زمرہ: چترال اور چترالی

Foolproof security to be enhanced at Lawari Tunnel : Rehman Malik

ISLAMABAD, Sep 1 (APP):  A delegation of Lawari Tunnel Project led by Charles Kim called on Minister for Interior A. Rehman Malik here on Tuesday and discussed matters pertaining to further improve foolproof security arrangements at the cite of project.During the meeting held in a very conducive atmosphere, both the sides also discussed matters of mutual interest.The Minister informed the delegation that the government will leave no stone unturned to further improve law and order situation and enhance security arrangements.

In this regard, all the resources would be utilized by the government, he added.He assured the delegation that all possible steps would be taken to ensure security of the Lawari tunnel project.The delegation thanked the Minister for taking personal interest about the security of the project and taking effective measure for resolution of their problems.They assured the Minister that they intend to bring further investment in Pakistan in future. APP

Chitral: Fascinating Place, Fascinating History چترال : دلفریب مقام، اور د لچسپ تاریخ

S.A.J. Shirazi

Picturesque Chitral town sits up in Pakistan’s northwest district, walled in by the Hindu Kush range.

During winters, the only way in is by air (weather permitting) as the two passes, the 3118-meter Lowari from Dir and the 3810-meter Shandur from the upper Gilgit Valley are closed to road traffic. The Fokker Friendships drone for 50 minutes and burst through clouds on decent to reveal on mountains covered with whitecaps and red tin roof houses.

Chitral Town
Chitral Town

This is Chitral. On the small airfield, the cold wind thrust you to shiver. The remoteness of the district has left it undeveloped in spite of grand natural beauty, hospitable people and ancient history. The town is a base camp for tourists, adventurers and researchers from across the world. And, people seem to be living there in peace.

Chitral, located at 1500 meters from sea level is a beautiful and historic town. It has lively bazaar — a miniature Peshawar full of Mediterranean looking faces under Chitrali caps and foreigners.Geoffrey Moorhouse in his book “To the Frontier” describes the seen in Chitral town:

men squatted in the shade of a tree beside a food stall or middle aged man seen stroking a dog.

It is no truer. Now the modest bazaar is lined up with well-stocked provision shops, eating joints and souvenir shops selling many things from Chitrali caps to Lajvard (Armenian stone) and Zammurd(Emerald) that find their way in the town, for the tourists mostly. However, American sleeping bags and rucksack, Bulgarian ankle boots and Korean Jackets that used to be on sale in bazaar during Soviet occupation in Afghanistan are no more sold there. Mehtars’ fort on the banks of the Kunar River is a principal building that reminds of the bygone era. Go to visit the palace and the sleeping guard will ask for a permit from district management.

The Mehtars’ palace-fortress, site of the 1895 siege, is still occupied by royal offspring so you can not go in without special arrangement. The entrance of the south end is to the residential quarters. The one facing Shahi Bazaar used to be for the royal guards. The most interesting side faces the river and is best viewed from the far end of bazaar or form across the river. The river passing through the town is called Chitral (or Kunar) River, and upstream is known as Mastuj River. Another ornate building up the road toward the police station was the royal courthouse. The spacious Shahi Mosque next door was built by Mehtar Shuja ul Mulk. New minarets and domes have been added during recent renovation, keeping the edifice in its original shape.

At the south end of town is one of Pakistan’s best polo ground, where practice matches are held every few days from mid March to early November and full-blown matches on weekends. The town has weeklong tournament in September to October. With roaring crowds and drum and horn bands that play the signature tune of each player who scores a goal. Polo is still played in many up valley towns too, though it’s a dying sport because horses are costly to own and no longer needed for transport. One of the biggest social events for Chitralis is days of super polo and merrymaking at Shandur Pass, which is held every few years since 1936.

The Chitral valley has a long history. It was subdued by Alexanderfrom Macedonian, Chinese army and Timur in the past and was under king namedShah Rais (descendent of Balti rulers) in sixteenth century. Son of Sangin Ali– advisor of Shah Rais and forefather of Adamzada clan — threw out the king and took over the power.Kators (branch of Adamzada clan) ruled Chitral till 1960.

