Saran on India-Pakistan Ties; Gen Mattis in India; Tourism in Pakistan

What does former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran say about ties with Pakistan in his recent book "How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century"? Why have "low-hanging fruit" issues between India and Pakistan like Siachin and Sir Creek not been resolved? Whose fault is it? Who in India torpedoed solutions agreed with Pakistan at the last minute? Why does ancient Indian thinker Kautilya, regarded as the Indian Machiavelli, dominate foreign policy thinking in India with regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Why did US Defense Secretary General James Mattis go to India? What was his agenda relative to India's role in Afghanistan and cementing US-India defense ties? Why does Indian security analyst Prof Bharat Karnad say that India "severing relations with TTP will mean India surrendering an active card in Pakistan and a role in Afghanistan as TTP additionally provides access to certain Afghan Taliban factions"? Did Mattis ask India to stop supporting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist activities against Pakistan as Karnad anticipated?

Is the US Federal Government response to widespread destruction after Hurricane Maria in US territory of Puerto Rico adequate? Why is the mayor of San Juan so angry? Why is she being attacked by President Trump for demanding faster relief operations? Why did it take more than a week for the US to assign a military general to oversee disaster relief in Puerto Rico? Was President Trump too busy attacking the NFL players taking the knee during the playing of the US national anthem?

How is tourism industry doing in Pakistan? How has the improved security situation and better infrastructure positively impacted tourism in Pakistan? What are latest figures released by WTTC, the World Travel and Tourism Council, for Pakistan? How much does the industry contribute to Pakistan's GDP? What is its potential over the next decade? How does it help promote goodwill for Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/nzNstymhlnM




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Kautilya Doctrine Dominates India's Pakistan Policy

India-Pakistan Tensions: Who's at Fault? 

Bharat Karnad on Indian Support of TTP Against Pakistan

Pakistan Travel and Tourism Boom

Trump's White House

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Lahore based #Pakistani #American founder of #AI #unicorn Afiniti takes investors helicopter skiing in #Pakistan. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-02/tycoon-takes-investors-heli-skiing-to-show-them-pakistan-s-safe

AI firm Afiniti employs three-quarter of employees in Pakistan
Company may list next year with more than $2 billion valuation
In the northern snow-capped peaks of Pakistan, Zia Chishti disembarked off a helicopter and skied downhill on a mission to convince investors, clients and company executives that the nation once called by The Economist “the world’s most dangerous place” is now safe for business.

Chishti, who grew up in Lahore, gathered a group from more than a dozen countries including Alessandro Benetton, a heir to the billionaire family that owns the iconic namesake Italian clothing company, and Huawei Technologies Co. rotating Chief Executive Officer Guo Ping earlier this year to Pakistan, the back-end base for some of his businesses. Last month, his artificial intelligence company signed a deal with Huawei, which will help its push into Eastern markets including China, Japan and Australia.

For Chishti, ensuring his clients understand that Pakistan, which has struggled against internal militant groups, has changed since The Economist report a decade ago is critical because many of his employees who provide customer solutions, sales support and marketing to clients including Sprint Corp. and Caesars Entertainment Corp. are based in the South Asian nation. Chishti has added more people in Pakistan, a move that will also help him keep costs under control as his AI unit prepares for an initial public offering in the U.S.

“Pakistan by any reasonable and adaptive measure is an extremely safe place to do business,” said Chishti, whose office oversees the White House, said in an interview by phone. “All in all it’s a very favorable place to do business and the world perception just has to catch up.”

Despite a widespread negative perception over the country’s security record, multiple military operations have curbed domestic insurgents after a Pakistani Taliban massacre at a school three years ago shocked the nation. Last year, civilian deaths from terrorism dropped to the lowest in more than a decade.

The army’s drive has boosted the confidence of companies, including TRG, and foreign investment is up 155 percent to $457 million in the first two months of the business year started July. Chishti’s company has moved into a larger building this year that will fit 3,000 staff in the previously tumultuous port city of Karachi, which has been secured by paramilitary forces against gangsters, militants and political militias since 2013.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan draws new battle lines in the #Afghan war. #India #Trump #Taliban #Afghanistan

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/pakistan-draws-new-battle-line-afghan-war

If India increases its involvement in Afghanistan, Pakistan will strengthen its opposition to pushing the Taliban into negotiations.

