Appeal to HH The Agha Khan for establishing a character building NGO

Published on: 18/08/2021 | Comments: 5 comments 

Dear Sir,
Through your esteemed news and views website, I appeal to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, to consider establishing yet another NGO in Chitral and Northern Areas where the AKDN is already working. This time the NGO should be a different one. Nothing to do with funds or roads or hospitals or pipelines etc. It should have the singular task of scientifically and intelligently strengthening the moral and character fiber of the people.

The highest attribute (sunnat) of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was his truthfulness and trustworthiness (sadiq and ameen). Allah Almighty bestowed this attribute upon him right from his birth, while prophethood was bestowed at the age of forty. One reason why people readily accepted his claim to prophethood was his record of being truthful and honest throughout his life.

Unfortunately the greatest sunnat of the Holy prophet (PBUH) has been ignored and instead cultural sunnats like keeping a beard or wearing a certain dress or using miswak for cleaning teeth etc have been preached throughout. The result is, we are grossly devoid of the attributes of being truthful and trustworthy.

HH The Aga Khan has done a marvelous job in promoting education in the area, especially his community. The beneficiaries are now harvesting the crop of good education. It is he who can best take upon himself to improve the Character and Morality of the people especially those under his direct influence which will further positively influence the other communities too. We pray he takes up this noble task also and if he does so, Allah Almighty will bless him with more honour. .. from Amiruddin, Chitral, 18 Aug 2021


Explored and unexplored tourist places in Mastuj tehsil Chitral

Published on: 16/08/2021 | Comments: No comments 

.. by Dur Wali Khan

There are so many beautiful explored and unexplored tourist places and treks in Mastuj tehsil Upper Chitral, which might be enough to attract national and international tourists to enjoy the natural beauty in clean and peaceful environment. The most beautiful tourist points/places in Upper Chitral are as under.

1- Shandur Polo ground and Lake:

It is situated in Upper Chitral, KP province. It is just 30 minutes drive from Laspur Valley Upper Chitral. There are two beautiful lakes surrounding Shandur Polo ground, which attract tourists to enjoy the natural beauty and stay close to nature. There are summer houses (huts) of the people of Sorlaspur, Balim, Broke, Raman and Gasht in Shandur. A beautiful check post and Officers’ mess of Chitral Scouts at Shandur also attracts tourists to enjoy its panoramic view. You can also view the beautiful and green high mountains surrounding Shandur Lakes.

Every year in July 7, 8 and 9 Shandur Festival is organized by Chitral administration with collaboration of Chitral Scouts and tourism department KPK. Where different games are played, but polo is the most dominant one, which is played between Chitral polo teams and Gilgit polo teams at Shandur polo ground.

Thousands of local/national and international tourists gather there to witness the amazing game.

It is worth mentioning here that polo game has been played between Chitral polo teams and Gilgit polo teams since 1928 at Shandur polo ground and hosted by Chitral administration and Gilgit polo Teams joined as guest.


2- Bashqargol Lake:

It is situated in Laspur Valley, Upper Chitral. It is the most isolated hidden paradise in earth and is almost 07 hours journey (on foot) from Sorlaspur and is still un-explored to the tourists. The beautiful lake of Bashqargol is enough to attract the tourists to enjoy the natural beauty. It is also a nice fishing (Trout) point for tourists and most favourable route for trekking.

There are two routes in Bashqargol for trekking, one route leads to Golengol lower Chitral via Ishporili Zom and the second route leads to Makalasht Lower Chitral. Similarly, there are also two trekking routes in Bashqargol Lake, one route leads to Gabral Swat and the second route leads to Dir Kohistan via Thelo Abshar.

It is not too late, most go to Bashqargol Lake to study the nature and stay close to nature. You can view the beautiful high mountains cover with snow and many centuries old glaciers too.

If you have telescope, you can also see Ibex, Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Lynx and Wolf in the mountains of Bashqargol. It is worth mentioning here that Snow Leopard and Brown Bear are human friendly wild animals.

