The Balochistan Assembly adopted on Monday a unanimous resolution declaring Ziarat a tourist resort and spending a billion rupees for the uplift of the hill station where the Quaid-i-Azam had spent the last days of his life.
The mover of the resolution, MPA Spozma Achakzai, said Ziarat already enjoys a distinct position among tourist destinations of the country. She demanded that the hill station should be declared a tourist zone so that the province could benefit from the revenue generated from the resort.
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Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri said that as per announcements made on this year’s Pakistan Day on March 23, the beautification and development of Ziarat was already part of government projects.
The Jinnah Residency, once burnt to the ground by anti-state terrorists to show hatred against Pakistan, stands renovated and a great attraction for visitors, both in summers and during snowfall.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced Rs1 billion for Ziarat’s beautification which have been released. This amount would be spent on the development of the hill station as a tourist resort.
He said the private sector should play its role too, urging investors to set up good rest houses and hotels so that tourists could come to the site like they go to Murree.
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Information Minister Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal, expressing his views on the resolution, said the natural beauty of Ziarat was in danger.
Due to absence of piped gas, people are chopping trees for fuel and heating, he said pointing out that barren landscape will hold no attraction for tourists. Moreover, elimination of trees will change the weather and topography of the area, the minster pointed out.
“Over 5,000 year old Juniper Forest, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, is being cut down to cook food,” he said calling for steps to stop this mindless logging.
He said that temperatures plunge to 18 degrees below zero during winter in Ziarat, and in absence of gas, people have no option but to chop trees for heating and cooking.
Dr Shama Ishaq, Syed Liaqat Agha, Nasarullah Zehray, Abdul Rehman Kehtran, Shahida Rauf and William Barkat also spoke in favour of the resolution and stressed upon the need of improving and renovation of Government Rest Houses in Ziarat and restoration of Ziarat Development Authority.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.