Pakistan will continue supporting the Taliban to prevent an alliance between Afghanistan and India.

Islamabad and Washington's threats against one another will limit the punitive measures both sides impose.


...Pakistani militancy is as much a problem for Islamabad as it is for Washington. Pakistan has been working to circumscribe the militant groups operating within its borders since long before Trump rebuked the country in an address Aug. 21. In April 2016, for example, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency proposed plans to deradicalize scores of militants and bring them more under the control of the country's security apparatus. As part of that campaign, Islamabad allowed the Jamaat-ud-Dawa — a charity organization under U.N. sanctions for its links to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba — to form a new political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML).

Combating militancy with politics is easier said than done, though. The process has been rife with controversy, exposing the historical divide between Pakistan's military and civilian leaders. Pakistan's Interior Ministry asked the country's electoral commission to block the MML's registration over concerns that the party's ties to and ideological affinities with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the deadly attacks in Mumbai in 2008, would invite criticism from foreign governments. But though the MML's registration is still pending, it hasn't let administrative matters get in its way. The party's candidate, officially running as an independent, placed third in the recent special elections in Lahore, and the MML plans to participate in Pakistan's general elections next year as well.

The MML's emergence demonstrates the Pakistani army's commitment to addressing militancy in the country. Its priorities in this endeavor differ from those of the United States, however, and as it tackles the problem, Islamabad will continue to resist pressure to attack the militant groups Washington has targeted. In Pakistan's view, after all, all militant groups are not created equal. Groups such as the Afghan Taliban and its ally the Haqqani network help Pakistan's army advance its objectives in Afghanistan. They are assets to Islamabad's foreign policy, and the Pakistani government treats them as such. Islamabad's accommodations, moreover, discourage these groups from attacking Pakistan, enabling the country to focus its scarce resources on the organizations that pose a more serious threat to its security, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic State's Khorasan chapter.

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In fact, Pakistan already has started employing some of these deterrents since Trump made his address on Afghanistan in late August. Islamabad turned down a visit from the U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia, who was leading a delegation of officials eager to hash out U.S.-Pakistan coordination in Afghanistan. Pakistan's foreign minister instead embarked on a three-nation tour to China, Turkey and Iran in hopes of increasing their diplomatic support for his country. He later delayed a meeting originally scheduled for August with his U.S. counterpart, Rex Tillerson, until the week of Oct. 2. More recently, Pakistan announced that it would adopt stricter protocols on U.S. diplomats to require a mutual agreement before American officials could visit the country and to prohibit lower-ranking U.S. functionaries from meeting with high-level Pakistani officials, such as the prime minister. The country also has floated the possibility of shutting down NATO supply routes, though it probably won't follow through on the threat unless Washington first makes good on one of its own.
Riaz Haq said…
Ex Chiefs of #RAW, #ISI meet in #London, Both agree war not an option, #India and #Pakistan talks must via @htTweets

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/barbs-banter-as-top-indian-and-pakistani-spooks-meet-at-lse/story-GoM1XmsZDVPTkyTAO4Ig7I.html

AS Dulat and Ehsan-ul-Haq, who served as head of the RAW and ISI respectively in the early 2000s, came together at a seminar in the LSE that was marked by much banter and barbs.

Dulat and Ehsan, who served in their respective offices in the early 2000s, were key players in sensitive issues, often taking adversarial postures and actions, but at LSE they could not agree more with each other on Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism and peace talks.

Ehsan dwelt on what he called the “mass uprising in Jammu and Kashmir since July last year”, following the death of jihadi commander Burhan Wani, and harped on the need to resume the stalled dialogue between the two countries. Dulat agreed with him that India had committed “mistakes” and created “a mess” in the state.

