Tue. May 18th, 2021

[Opinion] Tragic Flood Still Strands People in Gojal Pakistan

Nisar Ahmed

Gojal (upper Hunza), Pakistan – Is a scenic valley located in the middle of Central and South Asia. Being the largest magistracy of Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan, the valley is spread over a geographical area of more than 10, 000 sq km. More specifically, Gojal is a rendezvous among China, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Little Pamir of Afghan Badakhshan lies to its north, Southwestern Xinjiang to its east and Hunza-Nagar district of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan to its west and south. The valley is also well-known for nourishing more than 40 glaciers, many plateaus and lakes in its lap. Gojal has also a unique tradition and culture. Here also live various descent and ethno-linguistic groups. The language groups include the Wakhi Pamiri (in majority), Burushaski and Domaki. Religiously, almost all community belongs to the Shia Ismaili faith in Islam.

For centuries, the dwellers of the valley have traditionally been practicing agriculture and raising livestock as their livelihood approaches. But for more or less 40 years, especially after the opening up of the famous Karakoram Highway in 1978, the community of Gojal diverted from their traditional economic approaches. Besides engaging themselves with the employment and enterprise development, the community modified their traditional agricultural system. The agricultural produces, particularly the potatoes, stood as their key cash crop. The money received out of the agricultural produces contributed significantly not only to their economy, but also met their social needs such as paying their childrenâ€TMs education, addressing the health emergencies, contributing to the communal laboring, constructing houses, an overall social upstanding etc.

On 4th January, 2010, a massive landslide unfortunately hit a small village called Attabad (in Central Hunza) killed 19 people. Due to blockage of the Hunza River and the Karakoram Highway (KKH) not only the lifeline of the people of Gojal but also the only strategic corridor between China and Pakistan disconnected (cut-off) for almost 3km. The upstream (that is, Gojal valley) resultantly isolated from the rest of the region from the day one when the Hunza River (a key contributor to the Indus River) transformed into a temporary natural lake. Currently, the Hunza River Lake lengthened up to 28km with a total depth of more than 370ft. The lake formation process in still in progress, although the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) within the Pakistan Military has made a spillway, and water started spilling over it from May 29.

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