KARACHI: Emerging out of one of Pakistan’s longest caves, pride of performance-winner Hayatullah Khan will be leading the Pakistan Cave Research and Caving Federation (PCRCF) team at the inauguration of International Speleology and Caving Congress in Hamdan, Iran.
Earlier this year, Hayatullah along with Abubakar Durrani and Muhammad Usman Khilji, in collaboration with the Chiltan Adventurers Association, explored Pakistan’s longest 1,272-km single-chamber cave.
“We’ve discovered the longest one-chamber bat cave of Pakistan,” Hayatullah proudly told The Express Tribune. “We found it when we were at the Bolan coastline expedition. It was thrilling but also very exciting in terms of research.”
Hayatullah began the caving research in 1984, and later by 1990. It evolved into an adventure sport for cave enthusiasts in the country.
The Speleology and Caving Congress is a platform where PCRCF presented their findings at the Buali Sina University of Hamadan among participants from more than 48 countries including the US, Canada, France, Australia, China, the Netherlands and Italy.
After attending the congress, Hayatullah and his team will be exploring the caves in Iran.
“The Iranian Speleological Department at the university has arranged for an expedition. We’ll be exploring some exclusive caves that are generally not allowed to visit. But we are excited about this tour,” he said.
The team is expected to return to Pakistan on February 24.
Security a negative factor
According to Hayatullah, caving is a challenge in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan; therefore, the caving expeditions usually take on the terrain in the Pashtun belt which includes areas like Ziarat and Harnai. His caving club has 67 members so far, 30 of them women.
Hayatullah is the only caver registered with the Union of International Speleology to cover 330 kilometres of caves in his career.
“Caving is a very interesting sport. Many university-going students in Quetta are also interested in it. But the law-and-order situation in the country has affected it negatively. We used to have an annual exchange programme with British cavers. We had an agreement with Simon James Brook. Their cavers would visit our country and we would get the opportunity to explore the caves in Britain as well.”
However, Hayatullah said “the caving teams have stopped coming to Pakistan for over a decade now.”
He added, “There have been many accolades that I received from other countries; for surveying, mapping and photographing the caves in Pakistan but it is the general attitude of the people that has become a hindrance.”