Dulat also agreed that talks should be resumed between the two sides, since war is not an option and dialogue is the only way out. India, he said, needs to make an exception and talk along with terrorism (New Delhi has ruled out parleys until Pakistan-backed terrorism is stopped).

The former RAW chief said: “The magic of it all, as Ehsan-sab said, is mainstreaming and also democracy. The mistakes that we are making (in Jammu and Kashmir), apart from the mess that we have created, still not talking to people, high time we started talking to people…We need to deal with Kashmir in a more civilised manner.

“These red lines about Hurriyat…we have got it absolutely wrong because the whole idea of talking to the Hurriyat is to mainstream them, get them into the democratic process…The PDP-BJP coalition was expected to bring Jammu and Srinagar closer, but it has taken them further apart because Kashmiris have never forgiven the PDP for bringing the RSS into the (Kashmir) valley.

“In the BJP’s mind, the RSS may have come into the valley but the RSS is not going to achieve anything there,” he added.

Another point of agreement between the two former spooks was the need for cooperation between Indian and Pakistan intelligence agencies.

Dulat, an old Kashmir hand who headed India’s external intelligence agency during 1999-2000, said there were instances when interaction between RAW and ISI had “produced more than the desired results”, and Ehsan had been witness to at least one such major result.

Amid knowing guffaws and smiles, Dulat chided Ehsan and reminded him of his “relationship” with his Indian counterpart, of India tipping off Pakistan about a potential threat to the life of former president Pervez Musharraf, and of covert talks defusing a major flashpoint in the early 2000s.

Dulat said: “He (Ehsan) is still using the ploy of plausible deniability and being rather modest about his relationship which was well known. And from all that I know it was a great relationship that produced results. I think Sir, you recall the 2003 ceasefire took place because of you and your friend.”

The remarks evoked laughter from Ehsan.

Dulat added, “And if I can go beyond, your friend also tipped you with intelligence which may have saved Gen Musharraf’s life. And I think that is something that even Gen Musharraf in a way acknowledges. So I don’t think we need to deny that. It is a feather in your cap, Sir, and a feather in your friend’s cap.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan forging regional alliance with #Russia, #Iran against 'foreign presence' in #Afghanistan: ex-#ISI chief

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1544437/1-pakistan-aiming-regional-alliance-foreign-presence-afghan-former-isi-chief/

Pakistan has held successful negotiations with at least four countries and a new regional alliance against the foreign presence in Afghanistan is fast emerging, a former chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has claimed.

“Now this is the regional alliance that is emerging, not in the sense of an alliance, but at least they have started handling the foreign presence in Afghanistan in a coordinated manner,” Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, Pakistan’s ex-spymaster, told Russia Today’s Sophie Shevarnadze in an interview.

“In the meantime actually what we have done… is that [we have] found allies in the region starting with Iran, Russia, China and now lately Turkey,” he added.

Durrani said Pakistan does not care about the US sanctions anymore because it hardly gets any aid from the latter. “Sanctions are alright… Already there’s hardly anything we get from the US… Dependence on America — that finished long time ago,” he said, adding that Islamabad was rather looking for countries which would offer cooperation in economic development in the region “to ensure that this foreign presence from Afghanistan is vacated.”

Responding to a question over new US strategy on Afghanistan, the former intelligence chief denied there was a change in the American policy towards the war-torn nation, saying peace in Afghanistan was in the interest of the United States.


“The policy still continues to be run by, to use a Russian nomenklatura, the deep state in the US runs the policy. Obama used to speak softly and his representatives used to come and threaten us — Hillary Clinton and others, the generals. In this particular case, the roles are simply reversed, because Trump is not in the habit of talking softly, so they said ‘you can go ahead, see what you do, tweet whatever you like to, but we run the policy’,” he said, adding the job of the US president was to only shout at some countries.

Durrani said the US wanted to keep a military presence in Afghanistan at all costs. “Essentially, the policy remains the same, and that is — you have dig in Afghanistan, stay there, keep the bases, keep the military presence, that’s more important than either peace there or settlement there or whatever else.”