In 1856, the British who were apprehensive about Russians in Central Asia had sent an expedition to poke around Chitral and win some friends. In return for a subsidy, Aman ul Mulk — the first Kator ruler called Mehtar to attract outside attention who had taken over in 1857 — became a British friend. After capturing Kuhswaqt (another branch of Adamzada tribe) land in the 1880, his domain stretched from upper Gilgit into Afghanistan.

Aman ul Mulk died of a heart attack in 1892, one of the few Mehtars to die a natural death, since the usual way to decide succession for royal princes was to murder their father and one another until only one was left. This time 16 sons were caught unprepared. Result: bloody power tussle.

Aman’s second son Afzal ul Mulk seized the family fort and began eliminating his brothers. Nizam ul Mulk fled to Gilgit. Then Umra Khan, the ruler of Dir, invaded from the south. Aman’s long exiled brother Sher Afzal (the only one he had failed to eliminate) appeared from Afghanistan with a small army killed his nephew Afzal ul Mulk and pronounced himself Mehtar. Finally, prodded by the British, Nizam returned. Sher Afzal ran away and everybody recognized Nizam as Mehtar.

Two years later Nizam was overthrown by his half brother Amir ul Mulk. Umra Khan also edged up the valley, taking Drosh. In a show of force, the Gilgit Political Agent Major George Scott Robertson (writer of The Kafirs of the Hindukush) arrived at Chitral Town with 400 soldiers and moved into the fort — the ancestral home. At this time, Sher Afzal appeared again, this time joined by people of Chitral. Badly beaten in an initial skirmish, the British found themselves besieged in the fort. Four hundred people with food and ammunition nearly gone were finally bailed out after 46 days by reinforcement from Gilgit who had hauled cannons over the Shandur pass in shoulder high snow. A bigger force fought its way over the Lowari Pass but arrived too late to help. Umra Khan fled to Afghanistan, Sher Afzal was captured, Amir arrested and his 14 years old brother Shuja ul Mulk was commissioned as Mehtar. In the aftermath, this episode somehow got recast as a heroic British campaign and Robertson was even knighted. A classic example of history chronicled from authors’ point of view.

The British realigned Chitral from a western arm of Gilgit to a more secure northern extension of the NWFP. During the third Afghan War in 1919, Afghan forces invade southern Chitral at Arandu – famous crossing point during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Shuja ruled contentedly until 1936, his son Nasir ul Mulk until1943 and Nasir’s brother Muzaffar ul Mulk (who took Chitral into Pakistan at Partition) until 1948Saif (son of Muzzafar) was killed in1954 in a plane crash and his four year old son Saif ul Mulk Nasirbecame Mehtar, the last one, with uncle as regent. Chitral became an administrative distract in 1969.

Chitral is still not accessible in winters when Lowari closes and PIA Foker cannot cross over the mountains. The word is out that government is working on Lowari Tunnel Project (see photo below) and one day the district may join the mainland and not only serve as gateway to Kalash Valley but the area will open to development.

Construction of Lowari Tunnel halted, foreigners shifted to Islamabad سیکیورٹی کی بگڑتی صوتحال کے پیش نظر لواری ٹنل منصوبے پر کام عارضی طور پرروک دیا گیا،منصوبے پر کام کرنے والے غیر ملکیوں کو اسلام آباد منتقل کردیا گیا ہے۔۔۔۔۔

Times of Chitral Monitoring – (Online): The construction of Lowari tunnel with total cost of Rs. 10 billion has been halted temporary in the wake of security situation and security forces operation in Swat. Round about 700 employees were working in Lowari tunnel out of which foreigners have been shifted to Islamabad. The first feasibility of the tunnel was carried out in 1955 while work on the project was started in 1975 by the Frontier Works Organization (FWO).

