Gilgit - Baltistan

“Trans-border initiatives are needed to protect biodiversity”, says Ghulam Amin Beg

Aziz Ali Najam, G.Amin Beg, Syed Yahya Shah, Ghulam Tahir, Fazal-u-Rehman Manzoor Ahmed and Khalil Ahmed

by Zulfiqar Ali Khan

Gilgit, May 22: In recognition of the significance of biodiversity, the Programme for Mountain Areas Conservation (PMAC) has organised an event at Karakoram International University to celebrate the Word Biodiversity Day. The main objective of the event was to create awareness among students and other stakeholders regarding issues of biodiversity in Karakoram. Himalaya and Hindukush region. A large number of students from KIU, faculty members and representatives of different government and non-governmental organization were present during the event. The Vice Chancellor KIU, Aziz Ali Najam was the Chief Guest of the day.

Addressing to the participants, Ghulam Amin Beg, Programme Manager Policy Dialogue and Partnership, AKRSP has stressed the need to take larger trans-border initiatives to protect the biodiversity in Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush regions. He said that both the Khunjerab National Park and Tashqughan Natural Reserve projects are working to protect Marcopolo sheep and other biodiversity in the region, however, there has is no effort to develop coordination between both projects working in same border regions. He said, Marcopolo sheep moves seasonally around the region, and, if there is no coordination and cooperation, then the objective of the conservation may not be achived. He further added that the culture, indigenous knowledge and practices of the communities living around the border areas also need to be protected. He gave the example of the border region of Baltistan with India, Ishkomin and Afghanistan, Khunjerab and Tashqughun, where the same communities are living both side of the border. He also shared some trans-border initiatives in the region. This includes world life Conservation initiatives of the Governments of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan to protect Marcopolo sheep and declare the whole Pamir region as conservancy. The second initiative is implemented by UNDP, WWF and Government of Pakistan and China to protect the practices of local community. The German Government has also initiated a capacity building programme for the young professionals of Karakoram, Hindukush, Himalaya and Pamir regions. The Government of China is also engaged separately with different neighbouring region to develop coordination between conservation projects.

Fazal-u-Rehman, Director Agriculture Project NAs has made a detailed presentation on Agro biodiversity. He said that more than 90% of the crop varieties have disappeared from the farmer’s field due to many reasons including globalisation of food system and marketing. He stressed the need to preserve the indigenous crop varieties of Northern Areas.

Ghulam Tahir, Forest Conservator has said that there is a great need to use the natural resources of the region very wisely. He said that the Forest Department NAs has declared about 21 conservation areas, however, joint efforts are needed to sustain activities.

Syed Yahya Shah from Nagar in his speech proved the importance of biodiversity with the help of verses from Holy Quran. He stressed the need to organise such events in conservancy areas rather in halls of hotels and universities, away from the target community.

The Vice Chancellor KIU in his keynote speech has said that the biodiversity is rendering valuable function for human survival. He quoted different Quranic verses and the poetry of Moulana Roomi to prove the biodiversity as the blessing of Allah. He said that human being should not be selfish to protect the biodiversity just only for his own benefits but should take it as a moral responsibility and obligation.  

(PMAC is a five year project of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of Government of Pakistan implemented and executed by Ministry of Environment through a National Directorate at Islamabad and three Regional Directorates in NAs. AJK and NWFP. The Key objective of the project is to conserve biological diversity and ecological importance of landscape through active participation of mountain communities and other stakeholders.)  

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  1. Thanks Pamir Times and for sharing the positive initiatives of PMAC and KIU. I appreciate the contribution of Mr. Ghulam Amin Beg in his personal and professional capacity. We need contribution of intellectuals, young professionals, committed social workers and wise political leaders, responsible civil society institutions including the well informed and unbiased media to resolve various issues of the globe including Northern Areas of Pakistan in general and the Hunza-Gojal in particular. We need to focus on the issues such as socio-economic and socio-political issues and that could be minimized through collective efforts instead of blaming others. I would like to suggest that in near future the community representative from Hunza Gojal such as KVO, Khyber, Ghulkin, Nasirabad should be given opportunity to share their experiences of nature conservation/biodiversity in such events. I am glad on the participation of Syed Yahya Shah, a community leader from (from Bar vaelly conservation area Nager) have presented his entire community and shared his wisdom in the program. I hope being an educated youth we should learn from each other experiences and avoiding from blaming culture and hypocrisy.

  2. I fully agree with Merkhaz that we need to focus on social, economic and political developments in the Northern area.

    Our vision should be creation of civil society which is healthy, educated, progressive and modern involving all the ethenic communities for strengthening peace and harmoney. We should commonly work for eradication of corruption, which has entered our society at all levels, resolution of conflicts which result in lack of trust between communities.

    It is very important that we craat enabling environment for economic development which will creat opprotunities to set up businesses and creation of more jobs so that our educated youth are absorbed locally. This way we can have our youth back in our society and play theiir positive role and also bring back smiles on the faces of our aging parents who are suffering because of their childern being apart.

