By Bernard Grua
The text presented below should not be considered as a result of an, even short, study about tourism in Hunza Valley or as a list of recommendations. Its aim is to present an external view resulting from an independent travel, made in August 2018, using public transportations from Islamabad to Khunjerab Pass with stops in different places. It is also an outcome of discussions hold with the people living and working in this mountainous area of Northern Pakistan.
1. The convenient public transportation
2. The trustable police
3. The Hunza Valley identity to assert
4. The growing garbage threat
5. The weakening visual harmony
6. The promising but ignored “eco-heritage”
7. The missing Hunza Valley independent tourist office and website
8. The crippling visa process
It is much easier to get visas for Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Even the Afghan visa (if you apply in Khorog, Tajikistan) is easier to obtain than the Pakistani one. For me, only the Russian visa was a bigger nightmare than the Pakistani one. Pakistani visa should be a more understandable and a more standard procedure. It is a significant part of the travel budget for Pakistan. This money could be better used in the country and for its population.
Connected with visa issue is the NOC (Non Objection Certificate) one. Foreigners are not aware about where the NOC is required, where they can get the NOC, what they need to prepare to apply for the NOC.
9. The dettering foreign MFA’s recommendations
10. The offer to complete, the synergies to developp, with Hunza Valley bordering countries
It will, for sure, attract new travellers. This demand exists as I could observe on forum discussions. Moreover, inhabitants of Chapursan (Pakistan) and Bozai Gumbaz (Afghanistan) own the yaks making possible, for foreign travellers, to cross the Irshad Pass (4,977 m) between the two countries. It would supplement their income and give them new reasons to stay on the mountainous land of their fathers instead of choosing an exodus to a Southern megalopolis.
Last but not least, may be I am dreaming, but I really think Pakistan and India should cool down about Kashmir. The current situation cuts the Pakistani northern territories and the Indian northern territories from mutual synergies which would, here too, benefit to the local communities of both countries. I know, it would be difficult. I agree that I am not aware of the Indian vision of the problem. However, I observed that the anti-Indian speech is the major part of the Pakistani national identity building. It might be a revolution to address this issue and to think about a national project uniting Pakistan based on a positive endeavour instead of an “against” rhetoric. Though, it may also challenge the power of numerous people who take advantage of this antagonism, when they are not provoking it.