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Importance of Promoting Religious Tourism in Pakistan

The revenue generated from religious tourists can help us get rid of foreign debts and ensure a bright future for our coming generations

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Imran Khan, Pakistan, China
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a ceremony in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

There is no doubt that the economies of peace-loving countries in the modern era are heavily dependent on tourism. To attract international tourists, such countries tend to brand themselves as a tourism-friendly societies. It is, therefore, a good sign that Prime Minister Imran Khan mentioned the importance of promoting tourism in the country Pakistan, in his first speech to the nation.

In the top trends of international tourism, religious tourism holds a prominent place. According to a report, every year more than 300 million people visits different places all over the globe for religious purposes. This generates collective revenues of more than $18 billion annually.

Visionary leaderships engage universities to conduct research that can help formulate positive policies. Faith tourism also helps promote our local industries, people-to-people contact and cordial diplomatic relations.

Every year, many tourists reportedly visit the Philippines, which is a Catholic-majority Asian country. In order to increase the number of international tourists in subsequent years, the government of the Philippines is also focusing on religious tourism. The government is keen to seek the attention of international tourists through the popular religious festival of Sinulog.

One of the largest religious festivals of the world is India’s Kumbh Mela, which is attended by 10 million devotees. However, the most well-managed sacred festival is Haj.

A popular spot for religious tourism among people in America and other Western countries tourists is the historical city of Jerusalem. The followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism frequently visit the city. A large number of Hindu pilgrims also visit River Ganga in India. Similarly, the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif also attracts followers of various religions. Every day, almost 100,000 people visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Muslims pilgrims also travel to Iran, Iraq and Syria to visit their sacred places. Turkey also welcomes around 32 million international tourists every year. There are many places of religious importance in Turkey, which include mosques, monasteries and buildings constructed during the Ottoman Empire.

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FILE – A tourist is seen visiting the national heritage museum in Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 2, 2017.

Pakistan also holds considerable importance for the followers of four major world religions: Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. The presence of Sufi shrines in Sindh reflects that those who speak the language of love never die. In fact, they live in people’s hearts forever.

The Hanglaj Temple, Katas Raj Temple, and Anandpur Temple are sacred places. Hindu pilgrims from India, America, and Canada used to visit them in Pakistan. The traces of the ancient Mohenjodaro and Gandhara civilisations also reflect the impact of Hinduism and Buddhism on the region.

Taxila also had historical importance during the era of Hindu emperor Chandragupta Maurya and also holds significance as a major site for learning in Buddhism. The great philosopher Chanakya was also a teacher at an ancient university in Taxila. Takht Bhai, another historical Buddhist site, is another attractive spot for tourists.

Similarly, Pakistan also hosts many sacred sites for the Sikh community, including Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, and the Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

The Bari Imam Shrine and Golra Sharif Shrine in the federal capital are teeming with visitors every day. An impressive religious gathering can be witnessed at the Raiwind Tableeghi Ijtemah. Without visiting Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and Faisal Masjid in Islamabad, an international tourist’s visit is considered incomplete.

We must think about why our country lags behind in terms of religious tourism even though it has so many important religious sites. Political appointments in key posts and the performance of the Evacuee Trust Property Board have made it difficult for the state to protect sacred places of religious minorities. The law and order situation in the country is satisfactory due to the sacrifices of our armed forces. It is now the responsibility of the present government to promote a positive image of Pakistan at the international level and devise strong policies to promote religious tourism.

Our foreign policy must ensure a soft visa regime for international religious tourists. Faith tourism is so important that we should establish a separate department. In this way, we can secure millions of dollars every year by allowing religious tourists from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and other countries to visit Pakistan. The revenue generated from religious tourists can help us get rid of foreign debts and ensure a bright future for our coming generations.

By : Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council. The writer is a member of the Pakistan National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

(Originally Published at http://hinducouncil.com.au/new/potential-of-faith-tourism-in-pakistan/?mc_cid=3d08ac386a&mc_eid=c63aa96033)

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What Difference Between Chinese Domination and American Domination?

Chinese government has always been dominant over it's people

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american chinese
Who is more dominant, Chinese government or US government?. Pixabay

By N.S. Venkataraman

Chinese government has not left anybody in doubt, about it’s ambitious target of dominating the world at any cost. Chinese government has been suppressing  freedom of speech in China, taking away the rights of citizens of Hong Kong in authoritarian manner and aggressively occupying the territory of neighbours such as Tibet and part of Indian territory, which it occupied after 1962 Indo Chinese war. China is now claiming Indian province Arunachal Pradesh as it’s own and aggressively claiming territorial right in South China Sea and Senkaku island. Chinese government says that Taiwan is part of it’s territory and objects to any recognition given to Taiwan by any other country.

Further, China is trying to enforce it’s domination over small and weak  nearby  countries  such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others, by extending loans, which  these countries cannot afford to repay in the foreseeable future.

Viewing China’s methods and targets, one does not find much of difference between today’s Chinese government and Hitler’s Germany. Several countries in the world are  gradually realizing that checking China’s ambition is as necessary, as checking Hitler’s ambition  that caused World War II.

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Chinese government has been suppressing freedom of speech in China. Pixabay

However, the supporters of China claim that US government too should be accused of trying to dominate the world and it has sent troops to several countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others to enforce it’s domination. There is an element of  truth in this, as American government seem to think that it has the duty to police the world.

In any case, on careful analysis of the scenario and judiciously comparing the domination desire of China and USA, one cannot but see a subtle difference between both these countries.

