VIDEO/National Geographic/Youtube

Born into a race for the highest pay, the nicest clothes, and the finest food, there is no time to look back. Any man pausing to admire a crumbling 5000 year old wall in Pakistan will be called a fool. For the average citizen there is little use of history beyond 1947 and Defense Day. Government officials and the armed forces often speak of promoting a ‘soft image’ of Pakistan as a peaceful and multicultural country with immense opportunities. But how can outsiders be encouraged to appreciate the richness of a land, when its own citizens are (quite literally) spitting on their nation’s national heritage?

This new year it will be a 100 years since Mohenjo-Daro was first discovered by Mr. R. D. Banerji an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India. He arrived to the remote region in 1919 to identify a Buddhist stupa and left convinced of the site’s antiquity. News of his conviction drew several archeologists to Sindh. Large scale excavations in the early1920suncovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated civilizations. Accordingly,in1980 Mohenjo-Daro was given the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Although the global community recognized the historical significance of these ruins,Pakistan failed to do so. Almost four decades later we are yet to develop and market the archeological site as a must-see national treasure.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2018 Report on the Economic Impact of Travel, Pakistan’s tourism sector made a direct contribution of 8,832.1 million dollars to its GDP- that is 2.9% of the total GDP

The Indus Valley civilization’s last remains eroding away at Mohenjo-Daro are believed to be over 8,000 years old according to a study published in the journal Nature. This makes them older than the ancient pyramids of Egypt. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization Egypt received over 10 million tourists in 2017, despite the country’s ongoing political unrest and bombing of a Russian passenger plane in 2015 which lead to the loss of 224 souls.In contrast Pakistan received 1.75 million tourists the same year as per the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation’s report, despite the drastic decline in terrorism. In 2015 the number of terrorist related fatalities stood at 3692 according to the South Asian Anti-Terrorism Portal. This number declined to 690 by the end of 2018.While tourism in Pakistan has grown over the years, it has yet to reach its potential and expand beyond the Northern Areas.

The majestic lakes and mountains of the North have become the face of tourism in Pakistan.  Given the lack of marketing, planning a trip to the heart of interior Sindh is not a thought which occurs often to a foreigner. But the local citizen is well aware and yet the number of tourists arriving at the archeological site is not increasing. On the other hand, the traffic to Murree just keeps growing. Visitors to Mohenjo-Daro largely remain students dragged to the ruins as part of a school trip.  There is little incentive to see what many would simply call ‘broken old brick walls’. Perhaps if it was a well-kept grand palace with gold colored ceilings it would draw more visitors? But then why did Stonehenge receive about 1.58 million visitors in 2017 -almost the total number of tourists we received in Pakistan as a whole the same year?

Daily Times for more

Comments are closed.