The Spirit of Swat festival, which is currently taking place under the aegis of the Pakistan Army presented a colourful and energetic event on Saturday, which included several thrilling activities.
The event, which is the first of its kind in Swat, was witnessed by thousands of people in which hundreds of local and international players displayed their talent. Several activities such as paragliding, hang gliding, skydiving, marathon races and white river rafting were organised at the event.
During the event, a UK-based skydiver Andrew, along with two other skydivers set a world record by jumping from a height of 3,660 metres with the “largest” Pakistani flag.
“It gives me great pleasure to be here. I feel honoured to fly the biggest flag over Swat Valley, which is indeed a very memorable occasion and I am extremely thankful to the authorities for all their cooperation,” said Andrew while talking to media persons.
The event was organised with the assistance of Hawk Gliding Club. The club’s owner, Major (retd) Hamid Raza, said that the event was organised to streamline tourism in Swat and it has been a great success so far.
“The festival aims to provide the younger generation of Swat with multiple opportunities. We want to involve them in healthy and positive activities to regain peace in the region,” he claimed.
Captain Jamshed, the instructor of Peshawar Parachute Training Centre said, “The free fall jump was conducted 3,660 metres above sea level from a MI 17 plane, and the adventure athletes displayed various stunts during their free fall, after which their parachute opened at a height of approximately 1,220 metres.
“This is the first time ever that we are having such a high profile skydiving competition. Swat is a suitable place for this activity and we have received a great response from the local people,” Syed Ajmal Hussain, the chief instructor of skydiving.
The sports director of the military forces, Brigadier Iqtidar, who was also chief guest at the event, also appreciated the efforts of the participants.
Speaking on the occasion, he said Pakistan possessed a lot of potential in such activities which should be utilised effectively to engage people in healthy activities. He said such events would take place in the future as well.
The Spirit of Swat has been organised as part of the government’s bid to woo tourists back to the picturesque Swat valley. The 45-day event has been organised by the provincial government and the United Nations Development Programme with the assistance of the Pakistan Army.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2011.