The Shandur festival miscarriage

CHITRAL: At this time of the year Chitral comes in the limelight with the Shandur festival being talk of the tourism world. Visitors come from far and wide to witness polo matches at the worlds highest polo ground (12205 ft above sea level).

The traditional annual polo competition between Chitral and Gilgit which dates back to days of the British raj, attained national and international attention when Gen Zia ul Haq the then military dictator attended the festival with an objective to address a large crowd of both the districts which had come to watch the sport. Since then heads of states, governments, military chiefs or at least the chief ministers of provinces regularly visit the occasion to be projected in the media.

The visit of such VIPs has both it’s benefits and drawbacks, the later outweighing the former by a ton. The poverty stricken people of both the districts particularly Chitral get happy because they expect the VIPs to announce funds (alms) for development projects on the occasion. The VIPs are happy because they get the protocol of their life which the presidents and even royalty in civilised countries don’t get these days.

The visible disadvantage of over administering and over controlling the Shandur festival is that visitors face the hardship and irritation of bloated protocols and uncalled for pseudo security measures and that is why majority of visitors from outside Chitral who visit Shandur do not return again quoting reasons mentioned above.

This year again the Shandur festival has been aborted three days ahead of the announced dates, upsetting so many apple carts and inflicting such a financial blow that can only be felt by those affected. The reason given for the abortion is “bad weather”. Chitralis are well conversant with the weather factor. For over 50 years we have been listening to PIA flight cancelations due to ‘bad weather’ despite the sun shining bright in the sky. Now that there are no PIA flights to cancel, the Shandur festival cancelation due to weather is a reminder of our substance and reality.

The reason why the Shandur festival has been gradually taken over by the administration and the military is because they have the resources. They can spend taxpayers money freely in this context including payment of allowances to the players. The players are obligedly helpless in front of them and have to obey their orders.

The way out to restore the original spirit of the Shandur polo festival is to make it a completely civilian affair. The polo associations and other civil organizations of both the districts should raise funds themselves and find private sponsors to hold the festival. All government and military personnel should be welcome to attend the event at their own expense and in their own private vehicles. Only then would the festival regain it’s natural environment as per the true spirit of Shandur. .. CN report, 26 June 2024

One thought on “The Shandur festival miscarriage

  1. Excellent idea. To begin, it can be made alternate. One year with the help of the government and the next year without. This year they can do without

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