لواری ٹنل منصوبہ، جس پر 10 بلین کی لاگت آٓٓٓئی ہے

لواری ٹنل منصوبہ، جس پر 10 بلین کی لاگت آٓٓٓئی ہے

Work on the project was restarted in 1995 but it could not be continued. Former President Gen. (Retd) Pervez Musharraf realized the strategic importance of the tunnel and ordered its construction in 2002. The Lowari Tunnel is currently being constructed beneath Lowari Pass by a Korean company. The total length of the tunnel would be 8.8 kilometers while it would be 7.15 meters high and 7.55 meters wide.

Lowari Top is closed by snow from late November to late May every year. During this time, jeeps cannot cross so men must travel by foot. This is dangerous, as there are high mountains on each side of Lowari Top, and a deadly avalanche can come at any moment without warning. Every winter few persons are killed by avalanches while crossing Lowari Top. Their bodies are buried under the snow and it is only when the summer comes and the snow melts that their bodies are found and their fate is learned.

The Lowari Top is one of the four major mountain passes to enter Chitral. The others are the Dorah Pass from Badakshan in Afghanistan, Shandur Top from Gilgit, and Broghol from the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Online

Shops gutted in fire in Danin owners losses millions


Shops gutted in fire in Danin owners losses millions

دنین میں واقع دکانوں میں آگ لگ گئی، مالکان کو لاکھوں کا نقصان

Chitral (TTC News Sources): Shops in Danin Chitral caught fire on Wednesday night. Six shops completely burned. Shopkeepers suffered of million rupees loss. On information the District Nazim Sartaj Ahmed Khan along with Chitral Scout / Police and fire brigade personnel reached the spot, and immediately started work to control the fire. After a long time struggle fire was controlled, and some other shops and a petrol pump near the fire spot were saved. However six shops were gutted badly and shopkeeper loosed million of rupees. Affectees demanded immediate compensation form the government. Meanwhile the District Nazim also appealed to the govt to compensate the affected.           

Lowari Tunnel celebration in Booni

Lowari Tunnel celebration in Booni

January 20, 2009 – 2:08 am

booniCHITRAL, 19th January 2009: The residents of Mastuj tehsil (Booni) took out a grand rally for the celebration of Lowari Tunnel. Thousands of people took part despite snowfall and severe cold here on Monday. The rally was Led by district nazim Maghfirat Shah, district naib-nazim Sultan Shah, tehsil nazim Mastuj Shahzada Sikander ul Mulk, tehsil nazim Chitral Sartaj Ahmed Khan, union nazim Amiruallah and the representatives of civil society organizations, the rally passed through different roads of Booni town and converted into a public meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, the district nazim said that due to its proximity, Chitral is the gateway of Central Asia and with the completion of Lowari tunnel project, the dream is also coming nearer. He expressed his hope that President Asif Zardari will announce the project of Chitral-Tajikistan road during his proposed visit to Chitral during the forthcoming summer which he has promised. He said that venues of progress and prosperity will now open for Chitral and it will remain backward no more with the completion of the Lowari tunnel project for which the residents of Chitral yearned for the last 61 years of the establishment of Pakistan.

lowari-tunnelOn this occasion, a resolution was passed in which it was demanded of the government to take solid measures to connect Chitral with the Central Asian republics. It was also demanded of the government to allow the passengers of Chitral to use the tunnel daily for two hours to rid the stranded passengers in Chitral and Peshawar. Those who addressed on the occasion included Chitral DCO Motasim Billah Shah, Shahzada Sikandar Ul Mulk, Sartaj Ahmed Khan, Sultan Shah, Amirullah, Zaffarullah, Syed Sardar Hussain, Shamsur Rehman, , Fazlur Rahman, Kashafat Younis. They said that the residents of Chitral have got real freedom with the completion of the  Lowari tunnel after which Chitral has been connected with the rest of the country. They said that the residents of Chitral must prepare themselves for the post-Lowari tunnel scenario Chitral which will bring with itself competition in every field of life

about to Chitral


Drilling of Lowari Tunnel completedلواری ٹنل کی کھدایی مکمل

Chitrali demands 4 more flights for Chitral

The News – Sunday, January 11, 2009, Bureau report

PESHAWAR: Congratulating Chitralis on completion of drilling of Lowari Tunnel, National Assembly member Shahzada Mohiuddin Saturday said an all-weather road would pave the way for the development of the district.

