On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan has “huge potential” to attract visitors from Muslim nations who are afraid of visiting Europe and other areas owing to Islamophobia fears.
He made the remark while speaking to local residents and participants in the government’s tree planting program at Sonmiani beach in Balochistan’s Lasbela district.
At the start of his address, the prime minister said that he had observed the region from above when arriving by helicopter and that it might be turned into a tourist attraction.
Prime Minister Imran said that the government’s efforts should be aimed at improving people’s lives by providing them with jobs, education for their children, and health care. “It is the government’s first responsibility to see how we can make the people’s lives better and to first fulfill their basic needs and then [check] how to make them happy,” the premier said of Lasbela, adding that an industrial estate could not be built there, but a “splendid tourist resort” could be built instead. He emphasized, however, that it would not be the kind of tourist resort where “people come and then [go against] our culture, custom, and religion,” but rather one that would draw a “great number of individuals from the Muslim world.”
The premier said that “our people” used to spend their vacations in “many” locations across the globe, including Europe, but that they “have tremendous difficulties today due to Islamophobia.”
“They don’t want to take their wives and children there, so a place like Pakistan has great potential where people from Muslim countries will come for tourism,” he said, adding that the federal government would work with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani to develop a plan to bring consultants to the area and decide how to best use it for tourism.
“Tourism has become a science; certain places have been devastated as a result of [lack of adequate planning]. So much building has been done in Murree; the Murree I knew as a kid has totally changed because we did not develop other mountainous areas,” he said.
For the first time, the PTI administration is developing new mountainous regions for tourism, he said.
Prime Minister Imran further said that his visit was motivated by the mangrove woods near the Somniani seashore. In response to the United Nations panel’s report on climate change, which was released the day before, he stated, “We are very fortunate because we are one of the countries that are far ahead in protecting [ourselves] from climate change.” He also noted that there were fires in several countries, including Greece, Turkey, and the United States, as well as unprecedented floods in other parts of the world. “It’s all because of climate change,” he said.
He went on to say that mangrove forests were the “best” for dealing with climate change since they generated the most oxygen and absorbed the most carbon dioxide.
‘Have chosen to move Balochistan ahead,’ Prime Minister Imran said, noting that the province has fallen behind neighboring provinces because past administrations had not given it the attention it needed. In an apparent reference to former Prime Minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he said, “we have rulers who have gone to London’s Harrods more than they have been to Balochistan in a year.” He went on to say that the PTI government had decided to “bring Balochistan forward,” and that the amount of money being spent on the province — Rs1 trillion — had “never been spent before.” He said that the government was doing so because “we think that when Balochistan grows, Pakistan develops.”
“God has blessed Balochistan with minerals and blessings; we are working on a plan to develop that; this is a large region, and more money is required to develop it; when natural resources are developed, the money will also be spent on your large territories, and they will be developed,” he concluded.