Against All Odds, Chitrali Youth Revive Skiing Event after 70 years

CHITRAL: Fighting against all odds, the inclement weather, the poor road infrastructure, the youth from Madaklasht and Drosh in lower Chitral have successfully revived the Madaklasht Skiing event after a lapse of 70 years.

The British troops based in Chitral in pre-partition days had last used these scenic alpine grounds at a distance of 30 kilometres from Drosh for winter sports more than 70 years ago. Skiing was originally started in the region by British troops as a means of transportation on the request of Mehtar His Highness Shujaul Mulk. It has been kept alive by the people using wooden skis in Madaklasht. A hand drawn map in the picturesque Scouts Mess in Drosh is a last memento of those events which has inspired many Chitralis to revive the sports.

With support from the provincial tourism department, Sarhad Rural Support Programme, Hashoo Foundation, Chitral Scouts, district administration and a host of other private firms, the Hindu Kush Winter Sports Club has successfully revived the three-day event. In the absence of hotels, local communities have opened their homes as guest houses to receive guests and make them comfortable.

The Hindu Kush Winter Sports Club has made comfortable stay arrangements in different homes. The austerity, simplicity and genuineness and participation of the communities is visible to all visitors and gives real colour to the event.

The Pakistan Ski Federation has extended support by providing skis and have sent participants. More than 70 national participants have joined the locals who are competing in several age groups at the event. Participants have been amazed by the skis slopes which provide excellent grounds for skiing, skating and snow-boarding.

Madaklasht also boasts of a hundred percent literacy rate and the people also speak Persian pointing to their roots and history. The Mehtars had specially settled them in this valley gifted with forest for iron and steel work because of its wood providing fuel for the small furnaces.

The road to Madaklasht is challenging and is in poor shape because it is not treated as a regular road.

Shahzada Hisham, the young entrepreneur behind the idea, said that the support and coverage and patronage which the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have provided to the event has been heartening and is bound to popularise the region for winter sports.

A local politician, Khalid Pervaiz, said that Tourism Minister Muhammad Atif had at a short notice agreed to join the festivities.

?But the decision of the district administration to cancel the event at the last minute because of bad weather and poor road situation led to miscommunication and he regretfully could not make it to the event,? he added.

District Nazim Maghfirat Shah hailed the initiative as major effort to boost tourism.

The locals thanked the district government and administration for their support but were bitter that in view of the weather situation, they should have shown greater consistency and initiative which would have attracted more people.

The people of Madaklasht are hoping that this event will open the way for well-organised events in the future and with greater government support? .. Source

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