[Opinion] Rising Voices for Gojal Valley

Abdul Waheed

Natural and man-made disasters happen from time to time, most allowing the affectees to recover gradually. But the calamity at Attaabad which triggered a human induced disaster is still in its full swing. In fact, with the passage of time the difficulties are continuously increasing instead of decreasing because of the negligence of the authorities.

People lost their houses, lands, businesses infrastructures and what ever they had as their fixed or mobile properties. But the recovery seems to be nightmare. Here I would like to highlight some of the burning issues and their direct impact on the lives of the stranded people of Gojal.

NESPAK, NHA, FWO, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Flood Commission of Pakistan and NDMA are the relevant organization and departments dealing with such situations but none of them has yet owned the responsibility to release water form the artificial lake even after fourteen months. In order to keep the public silence, initially the FCNA allocated the task to FWO to release the water for the artificial lake. The FWO doesn’t have the desired capacity to deal with this kind of mega projects, however it started working on the site and after six months of consecutive work on the site they were unable to furnish the task, rather it resulted in the formation of a huge water reservoir stretching to 28 km area. They promised to reduce the spill way at least 100 feets by the end of May 2010, but they could succeed to remove only 20 feet mud and stones form the surface.

This year FWO made another commitment to cut down the spill way by another 100 feet so as the water level of the lake could be lowered. Will this task be possible for FWO to cut down the spill way and meet their target while getting the submerged bridge between Gulmit and Shishkat by the end of May this year? The past experience and our serious observations show that again this task will remain unfinished resulting in further delays on the construction of KKH and by jeopardizing the task of NHA to start the 9 km tunnel project form Ayeenabad to Attabad besides putting the announced loan of 275 million dollars form China for the construction of the said tunnel. During the second week of March 2011 a high level delegation comprising of 30 officials from China and Pakistan visited the spillway and declared the progress on the project as unsatisfactory.

Although a fund of Rs. 315 million is available in the official account of the Chief Secretary, GB for the last eight months for the settlement of IDPs within their own area or elsewhere in GB. The political representatives are not pro active on this issue and have shown little interest to settle the IDPs resulting in frustration and mistrust among the affected population.

Another core issue relates to the government’s notification declaring Tehsil Gojal as calamity hit area on March 17, 2010 and announcement of some basic incentives for the inhabitants of the area such as agriculture package, one year tuition fee assistance for students, remittance on small loans and utility bills.

In this regard two times application forms with claim of one year tuition fee were collected from the students. This process took almost nine months and a total claim of rupees 80 million against tuition fee was submitted to the education department in September 2010 thorough the concerned ADIS. The government released only 10 million rupees in November 2010 and made payment s to some local educational institutions while rest of the amount is still in pending.

Moreover, it was declared that the direct affectees and especially IDPs will be given preference regarding tuition fee compensation but the funds were distributed on special recommendation of political figures and pressure of the students who are studying in Gilgit town. Whereas, the students studying in the down country are still waiting for the assistance and some directly affected individuals are badly suffering especially those who are facilitating their children in premier institutions in down country. This delay has created frustration among students and their parents. The people are asking about the pending Rs.70 million to be released to compensate the remaining students form the area nationwide.

Likewise, 12 hours load shedding has been imposed throughout the region although only one turbine out of three is non-functional, where as the water and power department is also playing delaying tactics for the maintenance of the turbine but disconnection notices have been served to the public for non payment of bills to the concern department. It is surprising to note that although half of the telephone lines have been submerged into the lack but still the department is serving bills for line rents. On the other hand remittance on micro level loans were announced by the authorities but harassment of poor farmers by the local magistrates is on peak to recover the outstanding loans.

Despite of hundreds of announcement and promises by the government authorities the Civil Hospital Gulmit is still waiting for doctors. Pak Army and some NGOs organized medical camps in the hospital but the health department is still not serious to depute a doctor to provide basic health facility to twenty five thousand stranded people of the area. The member legislative council and speaker GBLA confessed and admitted in front of local media that the health department and particularly the secretary health is not ready to listen to this particular issue. The elected representatives seem to be helpless before the government bureaucrats.

On the occasion of last visit to Gulmit the honorable CM G-B confirmed that due to shortage of development funds the approval of the PC-4 for the allocation of staff to Civil Hospital in Gulmit might not be possible even in forthcoming ten years time.

Transportation and communication problems are another area of focus which have negatively impacted on the daily lives of the local communities. The commuters have to transit at 4 places to reach Gilgit form Sost. Besides the traveling hurdles the transporters are charging a huge fair form the public who are compelled to travel on different accounts to meet their needs and requirements The authorities are not taking any notice and are silent on this subject. Moreover, in order to overcome the crucial problems of boat traveling, a budget of rupees 17 million was allocated in the Early Recovery Plan, whereas, 8 million was allocated to purchase two season-friendly and safe boats while 9 million was allocated to meet the operational costs for 18 months. In this regards NATCO was given assignment for the purchase and operation of boats. Although NATCO has purchased two 1948 model Carotian made capsules which are neither season friendly nor safe. Moreover both the boats are off the shore from very first day due to engine frailer soon after its opening ceremony by the CM, GB. Both the purchase and operationalzing the NATCO boats have become another drama with the people of Gojal.

Shortage of Fuel and its high prices have created another crisis in the area. Dealers are charging double price which directly affects both the transportation fairs and use of machineries for farming. 186000 litter of fuel was received form China as relief to meet these difficulties of the people of Gojal, whereas, the local authorities sold the same fuel to non local transporters by increasing the troubles of the natives double time.

