FM urges world to revisit travel advisories

Islamabad: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has urged the world capitals to revisit their travel advisories and encourage their people to visit Pakistan which has a great potential in tourism. He was addressing Gandahara Civilization and Heritage Forum in Islamabad on Monday. The Forum was also attended by the ambassadors of different countries. The Foreign Minister said such a course will increase the engagement level and help build strong relations. Qureshi said security situation stands much improved in the country as a result of sacrifices rendered by people of Pakistan and the armed forces. Qureshi apprised the foreign diplomats of how counter-terror operations had facilitated the return of normalcy to Swat and the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). “People have to leave their homes and go back to Swat today and see the difference. People in the Fata regions were also displaced. Go back today and see what was happened in Fata,” he urged them. “Who did it? The people of Pakistan. The resilience and resolve to fight back and defeat terrorism and reverse extremism,” he asserted. The Foreign Minister also apprised the envoys about the government’s liberalized visa regime. He said nationals of 175 countries can now avail the facility of e-visa and they will be given visa in ten days. He said Pakistan has also identified 50 countries whose nationals will be given visa on arrival in Pakistan. He said the government has opened all the areas to encourage people to come to the country. It is pertinent to mention here that Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that the government was introducing a “new revolutionary visa policy” to encourage tourism in the country, in order to make it a foundation for change in the country. The Information Minister had said the government had decided to provide the e-visa facility to 175 countries and visa on arrival to 50 countries. Visa on arrival will also be provided to Indian-origin British and American citizens holding United States or United Kingdom passports. Qureshi said Pakistan has opened Kartarpur corridor recognizing the interests of Sikh community. He said Pakistan is thankful to the Indian side for positively responding to Pakistan’s initiative. He said Rs. 2.5 billion will be spent on the establishment of necessary infrastructure in the first phase to facilitate the visits of Sikh community. The Foreign Minister said the response of Sikh community on Pakistan’s initiative has been overwhelming. He said this initiative has the potential to create goodwill between Pakistan and India. He hoped that Kartarpur Corridor initiative and other such steps will bring a change in the attitudes of the two neighbors who have remained hostile to each other for many decades.