of domestic tourists went to Swat using the newly built Swat Expressway while others chose even cooler temperatures in the heights of the Karakoram mountain via the improved Karakoram Highway. Some of the preferred tourist destinations included Hunza, Astore, Fairy Meadows, Neelum Valley, Swat and Kumrat. In addition to using tents in camping areas, many tourists found accommodations in public rest houses ordered opened by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Tourism industry contributed $20 billion (6.9% of GDP in 2016) and supported 3.6 million jobs in Pakistan in 2016.  World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts it to grow to over $36 billion within a decade.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Travel and Tourism Boom

Extreme Kayak Adventures in Pakistan

Helicopter Skiing in Karakorams

Climbing K2: The Ultimate Challenge

Indian Visitors Share "Eye-Opening" Stories of Pakistan

American Tourist Picks Pakistan Among Top 10 Best Countries to Visit

Pakistani American to Pakistani Diaspora: Go Back and Visit Pakistan

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Liaquat K. said...

I visited gilgit, Astor and Hunza in the last 10 days of April.
While I enjoyed Gilgit and Hunza, Astor was a big disappointment. The 30 km branch off from the kk highway to Astor was completely dug up and took 4.5 hrs one way. There is no immediate plan to fix it since the contracting company has gone bankrupt and not responding.
I flew into gilgit so I traveled a limited stretch of kk but it is a good highway one lane each way. It was but let by Chinese crew under the cpec plan.

Hunza is a better place since all of t affairs are managed by local residents. No corruption and no crime. Literacy rate is nearing 100. Does not feel like a part of Pakistan.

Public bathroom facilities are still a challenge. Tourism is directly related to bathroom facilities. This issue is that same for India as well. No concept of hygiene.

Riaz Haq said...

Liaquat: "The 30 km branch off from the kk highway to Astor was completely dug up and took 4.5 hrs one way. "

Some of these places like Astore are in "adventure tourism" category. Hence the high praise from the British Backpacker Society. The Society describes Pakistan “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination”.

BTW, many sections of the KKH have been built by Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization that has a lot of experience in building roads, bridges and tunnels in remote areas. Swat Expressway was recently built by FWO.

Anonymous said...

Caissa had proposed a 7 billion Yuan grant to your new government in private via China Outbound Tourism Research Institute: COTRI. Pakistan need tourism infrastructure for Chinese tourists for upto 1 million tourist annually was projected. The proposal will benefit Pakistan


Riaz Haq said...

Over 400,000 tourists visit Swat during Eid days

Over 400,000 tourists visited Swat and tens of thousands others turned up at other districts in the Malakand and Hazara divisions during the Eid holidays, officials told The News on Saturday.

The government made efforts to provide facilities to the tourists at the hill-stations in Malakand and Hazara divisions where Tourist Police have been launched and teams of other relevant departments deployed to facilitate the visitors.

“Apart from providing security at all the tourist points, police have been deployed since the first day of Eid to ensure smooth flow of traffic after receiving a huge number of tourists in Malakand division,” Regional Police Officer Mohammad Saeed Wazir told The News.

He added that around 197,000 vehicles bringing tourists entered Malakand division since the first day of Eidul Fitr. Swat received the highest number of tourists.

“From the first day of Eid, roughly 400,000 to 500,000 tourists have entered Swat to reach Kalam, Madyan, Bahrain, Malam Jabba and other scenic places,” District Police Officer of Swat Ashfaq Anwar, told The News. The official said a special traffic management system had been planned to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

“We have launched the Tourist Police that apart from managing traffic facilitated and helped the tourists. The visitors are being given special pamphlets and guidance by the Swat Police. All our senior and junior officials are on the road since Eid day,” said DPO Ashfaq Anwar. A large number of families from all over the country thronged Kalam, Madyan, Bahrain and Malam Jabba in Swat as well as Kumrat in Upper Dir and some scenic valleys in Chitral.

Tourists also flocked to Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Siri Paye and other tourist destinations in Hazara division where police along with officials of other departments are on the road since Eid day to facilitate the guests. The cops are also helping the tourists to repair broken cars and bikes as well as getting food and water.

The access to Hazara has been made easy after the newly constructed Motorway from Hassanabdal while the under construction Swat Expressway was also opened for light vehicles during the Eid holidays. Thousands of vehicles entered Malakand division via the 81 kilometres long Swat Expressway.

The movement of traffic was slow while driving to tourist resorts, including Kalam, Malam Jabba and Miandam due to large number of vehicles and poor condition of the roads at various places.

Apart from the police and district administration, teams of the health department, civil defense as well as Rescue 1122 remained on the road in the tourist stations to provide treatment to the large number of visitors in case of an emergency.

The spokesman for the Rescue 1122, Bilal Ahmad Faizi said technicians in ambulances of 1122 have been providing emergency treatment to people at tourist stations in Malakand and Hazara divisions since the Eid day.

The government has opened a number of rest-houses in the two divisions where tourists are being provided better accommodation at reasonable rates.

The tourists complained that the local hotels were charging high rates at all the tourist stations after receiving such a large number of guests from all over the country.

The locals argue that the summer season is the only time to earn some money which they use throughout the year to support their families.

Riaz Haq said...

Three Interchanges Of Hazara Motorway's Section-II To Be Open Till August: Commissioner

Pakistan Point News - 16th Jun, 2019 ) ::Commissioner Hazara division Syed Zaheer ul islam Saturday said that all three interchanges of Hazara Motorway's section-II including Havelian Maira, Mangal Sajji Kot and Manshera would be opened till August this year.

He said this while talking to media during his visit to the motorway from Shah Maqsood to Abbottabad Shimla Hill to review the progress.

He said the construction work over Havelian Maira interchange had been completed while on two remaining bridges of section-II would take around two months. However, he added, all the three bridges would be opened at the same time as with opening of just Havelian Maira interchange would cause overburden of traffic flow in Abbottabad city.

Syed Zaheer ul Islam also asked the National Highway Authority (NHA) to further improve the quality and prompt completion of work.

The commissioner said that the opening of these interchanges would help resolving the issue of traffic congestion within Abbottabad city.

He said he had conveyed to NHA and Chinese officials to immediately complete the remaining work as people of Hazara were eagerly waiting for operationalization of this portion of motorway.

Zaheer ul Islam said there was no interchange for Abbottabad city on Hazara motorway. The people of Abbottabad would had to travel 10 kilometers for using Havelian Maira interchange while 13 kilometers for using Mangal Sajji interchange.

However, he said, his team had prepared a PC-I for another interchange at Thanda Maira, a point 1.2 kilometers away from General Bus Stand Abbottabad. The PC-I had also been presented to the provincial government for approval, the commissioner added.

Riaz Haq said...

300 Percent Traffic Flow Increased On M2 Since Launching

The traffic flow had increased by 300 percent on Motorway (M2) since it launched in 1997 which required new equipment to cop with the traffic flow.

DIG/Commandant National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) Training College, Sheikhpura, Mehboob Aslam here on Sunday said more equipment and manpower were needed to cope with the burgeoning traffic flow on the motorways and the highways.

In an interview with APP, he said no new vehicles and and other equipment had been allocated to the National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) which created problem for them to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

He urged to equip the force with latest equipment to meet the traffic challenges of the highways as the roads had increased from 1200 kilometers to 3000 kilometers.

About the efficiency, he said despite meager resources, the force had been able to significantly control the number of accidents by 40 percent as compared to 2005 statistics.

The senior police officer also stressed the need to enhance facilities at the NH&MP Training College, adding, more than 12000 inductions would be made in the force after the increased traffic activity due to the CPEC.

About his initiatives as Commandant Training College, the DIG said the training college library was renovated while curriculum review committee had been constituted besides installing new sound system at the auditorium and conference hall.

He said the provision of modern HTV Driving Simulator was another initiative which would help train drivers on the motorways and reduce the risk of accidents.

About Shaheed Addl IG, Sifwat Ghayur, DIG/Commandant Mehboob Aslam said the installation of memorial for Sifwat Ghayur was a recognition of the services of a fearless police officer who embraced martyrdom fighting for the motherland.

He said Sifwat Ghayur was a role model for the police force and beacon of light for all.

About training, he said ethics and morality were the cardinal principles of training under him at the NH&MP Training College, adding, the main focus of training was to inculcate the moral values which would revolutionize working of the force.

To a query, he said, the traffic controllers must not lose touch with nicety and politeness while giving fine-tickets to the angry commuters for traffic violations.

The Commandant said, he had also decided to update the training modules at the academy, adding, same syllabus was being taught previously for the training from constables to Deputy Superintendent of police (DSPs).

He further said all training syllabus were being revised in collaboration with the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) of the US embassy as per the international standards and guidelines by the United Nations.

About controlling traffic accidents, he said, traffic education should be part of the syllabus at an early age for children as it would sensitize them about traffic rules for the rest of their lives and help control the road-side accidents significantly.

Riaz Haq said...

Existing portfolio of NHA consists of 38 ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs176,636.80mn: Economic Survey

The existing portfolio of National Highway Authority (NHA) consists of 38 ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs176,636.80 million in PSDP 2018-19 out of which 66,700.00 million is the Foreign Exchange Component (FEC) and Rs109,936.80 million is the local component, said Pakistan Economic Survey launched here Monday.

There are also eight new schemes in Public Sector Developemnt Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 with total estimated cost of Rs8,561.00 million. National Highway Authority (NHA) is playing a vital role in improving the quality of Pakistan’s road network, which entails in improving the quality and standard of life of the people apart from creating job opportunities.

