Lying at the feet of the grand eastern Himalayan mountains, the Supat valley stretches her arms towards Dassu, the headquarters of Kohistan.
Approximately 110km from Dassu, the valley is a historic crossroad between Central and South Asia. It has been treaded upon by a number of civilisations, including the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, Turks and Mughals. The British also contested the local Pashun and Dardic tribes for the control of the valley.
Supat remains enriched with wildlife. It is not improbable to come across an ibex stalked by snow leopard in December. Or to see a herd of deer drink water at the Maheen or Shamis Lake during July.
Roughly a thousand stone-made congested houses populate the valley. The area is inhabited by 10 families, each comprised of a hundred of these households. It is said to have been ruled by the Gota Baik tribe for the last two-and-a-half centuries. Due to the lack of written traditions among the inhabitants, the origin and descent of the Gota Baik and the other local tribes is shrouded in obscurity. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Provincial Assembly member Sattar Khan is a known elder of the Gota Baik tribe. Talking to The Express Tribune, he expressed a desire to preserve the valley and its culture for the coming generations.
Khan said he wanted to save the endangered wildlife in the valley from extinction.
Talking about the region’s biological diversity, he said Supat was home to ibex, deer, snow leopards, markhor and marmots while its skies were ruled by the Himalayan monals and Western Tragopan pheasants.
In 2011, the K-P government wanted to provide employment to the people of the area by excavating the mountains of the valley for peridot.
The blasts triggered in the mountains to make way for mines have forced Supat’s fauna to flee their homes. The future of the valley’s wildlife seems bleak. The progress of Supat’s poverty stricken families will come at its cost.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.