3- Kachikhani:

It is just 01 hour journey from Sorlaspur. It is an old and famous trekking route leads to Matiltan, Kalam and is almost 13 hours journey. Usually, local people and foreigners use this route for trekking. You can also view high mountains cover with snow and many centuries old glaciers.

4- Rezhungol:

It is almost 02 hours journey (on foot) from Balim Laspur, Upper Chitral. It is the most favourable route for trekking, which leads to Madaklasht via Bashqargol and Phargamgol, Laspur. You can also view the amazing high mountains cover with snow and many centuries old glaciers. But it is still un-explored tourist place in Upper Chitral.

If you have telescope, you are lucky enough to see the Ibex, Brown Bear and Wolf in the mountains.

5- Phargamgol:

It is almost 01 hour journey from Raman Laspur. It is also an old and famous route for trekking. It is about 15 hours trekking route leads to Golengol Lower Chitral.

You can also view the beautiful high mountains cover with snow and many centuries old glaciers here.

If you have telescope you can easily see Ibex, Brown Bear, Lynx and Wolf in the high mountains of Phargamgol.

6- Mastuj Fort:

It is situated on the Shandur road. The fort was built by Katoor ruler in 18 century in around 1780 with couple of rebuilt in 1830 and 1920. Mastuj fort is the oldest fort in Chitral, which was used both for military purposes as well as being the residence of the ruler of the time.

7- Broghul Lake:

It is almost 200 km away from headquarter Booni of Upper Chitral district. May to September is the most appropriate time to visit Boroghul Lake to enjoy the natural beauty, while October to April, it has fully covered with snow and the weather becomes extremely cold. Broghul festival attracts the visitors to enjoy the event. Yak polo is the famous and traditional game of the people of Broghul.

For tourists it is the most beautiful place to enjoy the panoramic view of Broghul Lake. You can view the high mountains cover with snow and many centuries old glaciers.

8- Shepeshun Booni:

It is just one and half hours journey from headquarter Booni. It is a fairy land and has a unique picturesque beauty and its entrancing scenic spell and panoramic view holds the tourists spellbound during summers.

The weather is very pleasant at day time at Shepeshun. There is a beautiful playground to play different games at Shepeshun.

You can also view the beautiful high mountains cover with snow and many centuries old glaciers, but it is still unexplored to the tourists. I would recommend it for adventure lovers to enjoy the natural beauty.

9- Qaghlasht Booni:

It is just 10 minutes drive from headquarter Booni. It is a vast and green plain area, where every year in mid-April Qaghlasht festival is organized. Different games, such as polo, cricket, football, valley ball etc are played. It is a wonderful place for outing and camping. Tourists must go there to enjoy the natural beauty.

10- Pawasum Koragh:

It is almost 02 hours journey from Koragh center. It is a lush green and beautiful place for tourists to enjoy the panoramic view in a clean and peaceful environment. It is indeed a best place for camping and staying close to nature. It is still un-explored to the tourists.

11- Reshun Hydro Power Station:

It is 02 km away from Reshun main market. It was built in 1999 and 02 km long tunnel was constructed to ensure powerful flow of water to produce required electricity.

You can also view the high mountains cover with snow surrounding the power house. For tourists it is a beautiful place to enjoy the natural beauty.


Chitralis rejoice at presidential award for polo player

Published on: 16/08/2021 | Comments: No comments 

Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk in action during a polo match in Shandur. — File photoCHITRAL: People of Chitral have expressed happiness over the presidential Pride of Performance award for veteran polo player Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk.

Mr Sikandar has been leading the Chitral polo team since 1982, winning the prestigious trophy of Shandur polo festival almost every year against the Gilgit Baltistan team.

The game’s veterans and civil society activists welcomed the decision, saying it would help further promote the sports, which was highly popular with the people of Chitral and GB. Maqbool Ali Khan, Zafar Ali Shah, Mohammad Ayaz and Hashim Khan, the legendary polo players of Chitral, expressed pleasure over the government’s decision, saying Mr Sikandar was second to none in the realm of polo.