The present NHA network comprises of 47 national highways, motorways, expressways, and strategic roads while Current length of this network is 12,743 Km. Through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the NHA is connecting Khunjrab to Gwadar and currently there are ongoing CPEC projects worth Rs700 billion related to NHA.

Western Alignment of the CPEC has 2,463 km length which starts from Khunjrab and passing through Burhan (Hakla), DI Khan (Yarik), Zhob,Quetta,Surab and Hoshab terminates at Gwadar. Its 615 Khunjrab- Raikot section has been completed, Raikot Thakot is at Planning stage, 188 km Thakot-Havelian section is ongoing, 60 km Havelian- Burhan section has been complted, 285 km Burhan (Hakla)- Yarik (DIKhan) is ongoing, PC-I approved Detailed Design 235 km Yarik (DIKhan)- Zhob is in Process, while PC-I of 331 km Zhob Quetta has been approved. Surab-Hoshab (N-85) and Hoshab- Gwadar (M-8) have been completed. Central Alignment projects of the CPEC include 229 km DI Khan – DG. Khan section, 303 km DG Khan – Dera Allahyar section and 94 km Dera Allahyar – Wangu Hills.

Their Feasibility Study Plan in 2025 2025-30 2 303 Feasibility Study Plan in 2025 while thiwer implementation would be done between 2025-30. As far as Eastern Alignment of the CPEC is concerned it has total distance of 2,686 km and its starts from Khunjrab and passes through Thakot,Mansehra,Burhan, Pindi Bhatian,Faisalabad,Multan,Sukkur -Shikarpur,Ratto Dero,Khuzdar,Basima and Hoshab and terminates at Gwadar. About 793 km section of Eastern Alignment from Khunjrab- Burhan is common as Western alignment.

The Eastern Alignment projects completed so far include Khunjerab-Raikot,Havelian-Burhan section, Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway,Islamabad-Lahore Motorway, Pindi Bhattian-Multan Motorway,Sukkur-Shikarpur Mootrway, Rato Dero-Quba Saeed Khan-Khuzdar road, and Basima Gawadar section. More sections of the eastern alignment are in the implementation stage.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan, #China agree to expedite work on #Sukkur-#Hyderabad 296 km long M-6 #Motorway as part of 1650 km #Peshawar #Karachi Motorway. M-6 will be 6-lanes with a design speed of 120 km/hour, 89 bridges, 15 interchanges and 243 underpasses. #CPEC

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar and Ambassador of China Yao Jing during a meeting here on Monday agreed to expedite the work on Eastern Corridor from Sukkur to Hyderabad in BOT (Build, Operate, and Transfer) mode for its early completion.

The two dignitaries expressed satisfaction over the pace of projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

The minister said that the incumbent government was committed to fast track the progress on this flagship project between Pakistan and China. He appreciated the Chinese leadership and government for expanding the scope of CPEC by including socio-economic and agriculture sector development under its platform.

The minister noted that signing of framework agreement on agriculture cooperation was a major milestone, adding that Pakistan would welcome Chinese agriculture companies to explore investment opportunities for initiation of joint ventures.

The minister apprised the Chinese ambassador that less developed areas including the merged districts of KP and Balochistan had been accorded priority in the next year’s development budget. The minister said that Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan would be finalized soon which would chalk away out the way forward for development of the coastal city.

Various projects under CPEC framework including 300 MW Coal based power plant in Gwadar and Kohala Hydro power Station also came under discussion.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Army rescues 6 climbers (4 #Italians, 2 #Pakistanis) hit by avalanche. #Mountaineers from across the world travel to Pakistan every year to try scaling its high northern mountains. Harsh weather conditions often prove a tough test. via @YahooNews

A Pakistani army helicopter rescued on Tuesday four Italian and two Pakistani climbers stranded at an altitude of around 5,300 meters (17,390 feet) in the country's north, after an avalanche struck the team the previous day, a mountaineering worker said. A Pakistani member of the team was killed.

The expedition was hit while descending a peak in the Ishkoman Valley, located in the northern district of Ghizar.

Karrar Haidri, head of Pakistan's Alpine Club, told The Associated Press that the six surviving climbers were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Gilgit for the treatment of injuries.

"Sadly, one Pakistani mountaineer was killed, but six other members of the expedition are being treated at a hospital," he said.

"A Pakistan army helicopter was used for this complicated but successful rescue operation, despite the fact that the stranded mountaineers were present at an altitude of around 5,300 meters," he added.

Ashraf Aman, a Pakistani tour operator who arranged the expedition, confirmed that Pakistan's military had dispatched the helicopter earlier on Tuesday morning to rescue the climbers.

He said the body of the Pakistani mountaineer, Mohammad Imtiaz, would be brought down later.

Aman said none of the surviving team had life threatening injuries.

The four Italian climbers involved are expedition leader Tarcisio Bellò, Luca Morellato, David Bergamin and Tino Toldo.

Bellò said they were "very lucky" that they survived. "I think glacier collapsed and millions tons come down. We were very up at the mountain," he said.

In a separate incident on Monday, two Chinese mountaineers were reported missing in another area in northern Pakistan, said Haidri. He said a rescue mission was planned to find them.

Mountaineers from across the world travel to Pakistan every year to try scaling its high northern mountains. Harsh weather and conditions often prove a test for the most experienced of climbers.

Earlier this year, two European climbers —Italian Daniele Nardi and Briton Tom Ballard — were killed during bad winter weather on Nanga Parbat, which is the world's ninth-tallest mountain at 8,126 meters (26,660 feet).

Nardi, from near Rome, had attempted to scale the peak in winter several times. Ballard's disappearance hit his homeland particularly hard as he is the son of Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to scale Mount Everest alone.

She died at age 33 descending the summit of K2.

Riaz Haq said...

Since 1984, #Indian and #Pakistani forces have been occupying posts on or near the #SiachenGlacier, a 47-mile-long #glacier in the Himalayas. And despite a ceasefire in 2003, tensions remain high on the world’s highest battlefield. #Kashmir @atlasobscura

In 1983, India began receiving intelligence reports warning of an imminent Pakistani incursion into the region, and a potential assault on the Saltoro Ridge, a strategic location on the southwest side of the Siachen Glacier.

Pakistan was indeed planning to launch a strike, but it made a bizarre error. According to a retired Pakistani army colonel, Pakistan ordered Arctic-weather gear prior to the assault from a London outfitter. But the same outfitter also supplied the Indians. The Indians heard of the Pakistani order and promptly ordered twice as many outfits as the Pakistanis and then rushed their soldiers to Siachen.

Pakistan went ahead and launched Operation Ababeel in April 1984, with the intention of taking the Saltoro Ridge. But thanks to the previously obtained intelligence, India launched Operation Meghdoot just 48 hours before the Pakistani assault. When the Pakistan forces arrived, the Indians had already captured the heights of Saltoro.

India took control of around 1,000 square miles of territory during its military operations in Siachen. During the rest of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, both sides launched various combat operations in an attempt to take strategic positions.

But from the 2003 ceasefire up until the present day, things remained much as they had before, with India in control of the Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as all the main passes and ridges of the Saltoro Ridge. Pakistan, meanwhile, holds posts at lower elevations along the spurs of the Saltoro ridgeline.

Despite attempts at finally ending this uneasy status quo, both sides still maintain a presence of about 3,000 troops each. As for fatalities, most have been due to severe conditions on the high-altitude glacier (its highest point sits at about 18,875 feet above sea level). By the 2003 ceasefire, around 2,000 men had died, most of them from frostbite, avalanches, and other effects of the extreme environment, rather than from actual fighting.

Soldiers sent to Siachen know they’ll be serving in a bitter and inhospitable environment. They also know that they’ll be arriving at the highest battlefield on Earth, a fact recognized by Guinness World Records. They might also end up stationed at the world’s highest military base, which sits on a ridge up above the glacier at an altitude of around 19,685 feet. Other records created by this strange conflict include the world’s highest helipad and the world’s highest telephone booth, both installed on the glacier by India.

The glacier itself, meanwhile, continues to suffer from all this human activity. It has retreated significantly in the last 30 years, partly as a result of waste dumping by both sides. The military presence has also put rare species at risk, including snow leopards, brown bears, and ibex, who called the Siachen Glacier home long before the arrival of the two rival nations.

Know Before You Go
The Siachen Glacier is located in Northern Ladakh in the eastern Karakoram Range of the Himalayas. The nearest civilian settlement is Warshi, a small village about 10 miles downstream from the Indian base camp. Due to the ongoing tensions in the Siachen region, civilians rarely travel to the area unless they have some connection with either the Indian or Pakistani forces stationed at the glacier.

Riaz Haq said...

#WorldBank to lend $722 million to #Pakistan to improve civic #infrastructure: $652 million for public #transport in #Karachi, while the rest $70 million used for improving #tourism services in the country's northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region. #KP

The World Bank has approved $722 million loan for Pakistan that will largely be used for improving civic and public transport facilities in Karachi, according to a media report.

Out of the approved amount, $652 million will be used for the development of Karachi, while the rest $70 million will be used for improving tourism services in the country's northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region, The Express Tribune reported on Saturday.

The board of directors of the World Bank approved the loan on Thursday.

The projects in Karachi will focus on urban management, public transport, safe water and sanitation to enhance its liveability and competitiveness, the World Bank said in its statement.

The projects have been approved in light of the findings of the Karachi Transformative Strategy which estimated that infrastructure needed spending worth $9-10 billion over a period of next 10 years for the city to develop.

