Gilgit-Baltistan [PoK], January 23 (ANI): Foreign adventurers are not able to visit Gilgit- Baltistan (GB) due to growing political uncertainty and visa delays this winter. Not a single foreign mountain expedition has arrived this season, Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper reported.
The United States, Australia and Saudi Arabia have been cautioning their citizens against travelling to Pakistan.
According to the GB tourism department, no foreign expedition or trekking group has been issued a permit this winter season, which usually lasts from November to February.
This winter, only two foreign expedition groups applied for a visa to summit Nanga Parbat. Visa delays, however, compelled them to cancel their plans.
This is in contrast to 2022 when hundreds of foreign mountaineers visited Pakistan in winter to attempt to summit mountains like K2 and Nanga Parbat. In the summer of 2022, more than 1,600 international climbers visited GB.
Secretary to the Alpine Club of Pakistan, Karar Haidri, told Dawn that prevailing political uncertainty in the country was the main factor behind the decline, as many adventure tourists cancelled their visits to the region.
However, Asghar Ali Porik, a tour operator from GB, told Dawn that the visa policy was the main cause, as it resulted in delayed issuance of visas.
"There is no time frame to the issuance of visas to trekkers and mountaineers once they have applied. Foreign adventure tourists couldn't manage their plans accordingly," he said, as quoted by Dawn newspaper.
According to Porik, another reason was a 40 per cent hike in permit royalty fees from 2023 onwards.
An official of the GB tourism department agreed that the decline in the number of adventurers visiting Pakistan was caused by political unrest and the visa regime.
Former Pakistan Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar on Saturday said that Pakistan has become "politically and morally bankrupt", according to a news report.
"We have become politically and morally bankrupt. Even today, people are not being told the truth, which the country needs," Khokhar said while addressing the second session of the national dialogue in Quetta.
During the conference, the former Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader said that communication between Pakistan's people and political parties is broken. He said there is a need to address people's issues rather than being engaged in irrelevant political discourses such as the Panama Papers and the Toshakhana case, the paper said. (ANI)