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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Summary:

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


16 comments:

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


Yao-Shing

Riaz Haq said...

Over 400,000 tourists visit Swat during Eid days

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/481957-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

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/three-interchanges-of-hazara-motorways-secti-645952.html

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

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/300-percent-traffic-flow-increased-on-m2-sinc-624930.html

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

https://www.brecorder.com/2019/06/10/501653/existing-portfolio-of-nha-consists-of-38-ongoing-projects-with-an-allocation-of-rs176636-80mn-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 https://nation.com.pk/18-Jun-2019/pakistan-china-agree-to-expedite-work-on-sukkur-hyderabad-motorway

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. https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-climber-killed-italians-injured-041005819.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw 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 http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/siachen-glacier

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
https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/world-bank-approves-usd-722-million-loan-for-pakistan-119063000403_1.html#.XRi9exQW84k.twitter

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 https://gulfnews.com/sport/tour-de-impossible-pakistan-hosts-worlds-toughest-cycle-race-with-tour-de-khunjerab-1.1562481738072

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."

'Breathless'
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 https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/3017406/prince-william-and-kate-middleton-are-going-pakistan-even

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 https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/pakistan-increases-land-allotted-to-kartarpur-gurdwara-from-3-to-42-acres-1570525-2019-07-17 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


https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/505076-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 https://nation.com.pk/05-Aug-2019/three-cpec-projects-ready-for-opening

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.