While China believes in ruthless elimination of opponents both inside and outside China (just like the way Hitler did) and wants to occupy territories of other countries by coercion or force , US does not indulge in such acts of suppression of human rights or occupying territory of other countries.

US has not concealed it’s desire that freedom of speech and democratic procedures should prevail in all regions in the world. On many occasions , US has fought against totalitarian regimes, religious extremists and terrorist groups and has paid a high price by losing American lives.

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USA desires to dominate the world. Pixabay

USA may have the ambition to dominate the world and ensure it’s authority as super power, but it has no ambition of territorial expansions that China has.

All said and done, if the world were to choose between USA and China, it would inevitably come to the conclusion that world domination by USA is a lesser evil than the world domination by China.

Unlike China, the citizens of USA have the right to criticise the decisions of the government, launch protests against human rights violation, if any and exercise their franchise once in four years to change the party in power, if it would act against the wishes of the people. By such process, the conscience of USA largely remain in tact and US government is vulnerable to the pressure of public opinion, both in USA  and other parts of the world.

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In China, the citizens don’t have the right to criticise the decisions of the government. Pixabay

Also Read: McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

On the other hand, China has totalitarian regime and no citizen can survive in China if he would criticise the Chinese President or question the decision of the Chinese government. To this extent, it is dictatorial regime in China, which can be termed as uncivilized form of governance.

The fact is that USA has been remaining as super  power in the world for several decades now and  the world has not  become worse due to the dominating power of USA. Of course, there have been criticism against US government by some section of world opinion but  most of such critics belong to religious extremist groups  and motivated  leftist (communist) forces , whose economic  and administrative policies  have totally failed to deliver the goods.

Achieving super power status by China   and establishing it’s authority in large parts of the world with least consideration for value systems and sentiments of people, is the worst thing that can happen to the world civilization.

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Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Terribly Neglected In COVID lockdown

COVID Lockdown leaves Afghan Refugees in Pakistan neglected and in despair

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Afghan refugee
Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Suffer under Coronavirus Lockdown as kids are seem playing outside a refugee camp. VOA
By Ayesha Tanzeem

Nearly 2.5 million Afghans live in Pakistan as either registered or undocumented refugees. Their lives have been upended by the coronavirus lockdown, but they seem to be getting little attention. Even though this might not hold much relevance in international news amid the COVID crisis, the lives of the refugees are in a terrible state.

This Afghan refugee settlement in Islamabad doesn’t have electricity or other basic facilities.

Most people here depend on day work for their living.  As the novel coronavirus spread and the country went into a partial lockdown, their livelihoods were nearly destroyed.

“These people hardly made $3-4 per day. Some of them picked up paper from the streets or trash for recycling, some worked as motorcycle mechanics. All of them are now sitting at home,” said Abdul Hameed, Afghan Refugee Representative.

An estimated 800 families, or around 5,000 individuals, live in this settlement. Many of them work at the nearby vegetable market.

“Ever since the coronavirus has spread, the authorities don’t allow us to gather inside the market. We wait along the roadside all day long, but no one gives us work,” said Abdul Khaliq, a day worker.

Refugees
Afghan refugees’s lives have been upended by the coronavirus lockdown. Pixabay

On Tuesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees announced a cash assistance program for some of them. A two-month delay in making the aid available was blamed on a lack of resources.

“We realized that we would need money that we did not have. We had to go very quickly to donors to explain the level of intervention that we wanted to do. We needed to get confident that the donors were going to support that,” said Iain Hall, Deputy Representative of UNHCR Pakistan.

The U.N. agency acknowledges that the money, while helpful, is not enough to help everyone in need. In addition, half of the nearly three million Afghans living in Pakistan don’t have official refugee status and do not fall under the agency’s mandate.

Also Read: Punjab CM Directs Crack Down on Liquor Smuggling

Meanwhile, in this Islamabad settlement, people have no option but to wait. (VOA)

 

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Experience Calm Sunsets of LA and Maldives Virtually

LA, Maldives livestream twilight calm

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Now you can enjoy the sun sink in Maldives from the comfort of your couch. Pixabay

By Siddhi Jain

The Coronavirus pandemic has put all our travel plans in a tail spin, and cancelled well researched vacations to places like Maldives.

To help with the anxiety, destinations are offering 3D virtual tours, high-quality immersive photographs and livestreaming local experiences, many people are touring from the comfort of their couch.

It is not just educational and cultural tours that virtual travellers can indulge in, but also moments of calm and quiet introspection. A new initiative by The Residence Maldives has begun to showcase inspiring visuals depicting the splendour of travel or bringing back memories from the Maldives. People ending their day in any part of the world can tune in to the Instagram LIVE of a sunset lanscape from the island nation’s resorts at Falhumaafushi and Dhigurah.

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Los Angeles Tourism is livestreaming the sunset from Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach. Pixabay

Whether it is to reminisce about the views, listen to the soothing sounds of the Indian Ocean waves, the setting sun can bring you to renewed hope that the next day may bring.

Read More: Gift Yourself a Day of Detox Session This Mother’s Day

In another part of the world, you can watch the sun sink into the glittering Pacific Ocean. Daily, Los Angeles Tourism is livestreaming the sunset from Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, beginning in the evenings.

“Collectively, we are on our couches, at our kitchen tables, peering out our windows and dreaming for the day we are on the other side of this pandemic. Whether a form of escapism or driving inspiration for a future trip, wanderlust is at an all-time high, and we want to bring a taste of Los Angeles to these dreamers,” concluded Don Skeoch, chief marketing officer for Los Angeles Tourism. (IANS)