The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government wants to turn the province into the historic centerpiece of Imran Khan’s tourism project.
The area is popular among adventurers and explorers for its varying landscapes ranging from rocky mountains, valleys, hills and rich agricultural farms. KPK has been the time-honored gateway into South Asia; many civilisations have passed through the land, from the Greeks to the Mughals, and as a result there are many religious and cultural landmarks present in the province.
The KPK government wants to attract more visitors to the region using these landmarks, in order to promote tourism in Pakistan as desired by PM Imran Khan. A previously unexplored sector. the religious significance of the landmarks could turn KPK into a magnet for devotees.
To start, the province’s archaeological authorities want to restore more than 3,000 priceless historical artifacts that are currently on display in museums in Karachi and Islamabad.
The Director of Archaeology believes the artifacts bearing relevance to Buddhism should be brought to KPK where there are buddhist sites, unlike in Karachi where the relics currently reside. Thanks to Khan’s government, experts believe the return of these relics should be easier than before.
“In the past, the federal government was not supportive, and would routinely block provincial plans to upgrade its attractions,” said an official.
Previously, due to the war on terrorism and volatile circumstances, the federal government had restricted foreigners from traveling to KPK.
Now that it’s free from federal restrictions and the threat of terrorism, the provincial government has shifted its focus on reviving KPK’s reputation as the hub of heritage and religious sites.
It has also allowed the archaeological department to explore more than 100 new sites across the province. Provincial authorities are optimistic that the province will regain its lost glory, with the potential of attracting tourists from predominantly Buddhist countries in East Asia.
“The newly discovered tourist spots in district Dir, Malakand, Chitral, and other merged tribal areas, will change the destiny of the province,” predicted one official.
Dozens of unexplored religious sites dot the newly merged tribal areas. If explored, the Director of Archaeology believes they could attract visitors from all over the world.
“This could have a huge impact on the provincial economy and the image of the country,” he said, adding, “we have the potential of attracting millions of religious tourists every year if we explore our sites.”
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