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BY Shabbir Mir

The Nanga Parbat tragedy was for G-B what 9/11 was for the rest of Pakistan, in terms of tourism, says Federal Minister for G-B and Azad Kashmir Birjis Tahir. PHOTO: REUTERS

GOJAL: All key suspects involved in the attack on foreign trekkers in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) in June this year have been captured, federal minister for G-B and Azad Kashmir Birjis Tahir told reporters in a press conference on Tuesday.

Tahir flew to Gojal valley early morning to participate in the closing ceremony of the three-day Silk Route Festival. He was flanked by ambassadors of four countries and other foreign delegates on the occasion. Delegates from 14 countries attended the festival organised in Gilgit, Hunza and Gojal.

“The Nanga Parbat tragedy was for G-B what 9/11 was for the rest of Pakistan, in terms of tourism. But I am sure G-B will recover after this event,” said the minister, adding he hoped the festival will hit the headlines the way the assault on foreign tourists did.

Attabad Lake

Tahir announced the conversion of Attabad Lake into a tourist resort. “We will get it approved from the cabinet,” he added.

The minister also spoke of the miseries inflicted by the accidental lake that was formed as a result of a landslide three years ago. More than 20 people were killed in the incident that cut off Gojal from the rest of Pakistan.

Additional seat for Gojal

Speaking at the closing ceremony as chief guest, Tahir said an additional seat in the G-B Assembly will be given to the people of Gojal Valley. He asked the chief secretary to submit a report after examining the practicability of the proposal. The minister made the comment in response to a demand by the Gojal community for a seat, and to declare Hunza a separate district.

Culmination of Silk Route Festival

The Wakhi-Tajik cultural dance enthralled the audience at Gulmit polo ground, while people from all age groups performed songs and dances. The stadium was filled to capacity as women, children and the elderly watched local artists. School girls and boy scouts also exhibited a march during the festival.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2013.