by Mehboob Aziz
The second Pamir Festival was recently celebrated in Sarhad-e-Brughill, Upper Wakhan valley, on the 12th and 13th of August. The festival was organised by the people of the Wakhan with the assistance of the Wakhan Tourism Office, based in Ishkashim, Badakhshan. It provided an opportunity for the people of this little known area to gather and celebrate their culture and to welcome tourists and other visitors, interested in finding out more about the region. The Wakhan Tourism Office was established by the Aga Khan Foundation to develop appropriate tourism in the Wakhan. It has two main objectives — to bring a much needed new source of income so that local people don’t have to live in poverty; and to try to ensure that local people remain in control of tourism and other development as the region inevitably opens up to the world. The Office has helped local people to set up simple guesthouses and given them training in basic tourism services. It has also trained a number of mountain and tour guides.
During the festival Buzkashi (Buzkashi is the great equestrian sport of Central Asia and Afghanistan – a sort of polo played with the headless carcase of a goat or calf.) and polo matches were played. Folk songs were sung and dances performed by artists belonging to Wakhan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. A Sufi night with music and bonfires had also been planned. Handicrafts were also available at stalls for the willinig buyers.
more information can be obtained by visiting www.wakhan.org