The study noted that compared to huge financing needs, the city was not generating enough resources to meet these requirements, the report said.

Riaz Haq said...

Tour de Impossible? #Pakistan hosts 'world's toughest #cycle race' with Tour de Khunjerab. With finish line in the #Karakoram mountains, it is one of the world's highest altitude #cycling competitions. #adventure #sports #tourism

Finishing nearly 5,000 metres above sea level after hundreds of kilometres winding past blackened glaciers and snow-capped peaks: a new Pakistani race presents a world-class challenge for cyclists - climbing towards the "Roof of the World".

The Tour de Khunjerab - its name a homage to its more famous French counterpart, which began on Saturday - is still many years away from being another Big Loop, but with a solid claim to being the highest cycling race in the world, it has a lot to offer a certain type of athlete.

In the last week of June, some 88 cyclists, including two teams from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as well as solo participants from Spain and Switzerland, took part in its second edition.

Less than half completed it within the allotted time.

The four stages - three ranging from 68 to 94 kilometres (42 to 58 miles) plus a shorter time trial - are much shorter than many other cycling events.

Never stops climbing
But there is one fundamental difference: the Pakistani Tour starts at 1,500 metres above sea level, and never stops climbing.

The final day of this year's event sums up the challenge.

Starting at 2,800 metres - higher than the Iseran Pass, the summit of the Tour de France - it ends at 4,700 metres, just over 100 metres short of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain.

The Khunjerab Tour must become "an attraction... for the most daring and adventurous cyclists in the world", said Usman Ahmed, the top official for the northern Gilgit region, home to some of the planet's tallest peaks and where the race was held.

The cyclists' tyres swallow up the asphalt of the Karakoram Highway, one of the highest paved roads in the world.

Named after the Karakoram mountain range - just one of the ranges in Gilgit - the road passes through an extraordinary landscape.

'No place in the world like this'
Soaring, jagged peaks contrast with vertiginous ravines, glaciers driving a chill wind, and tumbling aquamarine rivers. Landslides are common.

Guardrails are a flimsy suggestion of protection from steep falls of hundreds of feet.

"There is no place in the world that offers all these things," said Ahmed.

"No doubt it is the toughest cycle race in the world. We are aiming to make it our trademark," said Haroon General, president of the Pakistan Cycling Federation.

"The most difficult part of the race is the final stage where cyclists face shortage of oxygen and there is risk of heart issues... At such an altitude a person falls down (faints) after running for 200 metres, but our cyclists travelled for almost 59 kilometres," he said.

Five ambulances were on standby in case of emergencies in the final stage, he said, adding: "A majority of the cyclists made it but the support staff needed ambulances."

The winner of the event, Najeeb Ullah - a Pakistani from a hilltop village in the southwestern province of Balochistan who won three of the four stages - told AFP that breathing was a "problem" for him in the final climb.

"I had to face a lot of difficulties while reaching the finishing line," located at the Khunjerab Pass, the border between Pakistan and China, he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#British royal visit to #Pakistan comes as "much-needed boost..when a neighbor (#India) has unnecessarily been attempting to isolate it from its long-standing friends and allies...British Airways has resumed its flights" as #security has much improved

Former diplomat Wajid Shamsul Hassan, who did two stints as high commissioner to Britain, said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Pakistan would further cement the extra-cordial relations that two cricketing nations have had since independence.”

Aamir Ghauri, a commentator and editor of English-language newspaper The News, said the announcement of the royal visit came at a time of strained relations between Pakistan and India, with the latter accusing its neighbour of being a state sponsor of terrorism.
Bilateral tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours peaked in March after a Pakistan-based terror group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir, a region disputed by both countries.
“For Pakistan, it would serve as a much-needed boost [during a time] when a neighbour has unnecessarily been attempting to isolate it from its long-standing friends and allies,” he said.

According to Wajid, security was a big factor in explaining why it has taken 13 years for another royal visit to happen.
“If there was no royal visit since 1997, it was entirely due to security concerns. After the military operation in 2014 [where armed forces took on militants], now things have improved,” Wajid said.
“British Airways has resumed its flights [from London to Islamabad], and security concerns over diplomatic postings have been upgraded. Pakistan is now considered as a safe station,” he said.
Last month, British Airways became the only Western airline to serve Pakistan, after it pulled out of the country 10 years ago when a terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad killed at least 54 people, including three British citizens.
Still, top precautions by the security agencies on both sides would no doubt be taken to keep the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge safe, Wajid said.

Mustansar Abbas Klasra, an Islamabad-based defence and security analyst, said the timing of the trip suggested Britain was confident in how the armed forces had quelled militant operations.
“The royal couple would feel safe and comfortable here,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan allots over 400 acres of land for #Kartarpur #Gurdwara. 80% work on #Pakistan side completed. #Indian #pilgrims to leave Kartarpur in fixed time but those from #UK, #US, elsewhere on valid visas can stay longer. #sikhs #tourism via @indiatoday

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar on Tuesday announced increasing the land allotted for Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur from three acres to 42 acres and further said that any kind of construction will not be done on the land, which remained under cultivation of Guru Nanak, The News reported.

"We want to convey this message to the Sikh brethren living all over the world that there will be no cut inland for Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur and Guru Nanak, rather 42 acres land has been allocated for Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and 62 acres for cultivation," Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said during his visit to the corridor to review the pace of work on the project.

"In this way, total land for Gurdwara Darbar Sahib will be 104 acres," Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said.

The governor, who also heads the committee for religious tourism and heritage, said the total land for Kartarpur Corridor will be 408 acres.

Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said 80 per cent of the work on the Kartarpur Corridor has been completed as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and hope that it would be completed before 550 birth celebrations of Guru Nanak this year.

Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar also hoped that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the inaugural ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor, the report added.

Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said it was a "good omen" that second round of talks between Pakistan and India on the Kartarpur Corridor remained successful.

Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar further said special transport would be provided from check-point to Darbar Sahib to the Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting this holy place. He said construction of three 'langar Khanas' was underway at Darbar Sahib where Sikh pilgrims would be provided quality meal and other facilities, the report added.

The pilgrims coming from India would have to return back from Kartarpur in the given time and the ones coming from the UK, the US and other countries on valid visas would be granted permission to stay here and houses are being built for them, it added.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

Last November, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur Corridor in Gurdaspur district.

Two days later, Pakistan Prime Minister Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125-km from Lahore.

Riaz Haq said...

KP CM seeks completion of Swat Motorway’s Phase-II design

PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has directed the relevant officials to complete the design of Swat Motorway’s phase-II within one month and said that Swat University would be connected with the motorway through link roads to facilitate the students.

Chairing a meeting on Swat Motorway’s phase-II, he said that link roads would be used to connect villages with the motorway to provide them access to major routes in a bid to boost the local economy.

The minister C&W and officials of various departments attended the meeting.

The chief minister added that two kilometres long link road would be constructed to connect Malam Jabba with the motorway through Charbagh Interchange.

With regard to promoting tourism, Swat motorway is expected to provide easy access to tourist spots and help generate revenue through promoting trade.

The chief minister was briefed on the scope and design of the Phase-II of Swat Motorway. He was informed that arrangements would be made for protection of the motorway from floods through protection walls.

The total length of the first ever provincially constructed motorway is 164km, out of which 82km distance is from Karnal Sher Khan Interchange up to Chakdara and the 82km from Chakdara to Bagh Dheri.

The chief minister said the government was working on the construction of Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway that would connect the merged districts with major markets.

Riaz Haq said...

Three #CPEC projects ready for opening in #Pakistan: 392km long #Multan-#Sukhar #Motorway (M-5), 54km long package-I and 14km long package 2-D of Hakla-D.I. Khan Motorway and a 40km long section of Thakot-Havelian (KKH
II) expressway. #China

A total of three motorway projects, being executed as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), are almost ready for their opening but the National Highway Authority has yet to decide about their final dates of inauguration.

These projects include 392km long Multan-Sukhar Motorway (M-5), 54km long package-I and 14km long package 2-D of Hakla-D.I Khan Motorway and a 40km long section of Thakot-Havelian expressway.
These CPEC projects in addition to several others were started by the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz out of which the aforementioned projects are almost ready and now the NHA will take the final decision about their opening.

However, sources informed that the NHA management is uncertain about the level of inauguration ceremonies for these important projects.

When contacted, Member Engineering Coordination Arbab Ali Dakan confirmed that these projects will be ready in the month of August and it can be opened for general public.

READ MORE: Nation should keep all differences aside, stay firm for Kashmir: Shujat, Parvez
The projects include 392km long Multan-Sukhar Motorway, 68km long Hakla-DI Khan Motorway and 40km long section of Thakot-Havelian expressway

The Multan-Sukhar Motorway (M-5) is a part of the country’s Peshawar-Karachi Motorway and its total cost is around Rs.294 billion, which was provided by the China EXIM Bank under the CPEC. The said project is ready and now NHA is doing codal formalities to take over the project from the contractor.

The construction of Hakla-D.I Khan Motorway project is part of the western alignment of CPEC and this four-lane 285-kilometre north-south motorway starts from the Hakla on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway, near Fateh Jang interchange and ends at Yarik near Dera Ismail Khan.

The said project was divided among five packages and work was awarded to different contractors to meet the deadlines. However, the concerned project director Noor Mustafa has informed that a 54km long package-I and 14km long package 2-D of this project are ready for opening.

The package-I is between Yarak and Rahmani Khel and it is constructed by the National Logistics Cell (NLC) while the package 2-D is between Rehmani Khel to Kot Belian.

