Chitral– The Kalash spring festival Chilm Jusht (Joshi) is attracting a handsome (number of) visitors. Visitors include foreign tourist species also which had almost become extinct during the last decade, and now due to improvement in the law and order situation and tourism friendly policy of the govt, looks like tourism is limping towards revival. An old time jeep driver of tourists, Mufti, expressed glee over driving a group of foreign tourists from Islamabad for the festival.
Meanwhile Kalash men and specially women folk in their colourful attire can be seen in Chitral bazar, busy with festival shopping. A pleasant surprise was to see a bunch of Kalash women banking at the Bank Islami- a sign of religious and cultural pluralism, so particular to Chitral over the centuries.
The Chilm Jusht festival also saw the efficiency of the C&W department which repaired a damaged road and bridge to Kalash valley within 24 hrs. This shows it can be done, but is not done elsewhere 99.9% of the the time (unless some VIP is visiting the road).
The survival as an island, of the ‘last of the real pagans’- the Kalash tribe, in a surrounding sea of religious extremism and intolerance, is due to the peculiar nature of the Chitrali people who by and large believe in ‘live and let live’ in case of human beings, and hopefully this trait would be extended by them to their attitude towards migrating ducks, doves, sparrows and helpless animals too.