He went on to say that Pakistan pushed the Taliban leadership towards joining the Afghan peace process but the negotiation process was sabotaged either by the Kabul regime or the US itself.
Riaz Haq said…
The Danger of Trump’s Pakistan Approach
Taking a tougher line on Islamabad without a clear strategy is a losing proposition.

https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/the-danger-of-trumps-pakistan-approach/

As the dust settles, there should be a period of reflection, and there will be. Pakistan has to make up its mind whether it wants to contribute to Afghanistan stability or instability. Though Pakistan benefits and suffers from what happens in Afghanistan, Pakistan has failed to cash in on its support for the Taliban. And now it may be too late, as Pakistan is left with few good options except to drop them. The problem is that Washington is not making it any easier for Pakistan to do so.

Pakistan’s cooperation will depend on its assessment of what is the end game from the American perspective. But what is the overall American objective and strategy? There is no clarity. Without any knowledge of that and of what is in there for Islamabad, Pakistan will understandably be reluctant to cooperate.

Pakistan also wants coordinated action against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Jamaatul Ahrar, and the Balochistan Liberation Army, which operate from safe havens in Afghanistan. But both Kabul and Washington have been unresponsive. And so far, Washington has pushed all the wrong buttons like sanctioning India’s hegemonic ambitions in the region and attacking the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which may prompt Pakistan to hedge.

To add to Pakistan’s quandary, China may be facing a similar dilemma. Though it still remains invested in Afghanistan’s stability, if the United States remains silent about its end game in Afghanistan and has outlined a strategy of encirclement of China as suggested by Tillerson’s CSIS speech, then China too may have to hedge. Both General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis have recently been speaking in Congressional hearings against the “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative and its flagship project, CPEC. The theme is that China, through its regional partnerships, is trying to limit U.S. power projection and weaken Washington’s position in the Indo-Pacific.

Washington is trying to address a mélange of geopolitical, regional, and national security challenges, along with the failing Afghanistan war, without an overarching strategy or grand design. It may thus end up as a zero-sum exercise. One objective or another is going to give or lose out in pursuit of one particular interest. Washington may think that threatening CPEC to weaken Pakistan ‘s lifeline to undermine its leverage, and to weaken China’s alternatives to deal with the projection of American power in the Indian Ocean, might be a smart move but it is more likely to backfire. It is also worth noting that it will likely draw China and Pakistan even closer.

If Pakistan is lost to Washington or isolated, the United States loses too. The safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets remains important to the United States, as does non-proliferation. In case of strained relationship with Pakistan, the United States loses communication with Pakistan on the nuclear issue. It also loses influence on Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to deal with extremism and militant outfits. Not to mention Washington loses air and ground lines of communication, and intelligence sharing on dealing with transnational terror groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Finally, there will be no peace in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s help.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan: Mad Dog #Mattis Will Bark, but #Islamabad Won't Bite. #Afghanistan #Trump #terrorism #TTP https://goo.gl/ZU1FK1 via @Stratfor Worldview

As President Donald Trump's administration searches for an exit from the war in Afghanistan after over 16 years of U.S. involvement, the United States is making another high-level diplomatic outreach to Pakistan. On Dec. 4, Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistan's top military and civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. In these meetings, Mattis' mission is to convince Pakistani leadership to do more to attack militant safe havens and, in the long term, facilitate peace talks with the Taliban to end America's longest-running war. But Pakistan's leaders won't be easy to convince.

In the discussions, Mattis adopted a conciliatory approach by acknowledging Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, but he also reiterated Washington's demands. The United States has called for Pakistan to take more action against the militants that find refuge on its soil. Among them, crucially, is the leadership of the Taliban operating in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic outreach is just one of the ways the United States is trying to compel a change in Pakistan's behavior. Military aid is another. Last week, the latest report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service showed that the United States would further trim its annual aid package to Pakistan. In 2017, Washington doled out $526 million to Islamabad in exchange for its cooperation, which includes providing overland NATO supply route access through Pakistani territory. In 2018, that number is projected to drop to $345 million.