On the other side, the Thakot-Havelian is an early harvest project of CPEC and it is divided into two portions Havelian-Mansehra and Mansehra-Thakot, which are supposed to be completed in March 2020. However, according to project director Zafer Yaqoob, a 40-kilometre long portion between Havelian and Mansehra is almost ready.

He, however, informed that there are some technical issues which are being discussed with the highups and after due deliberations, the management would decide whether to open the completed section or not.

Riaz Haq said...

Breathtaking Samundar Katha Lake Near Nathia Gali is Now Open for #Tourism. It has reportedly been created artificially by the #KP Forest Department, offers activities such as zipline, boating, horse-riding, other water-sports, and camping. #Pakistan

In line with the vision of promoting tourism in the country, the KPK government has set up a new tourist spot in Galliyat region.

The newly built spot, Samundar Katha lake located in Barra Gali, offers a fascinating spot for a day out with your loved ones.

The tourists have already started visiting the place as groups find it a perfect summer getaway. The lake, which has reportedly been created artificially by the KP Forest Department, offers various activities such as zipline, boating, horse-riding, other watersports, and camping.

The green-colored lake is surrounded by lush green mountains and the spot becomes all the more attractive when covered in a blanket of clouds.

The lake is located a few kilometers away from Nathia Gali and offers fascinating views. The lake has been built to promote eco-friendly tourism in the province and the government is focusing on keeping the place clean and green.

A few years back, Imran Khan highlighted another such beautiful place called Kumrat valley, which now sees a huge influx of tourists from across the country. The same is expected for Samundar Katha lake, however, the authorities need to be prepared to fight the menace of pollution and heavy fines need to be imposed for littering.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's Miracle Motorway - the Multan-Sukkur

On the banks of the Chenab River sits Pakistan's 7th largest city, Multan. The air on July 24 was as humid as any other summer day, only this time, the residents awoke to an unprecedented level of activity. The major cultural and economic center of southern Punjab was now connected to surrounding regions by the Motorway 5.

Inaugurated on May 6, 2016, the M5 mega project was developed as part of a pilot project for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), under the framework of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with a total investment of around $2.89 billion.

The strategically-placed six-lane M5 starts from Multan and connects Jalalpur, Peerwala, Ahmed Pur East, Rahimyar Khan, Sadiqabad, Ubaro, Pano Aqil and finishes at Sukkur. The 392-kilometer M5 Sukkur-Multan Motorway is a part of the country's Peshawar-Karachi Motorway. It is designed for speeds of up to 120 km. The motorway has 12 service areas, 10 rest areas, 11 interchanges, 10 flyovers, and 426 underpasses.

The project is particularly significant since it has been constructed to resist flooding with the help of the latest technology and methods, including the Intelligent Traffic System. It is equipped with FM broadcasting, 360-degree angle monitoring, WIFI in service areas and ample night lighting.

Sukkur-Multan Motorway relied on domestically produced materials and goods such as 60 million bricks, 6 million tiles, 1 million tons of cement, 9,200 sets of machines and tools and created more than 29,000 jobs for locals during construction. The M5 also enables residents to improve their standard of living by connecting schools, small bridges, avenues, wells and water channels.

CPEC projects have largely helped Pakistan overcome economic constraints, attracting large funds as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The world has begun ranking Pakistan among the top potential economic powers of the future, with a recent World Bank report listing Pakistan among the top 15 emerging economies of the globe.

Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said they appreciate China's contribution towards Pakistan's economic progress in the form of CPEC, which is an attractive reflection of the Pakistan-China strategic partnership.

At an opening ceremony held in Multan, National Highway Authority (NHA) M5 General Manager Muhammad Naseem Arif said the motorway is very impressive in terms of its quality and construction.

Authorities worked closely with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and overcame a number of difficulties so that they could complete the large project within three years.

Li Ganchun, chief of the M5 project from the CSCEC, appreciated the security provided by the Pakistani side, saying that the M5 will help Pakistan connect its northern and southern regions, improve the country's transportation and facilitate social economic development in the region along the motorway.

CPEC appears like a miracle for Pakistan's ailing economy. According to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, CPEC has generated around 75,000 direct and indirect jobs - but this figure is just the tip of the iceberg. A recent World Bank report has claimed that at the current pace, CPEC will create more than one million jobs in Pakistan by the year 2030.

Since Prime Minister Imran Khan has refocused on establishing vocational training institutes and Special Economic Zones across the country, millions of new high- and low-end jobs are expected to be created due to economic activities generated by the CPEC.

Riaz Haq said...

This Popular Solo Travel Vlogger Says #Pakistan Could Be World’s #1 #Tourism Destination. She says it after visiting 44 countries. She has more than 381,000 followers on Instagram, 421,000 followers on Facebook, and 324,000 on her YouTube channel @forbes

Pakistan. It’s not exactly on every solo female traveler’s bucket list. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be. Especially if you ask vlogger and content creator Eva zu Beck, who thinks Pakistan could be the world’s #1 tourism destination.

And she doesn’t say this lightly. Having visited 44 countries and with more than 381,000 followers on Instagram, 421,000 followers on Facebook, and 324,000 YouTube channel subscribers as a result of the incredible travel content she creates – from videos exploring forgotten islands in Yemen to exploring Aleppo, Syria alone – she knows a thing or two about the world’s most under-the-radar destinations.

But it wasn’t just her fearlessness that caught my eye, it was her content on Pakistan that really pulled me in. Because she didn’t just visit for a week or two, she lived there for an extended period of time (10 months to be exact), taking her time to really dig into what Pakistani culture, and it’s people, are truly like, creating videos and telling stories on her experiences there that are unlike anything else I’ve seen out there.

She headed straight into “Taliban Territory” to live with a local family. She trekked to the base camp of the world’s second tallest mountain. She traveled to the world’s highest paved international border crossing. She met with female carpenters to hear their stories. She took on Karachi alone. And she’s appeared on Pakistani TV.

And while she developed her content independently of the government and tourism board, they took notice. Even inviting her to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan at a tourism conference, presenting to him her impressions of Pakistan as a travel destination from a foreign visitor's perspective (and where she originally shared her thoughts on Pakistan having the potential to be the #1 tourism destination in the world).

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan, #China to expedite work on western route. In 2nd phase of the #CPEC, around 1,270-km highway would be constructed with roads from Gilgit to Chitral, Dera Ismail Khan to Zhob, Peshawar to Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Expressway Phase-II .

Following the completion of the first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan and China’s Joint Working Group (JWP) on Infrastructure Development have decided to expedite the work on the western route.

A high-level delegation of China, led by the transport minister, called on Minister for Communications Murad Saeed and discussed the infrastructure development projects in detail, according to a statement on Saturday.

The JWG has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for transport infrastructure development.


The Chinese delegation appreciated the performance of the Ministry of Communications in the timely completion of the first phase projects and thanked Pakistan for extending great hospitality to them.

The Chinese minister was of the view that the CPEC would benefit the next generations of the two countries, adding that the leadership of China and Pakistan was determined to ensure timely completion of the project.

Minister for Communications Murad Saeed appreciated hard work, determination and professional expertise of the Chinese engineers working on different projects of the CPEC.

He expressed his commitment and resolve for removing the impediments in the timely completion of the CPEC infrastructure projects, which would help create more job opportunities and give a boost to local business.

Saeed also apprised the visiting delegation of the establishment of the CPEC Authority and thanked the Peoples Republic of China for their strong support on the Kashmir issue.

He said China was a role model for achieving economic progress and alleviating poverty.

Second phase of CPEC
The second phase of construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will focus on industrial cooperation, agricultural cooperation, and construction of Gwadar port and socio-economic development, of which 27 new projects would be launched during the year.


“During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, the relevant departments of the two countries signed a series of cooperation documents, paving the way for the second phase of the construction of the CPEC,” Cheng Xizhong, Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Senior Research Fellow of the Chahar Institute, Special Commentator told “The Overseas Network” on Saturday.

During the meeting, the leaders of the two countries pointed out the direction for the next phase of promoting the construction of the CPEC, stressing that the corridor should be turned into a high-quality demonstration project to build the Belt and Road Initiative.

The CPEC, jointly established by the two countries, is the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative. After more than four years of joint efforts, the first phase of the investment of $19 billion in 22 projects has been completed and put into operation, and some are nearing completion.

These major projects, mainly related to energy and transport infrastructure, were completely alleviated by Pakistan’s long-standing power supply shortage and partially created a smooth highway network, thus setting the stage for a rapid track for Pakistan’s future socio-economic development.

Cheng said, “It is foreseeable that the scope of corridor construction will continue to expand and the pace will continue to accelerate, especially as China will actively help Pakistan to carry out projects in the field of people’s livelihood.

Riaz Haq said...

PM inaugurates Havelian-Thakot section of Hazara motorway

Prime Minister Imran Khan says China Pakistan Economic Corridor has become a whole encompassing project to play a key role in development of Pakistan.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of Havelian-Mansehra Section of Hazara Motorway on Monday, he said CPEC is not the name of a road; rather it is a new vision for development.

The Prime Minister said youth are our biggest asset and their potential will be fully harnessed for national development. He said Pakistan is blessed with plenty of resources which are needed to be properly utilized.

Imran Khan said the government is working hard to transform the economic situation of the country. He said we have waived off the duty on all hospital equipment and machinery to encourage investments into hospitals and healthcare. He said Health Insaaf Cards provided by the government will help the poor receive quality medical care free of cost.

