Visit GB sans NOC

Good news for foreign tourists

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

Foreign tourists can now visit the area of Gilgit Baltistan without obtaining any NOC from the interior ministry. The government has lifted the requirement of NOC in order to encourage tourism industry. The information was shared by Minister of State for Interior Baligur Rehman while responding to a call attention notice in the Senate on Friday.
The minister said that the government lifted this ban on May 22 which was actually is in place since 1954 due to sensitivity of the area and to ensure security of foreign tourists.
He however said that now foreign tourists can visit Gilgit Baltistan on tourist visa and there is no requirement of any no objection certificate (NOC) for them. He said that the decision of lifting ban on tourists’ visa was made on the request of the Gilgit Baltistan government.
He said that instructions have been passed on to the government of Gilgit Baltistan for setting up new tourists centres and deploying police for security of foreign tourists.
He said that the government of Gilgit Baltistan has assured to set-up tourists centers and ensuring security of foreign tourists, on which the government has lifted the ban. Earlier, Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja on a calling attention notice said that tourism being a leading industry in Gilgit Baltistan was facing problems due to imposition of ban on foreign tourists to visit Gilgit Baltistan while getting NOC from the Ministry of Interior. The requirement of getting NOC from the interior ministry for the foreign tourists was earlier strongly condemned by the tourist operators describing it as the economic murder of Gilgit Baltistan. Seventy per cent of GB people depend on tourism to earn a livelihood as there is no other industry in the region.
The tourism industry in the region has already been destroyed after the situation unfolding in South Asia in the wake of 9/11. The industry has also been damaged because of operations against terrorists in the north of Pakistan and the Nanga Parbat massacre of 2012. While appreciating the government steps, analysts said the move of lifting the requirement of NOC will help encourage tourism in the area and help promote positive and soft image of the country abroad.

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