Urak Valley, a place of picturesque landscape surrounded by uneven mountains in the Quetta district of Balochistan, has a population of about 24000.
The Hana Lake, which was established by the British, is close by Urak Valley, which is 20 kilometres from Quetta. The end of it has a small waterfall that serves as the entry to the nearby Wali Tangi Dam.
It is the ancestral home of the Pashtun Kakar tribe, who are renowned for their kindness, bravery, and hospitality. High-quality apple trees are grown here, and they are exported to a number of nations.
Hanna Urak Valley now has the distinction of being the only tourist point in Balochistan with average daily visits of between 15,000 and 20,000 tourists. The most visits ever recorded at any of Balochistan’s tourist points.
According to Mr. Mohammad Yunus, the landlord in the Hanna valley, “around fifteen to twenty thousand people from throughout the country and parts of Balochistan rush to Hanna Urak Valley daily to observe the natural beauty.
He said, “We have a deep connection to this place, and we always abide by the golden rules of hospitality when visitors arrive in the valley. One cannot avoid visiting Hanna Valley at least once if you are travelling to Quetta.”
“Tired of our busy schedule and daily routine, we spare time and visit Quetta to experience scenic Urak valley”, Usman Ansari, a resident of Landhi area of Karachi said.
Ameer Hamza Sarangzai, narrating the history of the valley said that before Pakistan came into being, our ancestors had inked MoU with the British rulers regarding the provision of water to the cantonment established adjacent to the Hanna Valley. The British Army stationed at Cantonment was charged per gallon.
However, he noted that “after the Independence of Pakistan, elders of the valley including Malik Sikandar Khan, Malik Taj Mohammad, Haji Abdul Rahim Sarngzai and others met the then governor and agreed to continue providing fresh water free of cost. “This tradition continues till day”
Our love to the homeland has compelled the then President and Field Marshal Ayub Khan to visit Hanna Urak. During his visit in 1965, he announced to build a dam for the people of the area. He fulfilled his promise and “Wali Tanki Dam” was built that helped storage the water and irrigate the agriculture land.
Malik Nasir Khan former Councilor of Hanna Valley, said, “Due to scarcity of funds, the provincial government could not pay heed to tourism sector, especially developing the biggest tourist point,” By allocating a sizable budget for the development of tourist spot, it could generate millions of rupee only from Hanna Valley.
“The recent flash floods devastated 100 percent of apple orchards and agricultural land, swept away road and other infrastructure, Mr. Yunus landlord of Hanna said.
As road infrastructure has perished, it takes two hours to reach the Hanna valley from the entrance which used to take 30 minutes, he said lamenting that despite the passage of eight months, neither compensation to the victims were given nor steps were taken to restore the damaged infrastructure.
“We had, on our own, established small hotels, swimming pools, parks, and other edible spots to attract the tourists,” The effort was aimed at generating revenue for the local community but after the floods, it has shut completely leaving the area people in dismay.
Mr. Ibrahim JUI leader in the valley also seemed disappointed on the response of the authorities concerned to restore tourist activities since it has at standstill after the floods destroyed everything.
“In the aftermath of a catastrophe that hit the province in June 2022 agriculture, apple orchards and small business are no more there to support the local community of Hanna Valley,” It is the responsibility of the provincial government to take the issue seriously and initiate rehabilitation process on war-footing.
The concerted efforts, in this connection, would not only ease issues faced by the local community but also generate revenue for the provincial kitty.
Balochistan Spokesperson Babar Yusufzai when contacted reaffirmed the government’s resolve to save the tourism sector of the province. “Government is well cognizant of the issues faced by the people of the valley. The rehabilitation process is underway and we are striving hard to complete it as soon as possible,”
About Hanna Valley, he assured that strenuous measures would be put in place to restore the damaged road infrastructure. We will leave no stone unturned to revive the hustle bustle of the tourists at the historic Hanna valley.
Secretary Tourism and Culture Manzoor Hussain said Balochistan tourism is characterized by diversity in the fields of tourism.
Balochistan has been blessed in terms of tourism. There are beautiful sites and “I request people from the country and outside Pakistan to visit Balochistan and enjoy the beauty of nature and make investment in it.”
He said that the government was trying to equip the picnic points with all sort of facilities and pay special heed to Hanna Urak and other tourist points in the province.