As many as 50 polo players galloped horses around the city on Saturday, appealing to the masses to play their part in restoring peace in the mountainous region.
The riders, led by a police escort and an ambulance, set out from Shahi Polo Ground and rallied through various routes waving at children, who had gathered alongside the roads to see them.
Decked in colourful dresses, the riders represented various polo teams of Gilgit-Baltistan, including the Gilgit polo, police and scouts teams. As they passed through the major avenues, several vehicles could be seen joining the rally to show solidarity.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a government official said that polo has been a symbol of unity in the region, adding that it sends a strong message to the people to shun their differences as they do during polo matches.
“It feels great to be part of a team working for peace,” said a rider.
“The game is liked by everyone irrespective of their political or sectarian affiliation and we hope the initiative will be successful in achieving its objective.”
The rally passed through Ghari Bagh, Raja Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Cinema Chowk, Airport Road Kashrote, Khomer, and Jutial before returning to its starting point.
Gilgit’s deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner accompanied the riders in a separate car.
The G-B government has intensified its efforts to curb sectarianism in the region following bouts of sectarian violence in which more than 20 people were killed.
Several peace rallies and gatherings of mixed sects have also been organised to promote harmony and brotherhood.
The lawyers’ community also took out a peace rally last Thursday, urging the government to “establish its writ” in the region to avoid recurrence of violence.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2012.
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