The United States has gradually trimmed the amount of aid it provides to Pakistan over the last several years. In 2014, for example, U.S. aid to Pakistan amounted to nearly $2.2 billion. For now, it appears that the U.S. strategy is to pursue incremental punitive measures against Pakistan, rather than pursue harsher tactics such as revoking Pakistan's non-NATO major ally status or cutting aid altogether. The United States isn't fully ready to bring out the stick, but the carrot is slowly being drawn back.

Pakistan wants to maintain its relationship with the United States, but it's willing to suffer the cost of deteriorating ties. From Islamabad's perspective, supporting the Taliban follows a rational calculation to ensure post-conflict Afghanistan is friendly to Pakistani interests. Support for Taliban leaders is aimed at denying Pakistan's rival, India, a foothold in Afghanistan. Because of this, Mattis' visit probably won't convince Pakistan to change its behavior, especially considering the Trump administration's calls for India to play a greater economic role in Afghanistan.
Riaz Haq said…
What the Success of the Left Alliance Means for Nepal
BY BISWAS BARAL ON 10/12/201

https://thewire.in/203749/what-the-success-of-the-left-alliance-means-for-nepal/

But perhaps the biggest reason people rejected the NC this time has to do with the 2015-16 shutdown of the Nepal-India border. As the Congress has always been close to New Delhi, its leaders were at the time seen as mincing their words in condemning the ‘Indian blockade’. But while they vacillated, Oli and his comrades felt no such qualms. They openly blamed India for bringing misery to Nepalis.


Deuba and company were seen as weak and doing ‘India’s bidding’. In contrast, Oli came across as a strong nationalist leader who was not afraid to call a spade a spade. Oli, the blockade-time prime minister, got the credit for courageously standing up to the ‘Indian bully’.

Oli back then also signed the landmark trade and transit agreements with China. These agreements ended Nepal’s total dependency on Indian ports for business with third countries and put paid – at least in terms of optics if not reality – to India’s monopoly on the supply of fuel. Both these acts were seen favorably by Nepalis who had felt humiliated by India’s highhandedness during the standoff. India-bashing has traditionally been a foolproof electoral strategy in Nepal, and Oli milked it.

Perhaps Prachanda, who has long since abandoned his revolutionary zeal, also realised that it would for the moment be wise to align with Oli and try to steal some of his thunder. On the campaign trail, Prachanda was seen as openly projecting Oli as the new prime minister. Apparently, the deal is that while Oli will lead the country, Prachanda will head the new party formed after the left merger. (A more cynical interpretation is that Prachanda is looking for Oli, who has multiple heath issues, to step down sooner rather than later so that he can then become the undisputed communist leader in Nepal.)

China’s puppet?

Speculations are rife that with the Left alliance poised for at least a simple majority, and very likely a two-thirds majority, the new government under Oli will firmly align with China. But this would be an over-simplification of the ground realities in Nepal. Oli understands very well – as does Prachanda, who in 2009 lost his prime minister’s chair after angering India – that no government in Nepal can afford to be seen as openly anti-India. Former Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon rightly refuses to label Oli ‘pro-China’ and thinks of him as ‘just another politician doing whatever is convenient to get to power’.

Oli, who was until a few years ago among India’s most trusted lieutenants in Kathmandu, embraced the pro-China nationalist image because he knew it would pay off electorally. But once in power, he will not need to be so openly hostile to India and will, in all likelihood, make efforts to mend his frayed ties with New Delhi, safe in the knowledge that there is no immediate threat to his government.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Accuses #US of Exporting War, Instability to #SouthAsia. #Afghanistan #India #TTP #terrorism

https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-accuses-us-exporting-war-instability-south-asia/4168486.html

Pakistan is accusing the United States of "exporting war" and "perpetual instability" in South Asia, and of "speaking Indian language" in bilateral dealings.

