Pak's Swat Valley may soon be called film city

Peshawar: The Pakistan government is mulling a proposal to give the status of "film city" to the scenic Swat valley, where the army conducted a major operation last year to flush out hundreds of Taliban fighters.

The Standing Committee on Culture and Tourism of the Senate or upper house of parliament has recommended that the government declare Swat and Murree, a popular tourist destination near Islamabad, as film cities to boost the domestic cinema industry.

The measures is also aimed at boosting tourism and trade activities in the flood and insurgency-affected Swat valley, which has suffered immensely because of a sharp decline in tourist and commercial activities in the past few years.

Thousands of domestic tourists used to visit Swat, located 160 km from Islamabad, till the Pakistani Taliban established a parallel administration in large parts of the valley in 2007.

The army succeeded in flushing out most of the militants though the inflow of tourists is yet to pick up.

After the successful army operation codenamed Rah-e-Rast, the security situation in Swat has improved and the proposal to declare Swat as a film city will lead to further improvements, officials said.

Artists and filmmakers will be provided strict security to ensure an environment conducive to the movie industry, the officials said.

Moreover, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Swat is a part, has abolished film tax as the measure affected the cinema industry and led to the closure of most movie halls.