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Protesters block Kalam-Bahrain road to protest govt’s tourism policy

By Our Correspondent
July 20, 2020

MINGORA: Hundreds of people in Kalam, including owners of hotels, on Sunday blocked the main Kalam-Bahrain road to protest the government’s policy towards tourism.

They also accused the administration of harassing tourists coming from distant places. The protesters asked Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to personally take note of the issue as the district administration has ignored them. “Officially there is a ban on tourists in Kalam, but all the hotels are full for the past one week, which is good for the local community as it is helpful for their survival. But the question is how did thousands of people manage to arrive here and the local administration started crackdown in middle of the night and brought the guests out of their rooms,” said former district nazim Swat, Mohammad Ali Shah, while speaking to the protesters.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) provincial president, Amir Muqam also joined the protesters and complained that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had no permanent policy for any important sector in the country.

He accused the government of intentionally damaging tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Swat. “What you have done for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in seven years and you have started undermining the tourism sector by harassing the guests who have come from distant places in Punjab and Karachi. It is sending a very bad message to the people coming from different places and they are mistreated by the local administration,” said Amir Muqam while addressing the protesters. He and other protesters said it was beyond their understanding as to why the tourists were allowed to enter Swat when there was a ban on tourists. The hotel owners complained that the local administration along with police raided hotels and brought the guests out of their rooms in middle of the night and asked them to leave Kalam.

“Would you believe, the majority of people coming to Kalam are usually have a reference of the district administration or the police or other law enforcement agencies. The genuine tourists are sent back from Madyan, Bahrain and Kalam which is causing a bad name to Swat and particularly Kalam,” said a representative of hotel association. He said the local administration was helpless to handle this issue as the district administration was least bothered to find out an amicable solution to this important problem, concerning livelihood of thousands of people.

The hotel owners also demanded the chief minister to personally take note of the situation in Kalam and allow tourists under certain standards operating procedures, adding that it will enable local population and hotel owners to earn livelihood to their families. They gave a two-day deadline to the government and threatened to block the Bahrain-Kalam road for an indefinite period if the issue was not resolved.

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