    We are experiencing a serious social problems being faced by our young students (both male and female) in Rawalpindi and Islamabad due to insufficient and inadequate facilities by educational institutions.

    Our volnurable young boys and girls are living in hostels where there is no control of any sort and there have been instances of use of drugs and prostitution involving our students and other boarders who have completed their education and are doing jobs.

    It has been noticed that these so called students how have hardly secured D or E grades pressurise their innocent parents for having them moved to cities like Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi.

    As they are unable to secure a place in the highly ranked colleges and universities, and are admitted to private colleges who charge heavy fees and are far behind the institution we have in Gojal, Centeral Hunza and Gilgit in terms of faculty, standard of education and safety.

    These private colleges do not have residential space to house them and have to opt for private hostels where they can live the way they want. This results in huge financial burdon on the parents which may deprive other more talented students of the family from getting proper education at home due to the extra financial burdon.

    It is need of the day that technical and vocational schools and institution be set up in the region without any further delay for those who insufficient marks to secure a pace in quality highier educational institutions.

    It is further needed to educate the parents to be aware of the modern day problems of young childern, their needs, social environment and threats.

    Sher Karim

  3. Thanks Merkhaz for sharing your views, I strongly support your views and like to add that PMAC should be a platform for all the institutions related to bio-diversity. It is my experience that some times NGOs feed community based institutions with the span of their project funding and leave them abruptly by arguing that the project period has been finished and the donor agency have stopped funding. That is why; the community based institutions become inactive. PMAC should keep in mind the sustainability of those institutions and initiate endowment fund for them. We can take the example of MACP initiatives of Gojal Conservancy Association which is now in hibernation and waiting for any funding agency for wake-up call. I hope it could no be the re-arrangement of alphabets from MACP to PMAC but to go beyond it for sustainable development of its desired goals.
    Thanks and regards

  4. Dear Readers of Pamir times,
    With reference to the biodiversity I would like to share my work that is on the bacterial biodiversity of the extreme environments in the Northern Areas.The extreme environment includes geothermal springs,cold springs and the rhizoshere of different angiosperms and gymnosperm.
    So far I ve been able to isolate the microflora of the above mentioned environments and have optimized the conditions for the thermophiles and the characterization process is under study.
    The future prospect of my work will be to isolate genes from these extremophiles and their transfer to the economically important plants that do not grow in extreme environmental conditions including temperature as one of the top regulatory,promotory and inhibitory factor.
    I would like the young sciectists to pay attentions towards the areas which could benefit our area in different parameters.
    I ve already invited the faculty of Biosciences at KIU to join me and my department in the areas of Molecular Genetics and Molecular biology.
    I am hopeful that the Kiu will promote research work in its research oriented departments for a better future.
    Institutions where research is dominating the other areas is more marched and can contribute not only to the development of the itself but to the entire nation.
    We need to develop our own vaccinations,we need to develop our own equipments as to minimize the cost and to make a very good contribution.
    Countries like Germany,which is more self reliant in dominating the other countries in the fields like biotechnology and the only driving force behind is their patriotism.
    We must show our full commitment to the development of our country by devoting our time and energy.
    I hope that every body will love to be part of the developmental activities or the initiators of something innovative that would add to the development of this country which is badly suffering because of the political and economical unstability.

  5. Dear Readers of Pamir Times,
    I fully support the point of view Sher Karim bhai and the geniune issues he has tried to expose.It is very much true that the students from our region without keeping in view the actual condition of many private colleges get admission.This has so far been a worst experience for the students themselves and for the parents who despite the various economic constraints support their children without having any clear cut idea about the places.
    When i was in Gilgit during a career counselling,I was asked several questions by the studets studying in Gilgit about leaving the educational institutions in Gilgit and moving to cities.I clearly told them as per my experience that acquiring education in Gilgit or Hunza is far more better than the Plaza Universities and colleges in the cities.They have been established with the aim to earn money and not to secure the future of student.Institutions should build the students and not to ruin their development.
    My request is to choose the places which are affordable and could meet your requirements.
    Aslam Ghalib

  6. Its time to save the endangered species through collective measures. War footing steps could be taken to thawart the threats before it is too late. Creating awareness among the masses is the prerequisite to take initiatives based on trust and wisdom. Since the inception of the so called Khunjrab National Park not even a single step has been taken to address the essence of biodiversity nor taken the massess into confidence. Today, KNP,though millions at their proposal failed to deliever the desired result. The bureaucracy,all time corrupt uses dirty tactics to blackmail the peaceful communities of Gojal in order to swallow millions of dollars,but never pay heed to their suggestions.
    The conception of the International Peace Park and Community based Park is gaining momentum day by day. The corrupt bureaucray is an impedement to the community based concept of protection of the wildlife. Its time to raise voice agaist the white elephants, who have no other job but to eat and swallow huge funds donated by the foreign agencies. Trans border biodiveristy is an asset and itegral part of our culture. Through collective measure we can come up with concrete solutions. Community based conception is the order of the day-the only available solution to protect the endangered species.

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