However, there is a long way to go. It will be difficult to overcome huge security problems, poor tourist infrastructure and the challenges of getting a visa and permission to travel to high-risk areas.
Enormous floods in 2010 caused further damage, although the US has since provided US$5.4 million to help revive the local economy and rehabilitate tourism in the province’s Swat District.
For now, it is mostly local visitors who come to the remains of the Buddhist sites in Pakistan. Reflecting on his country’s woes, Sajjad, a teacher gazed at a statue of Buddha and sighed: “We need this calm so much.”