by Zulfiqar Ali Khan Photographs by Asghar Khan
HUNZA, Sept 28: The first-ever Baba Ghundi Festival was held in the Chipurson valley of upper Hunza on Sunday in connection with the World Tourism Day.
The main event was held in the Ispenj village of Chipurson, where traditional songs and games like polo, buz kashi and mindek received applauds from the spectators.
The event was organised by the Gilgit-Baltistan tourism department in collaboration with the Chipurson Local Support Organisation (CLSO), Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan.
Brig Nadeemul Hassan Tirmizi, director general of Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts, presided over the event and Group Captain (retired) Shah Khan, a veteran of the liberation war of Gilgit-Baltistan, was the chief guest. Thousands of people from all over Gilgit-Baltistan participated in the event.
Speaking on the occasion, CLSO chairman Mohammad Ayub highlighted the strategic importance of the border between Chipurson and Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan and stressed the need for opening the border for tourism and trade activities. He said restrictions on tourists to cross the border and lack of basic infrastructure in the Chipurson valley were the main hurdles in exploiting the potential of tourism in the valley.
He demanded that the government should establish a 10-bed hospital in the area having a medical officer and ambulance facilities. He said local schools were without teachers and the valley lacked landline and mobile phone facilities. He also said the road from Chipurson to Baba Ghundi needed to be widened.
Mr Tirmizi assured the community that their demands would be communicated to departments concerned and all support would be extended to solve their problems. He also appreciated the discipline and cultural diversity of the people living in the valley and invited two polo teams from Chipurson to participate in the coming polo tournament in Gilgit. He invited two Polo teams from Chipurson to participate the coming Polo tournament in Gilgit.
Shah Khan stressed the need for organising a festival in the area, inviting performers from all around the Pamir region.
In the end, the delegations visited the tomb of the famous Saint Baba Ghundi and offered Fatiha. The local singers also presented Sufic songs. Sultan Ahmed, representative of the CLSO briefed the delegates about the famous saint Baba Ghundi.
Chipurson valley lies in the extreme Northwest in Gojal Upper Hunza region some 20 kilometres from Sost and 220 kilometers from Gilgit city. The valley consists of 9 villages having a population of more than 4000 individuals. The valley has a geo-strategic importance due to its borders with Wakhan Corridor of Northern Afghanistan and close proximity with Tajikistan. Special polo tournaments are arranged in every summer. Due to remoteness of the area people have less opportunity to access basic facilities and development initiatives.
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