Last couples of weeks witnessed a huge venomous propaganda campaign by unknown detractors on social media to mislead the incoming tourists and also malign the Heavenly Valley of Hunza and its people. Comments, counter comments, emotional outbursts emanating from different corners further added the fuel to fire. I don’t know exactly ,who are the players / perpetrators? But the intention / motive behind the move was quite obvious, offensive , ugly and malicious .
Despite the ill drive aimed to tarnish the image of Hunza , continues pouring of tourists in to the valley , has not only foiled the devilish plans of adversaries , but also has sent an unambiguous message that leg pulling / intrigues may not work any more, it is against religion, cultural ethos of GB also.
The virulent propaganda game compelled me to list down certain facts / strengths about Hunza which are undeniable indeed . Before, I dwell upon the subj , let me clear my worthy readers from outside GB, purely from tourists perspective, Hunza means both Hunza and Nagar vally which include many small or chain of valleys / adventure points / tourists spots, spread all along on both sides of the gorgeous Hunza River.
Hunza has remained a very Hot Spot for nature lovers both inside and out side the country due to its soft image , natural and man-made beauty , rich culture and Intellectual traditions. It’s natural beauty coupled with inherent values like civility, pluralism, cultural diversity, tolerance , vibrant literate populace, generosity, hospitality, civic sense , a safe and peaceful tourist friendly environment make these scattered valleys even more special, lively and captivating.
For many people , Hunza may be attractive owing to its natural beauty . Let me share with you few more aspects . The local values which attract thousand of tourists like a magnet includes “the magnanimity, honest, hard working, diligent and painstaking people of Hunza region themselves”.
Man made beauty in the area ranging from handy craft / cottage industry to architecture skills , age old forts , castles , crafting of minerals in to awesome armament, variety of local hand made dresses , house hold items, not only reflect the aesthetic sense / local talent but also tell the visitors, how great contributions these brave people have been making to enhance quality life of local populace besides numerous measures taken to promote tourism culture in the area.
Collective wisdom at local level urges to promote tourism not as a mere tool to earn money , rather aims to also high light the soft and enlighten image of the community in front of the whole world .
I do agree, like the rest of Pakistani society , people of Hunza may also have few shortcomings / weaknesses specially in dealing with their guests, but as whole , human and civic index in the area is at the best Alhamdullilah.
Luckily I had an opportunity to talk to some elders from the area, discussed the matter related to tourism promotion. They had a unique approach, were more interested to present the soft and moderate image of their area, people, culture and traditions, preserve their values etc . They were also cautious , sensitive and expecting from people coming in, to respect local norms , culture and values.
Met a local notable who was found saying , locals of Hunza / Nagar dealing with tourists must treat them as guests not tourists. I purposely asked the Baba , what is the difference between a Tourist and Guest ? He came out with a unique and meaningful reply , a tourist can bring you few coins, but a guest comes along with ” Barkat ” . Barakat is a Persian word which means increase in wealth both worldly and spiritual , Subhan Allah.
A misconception that is usually carried by tourists is, unnecessary expectations from the Hosts , they are expected to behave like angels, the fact is, they also hail from the same Pakistani society , they should not be seen as a different specie or super human beings. One odd case or an untoward incident can’t reflect the true face of entire society, unintended mistakes must be ignored
Finally, few suggestions to promote smooth and uninterrupted tourism in the area . Please don’t wait for the govt apparatus to come and lead. make your own arrangements, sensitize and refresh the locals on issues related to tourism . Make own local laws covering all necessary details to facilitate the tourist with out compromising on your own values, culture , traditions. Learn from the past , don’t repeat the mistakes which caused ripples in relations between the hosts and guests in past. Learn from the philosophy of Barkat , arrange special refresher cadres for Hotel Managers down to a Chai Wala, well in time , to avoid any unnecessary criticism from your detractors / business competitors. Last but not least , remember the prophetic words, what you do ( good or bad ) returns to you sooner or later .