They said it was Mr Sikandar’s unflinching commitment that he remained captain of the team and president of the polo association for more than three decades.

As an offspring of the royal family, Sikandarul Mulk had completed his initial schooling in Army Burn Hall, Abbottabad, and St Mary’s School Peshawar, and done his intermediate from Edward’s College Peshawar. However, he discontinued further studies for the sake of polo.

“My father Shahzada Khushwaqtul Mulk asked me to start playing polo after I did my intermediate as he sensed my passion for the game,” Mr Sikandar told Dawn, saying he had started horse riding right from the age of 10.

Regarding his penchant for polo, he said riding a horse was mandatory in 1962 when there were no motor vehicles for travel between his hometown of Mastuj to the Chitral city.

“It was in 1973 that I started taking part in polo tournaments at the district level,” he said, adding polo players and fans always encouraged him.

Regarding the restart of Shandur polo festival, he said it had been abandoned in 1940s when the British officers left Chitral. He added that in 1981 he organised the festival with the help of local polo association and invited GB team to Shandur. .. Source

Shifting of Covid patients to Chitral hospital’s general ward protested

Published on: 15/08/2021 | Comments: No comments 

CHITRAL: The attendants of the patients admitted to the female ward of the District Headquarters Hospital, Chitral, staged a protest on Saturday morning after a number of Covid-19 patients were shifted to the ward late in the night.

The protesters told Dawn that the admission of Covid-19 patients to the general female ward could infect others as well.

They said the same staff, including nurses, was dealing with all the patients in the general ward, thus becoming the potential source of virus transmission.

The protesters complained that all the patients in the female ward were forced to use the same washrooms, thereby increasing the danger of infection. They termed this an utter violation of the protocols to save the people from coronavirus, and asked the authorities concerned to take notice of it.

A protester said the hospital’s administration argued that they had no other space available to accommodate the Covid-19 patients. He added it was the responsibility of the health facility’s management to arrange separate place for those suffering from coronavirus.

When contacted, medical superintendent Dr Shamim told Dawn that due to unavailability of space they had to admit the Covid-19 patients to the general ward. He said a day earlier eight pandemic patients had been referred from the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Drosh, thus increasing pressure on the main hospital.

He, however, promised to ask deputy medical superintendent to shift such patients to a separate ward. The medical superintendent said he had also tested positive for Covid-19, and quarantined himself at home. .. Source

Chitral’s polo star wins President’s Pride of Performance award

Published on: 14/08/2021 | Comments: 1 comment 

CHITRAL: After winning many Shandur Polo tournaments, Shahzada Sikander Ul Mulk has now won the ‘President’s Award for Pride of Performance’ in the field of sports (Polo). The investiture ceremony of the awards conferred by the President will take place on Pakistan Day, 23rd March, 2022:

The energetic sportsman in his early sixties says he is still fit to lead his team against Gilgit at Shandur any time. Besides playing a major role in keeping the game of polo alive in the district, he also has the credit of promoting Shandur as a unique sports venue nationally and internationally even in times when tourism was not so encouraged as is being done today.

 .. CN report, 14 Aug 2021

DIK MPA moves resolution in PA against tunnel closure

Published on: 13/08/2021 | Comments: No comments 

CHITRAL: Ahmad Kundi, Member Provincial Assembly from Dera Ismail khan, belonging to the PPP, has moved a resolution in the assembly against the uncalled for closure of the Lowari tunnel at frequent intervals during the whole day and having three hours ‘tunnel break closure’ from 12 to 3 pm in the middle of the day. Giving logical reasons, the MPA has said that due to traffic hold up and then letting in at one go, the tunnel becomes congested, full of smoke and unhealthy for old people having respiratory problems. If instead of that vehicles are allowed to go inside as they approach there would be no congestion in the tunnel and traffic will flow freely. he said because there is no exhaust system it is all the more reason that traffic is not held and let inside in convoys but there should be free flow of traffic like all other tunnels. He also showed concern about the approach roads to the tunnel, specially the northern side.