On the other hand the political representatives are aware of all above mentioned issues and dilemma but have adopted an easy formula by registering FIR against the innocent youngsters who are compelled for voicing against the so many troubles and injustices.  The elected representatives of the area and the government officials should try to generate employment opportunities and other sources of income to the native youngsters to keep them engaged in purposeful activates.

It is hoped that the government as well as civil society organizations will join hands and work together for the removal of the grievances of the directly affected people by addressing all the above mentioned issues on priority basis.

The contributor is a development professional and activist, having a Masters in Development Studies. He can be reached at

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  1. This is a true reflection of current senior of Gojal. GB Govt. should take some proactive measures to resolve these issues.
    I appreciate your initiative.

  2. The articles really reflect a true picture of the scenario which is going from long period of time. One can’t ignore and keep eyes close on such issues but unfortunately our native of Gojal particularly youth seems inactive to come on the front and play their role. Some worked hard to play their role but FIR was chanted against them and till today no strong logic has been provided by the so called administration of Hunza.
    Recently we got some good examples of youth power and unity from Egypt and Tunisia where youth played an exam ply role for the revolution. Internet was the main tool to be used for the cause either it was in the form of facebook, twitter or other sites which combined the entire nation. In the 21st century we don’t have internet service there in the region and all those including Pamir Times knows well how they managed to get a single photograph from the area.
    I know we have a lot to talk about the enormous issues and now it is time we all should contribute and suggest how to come out such situations. Some of our local persons who seem so active in using their energy negatively and try to cheer local administration by different means is a astonishing thing for me. I don’t know what they want to prove but let’s see at what extend they go for the brutality.
    Everyone needs to play their role if they really love their area otherwise with the tag of educated society we all are the silent killer of our nation…

    Nisar Ahmed

  3. The writer has put the true emotions of the affectees. i personally feel very shameful regarding the inept and irritating behavior of the GB government not only in the case of the Atabad disaster but also in many other burning issues of GB…. Again kudos to the writer for is thorough analysis…..
    lazim h ki hum b dakhain gye hum dakhain gye,,,

  4. Hope everything will be fine.But it seems there is a lack of leadership.There should be someone u can lead the society.and i dont see young people coming forward.

  5. The Story of Gojal has been told here very finely by Waheed sap, Nisar and other Guys gave nice feedback to the Story with examples internationaly, the Youngstars have been blamed that they are not active , Facts have been defined here on PT but I want to ask u that who are the YOUNGSTARS ,,, are they only those who are present at Gojal or it includes u all some busy with jobs some busy with study , and some busy with just writing their comments on PT and FB
    IF u all want to change the Situation of Gojal then Stop every thing and come back to your area All these Issues can be solved just with in 30 days ,,,,

    In country like Pakistan Issues are solved through Strikes through anti Govt Slogans , comenting on FB and PT will never Solve our Isuues ,,
    Nisar sap we can use Internet to unite our Youth living out side Gojal but the Question is who will do it ??????? ….. and how to do it??????

    its our bad luck that if its Relief Distribution time PPl fight to get extra
    if its time to make Lists of Damages and losses ppl run to write their damages 5 times more then their real damage but if its time to raise their voice our people would divide into
    one party Jiyala who never wants to make its lord unhappy , Govt employee afraid of his job on risk . NGO employee & Student afraid of the FIR ,,,,

    The local police men are so loyal to their lord that when one GOVT employee speaks about the problems of Gojal his name is reported ,,,

    every one should stop every thingtheir jobs, studies parties then we can change the situation here , not like staying at ur residence and just writing on FB and PT

  6. Mr. A. Waheed has nicely reflected the burning issues of our homeland Gojal. I think the issues are enormous to discuss but the very unfortunate moment for us is not that we lost our properties and linkage with rest of the world but the feeling that we lost our unity, sense of respect to our people, culture and norms and despite we unite to manage this desastrious situation we made divisions on political basis. The people of Gojal who were well known for thier unity and rich civilization are now struggling for thier existance. Today every one feels that despite living in a well educated society we are political orphans and with passage of time we are just collecting high profile degrees, holding reasonable positions in govt and NGO’s but we have put behind our national interests that was very much witnessed in this catastrophe. This chain disaster is not only destroying our economy, education, health and commerce but it is worried that we are losing our norms and values which is the real disaster for us and perhaps unrecoverable. My humbly requests from all our people particularly youth is to take this matter very serious and put your efforts to educate our people to think for our future leadership and get rid of the corrupt, illiterate and commission agent political figures who have put our whole nation on stake. We have to reactivate our civil societies for a better social interaction to minimize the gap and to bring the people of Gojal on a singal platform to enable them to decide for thier future despite projecting imported slogans.

  7. Thanks Imran for your feedback.I fully agree that it is not the responsibility of the youth who lives there in Gojal but we all have to work at different stages where ever we live.Going back to Gojal and having protest is one way which should be because it is our democratic right but i disagree with your point that writing on PT and Facebook is not the appropriate solution. Tomorrow we will say television and newspaper are useless because its just a news and nothing more. I think we can’t ignore such communication tools in this era.Yes I agree we need a proper leadership at such critical time and everyone of us should peep inside us what we have contributed to our area in this disastrous time.Those who write well should write, who speak well should speak, who make films should make that and at what ever one can do at their best should contribute. You said if all the youth goes there from cities quiting their jobs and studies it can be done in thirty days. I appreciate your feeling and if it can happen I am ready to abandon my all activities here.I liked your spirit and hope we all can do much more then our capacity.

    Nisar Ahmed

  8. Please dont disturb the youth,they are busy with their Jobs and study.I agree with you Imran but dont understand the rest.

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