He said we are focusing on agriculture and industry to bring prosperity in the country by providing job opportunities to the youth.

Imran Khan said the housing project started by government will facilitate forty allied industries, creating a number of employment opportunities. He said five million houses will be constructed in five years' tenure of the incumbent government.

Referring to political situation, he said those who came to hold protest in Islamabad could not stay for a few days as they had no objective. On the other hand, he said, his party held a sit-in in Islamabad for 126 days, as it had a clear objective and mission. He said the JUI-F sit-in had no clear agenda and the seminary students were brought to participate in it on false promises. The Prime Minister said the selling of religion is the biggest sin.

Imran Khan said leaders of PML-N and PPP also made speeches at the container of JUI-F as they had their vested interests that they wanted to protect. He said their protest was aimed at diverting the attention from the crucial issue of Kashmir.

The Prime Minister said he will not be pressured by blackmailing of opposition parties. Imran Khan challenged his political opponents that he will not spare even a single person that plundered the wealth of the nation.

Addressing the ceremony, Communication Minister Murad Saeed said the western route of CPEC will also be completed soon.

He said the construction of 300 kilometers long road will begin in February next year.

The Minister said all institutions were facing loss when PTI government came into power. He said due to transparent accountability, billions of rupees are being recovered from corrupt elements. He said over 10 billion rupees have been recovered through audit in NHA and Communication Ministry and deposited in national exchequer. He said Communication Ministry has earned 43 billion rupees last year while it has set target of 50 billion for this year.

He said training program has been initiated in NHA and Communication Ministry according to the vision of Prime Minster and 45,000 youth will be trained under the program.

The project is a high-level, high-grade and subsequent development of Karakorum Highway and is a Core section of CPEC and an important part of North-South Trunk Road Network.

The construction of this project will significantly promote development in the local economy and the development of urbanization in the country.

The expressway consists of two sections. The first section is from Havelian to North-Abbottabad with length of 27.425 km and while the second section starts from North-Abbottabad to end at Mansehra with length of 11.880 Km.

There are 3 interchanges, 47 bridges, 12 Flyover, 143 underpasses, 2 tunnels and 4 toll stations on this section of motorway.

Riaz Haq said...

From 6th November 2019, Motorway (M5) will be fully operational for traffic along with Service Areas and interchanges.

The 9th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting has been scheduled on 5th and 6th of November 2019 in a Marriott Hotel, Islamabad.

In this meeting high officials will participate of both Governments China and Pakistan will participate along with senior representatives of all CPEC projects.

on the eve of this high powered meeting, it has been decided to inaugurate the project of Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M5) and to show live to the participant of JCC-9, on a video-link inside the meeting hall.

Therefore it has also been decided to organize the event of inauguration simultaneously on all seven sections.

Riaz Haq said...

Life in #Pakistan's #Karakoram Mountains Where #China Is Investing Billions of US$ to Build a Multi-Lane Highway. Locals are making money from #tourism and eating more yak #meat. #CPEC #GilgitBaltistan

Much is expected of Karakoram Highway, which curls through the tall mountain ranges of northern Pakistan, reaching western China. Both countries are renovating it, seeing its potential as a trade route. Pakistan also views it as a way to consolidate control over territories contested with India.

But for some of the 500-mile route, it is barely a two-way road, carved out of the rock face that slopes sharply into valleys below. It is battered by rockfall, floods and earthquakes. A landslide in 2010 blocked a river and drowned about 14 miles of the road. In heavy snowfalls, the road all but shuts down.

The riskiest part is the last stretch to China. "We can actually call this part of the road as a museum of geohazards," says Sarfraz Ali, a geologist who studies the impact of climate change on the highway at Pakistan's National University of Sciences and Technology.

The Karakoram Highway, named for the spindly mountain range it traverses, was a major feat when it was built between the 1950s and 1970s. Now, the Chinese government has invested about $2 billion to rebuild a nearly 160-mile stretch of highway to replace the old Karakoram road between the towns of Havelian to Raikot. The final stretch is expected to be completed in March 2020.

The revamp is a key project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, in which China plans to invest over $60 billion in energy and transport in Pakistan. CPEC, part of China's global Belt and Road Initiative, has stirred controversy because neither country has offered clarity on the terms of the money or how much of it is loans.

The Karakoram is open to much of the public, but foreign journalists are required to get Pakistani military permission to visit its far-northern stretches. When NPR recently gained access, its reporters found a road that has transformed communities along the way.

These days, vehicles cruise on the new highway north of Islamabad until they're diverted onto the old route, passing rivers and ancient Buddhist monuments and snarling by hectic markets. At night, some stretches are lit by the fluorescent light of flophouses and chai stalls frequented by truck drivers.

At the Jehangir Khan Hotel, owner Abdullah Zadran, 28, says he would go out of business because the Chinese were rebuilding this section of the road as a multi-lane highway outside of town.

Waiter Abdul Ghafour, 30, nods in agreement. "My owner won't keep me," he says, worried about losing his $4 a day wage.

He serves chai to Gul Ahsaan, 60, a trucker who looks forward to driving the new road. "My tires won't burst and I won't need to repair my truck," he says, gesturing to his vehicle. It is painted with birds and trees and adorned with bells and mini F-16 model jets. "He wants to fly," his friend jokes.


Locals are making money from tourism and are buying more yaks, Abbas says. This year, he began with 500 and sold all but 32. "People like it because they don't eat anything other than grass," he says, sounding more like a hipster butcher than a grime-streaked 23-year-old shepherd. Before the road was fixed, he was selling barely 15 a year, and was surviving on chai and bread.

The bustle is apparent in the nearby border town of Sost, where cargo trucks come from across Pakistan to collect Chinese imports processed at the local dry port. Dozens of men sit outside, waiting for dollar-a-day jobs unloading boxes. Mohammad Iqbal, a 29-year-old customs official, says when he was growing up, "there was only one shop, only one hotel."

Riaz Haq said...

Condé Nast travel magazine ranks #Pakistan number 1 among world’s top 20 #tourism destinations.”Pakistan has more peaks taller than 22,965ft than China and Nepal combined, making it an almost magnetic spot for adventure travellers and intrepid hikers”

The adventure traveller’s must-visit goes from strength to strength
Thwarted by tales of terrorism and Taliban rule, Pakistan’s tourism industry has been stymied for the past two decades. But ancient valleys, relaxed visa restrictions and a high-profile royal visit in the offing mean this remarkable country is finally getting the focus it deserves.

Because this is a place of exquisite landscapes, where green spaces are overlooked by towering mountains. In fact, Pakistan has more peaks taller than 22,965ft than China and Nepal combined, making it an almost magnetic spot for adventure travellers and intrepid hikers. Visitors can follow in Michael Palin’s steps while traversing the 12,250ft Shandur Pass, home to the world’s highest polo field, or meet with the Kalash people of the Hindu Kush, famed for their cowrie-shell headdresses and brighter-than-bright embroidery. In Lahore, the sight of 100,000 worshippers crammed into the sandstone 17th-century Badshahi Mosque will leave you breathless, while Mughal-era architectural masterpieces stand resplendent on bustling street corners.

‘Having operated tours in Pakistan since the late 1990s, I’ve had a ringside seat to its troubled tourism industry, but finally it seems to be improving,’ says Jonny Bealby, founder and CEO of adventure-tour operator Wild Frontiers. ‘A focus on security measures, which saw the British FCO lift its advice against travel to large parts of the north, and the election of Imran Khan, who has vowed to increase international tourist numbers, has already had an impact,’ he says.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also due to visit this Autumn to witness the magic of the mountains first-hand, while many of the frustrating permits previously required to travel here have been dropped. Hardy visitors will find that little has changed since Mughal times – with the peaks’ gemstone mines, fairy meadows and winding trails worn into the ground by heavy-laden yaks – while the Karokoram, stretching upwards from the north-west frontier and carved into the ancient bedrock, is one of the world’s most astonishing highways.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Among 10 Best Under-the-Radar Trips for 2020. Pakistan is perhaps the ultimate #adventure #travel destination. ..ancient Indus civilizations stretching back 4,000 years..... trekking, mountain biking, rafting or just cultural #tourism." @forbes


Wild Frontiers has been tipping Pakistan as the next big destination for a couple of years now, but with the recent visit and royal seal of approval from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they anticipate the destination will continue to be one to watch. “Pakistan is perhaps the ultimate adventure travel destination,” says founder Jonny Bealby. “It offers ancient Indus civilizations stretching back 4,000 years, and exciting cities like Lahore with its forts, mosques and palaces. But most of all, it offers incredible scenery, particularly in the north where the three greatest mountain ranges collide. Pakistan is great for trekking, mountain biking, rafting or just cultural tourism. The infrastructure has also improved, with resurfaced roads and new tunnels cutting down travel time, new luxury hotels are opening up in the region.” Wild Frontiers’ 16-day group tour travels up to the Northwest Frontier taking in mountain scenery, the Kalash people, the Hunza Valley and the Kingdom of Chitral.

Riaz Haq said...

