Showcase Pakistan through Shandur

THE traditional three-day Shandur festival concluded on Sunday and speaking at the closing ceremony Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif rightly pointed out that the festival not only attracts domestic and foreign tourists but also gives a loud message to terrorists that we cannot be intimidated into shunning our traditions. He also held out an assurance that the day is not far off when the country will become a haven of peace, prosperity and progress.
Shandur Top, called Roof of the World, is the highest polo ground in the world and this naturally built ground is surrounded by spectacular and picturesque landscape. The lake near the polo ground and green small ridges turn the top into a heaven on earth. The festival is regularly held since 1936 and apart from polo contest between Chitral and GB teams, para-gliding, jumping, horse dance, tug of war and programmes featuring local music and folk dances are the hallmarks of the three day event. Its unique location and fascinating beauty used to be an attraction for foreigners and foreign diplomats in Pakistan routinely attended the festival. However, terrorist attacks and the resultant fears and apprehensions have kept them away and we have not been able to take full advantage of this God-given opportunity of projecting soft image of Pakistan and attracting foreign tourists in large numbers. The fact remains that Shandur Top and the annual festival and dozens of fairytale lakes and scenic beauty of different areas in KP, Azad Kashmir and GB, offer immense potential to attract not only foreign tourists but also investment that could give a big boost to local economy and that of the country as well. We would recommend that the Foreign Office may arrange a trip of the foreign diplomats and their families to Shandur Top and similar other unique locations, prepare documentaries on scenic beauty of different areas of the country and screen them through our missions abroad to send a positive signal and message to the international community about ground situation in Pakistan. The possibility of making polo tournament at Shandur an international contest may also be explored in view of its obvious benefits.

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