The allegations leveled by National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua again underscore the deterioration in Islamabad's relations with Washington. It also strengthened reported suggestions the two countries are on a collision course, particularly since August when President Donald Trump unveiled a new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

The U.S. policy accused Pakistan of harboring terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network, that are fueling the Afghan war and plotting attacks against India. It also focused on using intensified military means to defeat the Afghan Taliban and called on New Delhi to expand its role in Afghanistan, ignoring Islamabad's opposition and objection.

Janjua reiterated Pakistan's objections while addressing a security seminar Monday in Islamabad. He rejected terror allegations against his country, saying the United States was scapegoating Islamabad for failing to stabilize Afghanistan.

"Pakistan made irrelevant in Afghanistan, scapegoating [and] lumping all the blame [on Islamabad], speaking Indian language on every subject, planing to downgrade all ties, U.S. lawmakers are asking to designate Pakistan as a state sponsoring terrorism," Janjua said.

He went on to complain that despite being a non-NATO ally, Pakistan's attempts to procure U.S. defense equipment have been blocked and its nuclear weapons program is being opposed.

"India has become the preferred ally in Afghanistan and the military solution [for ending the war in Afghanistan] is again given the preference," he noted.

Janjua said the way forward for the United States in Afghanistan is to focus on finding a political solution rather than relying on military might. Washington, he added, should appoint a "political authority" to Afghanistan as empowered as its military commander in the country to promote a political resolution.

Alleging the U.S. wants to contain China's rise and the resurgence of Russia in the region, Janjua said Washington is opposed to Islamabad's multi-billion dollar economic corridor project being funded by Beijing under its global Belt and Road Initiative.

"To mitigate the challenges — China and Russia — and to ensure self-survival, [the] U.S. is exporting war and perpetual instability in South Asia," he said. "India is being supported and encouraged to promote U.S. regional interests. "

US side

There was no immediate reaction from U.S. officials to Janjua's statements.


U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis earlier this month visited Pakistan where he called on civilian and military leaders to redouble their efforts against terrorism. Officials revealed few details of the talks, but described them as positive and productive, dismissing the element of confrontation.

But on Monday, Janjua, who attended the meetings with Mattis, underscored the prevailing mutual disagreements and tensions.

The Trump administration has also warned it may designate certain officials of the Pakistani spy agency, ISI, as global terrorists for their ties to militant groups, including Haqqanis.

Just days before Mattis' visited Islamabad, the CIA director warned if Pakistan failed to act decisively against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis, the United States would unilaterally do so.
Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > PAKISTAN
Pakistan identified as top travel destination

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1596763/9-pakistan-identified-top-travel-destination/

The British Backpacker Society has identified Pakistan as it’s top travel desitination due to it being “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination”.

“Pakistan is the clear winner of the British Backpacker Society’s top 20 adventure travel destinations 2018 and we encourage keen travellers to book a trip now” the backpackers, who have explored over 101 countries, shared on social media. Other top destinations included Russia, India, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and China.

Gulf News has carried the comments of two members of the BBS on Pakistan. Samuel Joynson and Adam Sloper said that Pakistan had a lot to offer travellers.

“Pakistan is one of the friendliest countries on earth. So, prepare to be invited into people’s homes, take more selfies than you can count, and have every preconception that you ever held about this area of the world changed forever,” Samuel said.

The pair visited Pakistan in 2016, and traveled from Lahore to Gilgit-Baltistan via the Kaghan valley. They ended their trip in the Hunza Valley and climbed the Hon Pass near Karimabad.

“We chose to climb the Hon Pass as Eric Shipton, one of Britain’s most famous mountaineers, described the view from the pass as ‘the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur’, and we wanted to follow in his footsteps and experience this spectacle,” Samuel recalled. “The view from the Hon Pass was indeed the greatest natural sight that either of us has ever seen, and we would recommend it to anyone with a keen interest in mountaineering.”

Samuel also shared a travel tip: “Head north to the astonishing peaks of the Karakoram along the unforgettable Karakoram Highway. It is beautiful, exciting and culturally interesting, and travellers are rewarded at the journey’s end-point with perhaps the most beautiful natural sight on earth, the Hunza Valley.”