“Though, the drilling of the tunnel was completed, the project will take two more year to complete,” the MNA said.

The MNA urged the government to ensure two flights of the Pakistan Air International for Chitral on daily basis from Peshawar.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that the dwellers of Chitral were facing acute hardships owing to the closure of Lowari Top, adding that people are travelling through long and insecure land route of Kunar province in Afghanistan to reach their destinations.

“It’s mandatory upon government to increase the number of PIA flights on daily basis,” he said and added that he had already discussed the issue with federal minister for defence and PIA officials who backed his demand. He lamented that no practical steps had been taken so far to resolve this issue.

Member Provincial Assembly Ghulam Muhammad was also present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, activists of Tanzeem Tahaffuz-e-Haqooq-e-Chitral (TTHC) staged a demonstration here Saturday to demand four additional flights of PIA for Chitral daily during the three months of winter when travel by road is being blocked due to snowfall at the Lowari Top.

Led by convener of TTHC and former Jamaat-e-Islami MNA, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, the protest rally was staged outside Peshawar Press Club.

The protesters carried placards and banners highlighting their demands. They raised slogans demanding more PIA flights to Chitral to enable stranded Chitralis to reach their destinations.

The protesters also demanded of the government to reduce the airfare to Chitral from Peshawar by 50 per cent as the Chitralis could not afford the present airfare.

 Two girls commit suicide دو لڑکیوں کی خودکشی

The News – Monday, January 12, 2009, By by Our correspondent

 CHITRAL: Two young girls committed suicide by jumping into River Chitral in Ayun village, some 20 kilometres from here Sunday. Sources said that Farzia Bibi and Madina Bibi left their homes on Saturday but did not return. The relatives searched for them and fished out the body of Farzia from the river while the body of Madina was yet to be recovered. Farzia was the resident of Orguch village and were at her maternal grandparents’ home in Ayun when she committed suicide. The reason behind their suicide could not be ascertained.

Trained midwives producing tangible benefitsتربیت یافتہ داییاں حقیقی فواید دے دہی ہیں۔

 The News – Sunday, January 11, 2009, By our correspondent, Karachi

Referring to a recent study carried out in the Northern Areas and Chitral, Mistry said that there is considerable reduction in maternal mortality rates since 2001 in these areas, mainly due to the availability of trained midwives. She said that there were 15 reported deaths of pregnant women in 2001, which has now reduced to six deaths – in effect, the lives of nine pregnant women were saved.

Mistry said that four years ago, 40 per cent deliveries tended to take place at the hands of midwives and lady health visitors in Northern Areas and Chitral, but this figure had increased to 44 per cent. She said that due to adverse weather, many of these areas would be cut off from other localities, but women’s lives can now be saved by lady health visitors and midwives. Similarly, the coverage of Tetanus vaccine in Northern Areas is 87 per cent and 90 per cent in Chitral, a figure that Mistry attributed to awareness and accessibility.

Talking about the brain-drain in the nursing profession, Mistry said it is global phenomenon. Girls in developed countries have stopped becoming nurses partly because of the health risks involved in this profession and partly because of their preference for other professions. In developed countries, however, paramedical staff such as nurses is encouraged and offered incentives, which are not available in Pakistan – an unsurprising fact given that the basic needs of nurses and midwives are not being fulfilled.

In this regard, she added that the Aga Khan Health Service trains girls in its four midwifery diploma training schools, three established in Karachi and one in Hyderabad. These girls are then sent back to their respective areas, but are kept under a close supervisory system, wherein their training is continued and their skills “refined”, as follow up support is important.

