As the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan governments attempt to make peace atop the ‘roof of the world’, locals from the region seem unimpressed.
Elders from Laspur union council, Chitral have rejected the MoU signed by K-P Minister for Tourism Amjad Afridi and interim G-B ministers. Under the truce, Shandur will be considered by both the governments as a jointly-owned territory and both will jointly organise the Shandur Polo Festival.
Addressing a press conference in Chitral on Monday, elders Muhammad Shahabuddin, Dr Inayatullah, Subedar Major (retd) Qalandar Shah and several others rubbished the MoU and said Afridi has no right to declare that land historically proven to be of Chitralis would also belong to G-B. “Shandur was never disputed. The controversy is regarding Kokosh meadow only, which is subjudice at a G-B court,” said Shahabuddin, adding a federal commission is also determining the area’s ownership rights.
Citing historical evidence, the Chitralis made sure they made their case. They said the festival dates back to the 1930s when the rulers of Chitral used to organise the event together. “The festival’s ownership was shouldered by Chitral political agent over the years and later the deputy commissioner,” said Shah, adding the K-P government owns both the land and the historic event.
“The residents of Laspur have had their houses, places of worship and other establishments on the land for decades,” he said, adding the locals have full ownership rights over it. The elders said the minister for tourism will be held responsible for the consequences if any of the MoU’s minutes are implemented.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2015.
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