British Backpacker Society is known for inspiring thousands of it’s online followers to visit less famous destinations in developing countries. Adam had a word of advice for international travelers concerned about their safety when visiting Pakistan:

“Our advice would be to put preconceptions on the security situation in Pakistan to one side, and conduct some independent research. You should certainly review travel advisories from respective governments, but also speak to local Pakistanis about the situation. We believe that travel is at its best when it changes a visitor’s preconceptions, and few experiences achieve this more than travelling in Pakistan” he implored.

Riaz Haq said…
Malam Jabba: Hub of tourism in Pakistan

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/15/malam-jabba-hub-of-tourism-in-pakistan/

Known for its scenic beauty, Swat is also called the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’. While the valley has nearly always remained a major tourist attraction, its local economy mainly depends on tourism.

Located about 300 kilometers from Islamabad and 42 km from Saidu Sharif, Malam Jabba is a complete adventure tourist destination, and perhaps the finest skiing resort in Pakistan.

Malam Jabba has two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries that are spread across the resort. The presence of the monuments at such a height clearly indicates that the area was settled over 2000 years ago. Malam Jabba also offers two exciting trekking trails that offer excellent scenery. The Shangla Top is a trek that is about 18 kilometers from the resort.

In the year 2005, the government started losing its control over the valley and later in 2007 it completely fell to non-state actors. While the government was able to reestablish its writ, no one believed that the charm Swat once had for tourists would ever get restored.

But today, with investors pouring money into the valley’s local tourism, it has once again become a major tourist attraction. While the Pearl Continental Hotel, Malam Jaba is starting its operations in July 2018, a major international skiing competition is also being held on Jan 17 at the Malam Jaba resort that has been rebuilt by the Samson’s Company.

It’s pertinent to mention here that militants had burnt down the PTDC motel – built with Australian collaboration, had destroyed the chairlift cable and an office of the meteorological department in Malam Jabba back in 2008.

Yaqoob, the ski resort’s manager told Pakistan Today that more than one-hundred-thousand tourists come to Malam Jaba every month during winters. Owing to it, the local business has improved, he added.

The manager at the resort further said that the event will not only project a better image of the country but will also help restore the faith of the international community in Pakistan being a safe destination for both the investors and tourists.

While the ongoing projects indicate that the valley is on the right track to development, the initiatives should be encouraged and supported by all stakeholders of the board as any controversy regarding any investment would roll back the efforts which the KP government has made till now, and will leave the people of Swat behind as those who will lose the most.
Riaz Haq said…
India has territorial disputes with:

- Pakistan
- China
- Myanmar
- Bangladesh
- Nepal

https://twitter.com/spectatorindex/status/954760444941651969
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan aims to revive glory of ancient Mughal city Lahore
March 1, 2018 by Khurram Shahzad

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-pakistan-aims-revive-glory-ancient.html

Perched on scaffolding, restoration experts chip away at decades of grime and repair broken mosaic tiles in a bid to save the colossal murals depicting historic battles and regal ceremonies on the walls of Lahore fort.


The painstaking work is part of efforts to preserve Lahore's crumbling architectural history as officials juggle conserving its diverse heritage with building modern infrastructure in Pakistan's chaotic second city.

The metropolis, which once served as the capital of the Mughal empire that stretched across much of the subcontinent, has been subsumed into a myriad of civilizations across the centuries.

This rich past is most visible in the milieu of architecture salted across the Walled City of Lahore—from Hindu temples and Mughal forts to Sikh gurdwaras and administrative office built during the Raj.

"You get a history of a thousand years, 500 year-old houses and monuments and mosques, shrines and a very peaceful atmosphere," says Kamran Lashari, director general of the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA).

Prime among them, and dating back to the 11th century, the Lahore fort was first built of mud and was then later reinforced with stone over the centuries by a long cast of Mughal emperors who oversaw its expansion and the accompanying artwork.

But periods of conflict along with searing heat, monsoon rains and years of neglect have taken a toll on the fort.

Despite the onset of decay, experts suggest the city's vast Islamic architectural heritage could make it a contender to rival more established Silk Road travel destinations.

