by: Zulfiqar Ali Khan, Asghar Khan, Zeeshan Ali
HUNZA, August 31: The Silk-Route Festival-2008 concluded with colourful cultural programmes in Gulmit and Ghulkin villages of Gojal valley, attended by hundreds of spectators from all over Northern Areas. The main purpose of the 18-days long events organised under silk route festival-2008 was to promote tourism activities and involve communities for sustainable tourism in the region.
The final-day event was organised by Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association (WTCA) with the collaboration of Northern Areas Tourism Department. The day programme held in Gulmit was presided by Managing Director NATCO, while Secretary Finance and Revenue, Syed Mutahir Shah acted as the Chief Guest.
The artists presented the mosaic of local culture in front of the audiences as traditional dance, sword dance, folklores, songs, Paidal-Polo, skits and docu-dramas regarding the historical trade along the silk route.
A night-show was also organised in Ghulkin Gojal, where a large number of singers from all over the Northern Areas entertained the participants in Wakhi, Burushaski, Shina, Kuwar and Balti languages. Haafiz Hafiz-u-Rehman, member, Northern Areas Legislative Assembly was the chief guest of the musical night and Ghalib; Assistant Commissioner Tashqurghan China acted as presiding guest.
The Secretary Finance applauded the efforts of the local community for remaining intact with their cultural values and traditions. He assured to include the inputs of the local community in the tourism development strategy of Northern Areas.
Assistant Commissioner Tashqurgan, who also belongs to the Wakhi ethnic group living in Gojal valley, stressed the need to promote regional tourism in order to benefit the communities living around the Pamir region.
The main events of the Silk Route 2008 included Inter-District volley-ball tournament, silk-route peace trek, cycle rally, photo exhibition, food mella, women mella, gems expo, Northern Areas Trade fair, rafting/swimming/zack competition, All Northern Areas Mehfil-e-Mushahira, Trout fishing competition, Khuwar cultural show.
The Northern Areas of Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan) is a peaceful territory; however, tourism activities are badly affected by the wrong projection of national and international by declaring it as part of the terrorism and earthquake-hit parts of NWFP province and Azad Kashmir.