Chitralis have expressed gratitude to the MPA from DIK for taking up their important problem, which does not require any money; it just requires good governance. .. CN report, 13 Aug 2021

Chinese scientists develop glass harder than diamond

Published on: 10/08/2021 | Comments: No comments 

Scientists are calling this new material the AM III. It has “outstanding” mechanical and electronic properties, and could easily be used in solar cells due to its ultra-high strength and resistance to wear.

The analysis of this material was published in the journal of National Science Review, which revealed that its hardness was rated at 113 gigapascals (GPa). Natural diamond is usually rated between 5o to 70 on the same test.

The scientists commented on their development saying:

“Consequently, our measurements demonstrate that the AM-III material is comparable in strength to diamond and superior to the other known strongest materials”.

According to scientists, the AM III has tunable energy absorption properties similar to semiconductors used in solar cells such as hydrogenated amorphous silicon films.

To develop this material, the scientists used fullerenes, which are materials made of hollow football-like arrangements of carbon atoms. The scientists produced different types of glassy material with varying molecular structures, among which AM III had the highest order of atoms and molecules.

The research team achieved this order of molecules by crushing and blending the fullerenes together and applying intense heat and pressure to them for about 13 hours. The material also spent an equal amount of time cooling down.

The researchers wrote in the study:

‘The emergence of this type of ultrahard, ultrastrong, semiconducting amorphous material offers excellent candidates to [the] most demanding practical applications’.  .. Source

JI’s weeklong caravan starts from Chitral

Published on: 07/08/2021 | Comments: 2 comments 

Addressing the participants of the Karwan-i-Inqilab march before departure at the Atalique Chowk, Senator Ahmed declared that the country was being run by mafias. He insisted that the JI wanted to rid the country of what he said American agents.

“We want to focus on the youth as they formed 71 per cent of the population and, on whom, depended the country’s future.

We have to empower them and provide them with opportunities to express themselves and exploit their energies for benefit of the country,” he said.

Mr Ahmed said the so-called champions of the youth had consigned them to oblivion after coming to power, in veiled reference to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government.

The JI senator said the country was passing through the most critical period of its history where common man found it hard to even make both ends meet due to rampant corruption, unemployment, lawlessness and sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities.

Explaining the reason of choosing Chitral for starting the march, he said people of the district always retained their freedom and valiantly defied the British imperialists.

The caravan was warmly received by people in Broze, Kessu, Drosh, Mirkhani and Ashuret, where gates decorated with flowers were erected to receive the marchers before they left Chitral through Lowari tunnel.

Central president of the JI’s Youth Wing, Zubair Gondal, party’s district emir Maulana Akhunzada Rahmatullah and general secretary Wajeehuddin were also in attendance. .. Source

Chitral paddy growers switching over to vegetables

Published on: 06/08/2021 | Comments: No comments 

 .. by Zahiruddin
A farmer plants saplings in Jinjiret village of Drosh, Chitral. — Dawn
A farmer plants saplings in Jinjiret village of Drosh, Chitral. — Dawn

CHITRAL: The farmers in central and lower parts of Chitral are hesitant to grow paddy and have switched over to vegetables despite the fact that the lower half of the valley has suitable climate for the crop.

The deputy director of extension wing of agriculture department, Mohammad Rafiq, told Dawn that the area under cultivation had drastically dropped to the lowest level over the last couple of decades as the process of cultivation was laborious and painstaking for the farmers.

He said that the farmers had to cultivate paddy at the cost of other crops and vegetables as they had to spend most of their time in the process. He added that transplantation of paddy plants required a lot of manpower concurrently.

He said that several villages in Lower Chitral including Ayun, Drosh, Arandu, Broze, Koghuzi and Shali were known for the bumper crop of paddy every year with superb taste and flavour.

Mr Rafiq said that about three decades ago, almost 80 per cent local farmers used to grow paddy for their household consumption and the surplus was sold in the market. He said that paddy cultivation in Upper Chitral was not popular due to the climatic conditions and scarcity of water.

