Unlike previous years, gloom overshadowed the famed Uchal festival of Kalash.
The festival was postponed for 10 days after Afghan militants infiltrated the area and kidnapped a shepherd and 600 goats on August 18.
The festival usually starts in August, marking beginning of the barley and wheat harvesting seasons. It is observed in the Bumboret and Rumbur valleys of the district, as these are the main areas where crops are cultivated. Local girls and boys start preparing for the event months in advance, aiming to enchant their audiences with folk dances.
The festival was held in the religious Chaharso Dancing Palace, but with low attendance from folk dancers and elderly couples who usually flock to the event. Contingents of Chitral Scouts, border police and district police were deployed and strict security steps were observed.
The militant attack was carried during preparations for Uchal.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2012.