#Tourism can Save #Pakistan's #Economy. #CPEC to give impetus to maritime tourism potential of Pakistan and #Gwadar port in particular. #Maritime and #coastal tourism would grow at a global rate of 3.5 percent annually by 2030. #China via @intpolicydigest


The coastline of Pakistan extends to 1050 km along the Arabian Sea, of which Sindh province shares 350 km and Balochistan segments 700 km. The coastal region of Balochistan in particular has a number of sand beaches with “shifting sand dunes.” Biological diversity, adds to the beauty and importance of the coastal belt, where migratory birds can be seen at Pasni, Jiwani and Miani Hor. Astola Island, the country’s first marine protected area (MPA), is a known nesting ground for endangered green turtles which can perhaps be developed into a sustainable tourist attraction. The Balochistan government, in view of the above potential, has announced to build tourist resorts to cater to the needs of local and foreign tourists at an allocated cost of $2.1 million at Kund Malir, Gadani, Ormara, Jīwani, and Khor Kalmat. Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, is the coastal city that remains a popular destination among national tourists. The Clifton beach is a famous place to visit where camel and buggy rides are offered for families on picnic. Hawke’s Bay is another of the beach for leisure seekers who usually rent a hut to spend their weekends. The Indus Delta and the mangroves at the Sindh provincial coast also offers a potential tourism resource.

The government of Pakistan has sought the attention of tourists by relaxing its visa policy. It is now offering e-visas on arrival to enthusiastic leisure seekers from across the world. International hotel chains have also shown interest in expanding their services in coastal areas, including Gwadar. Forbes dubbed Pakistan to be “one of the coolest places to visit” in 2019. The British Backpacker Society ranked Pakistan as its “best adventure travel destination” and “one of the friendliest countries on earth that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.” Conde Nast Traveler has recently ranked Pakistan as the number one holiday destination in 2020. These developments will prove beneficial for maritime tourism. However, the government requires sustained efforts to build sustainable and viable sea-based tourist industry.

Pakistan has all the vital constituents for a flourishing maritime tourism sector. A beautiful coastline along the Arabian Sea, enriched with God-gifted marvels including beaches, lagoons, cliffs, and headlands; which are a dream come true for tourists. In the wake of CPEC, maritime tourism needs to be prioritized as an important sector that can generate viable revenues for the state. Collaborative efforts need to be made by federal and provincial governments to steer in the right direction. A public-private partnership is also suggested for the various ventures to build the required infrastructure and meet the international standards for tourists. Such actions will promote CPEC as the ‘catalyst for regional growth’ and will provide an “appealing image” of the project to dissuade all the negative propaganda, to attract the attention of international tourists and investors.

Riaz Haq said...

#UK's Princess Beatrice's extreme pre-wedding venture for helicopter #skiing in #Pakistan along with ex PM Jose Maria Aznar of #Spain and PM Matteo Ranzi of #Italy. #tourism

"It reflects the trust of foreign tourists over tourist potential in Pakistan and that's why such a large delegation has come to Pakistan to enjoy skiing," the president said, via his official Twitter account.

"With the world increasingly acknowledging Pakistan's natural beauty, Pakistan is destined to emerge as the tourist hub of the region and beyond.


Princess Beatrice is getting married in three months' time but she's taking part in an extreme sport most brides would steer clear of.

The Princess of York travelled to Pakistan for a heli-skiing expedition, known as one of the most adrenaline-fueled sport adventure-lovers can do.

Skiers, or snowboarders, are flown to the top of a mountain by helicopter where they are left to explore the slopes.

It's not your ordinary winter sport and is a favourite among the world's elite.

With her wedding due to take place on May 29 at St James's Chapel and Buckingham Palace, we do wonder what measures Princess Beatrice put in place to prevent herself from having an accident.

After all, a bride wearing a cast is never a good look. However, Princess Beatrice is familiar with the ski fields having enjoyed many family holidays to the Swiss ski resort of Verbier over the years.

It's unclear whether Beatrice's fiancé, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, joined her in Pakistan, though.

Pakistan's president Dr. Arif Alvi shared photos of Princess Beatrice at the presidential palace on Monday describing the visit as a "high level delegation".

He also spoke up the country's credentials as a tourist destination.

Riaz Haq said...

How #Pakistan's Swat Valley went from basket case to success story. From #terrorism to #tourism

It used to be the case that fear, and a Taliban-imposed curfew, confined people to their homes after 8 p.m. A decade later, nights in Mingora are alive, loud, and brightly lit by streetlights, neon signs, and storefronts. Markets and restaurants stay open late. Musicians and dancers have returned. Families stroll down the winding paths of the Fiza Gatt park, which stretches along the river. The spot where Fazlullah’s seminary once stood is visible to the park’s patrons, perpetually serving as a reminder.

“Swat is unrecognizable now,” Ramzan said.


MINGORA, Pakistan—Hundreds of schools for girls sweep across the land where, in 2012, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban. This was the land where, under Taliban control between 2007 and 2009, schools were destroyed and girls barred from education.

These days in Mingora, Malala’s hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, few, if any, signs remain of the city’s grisly past. The former militant stronghold is nestled at the base of the Hindu Kush mountains, equidistant from Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad and the eastern border of Afghanistan. Endless hotels and restaurants line its main arteries—a new building is under construction every few blocks. Although international tourism is still rare, local travelers flock to what was once one of the most dangerous spots on the planet.

The Swat Valley is, in many ways, a success story in a country where success stories are rare.

Yet everybody here has a story of what it was like to live under the Taliban. At checkpoints scattered across the city, residents were stopped and questioned about their activities. I spoke to one over the summer who recalled armed men pulling him by the hair and demanding he cut his hair. But it wasn’t just the streets outside that fell under scrutiny. Another local told me about the time that militants, noticing the dish antenna on his roof, barged in and broke his TV.

In those days, the local population had three unappealing choices: comply, leave, or get killed.

A once bustling junction in Mingora became known as Khooni Chowk (literally “bloody intersection”), where corpses of nonconformists, critics, and opponents would be found strung up—sometimes without their heads. The shops surrounding Khooni Chowk were shuttered, their windows shattered, their walls pierced with bullet holes.

Today, the walls have been rebuilt, the glass replaced, and the scars plastered over.


Khushal School, founded by Malala’s father in 1994, is one of approximately 350 private schools in Swat. It is also one of the best-performing ones, Iqbal said.

Iqbal, who joined Khushal as a principal in 2016, recalled a dark period in the school’s history. Both the attack on Malala and the subsequent Taliban assault on a school in Peshawar instilled fear in the students and their parents. Several left the school. “They thought Khushal might be next,” said Muhammad Faruq, the director of the school.

However, these days, things are close to back to normal. Iqbal said his students are performing well both in academics and extracurriculars. Recently, he said, they did extraordinarily well in board exams. But, as both he and Faruq acknowledge, student enrollment is still half of what it used to be.

“These days, all signs of the Taliban have disappeared,” Faruq added. But perhaps not from people’s minds. Swat’s return to normalcy has come at an immense cost to civilians, 2 million of whom were displaced in the military operation. And the operation was by no means perfect. For more than a decade, the fragile peace was maintained by a heavy military presence until administrative control was handed over to civilian authorities. It was only around two years ago that the military checkpoints that kept a watchful eye on Mingora began closing.

Riaz Haq said...

#CPEC’s Havelian-Thakot #highway section completed. The 79-km-long secondary road of Mansehra-Thakot, is part of the 118-km-long Havelian-Thakot. The other part of Havelian-Thakot, the Havelian-Mansehra #expressway section, 39 km, is already open #Pakistan

As the construction of Mansehra-Thakot, a secondary road section, has been completed, the Havelian-Thakot of the Karakoram Highway Phase II (KKH) gets through which will boost the economic and social development of Pakistan, reports Gawdar Pro App on Friday.

The 79-kilometer-long secondary road of Mansehra-Thakot, is a part of the 118-kilometer-long Havelian-Thakot. The other part of Havelian-Thakot, the Havelian-Mansehra expressway section, 39 kilometers, has been open to traffic in November 2019 when Prime Minister Imran Khan attended its launching ceremony.

Havelian-Thakot section is given priority among the three sections of the Karakoram Highway Phase II that is an early harvest project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). According to the Havelian-Thakot project’s contractor, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), this project was launched in September 2016.

The Chinese company employed as many as 8,000 locals during the busy months of the project, which accounted for 81.6 percent of the total employment. Besides bringing tangible benefits to local workers, CRBC has also taught them work skills and trained thousands of locals to be engineers or technicians, which could benefit them more in a long run.

Thousands of local families have seen their lives changing for the better thanks to job opportunities of this project. Karakoram Highway, the only overland connection between China and Pakistan at present, was built with fund from China during 1966-1978.

The first phase of KKH’s renovation and expansion project had been completed in 2013. In 2014, the memorandum on the second phase of KKH was signed between Pakistan and China.

Riaz Haq said...

Virgin Atlantic Airline to start flights to #Pakistan in December 2020. Airline will add 3 routes at once: #London-#Lahore, London-#Islamabad & #Manchester-Islamabad. Many other airlines adding or resuming flights to Pakistan. #aviation #tourism #COVID19

First of all, Pakistan has in general been doing well as an aviation market in recent years. We’ve seen many airlines add or resume flights to Pakistan. Specifically from the UK, we saw British Airways resume flights to Pakistan in mid-2019.

Next, keep in mind that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is in hot water right now. The airline has been in the news for its “fake” pilots, and both European Union and United States regulators have banned the airline.

Currently European Union aviation restrictions still apply to the UK, so PIA won’t be able to resume flights to the UK anytime soon, at least not with its own metal (rather it would have to lease a plane from another airline).

Lastly, Virgin Atlantic is following the industry trend whereby airlines aren’t necessarily adding back the routes that they previously operated, but rather are adding new ones altogether. Not only is Virgin Atlantic axing many of its existing routes, but the airline was supposed to launch flights to Sao Paulo in March 2020, but plans for that have been scrapped altogether.