Persevering savioursثابت قدم مسیحاییں

Persevering savioursثابت قدم مسیحاییں 

The News – Wednesday, December 24, 2008, By Aroosa Masroor, Karachi

Rescuing survivors of a disaster is possibly one of the toughest jobs one can do, and given the frequency of both natural and man-made disasters in Pakistan, rescue workers stand at constant vigil to protect citizens. Rozina Qadir, is one such worker who has been volunteering for people’s safety for over two years now. 

At the age of 35, Rozina defies the stereotype that only men are fit for search and rescue operations. During each of her operations, Rozina’s life is on the line, but she faces all such missions fearlessly. She is one of nine females in a team of 40 members of FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, an international crisis and response and disaster risk reduction agency, which has been working in Pakistan for over a decade now. 

FOCUS was founded in 1998 by the Ismaili community and is affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network in Pakistan. Operating in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, the Northern Areas and Chitral, the team is trained in urban, mountain, avalanche, and water search and rescue. 

More than their rigorous training, what is surprising is the commitment of these workers – all of whom are volunteers. From Karachi alone there are 20 members comprising professionals, students, and housewives. “I had always wanted to help humanity in some way, but when my children were younger, I knew I could not engage in an emergency operation. Now that they are older, I feel its time I give something back to society,” said Rozina, now a mother of three teenaged children.

Amyn Dossa, Chairman FOCUS Pakistan, believes it is all about commitment. “You can only become a rescue worker if you understand the value of human life and are committed towards serving humanity. No one can force or train you to be one unless you are convinced from within,” he said. He added that the team has been trained with the help of international rescue teams, including Avalanche and fire-fighting rescue workers from Sweden and France. 

Moreover, Rapid UK regularly visits to train the Pakistani rescue team. Dossa, however, stressed that it is not just training that the workers need. “Possessing the right equipment and technical expertise is just as essential.” 

Citing the example of the recent Marriott bomb blast in Islamabad, he said that government rescue teams were unable to evacuate the top floors of the hotel because they lacked the sophisticated equipment needed to carry out rescue operations. 

In the aftermath of the October 2005 earthquake, FOCUS provided relief to victims initially in Margalla Towers, Islamabad and later in Balakot and Muzaffarabad. The team was also present in the recent Balochistan earthquake in October 2008. “Before the rescue operation begins,” said Dossa, “a Disaster Assessment Response Team first carries out the initial damage and needs assessment in the area after which the rescue team follows through.”

The team has not only responded to the disasters within the country, but also in neighbouring countries including China (during the May 2008 earthquake) and India (during the 2004 tsunami). Dossa added that the government recently approached FOCUS to train CDGK’s Urban Search and Rescue team, and is working in collaboration with the government’s National Disaster Management Authority. “It is difficult to work in isolation, and such efforts should be collective. In areas where FOCUS does not have access, we work in assistance with the Army too.”

When not working in disaster-struck areas, the team shifts its focus to disaster-prone areas of the country through its PMP (Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness) programme. “Through the PMP programme, we have trained communities in ‘red zone’ areas of Gilgit and Chitral – two naturally hazardous regions of the country,” said Dossa, adding that people residing in these strong seismic zones were earlier unaware of the risks of living in the area. “An attitude change has been noticed. 

People are now aware of the importance of such training, and this awareness in itself is a powerful source of motivation,” he said. This degree of self-reliance has helped women in the area overcome their fear too. “They feel safer and better prepared now,” he added.

During the training programme, necessary equipment is stored in each participating village as well. A standard emergency stockpile comprises blankets, shovels, tarpaulins, tents, ropes, torches, batteries, axes, bamboo poles, crowbars and first aid kits. “Satellite telephones for emergency communications have also been introduced.” When asked why more people have not volunteered for the programme in a span of ten years, Dossa explained: “The problem is that we do not value human life as we should. The need for more rescue teams will not be realised until we educate people and convince them to come forward.” 

Keeping in mind the climate change and severe weather conditions, natural disasters across the world are expected to rise in the coming years, including Pakistan. “Urban and rural communities are equally vulnerable. We need to prepare ourselves so we can help minimise the impact of disasters.” For this, Dossa suggests that more volunteers like Rozina, irrespective of their gender or profession, should come forward.