PESHAWAR: The prestigious Shandur Polo Festival, scheduled to take place next month, is expected to be cancelled due to floods in Chitral, said a government official on Monday.
Traditionally contested every year at the historic Shandur Top between the polo teams of Gilgit and Chitral since 1936, the event has been running into trouble in recent years due to political differences of the two cities over ownership of the Shandur Pass.
In 2010, Gilgit had boycotted the festival to protest against the federal government’s decision to assign the management and organisation of the event to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and stayed away from the event until 2014.
This time around, the government successfully persuaded Gilgit to end their boycott, who agreed to send their teams to Chitral.
However, the host city has been inundated with destructive floods that have already claimed 30 lives so far, while the crumbling infrastructure has also been destroyed beyond repair for the time being.
“Although no official word has been received from the Chitral district administration, the extent of the damage caused by floods makes it hard to hold the Shandur Polo Festival on the given dates,” Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s media manager Zehra Alam told The Express Tribune.
The Shandur Polo Festival, usually held in July, had already been delayed due to the month of Ramazan. The new dates for the festival were August 7, 8 and 9, which seems an increasingly impossible deadline to meet in the face of unfavourable weather forecasts, which predict worse weather ahead.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2015.