Adding routes to Pakistan makes sense with the current environment. There’s a huge Pakistani population in the UK, and travel for the purposes of visiting friends and relatives will be the first to recover.

Virgin Atlantic will be launching flights to Pakistan as of December 2020. Not only that, but the airline will be adding three routes at once, which is pretty cool to see.

Ultimately this service makes sense — travel for the purposes of visiting friends and family will recover first, and this route is ideal for that. Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic could face limited competition, given PIA’s current struggles.

Riaz Haq said...

More Mountaineering Teams Heading to #Pakistan's #GilgitBaltistan Area. While Pakistan’s 8,000+ feet tall peaks will remain untouched this year, a handful of expeditions are making their move on slightly lower but unclimbed peaks. #tourism #adventure

While Pakistan’s 8,000’ers will remain untouched this year, a handful of expeditions are making their move on slightly lower but unclimbed peaks. On the impressive Muchu Chhish, the Czechs have managed to reach Camp 2, after negotiating a route through a highly broken glacier and a difficult climb. It included exposed sections and a traverse of a knife-edge ridge, where the team had to carve out a bivouac at around 5,700m, with a “huge, frightening avalanche slope” above their heads.

If all goes well, they will set up C3 on the main ridge. If they make it that far, this will mark the highest point ever reached on the mountain. Below, some footage from their previous exploratory trip in 2019, set to the rebab music of the Pakistani band, Khumariyaan.

Muchu Chhish is also the goal for Spain’s Jordi Tosas and Austria’s Philipp Brugger, who fly to Pakistan tomorrow to attempt the 7,452m peak in alpine style. Brugger, 27, specializes in speed ascents, ski randonnée racing and trail running. He has spent the summer in the Alps, performing speed climbs of Piz Bernina and the Eiger North Face, among others.

Tosas trains at home in the Pyrenees, often solo, and will add broad experience as an international mountain guide, Himalayan climber and high-altitude snowboarder whose descents include Broad Peak, Shishapangma and Cho Oyu. He opened a route on Jannu East, attempted Lhotse South Face, was part of the second ascent of K2’s Magic Line in 2004 and supported Kilian Jornet on his speed ascent of Everest in 2017.

The climbers will acclimatize on a nearby peak, then head to Muchu Chhish in the second half of September. It remains to be seen whether the Czech team will have bagged the first ascent of Muchu Chhish by then or whether it will be still unclimbed.

Meanwhile, although Sergi Mingote of Spain has given up on his hopes of climbing Makalu this year — as part of his no-O2, 14×8,000m project — he is not ready to sit at home. He has raised funds and gathered over 200kg of winter clothes and footwear, which he will distribute among the villagers of Kande, in the Hushe Valley. Then Mingote will team up with his regular partner, Carlos Garranzo, to explore the area and, if conditions are right, attempt an unclimbed peak that they have their eye on.

Last but not least, a Bahraini team, supported by Prince Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and made up of members of his Royal Guard, will fly to Nepal in September to climb Manaslu (after acclimatizing on Lobuche Peak). The team, whose ultimate goal is Everest in spring 2021, has posted images of their gear and oxygen systems, as well as some relief supplies bound to Nepal. Flights to Nepal are not open to foreign tourists, but an exception has been made for the well-connected expedition. It’s probably not a coincidence that a large number of the flights to Nepal proceed through the Middle East and that 40,000 Nepalis work in Bahrain.

Riaz Haq said...

#BritishAirways compete with #Virgin Atlantic for flights/passengers to/from #Pakistan. BA plans to add a 2nd route to Pakistan, 4 times a week from #London Heathrow to #Lahore as Virgin Atlantic starts service #Manchester-#Lahore. #tourism #economy #PTI

British Airways (BA/BAW) has announced that it plans to added a second route to Pakistan, from London Heathrow to Lahore.

The move comes just days after Virgin Atlantic announced that it was launching services to Islamabad and Lahore from London and Manchester.

The British Airways flight will operate 4 times-per-week using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

BA director of network and alliances, Neil Chernoff, said: ““Our new flights will give us the opportunity to open up more of Pakistan to travelers from the UK, so they can experience its delights and rich culture,”

Adding: “We also think this will be hugely popular with the British Pakistani community, giving them more convenient options to visit family and friends.”

The first flight will operate on 12th October, a month before Virgin’s operations begin.

Riaz Haq said...

Why #Pakistan should be your pick for a post-lockdown #adventure. Under a new #tourism drive, Pakistan is finally ready to take its place as one of the world's premier trekking destinations. #Karakoram #mountain

It is autumn of 2019 and the world knows nothing of Covid-19 or R numbers. I’m stood at Concordia camp in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan. Tomorrow, I will complete the final leg of a two-week trek to K2 base camp at the foot of Earth’s second-highest mountain....

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamabad's Faisal Mosque ranked 16th most beautiful building in the world. London's St Paul's Cathedral is No 1, Taj Mahal is 8th, the Great Pyramid of Giza is 19th, Sydney Opera House 43rd and Angkor Wat 49th. #Pakistan

For the building ranking, which was created by Roofing Megastore, 100 of the world's most famous architectural works were analysed against the golden ratio, with researchers plotting the most common points found on a building, such as the top and bottom corners, the building's centre, and equidistant points around the circumference, before comparing the distance between these markers to those laid out by the ratio

It's long been used as a barometer of beauty and numerically is a ratio of 1:1.618. So a building that aligns with it would contain shapes and structures that have a relationship with each other in this ratio.

For reasons that can't really be explained, humans find objects that unfold with this ratio of expansion inherently beautiful.

Fascinatingly this 'golden ratio' can be found in Sonic the Hedgehog's head, in flowers, waves and even galaxies.

Riaz Haq said...

PM Imran announces Rs370 billion development package for Gilgit-Baltistan - Pakistan - DAWN.COM

"The expansion of your infrastructure and expanding your airports," the prime minister said, would also be a part of the package, specifically pointing to Skardu Airport which would cater to international flights now as well.

The prime minister also stressed the importance of developing facilities for tourism in the region. He said the "real potential" of the region lay in tourism.

Promotion of tourism would bring benefits for both GB and Pakistan, said the premier, with employment and prosperity for the former and foreign exchange for the latter.

"This package we have brought, this is not just for your benefit and improvement. We have brought it for all of Pakistan because the whole country will benefit," he said.

He predicted that if tourism was handled properly in GB, it would no longer have to ask for funds from the Centre. Rather, it would be the other way around.

"You have to work for your tourism industry in a very planned way [...] if you don't do this correctly, then tourists won't come," the prime minister urged, pointing to potential pitfalls such as lack of town planning, inadequate sanitation and deficient environmental protection.

The premier said the region had a good community system and therefore it would be very easy to ensure compliance with bylaws, maintain sanitation and protection of areas for tourism. The local government elections, he added, would help to make a system that could "protect the whole area".

Prime Minister Imran Khan also stated that when he used to visit the region in the past, there seemed to be an impression among the people that they weren't believed to be capable of managing their own affairs and weren't empowered to take decisions for themselves.

He added that his government had taken steps to provide provisional provincial status to GB so that the local people would have the authority to take decisions. "How can decisions be made [for this area] sitting in Islamabad?"

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, while addressing the ceremony earlier, also shared details on the projects under the development package.

He said that nine electricity projects with a capacity of 250 megawatt would be added which were all hydel and clean energy projects. "Your local distribution grid is being spread so that electricity can be provided reliably," Umar said, adding that Rs140bn were just for the electricity projects.

Riaz Haq said...

slamabad: A new private airline ‘North Air’ will soon take to the skies with an aim to promote Pakistan as a global tourist destination.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently issued Tourism Promotion and Regional Integration (TPRI) licence to the airline. It will initially operate flights to and from Islamabad, Skardu, Chitral, Gilgit, and Gwadar - covering major tourist attractions.

North Air founder and co-owner Raja Nazeem ul Ameen is a businessman who hails from Hunza valley of Gilgit-Baltistan. Talking to Gulf News, Ameen said: “After acquiring the licence, we are now in the process of complying with subsequent requirements by CAA which includes reviewing the planes, pilots, technical staff and training capacity.” The flight operations will begin when CAA is satisfied that the airliner is able to carry out the activities in a satisfactory manner. “The process from licensing to operation takes a minimum of 90 days. We hope to begin flight operations as soon as possible” the airline co-owner said.

Riaz Haq said...

PIA announces to relaunch Air Safari service

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced the relaunch of its Air Safari service on Monday. The inaugural flight of Air Safari will fly from Islamabad to Skardu as all preparations have been finalised for the relaunch of PIA’s Air Safari service. The airliner will announce a schedule in the upcoming days. The flight will fly passengers over snow-capped peaks in the country’s north. K2 and Nanga Parbat are Pakistan’s highest mountains, and are popular among mountaineers. K2 is the world’s second-highest mountain at 8,611 meters above sea level. Back in 2018, the national flag carrier had announced plans to launch its Air Safari service. However, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had shut down its planned commercial launch of the Air Safari flight, days after reportedly announcing the service due to operational difficulties. In order to boost tourism, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) last week had issued a TPRI (Tourism Promotion and Regional Integration) licence to a newly launched private airline named North Air. According to details, the privately launched new airline is planned to operate flights for Gilgit, Skardu, Chitral and Gwadar. Initially, the airline will operate flights between Islamabad-Gilgit, Islamabad-Skardu, Islamabad-Chitral and Islamabad-Gwadar.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Roundup: Who’s Doing What, and Where, This Summer. Multiple #international teams with more exciting plans for new routes and first ascents on #Karakoram peaks in #GilgitBaltistan. #tourism #adventure #mountaineering

As teams converge on Pakistan, we’ve learned of more exciting plans for new routes and first ascents.