In Lower Chitral, paddy cultivation has dropped to 1,800 hectares over the years and its average production has been calculated at 5,000 metric tonnes.

The locally produced rice is hardly available in the market now despite its high demand as the cultivation has been reduced to abysmally low level.

The official said that modern technique of farming could multiply the product thereby tempting the farmers to bring more land under cultivation of paddy.

He said that agriculture department helps the paddy growers in different ways ranging from free distribution of fertilisers and pesticides to imparting them on-farm training.

Muhkamuddin, a farmer of Ayun village, said that the vast fields of the village used to be covered by paddy crops wholly and solely three decades ago but presently more than half of them carried vegetables. He said that he himself started growing vegetables at commercial scale and earned a handsome amount.

He said that he had only one worker to look after the vegetables. He said that paddy cultivation was decreasing every year owing to small landholding due to the division of lands, requirement of heavy manpower and high productivity of vegetables with less toiling and expenses coupled with the tendency of the youth to seek job in public and private sectors in cities.

The farmer said that no machines were introduced in the area for easing different stages of the cultivation of paddy resultantly the farmers found it difficult to carry it on with less manpower. .. Source

Use of naswaar in Chitral- a luxury or a curse

Published on: 05/08/2021 | Comments: 1 comment 

.. by Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

Naswaar or Nasuwar that is known to all age groups has been a common item in the list of narcotics. It is generally reported that Tobacco came from Cuba or we may put it another way that it was brought  from Cuba by Columbus and the members of his team or their successors on the same route over Atlantic by Spanish explorers. It came to Europe and became fashionable in that society. At the time of Shakespeare it was used and was called Snuff, put not in the mouth but in the nostril. That was perhaps the experimental stage of the use of tobacco. Later it was changed and smoking was introduced in cigar type and then it was refashioned as cigarette meaning as small cigar. It became fashionable all over the Continent and reached Indian sub-continent when the British company got permission from Emperor Jehangir  to establish trading facility. Their mercantile included tobacco and it spread all over India and reached Chitral by traders of that time generally called Paracha.

Mehtar Aman ul Mulk is said to have taken to this new product and a sizeable ball of Naswaar kept his mood balanced. His courtiers also took to it and its seeds were also brought to Chitral for cultivation. Lo! The soil of Chitral proved very congenial for this product and Chitrali tobacco became a nice land produce. The cultivation of this new article became popular and the growers learnt from each other about the techniques of its cultivation, type of the soil, amount of water for irrigation, use of fertilizer, cutting its surplus leaves etc. The Chitralis developed their own form of Naswaar and ways of using it.

When did it come to Chitral is not exactly known i.e. the year of its arrival  or the way of its arrival and by whom, nothing is definitely known. I would like to know it from experts or knowledgeable people of Chitral as how it first came, who brought it, who first tasted it or smoked it ?  But the upper class men got used to it and fashioned special containers to keep it fresh. For that purpose they used native skill- the shell of a specific type of pumpkin which was grown in the kitchen gardens and the seeds with the pulp was carefully taken out and the interior was cleansed and was then used to keep the Naswar  in their pockets during journeys and in a safe place when at home. This container was given the sexy name of ‘ Balaghunu’ The word Nasuwareni was its predecessor.

The type of pumpkin then grown in Chitral was very handy, It was light to be carried. It kept the contents fresh – both in colour and taste. Then the fans of this product began to fashion the size of the pumpkin according to their own idea. As soon as the pumpkin began to grow they tied stripes of cloth around it once  or twice according to their like and the strip tightened the growth as the designer had thought. It was thus found in various shapes in different villages. The more active lovers of naswaar then decorated their Balaghunu and were sent as item of gift to elders. The women are also said to have not lagged behind. They also used Naswaar- an alternative for tranquilizer- and this was neither criticized by men nor deemed a demerit for the fair sex. I would request for feedback on this topic.  Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig, Chitral 05 Aug 2021