Online visa facility for 175 countries launched to promote tourism and investments as Pakistan is now a secure country, says Premier
The next PSL will be held in its entirety in Pakistan instead of Dubai, claims Khan
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday launched the new online visa system for foreign tourists during a ceremony held in Islamabad. According to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s official Twitter account, the new e-visa scheme will facilitate visitors from 175 countries. “Pakistan has seen tough times in its efforts to combat terrorism but the situation today is different,” said the prime minister, giving credit to the efforts of the security forces and intelligence agencies. “Pakistan is a secure country today. The next season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be held in its entirety in Pakistan instead of Dubai,” he said resolutely. “I know how boring it used to be to play in front of empty stands,” he told the audience recalling his days as a cricketer. The prime minister hailed the launch of the visa portal as a “big step”. “Today I especially congratulate the interior ministry and foreign office. People don’t realise that this is a very big change today,” he said, before going on to quote the Chinese proverb:
“To take a 1000 mile journey you have to take the first step.” “This is the first step to open up the country, the Naya (new) Pakistan. Pakistan always had a mindset: make it as difficult as you can to grant anyone visas,” he said, adding that the prevailing thought seemed to have been: “It’s better if they don’t come.” He said that in the 60s there was great self confidence and self belief that Pakistan is moving up in the world at a pace faster than others and the world too saw and recognised that fact. The prime minister said that Pakistan’s image at that time can be assessed by the fact that President Ayub Khan during his state visit to the United States in 1961 was received at the airport by President John F. Kennedy. He regretted that in the 70s a “socialist government” came and reversed the process (of growth and development).
“Unless a country has wealth generation, it cannot progress. If someone seeks to invest in the country, they will do so when the country has wealth creation. If there is no wealth creation, then it is not as if someone will invest for charity,” he explained. “So our mindset changed in the 70s, whereby we thought of making money as a sin,” he continued. He said that a politician at the time used to begin every speech by criticising investors and landlords. He said a change in mindset is what will eventually bring about the change that the country needs. “Change will be seen on the ground later, it first has to present in our minds,” said the premier. “Ask Sirajul Mulk how difficult the whole process was for foreigners to go to Chitral: obtaining No Objection Certificates (NOCs) and a whole host of other requirements,” he said, gesturing towards the member of the prime minister’s task force on tourism. He said to encourage investment from abroad, the obvious first step was to ease the visa regime of the country. “When people come here (with ease) only then will they be able to see the potential for investment in Pakistan,” he added. Reminiscing of his college days, the premier recalled how his headmaster Geoffrey Langlands used to take the students for treks to never-before-seen places. He said when he used to tell others to go see them, his proposal was always met with reluctance. “No Pakistani was ready to go with us,” he said adding that it was in fact, his cricket friends from England who used to go with him and then would plead with him to arrange such visits again.
Praising the beauty of the northern areas, the prime minister said that they are twice the size of Switzerland and that there are still scores of undiscovered areas left to explore, also citing a Forbes magazine feature discussing the same. He said that Pakistan will focus more on selective tourism as package tours had brought much harm to the ecosystem. He said that the task force on tourism will begin work on “ecologically and environmentally friendly tourism in accordance with new best practices”.— Daily Business World