Eid-ul-Azha is not just an occasion of eating a lot of juicy barbecue and mutton curry in North Waziristan. It is also well known for its festival of Malik Ashdar, held on the eve of Eid when locals assemble in large numbers and practices the traditional target shooting, horse riding and other local games.
It is basically an Urs of a local saint Malik Ashdar whose history is not known but his shrine is well known thanks to this festival. This year, however, due to the on-going tension between local clans it has been decided not to hold the festival as planned.
“This festival is held one day ahead of Eid and is part of local culture and is celebrated for centuries. Due to militancy in the recent past in the district, the festival was badly interrupted and the administration and locals decided not to hold it but last year two local welfare organisations decided to hold it once again and thousands of people attended,” said a local elder Malik Qadir Khan Dawar.
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“We love our culture and local traditions and this festival is part of our culture but this year it is not held due to security concerns because there is a bad blood between several clans in the district due to land disputes in which several people were killed too,” he said, adding that local youngsters and elderly alike wait for the occasion all year round.
“For some people this is attractive because of target shooting competitions, horse riding competitions and traditional foods, music and dance but for other it is important because it is an Urs of a local saint they are spiritually attach with,” said another local, adding that they were said that this year the event is not organized in the area.
“I agree with the organizers that security should be our first priority and all other things come afterwards. It will not be pleasant if the warring faction start fight each other on this occasion when thousands of people are gathered including children,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2021.
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