Tom Livingstone (who won a Piolet d’Or in 2019 for a new route to Latok I) has teamed up with Mathieu Maynadier for an attempt on remote Pumari Chhish (7,350m). Yannick Graziani and Christian Trommsdorff made the first and only ascent of this peak in 2007.

Graziani is also climbing and skiing in the Karakorum this summer, in the company of Patrick Wagnon and Helias Millerioux. Their goals remain unclear, but the team’s latest track some days ago places them in the mountains northeast of Rakaposhi. That day, Millerioux wrote they had enjoyed a perfect 1,300m ski descent.

A French team of Jerome Sullivan, Victor Saucede, Jeremy Stagnetto, and Martin Elias plan to attempt the first ascent of K13/Dansam Peak (6,666m), a little-known mountain on the border with Indian Kashmir.

To the Gasherbrums
Skiers Boris Langensteina and Tiphaine Duperier of France are also back in the Greater Ranges this season. After an incomplete ski descent of Nanga Parbat in 2019, they are now eyeing the Gasherbrums, together with Aurelia Lanoe and Guillaume Pierrel. En route to Base Camp, the team has carved a number of lines in the Chitral area.

Serge Hardy of France will attempt a Broad Peak, GI, and GII triple-header, according to Montagnes magazine.

In a rather Gallic stunt, Philippe Genin, the so-called Summit Pianist, will assemble a small piano and play on top of GII. The artist has previously played atop several peaks in the Alps, the summit of Ama Dablam, and Camp 2 on Cho Oyu. He wants to “spread the energy of love and well-being throughout the Earth.” All right, then.

Italian mountain guide Marco Confortola will attempt Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak), and a five-man team from the Catalonia region of Spain, led by Lluis Cortadellas, checked in from Islamabad today on their way to GI and GII.

“We managed to buy a last-minute plane ticket and here we are,” they wrote happily. The young climbers are fresh from training in Chamonix.

K2 and Broad Peak
Samina Baig and her all-Pakistani K2 team checked in from Skardu yesterday. Mirza Ali introduced five of his Shimshali Boys, in charge of fixing the ropes on K2 and already on their way to Base Camp. Jordi Tosas will lead them, assuming that he manages to board a plane to Pakistan on Monday. ”

My flights have been postponed twice so I am already running late,” he told ExplorersWeb. “We need to start fixing K2 asap, and I am afraid I will get to Base Camp rather short of acclimatization.” Tosas lives in Spain’s Pyrenees and trains every day, but the highest peak in that range, Mt. Aneto, is only 3,404m.

Meanwhile, two new names are confirmed for K2: Anne Bialek and Victor Sans.

On Broad Peak, Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa are still in BC waiting out bad weather. Last week, they managed to set up Camp 1 on the best possible spot (there is not much room) while there was no one else on the mountain. At the time, they reported very good conditions. By now, other climbers should be joining them in Base Camp, including Pakistan’s Saeed Almemari.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan 8,000’ers (Over 8,000-Meter Peaks): K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrums & Nanga Parbat. After some slow days because of bad weather in the Karakorum and on Nanga Parbat, climbers have begun to head up again. #adventure #tourism #Himalaya #Karakoram

In the interim, all the teams on 8,000m expeditions have had time to reach K2 Base Camp. This includes an all-Pakistani team from Hushe that includes Mohammad Taqi, Ali Durrani, Muhammad Hassan, Mushtaq Ahmad, and Yousuf Ali.

Nepal’s Pioneer Adventure team, with a strong Sherpa crew and three Ukrainian clients, have arrived as well, after a “boring trek to BC”, according to member Olya Koroleva. A very unusual view of the spectacular hike through the Karakorum.

Meanwhile, Mirza Ali’s Karakorum Expeditions squad battled cold and fresh snow to fix the route to Camp 2. “The team started from C1 at 8 am despite heavy fresh snow and by 4 pm they had fixed rope to Camp 2,” Mirza Ali wrote.”A truly remarkable job.”

Jalal Uddin, Eid Muhammad, Ahmed Baig, and Faryad Karim lead the fixers, supported by Inayat Ali, Ghulam Abbass, Basharat Hussain, and Younis Ali.

Broad Peak
On Broad Peak, Karakorum Expeditions has its own team, which has already set up tents in Camp 2.

Lotta Hintsa reported yesterday that she and Don Bowie were preparing to leave again for Camp 3, despite an avalanche that swept that area recently.

Broad Peak has also had its first partial ski descent when Thomas Lone skied down from Camp 1. Lone has joined the Russian Dathzone Freeride team of Vitaly Lazo and Anton Pugovnik. Last year, that duo made an almost complete ski descent from Nanga Parbat. Back then, they teamed up with the late Cala Cimenti.

Nearby, on the Gasherbrums, the Altitude Team climbing GII are back to Camp 1. They report that high-altitude porters have already fixed the Banana Ridge, thus clearing the way to Camp 2. The weather was still iffy when they left yesterday, but the Catalans trusted an improving forecast for tomorrow and Thursday.

Marco Confortola and Mario Vielmo, who had intended to break trail to Camp 2 on Gasherbrum I, had to retreat after a night at 6,000m because of lack of visibility. But the excursion did help their acclimatization.

Nanga Parbat
Further west, on Nanga Parbat, Lolo Gonzalez and Sergio Carrascoso observed avalanches sweeping down the Diamir Face all day yesterday, after nearly a week of non-stop snowfall. Because of the relentless bad weather, they are not yet acclimatized, even after 23 days. At this point, it’s now or never.

“Let’s hope snow conditions improve and the weather stabilizes because we need to stay eight days at altitude,” Gonzalez told his home team. “[We need to be] as high as we can get but in any case, not lower than 6,500m in order to acclimatize.”

Gonzalez says that in his 16 Himalaya expeditions, he has never had to stay so long in a Base Camp with so little altitude gain. At least, their relatively low Base Camp, set up on a grassy alpine meadow, is warm and comfortable.

Riaz Haq said...

Scuba diving in #Karachi: #Pakistan isn't a popular destination for water #sports, but new, high-profile projects—such as #CPEC and #Gwadar Club & Ninety Nine Beach Resort—are bringing more people into contact with the country’s #seawater sites. #tourism

Which is your favorite site?

I love Charna Island, located near Mubarak Village in Karachi, especially when thousands of jellyfish happen to swim past. It’s a breeding ground for Arabian species, with stingrays, barracudas, pufferfish, sergeant majors, parrotfish, moray eels, albino eels, crabs, lobsters, and octopuses—and, although they’re rare, even bull sharks have been recorded here. The place offers a unique opportunity to feel as though you’re discovering a reef for the first time. Not only am I spellbound by its otherworldly beauty, but it also helps me to understand the importance of preserving this precious environment. Charna has a giant rock situated in the middle, which protects the island from strong waves, making it ideal for everyone to have a go at snorkeling here. The South Wreck is another extraordinary spot—the best-kept secret for experienced divers.

When is the best time to take a dip?

The typical diving season is from October to March, when sea conditions are usually calm and visibility is excellent. The water’s crystal-clear appearance means you’ll easily be able to spot the turtles and dolphins at their most active during boat rides.

What are the most exciting things to do on land in Karachi?

Hire one of the beach huts dotted along Hawks Bay or Turtle Beach; they have spectacular sea views across the wide sandy landscape. There are some great camel tours around here—take one at sunset. But in the evening, go to Do Darya, which translates roughly to “the place where two rivers meet;” here, many restaurants cluster at the edge of the sea. One of my favorites is Kolachi, which serves fantastic barbecue food. Next, head out on a private cruise with Al-Noor for live music and mouth-watering local dishes. The next day, go to Saddar Town for a street-food tour, during which you’ll find the best biryani and numerous roadside stalls selling bun kebabs. From here, it’s an easy walk around the corner to Empress Market for locally made products.

Any other outdoor-activity highlights?

I like to go kayaking through Karachi’s mangrove forests. It’s not only a simultaneously serene and thrilling adventure but also a great environmental-education journey—mangrove trees in coastal zones provide valuable protection from events caused by climate change. I also love connecting with nature and the beautiful mountainous terrains in northern Pakistan.

What makes Pakistan unique?

It has everything: diverse landscapes that range from woodland to lakes, beaches to deserts, peaks to cities. One day I can surf the rolling waves of its shoreline, the next I can trek to high altitudes or climb aboard the classic railways for a historic ride, ending the day at a chai dhaba [roadside tea stop] anywhere. It’s a country that will scoop you up with its rhythmic beats, rich aromas, and spectacle of sights—whatever emotion it draws from you is guaranteed to be deep.

Riaz Haq said...

Five Stunning #Architectural Wonders To See In #Pakistan: Badshahi Mosque #Lahore, Shah Jahan Mosque Thatta Sindh, Ranikot Fort (The Great Wall of #Sindh), Chaukhandi Tombs near #Karachi & Noor Mahal in #Bahawalpur. #Tourism #architecture

Located along the iconic Indus River, the region that contains modern-day Pakistan has played home to countless empires for thousands of years, ushering in some truly fascinating architectural wonders scattered across its lands. From opulent red sandstone-clad towers built by the Mughal Empire to centuries-old structures found within the rural depths of Sindh, this sprawling nation has a world of opportunity in store for fans of intricate architecture.