Pakistan: Top Tourist Destination of 2020: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is on his maiden 4-day trip to Pakistan, at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) on 17 February 2020 (Monday) termed the improved security situation of Pakistan as Pakistan’s transformation from terrorism to tourism “absolutely remarkable”, noting that Islamabad, which looked like a “fortress” a few years back had now become a family station for the world body’s staff. “We are witnessing the state becoming present, both from the point of view of security [… and] basic service, development in an absolutely remarkable transformation,” he said. “I can see how Pakistan not only opened its borders, in a world where so many borders are closed, but Pakistani people open their houses and their hearts in [an] enormous demonstration of generosity,” he said while referring to the influx of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He also spoke at the international conference ’40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan’, where he insisted that the world “must recognize that international support for Pakistan has been minimal as compared to [its own] national efforts” for Afghan refugees. “At the same time, I have seen the commitment of Pakistan to peace, namely to support peace in Afghanistan,” he added. He also praised Pakistan’s role and contribution to UN-Peace missions.
Pakistan used to be a victim of terrorism, the terrorism phenomenon was started since the entrance of troops from former-USSR into Afghanistan in 1979, and the intensity gained momentum from 2000 to 2014, with a peak in 2009. Only in 2009, the worst of any year, 2,586 terrorist, insurgent, and sectarian-related incidents were reported that killed 3,021 people and injured 7,334, according to the “Pakistan Security Report 2009” published by PIPS. These casualties figure 48 percent higher as compared to 2008. On the other hand, the rate of suicide attacks surged by one third to 87 bombings that killed 1,300 people and injured 3,600.
Traditionally, Pakistan was a very peaceful state and the people of Pakistan were known for its peace, hospitality, stability, and tolerance. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Pakistan was heaven for foreign tourists, especially from the Western World. Pakistan is blessed with natural beauty, high mountains, Glaciers, Rivers, Beaches, Pilatus, Jungles, Deserts, Archaeological & historical places, and religious places. Pakistani society was famous for the acceptance of Foreigners with all different backgrounds, religions, cultures, and ethnicities. In history, Pakistan has absorbed various cultures, especially the National Language of Pakistan “Urdu” is a mixture of Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The typical Pakistani cultures have roots from Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Greek-Alexander the Great. During the one century-long British rule, has Westernized Pakistani Society and is a member of Commonwealth Country, English language and culture was dominating visibly. By nature, Pakistanis are peace-loving nature and a rather submissive society.
However, due to the situation in Afghanistan in 1979, the US gathered Muslim youth from all over the world in Pakistan. Provided them training, weapons, and Dollars to fight against the Russian Forces in Afghanistan. This all was possible by radicalizing them. The US used religion to charge these youth for “Jihad”. The Muslim scholars were paid to promote “Jihad” and textbooks taught in educational schools were modified to promote “Jihad”. The US has funded such scholars’ generously who preach for “Jihad”.
Cash and religion were used to exploit Muslim youths for “Jihad” (Holy War). And Taliban, involved in Jihad were treated as heroes. White House was open for them and President Reagan hosted banquets in honor of the Taliban. Some of President Regan’s remakes about the Taliban are denied recently, but it was acknowledged that the Taliban enjoyed the highest degree of respect and honor in the US during the Afghan War during the 1980s.
However, with the help of the Jihadis, the US won the war in Afghanistan and the former USSR was to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 1988-89, under an agreement. But unfortunately, the US also lost its interest in Afghanistan and left Pakistan alone to face the consequences of unstable Afghanistan.
Deliberately, Pakistani society was radicalized. Intolerance, extremism, religious divide, ethnicity, and factionists were promoted. The US-funded the individuals with an extremist ideology to promote a division in the society. Insurgency and separatist movements were supported and society was led toward chaos.
Since the 16 December 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar, which killed 150, mainly children, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan-TTP), was ostensibly a game-changer. A week later the government unveiled a new counter-terrorism strategy, the twenty-point National Action Plan (NAP), with Prime Minister and Army Chief, vowing to target all terror groups without distinction. The whole nation, above their political or religious affiliation, stood with the Security forces, to counter-terrorism. Finally, with a lot of hard work and public support, Pakistan managed to control terrorism.
Today, Pakistan has been transformed completely into a tourist destination. Due to its unique natural beauty, it has been attracting many foreign tourists. Many Western countries like the US and the UK have declared Pakistan a safe country and a family station for their diplomatic community. The statement of the UN Secretary-General is considered as certification that Pakistan is a safe country. Pakistani people are peace-loving genetically, good hosts and our security forces have turned it into a very safe place. You are welcome to visit Pakistan for your next holidays, to feel and witness the transformation by yourself.
This article was first published in orientalreview.org.