Gilgit – Baltistan government announces boycott of Shandur Polo Festival

PT Report

Islamabad, June 27: The government of Gilgit – Baltistan has decided to abstain from participating in the internationally acclaimed Shandur Polo Festival, scheduled to be held on 7-9 July.

The GB government has condemned Khyber – Pukhtunkhwa for monopolizing affairs of the polo festival. “Shandur is a historical part of Gilgit – Baltistan but the Pukhtunkhwa government is managing the festival”, chief minister Mehdi Shah reportedly said.

It is pertinent to note that Shandur is a disputed territory between Chitral and Ghizar district of Gilgit – Baltistan.

The announcement casts shadows on the highly famous Polo Festival played every year between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit at the world’s highest polo ground. The festival attracts thousands of domestic and international tourists every year.

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  1. Why are we Pakistanis as a nation so negative? Why can’t we foresake our personal whims and accept a sporting event in a spirit of goodwill for the larger interest of Pakistan??

  2. I believe Shandur neither belongs to Gilgit-Baltistan nor Pakhtunkhwa. It is the pasture of the local people. Both the government should not try to grab the land of local communities.

  3. First of all we are Pakistani , this is our identity we should not politicise our tradinations & games , this will created hatred amongst the local people, few stuppid politicians try to gain bubble rupotation among the local, this will further destroy our tourism industry in Pakistan
    For God sake try to unite the people not divide the people
    Muhammad Usman mardanvi

  4. Well as far as culture is concern, we the people of GB have similar culture as
    Chilrali, morally and ethically chirtalies should join hands with people of GB rather to extend hands with Pathans? who are like computer virus as far as peaceful and innocent people of GB and Chitral are concern. Obviously Pathans would have have mixed up with the people of GB and Chitral and introduce drugs and other things which they inherited from Afghanistan. So as far as peace is concern, our CM has rightly boycotted to the famous Shandoor fastival, atleast Chitralis should have realize what the conspiracy is being hatched by Kh Pakhtoon Khuwa or the most knownly PATHANS…….so it is time to think about these Pathans who are trying to occupy this peaceful area, if precationery measures are not taken timely, Law and Order will be there…..? Kalashankow culture would be introduce by these people, and in the name of Jehad peaceful and innocent people like would be in danger…….

    1. Taqdir Ali Khan, your post … reeks of nothing but racism.
      No Sir, Chitrali and GB culture are not the same ones. THey share similarities as mountain culture, but we are talking here about 2 different societies.
      I find it highly hypocritical that you blame the pashtuns for bringing “drugs” when sharab drinking is customarily practiced by many many people in GB. Isn’t sharab forbidden by Islam ? I can’t read anything int he Holy Qur’an about charas, which is part of the Chitral culture (Chitral is famous all around the world for the quality of its charas) and wasn’t brought in you areas by Pathans (of whose culture it is part of as well), but rather by the people who first settled in these mountains many centuries ago and with the old caravans too.
      You can’t blame a whole nation because a handfull of politicians are acting selfishly, for their own interests. In that case what should be told about the people of GB ?

      You obvisouly don’t know much more about pashtun people. Maybe you should educate yourself. Try, it’s not painfull at all.

  5. Dear All,

    Its neither about the turf nor about the money .Let me clear the misconception here. The Chief Minister has not boycotted the Shandur Festival , but , has rather asked the Federal Government to come forward , organise the festival under its ambit and ensure no injustice is incurred to any part of the country, this being a legitimate demand of the people of Ghizer in specific and people of Gilgit Baltistan in general. However, the Government of Gilgit Baltistan has already despatched team to participate but has also invited the Government of KPK to talk and resolve the outstanding issues, without compromising the spirit of the sports.

    Best Wishes

    Tourism Department ,
    Government of Gilgit Baltistan.

  6. Two governments should sit together and resolve issues between themselves while supporting and promoting this festival’ afterall it is going to benefit all and common people of the area.


  8. The team’s decision to return to Gilgit is because they fear they will get beaten by Chitral once again!! This is the talk of the town here. Shame on Gilgit!! Booo

    GILGIT: The Gilgit polo team returned home on Monday after the Gilgit-Baltistan government pulled out of the Shandur festival in protest against a controversial decision of the Central government.

    The Gilgit team captain said he wasn’t disappointed for missing the mega event watched by more than 10,000 people every year at Shandur. “It was our government’s decision and we honour it,” Fazal told a delegation after returning from Shandur.

  9. there are other ways of protesting which our HONORABLE chief minister will know with the passage of time.HARDLUCK

  10. they are making politics on polo tax , and this decision was a gift from GB Government , as been the first Government in GB We was happy that the event will be colourfull and much better than before but the GB Government Decision was shock for us , being a chitrali i will miss the Gilgit team , but any how they KPK Governement managed to arrrange it in better way


    Looking at the past decade, when strife and unrest reached a new peak in our country, I have come to one conclusion: we, as a nation, thrive on conflict.

    If it is not something as magnanimous as the operation in the northern belt of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, it’s always trivial issues that are exaggerated to unknown proportions. Ultimately, the result is not only ugly; it bears down upon everyone and culminates in bitterness.

    Case in point – the recent fiasco at the well-known Shandur Festival that has been held every July since 1936 between rival teams from Gilgit and Chitral. It is polo in its purest form and attracts a wide variety of tourists, both local and foreign. The contentious issue here is an emerging territorial dispute between the governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. Discussions between the two sides to reach an amicable solution hit an impasse and Gilgit-Baltistan’s government decided to abstain and pulled its team out of the festival. The sole reason given by the Finance Minister of GB was that they do not want to participate as guests in the festival on an area that he claimed ‘belonged’ to GB.

    The decision has been met with a mixed response with the majority condemning it. Votes in an online poll originally conducted on a Gilgit based website Pamir Times showed that out of a total 273 votes polled 127 (46%) of the people did not support the boycott. 121 votes (44%) backed it.

    What I fail to understand is the ability of our representative governments to politicise everything that would meet their agenda and satisfy their personal and selfish beliefs. When will they, as leaders, start acting like leaders and pave way to solutions rather than creating more rows? Why is a sporting festival, that not only has historical importance but is internationally acclaimed and which might be a great boost to our flailing tourism department, a bone of contention at this point in time? When will our elected representatives be objective rather than irrational and subjective?

    It is abominable at best and it wouldn’t be wrong to say the government of GB has made a giant unrelated mountain out of a molehill. Sabotaging the festival has dampened the spirit of the sport per se and it has far-reaching effects on the locals as well, who might have had a chance to earn a livelihood during the festival. A sport is a sport and it should remain so. Yet, we have a penchant to dramatise everything for turf, power and money. The festival this year was dedicated to martyrs in uniform of the operation against miscreants. I wonder what the government of GB has achieved by defying a noble cause like that.

    It is extremely exasperating to note that with a surfeit of disputes and clashes in our country, our pygmy politicians and shallow governments decide to look for new ones whenever they find a chance.

    An area that for decades has stood out for peace, tranquility and harmony need not have been subjected to biased decisions leading to instability. This year, the government of KPK is resolute to continue without the team participating from Gilgit-Baltistan. And rightly so. However, for better good, I seriously hope that in the future a reasonable solution is mapped out and the dispute resolved to save our nation from such needless embarrassment.

  12. I dont know what is the issue of boycouting the festival Shandur belongs to Pakistan… n whats the dispute its not two countries or any such thing… No need to further politicise any thing, our country has enough problems in curbing with everything from terrorism to Corrupt leaders… that small place problem is not even a problem and can be managed by dialogue or use some geographical technology or GPS to decide where it belongs instead of boycoting it.

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