Report Muhammad Jalaluddin Shamil
CHITRAL: Academics and researchers at a regional conference here on Sunday called for investment in human capital especially providing skill and technical education to the youth to benefit from the emerging opportunities.
The conference on “Chitral – the future hub of tourism and trade connectivity” was arranged at the University of Chitral by the university in collaboration with Chitral Association for Education and Health (CAEH). Academics and researchers from University of Peshawar, University of Swat, University of Chitral, Aga Khan Higher Secondary School Chitral and experts from Chitral presented their papers.
Total 10 papers were presented in the conference. Based on the papers and talks, the following recommendations were made:
1. CPEC be viewed as globalization phenomenon, for this to benefit us education must be made responsive to the needs by introducing flexible education system, giving autonomy to teachers and imparting skills to students, infusing multi cultural understanding in students and encouraging them for networking with their peers beyond borders.
More entrepreneurial skills be developed among youth. Moreover, investment in human capital be considered for economization of education. In this respect, economic model of education be underscored where skill based technical education among other things be focused along with transformative pedagogies for transformation of individuals.
2. Chitralis in the confluence of the greater region having tremendous opportunities for the youth.Therefore, BRI, CPEC and other regional agreements and initiatives offer great opportunities for the youth. Youths need to protect their values and culture and build their capacities for which not only Pakistani institutions are providing opportunities but even other countries are providing opportunities in forms of scholarships and exchange programs. Students/Youth be sensitized towards this reality.
3. OBOR and CPEC, covering about 4.5 billionglobal population, have great opportunities for Pakistan in general and Chitral in particular.Diverse investment opportunities, in agriculture, tourism, health etc exists. Wakhan, adjacent to Chitral is the best for connectivity to CAR’s and beyond, this fact must be understood and connectivity with CARs through Wakan should be a priority.
4. Aspects for tourism be projected/ advertised; like religious tourism, health tourism, mining tourism, winter tourism, projections of festival to name a few. Cooperation with outside investors/stakeholders and join ventures are important for the development of Chitral. Cultural product of Chitral should be highlighted to attract tourists.
5. Chitral provides magnificent opportunities to international tourists in areas of pilgrims to shrines, trekking and mountaineering etc.Geographical location, summer weather, exotic culture, peaceful environment, natural landscape are some of the other aspects which can attract international tourism to Chitral. Some of the identified constraints in attracting int’l tourism in the context of chitral include, tourists accommodation problem, road accessibility and transport related issues.
Moreover, national policies, law and order situation and lack of investment in the field of tourism are national constraints. There are also some int’l constraints in this connection including border tension of Pakistan with neighbors, Afghanistan issues, Pakistan’s erroneous international image and some global conspiracies to divert tourists.
In spite of all these, Europe and American continent are major international level contributors of tourists to Chitral. Policy level intervention in this regard was recommended; and private investors need to be encouraged in tourism and hospitality industry in the remote and peripheral areas, including Chitral.
6. In Chitral, Involvement of local people in tourism industry is important for sustainable development and imparting the industry’s benefit to general public was recommended.
Tourists be given free hand to roam in the nook and corners of Chitral without assigning a policeman to accompany them, as there is no law and order situation in Chitral.
7. Chitral has great prospects in eco-tourism and is a paradise for eco-ecotourism. The beautiful landscape, natural resources (Fauna& Flora), environment, indigenous community all are attraction for tourists. In this regard, to attract tourists’ new facilities in form of luxury hotels, enhanced and extended air transportation system, ecotourism related trainings, introducing tour operators and trekking companies if coupled with advertisement, would work wonders in the field.
8. Chitral has tremendous tourist attractions in terms of trekking and mountaineering in various passes and peaks introduced since the time of British interests in the area during late 19th century. Total 35 passes exist in Chitral having attraction for tourists, these need to be highlighted in international level by all concerned stakeholders.
9. For connecting Eurasia, Shah Salim and Broghil are the two cheapest and most feasible passages, which need to be seriously considered by concerned authorities. Moreover, there are many unexplored attractions in Chitral, which needs to be explored; and activities like winter sports and jeep rallies can also be of value.
10. One of the main attractions of Chitral lies in the indigenous cultural values having potentials to attract tourists. Mechanisms must be made not only to promote these cultural values but these values must be projected to outside world.
11. Kalash community is one of the strength of not only Chitral but of the whole country in terms of attracting national and international tourists.Keeping in view its importance, its identity should not be jeopardized from any quarter in any way.
12. Finally, it is recommended that MoU be signed between University of Peshawar and University of Chitral for joint ventures and collaboration to reap the fruits of CPEC.