"Lahore can easily compete with Samarkand. It nearly matches Ispahan," says Sophie Makariou, president of the Parisian-based National Museum of Asian Arts.

Makariou adds that its failure to shine is more to do with safety concerns that have plagued the nation after multiple attacks.

"Due to the bad reputation of Pakistan, it remains unknown," she explains.

Pearl of the Punjab

But as security across Pakistan continues to improve, officials are hoping to revive Lahore's lost glory.


More than 40 conservationists with the the WCLA—including engineers, architects and ceramists from across the globe—are currently working on restoring the mosaic mural on the fort's exterior.



"It's one of the largest murals in the world. It contains over 600 tile mosaic panels and frescos," says Emaan Sheikh from the Agha Khan Trust for Culture.

Restoration of the mural is just part of a larger project to refurbish the fort, which includes conservation projects in the royal kitchen, the summer palace and a basement, according to WCLA's director general Kamran Lashari.

Similar work by the WCLA has already been done to revamp the artwork at the historic Wazir Khan mosque and the Shahi Hammam—one of the only surviving Turkish Baths in the subcontinent that is approximately 400 years old.

The city's famed Delhi Gate, which once hosted extravagant Mughal processions arriving in Lahore from the east, has also been fully restored along with dozens of homes in the Walled City.

Many of those involved in the project are optimistic.

"The cities which are most famous for tourism, you can take London, Madrid, Istanbul, Rome, all the prerequisites which are available in those cities, are available in Lahore," claims Ahmer Malik, head of Punjab's tourism corporation, referring to Lahore's architectural and cultural attractions.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's crumbling architectural heritage
Syed Raza Hassan


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-architecture/pakistans-crumbling-architectural-heritage-idUSKCN1GD45N


Pakistan (Reuters) - When British colonial rulers hastily left South Asia at Pakistan’s painful birth in 1947, the ensuing chaos and violence meant little attention was paid to the architecture they built or influenced in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.

More than 70 years later, architectural gems have been torn down and many are either crumbling or under threat from real estate developers in Pakistan’s commercial capital which is mushrooming into a mega-city.

The structures, weathered by the salty air, open the door to Karachi’s colonial scars, researchers say, pointing out that many of the original owners were among millions of Muslim and Hindu refugees who fled their homes amid communal and religious violence that accompanied the end of British rule in India in 1947 and the creation of Pakistan.

”Every brick of the heritage building narrates a story of those who left in 1947,“ said Akthar Baloch, a researcher who has written several books on Karachi’s heritage. ”They built them with love and affection.

"When people like me feel bad looking at the neglect of these heritage sites, one wonders how the families of the owners must feel if they ever visit Karachi." (Click reut.rs/2F03sEg for a picture package of Karachi's crumbling heritage buildings)

Karachi’s population has skyrocketed to nearly 17 million people in 2017 from an estimated 400,000 at independence, and every inch of the city has become a valuable commodity for developers building homes or drafting plans to alter the city’s skyline with new skyscrapers.

Jahangir Kothari Parade promenade, once an imposing British heritage site, is now obscured by a maze of overpasses and the shadow of Pakistan’s tallest building.

The promenade is part of a handful of buildings, along with the colonial-era Imperial Customs House, which have been restored to their former grandeur, but such projects are rare when the focus is on tearing down old and building new.

Rapid urbanization has ensured large-scale destruction, particularly in the old city areas, where more profitable multi-story residential buildings have sprung up.

But amid the new concrete, remnants of the colonial legacy can still be seen, often recognizable by their state of neglect.

The Saddar neighborhood of Karachi has perhaps the largest concentration of British architectural history, while in the city’s eastern district, the iconic old colonial jail has been declared a heritage site by Sindh province’s antiquities department.

So far more than 1,700 premises have been listed as heritage sites by the antiquities department and the process continues.

The Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, introduced in 1994, has helped provide legal protection for structures of historical significance. But courts are also busy with cases of developers trying to circumvent such protection.

March 1, 2018 at 10:18 AM Delete

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