The recent tragic deaths in Murree were a cause celebre on social media. In this instance of heavy snowfall causing arriving tourists to get stuck in their cars, room rates were reportedly jacked up as high as fifty thousand rupees a night. Food items such as bottles of water, bread and eggs were being sold for upwards of five hundred rupees. The news of the announcement by the hotel owners’ association of free stays for stranded families was reported in the media, after the news of the sixteen precious souls that perished. It was a case of too little too late. The main cause of deaths was carbon monoxide poisoning, which occurs when gas discharged from car heaters turns inwards, causing unconsciousness, which soon turns fatal. The deceased probably could not afford the astronomical room rents and decided to spend the night in their cars. Murree, being one of the oldest vacation retreats in Pakistan and even used by the British colonial army for this purpose, is no stranger to tourists and snowfall. It remains one of the most popular tourist destinations due to its proximity to Islamabad. Surely the locals were aware of the situation but no one was moved to help, causing at least 25 deaths. The kind of apathy witnessed in this situation was condemned on social media and people sharing all kinds of negative personal experiences in Murree. I undertook a day trip to Murree from Islamabad a year ago and was just as irked by the greed. I found Nathiagali in KPK to be much more beautiful and enjoyable. The tourism infrastructure of the KPK government was impressive. The four-kilometre pipeline track at Dungagali remains a beautiful memory mainly due to the attitudes of the locals. It reminded me of Jurong bird park and the botanical gardens in Singapore where information on the flora and fauna was beautifully presented along the way. Prime Minister Imran Khan made tourism a priority, I witnessed the growing trend on social media. Hordes of local tourists were travelling to Gilgit Baltistan (GB). Western travellers (including solo women) raved about the hospitality and kindness of the locals. However, what I experienced caught me completely off guard. Politics has tainted GB’s worldview and attitudes. Murree, being one of the oldest vacation retreats in Pakistan, is no stranger to tourists and snowfall. One popular hotel owner told me that the state had engineered sectarian conflicts to undermine the population. Sectarian divides and the resulting hatred from the violence erupting in the recent past is a major issue in Gilgit and Skardu. Being denied the right to vote with the rest of Pakistan, makes the entire GB feel that they are not treated as Pakistanis by the military and the establishment. This is even though the military’s resolute stance built the Karakoram Highway–considered the eighth wonder of the world–which has connected GB to the rest of Pakistan. My eldest uncle, then a 26-year-old PAF pilot, attained shahadat (along with five other PAF pilots) during a mountain flying training mission with the Russian Air Force. A local showed me the crash site, situated between two mountains and a river. My uncle is only one of the many unsung heroes of the Pakistani military, who make the ultimate sacrifice in peace and war. The fate of Gilgit Baltistan is tied to that of Kashmir and despite the military being the lifeline of this region, it remains unpopular. In 2019, General Pervez Musharraf was praised on wall graffiti in Skardu and Gilgit as Mohsin-e-Gilgit Baltistan due to his various initiatives. However, in 2021, I was told by the locals that the media propaganda swayed public opinion against him. Hunza’s famed hospitality is mostly reserved for foreign tourists. One incident remains etched in my memory. One elderly woman bowed down to kiss the hand of a foreign tourist. She then glared with intense hatred at an accompanying Pakistani tourist. Since then, countless Pakistanis have told me that they were meted out second-grade treatment in Hunza and that they felt slighted. Skardu with a long-standing military presence–especially due to the flashpoint of the Siachen glacier–is a much larger town. Due to the base camp of K2, and other natural beauty, it is seeing a high number of local tourists. The entire city seemed to be rushing to claim a share of the tourism pie. However, the greed and rudeness of the locals were problematic. Even locals said that greed has corrupted the local population. The old tourism favourites of Kaghan and Naran are also seeing an exponential rise in unplanned and unregulated tourism infrastructure, polluting even the famous Saif-ul-Mulook lake. The lack of civic sense and social responsibility in both the locals and the arriving tourists causes pollution. Trash littered everywhere destroys the pristine beauty of the area. Pakistan was ranked as the number one tourist destination in backpacker’s magazine. The average backpacker transits through Pakistan en route to India or Iran. Backpackers have shoestring budgets and often rely on the hospitality of the locals to get by. They bargain hard with the poor locals over embarrassingly small sums of money. In their blogs and Facebook posts, they encourage other backpackers to avail themselves of the local hospitality and advise them to bargain hard, quoting extremely low amounts as the standard rate. Backpackers travelling solo will not supercharge the local economy. Egypt, Turkey and Italy, which are tourism-oriented economies, do not rely on the backpacker crowd. Middle classed couples and families travelling to a foreign destination boost tourism in a country. In our case, tourism, which is reinforcing colonial hangovers; undermining national pride; fanning ethnic hatred, and encouraging greed and social apathy, can never be Pakistan’s saving grace. The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.