Wed. Apr 14th, 2021

Potential of Extreme Sports in Gilgit-Baltistan: Economic and Sustainable Development through Indigenous Resources

By Irfan Uddin

Humans’ exhibitions and approaches are mainly concerned with narcissism and glorification of own-self or loved ones. Once human creatures feel depth of natural abilities, they start exhibiting intrinsic capabilities in form of arts so as in case of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). One of such heroic demonstrations is Polo, the game of bravery and kings’ game. Whereas, in the modern age of capitalism, survivability is now more relatively worried with earnings rather than leisure activities for lower income families. Yet it is hard to find any financial survey about family incomes in region of GB, but mainly they belong to lower or middle income groups. The agenda of this writing is to explore potential sports activities in mountainous regions with least cost for higher benefits. As mentioned earlier that Polo (Bula) is one of potential games, which has some financial contribution in regions of Astore, Central Gilgit, Ghizer, Chilas and in Skardu. To further explore potential areas for sports activities, residents need to learn more about extreme sports that can be organized in mountainous terrains. For instance, mountain biking, mountain dirt biking, river surfing, river boating, trekking expeditions to pastures, hiking, and marathons are very much suitable sports in northern areas. To conduct mentioned sports activities, locals have potential sites but major hurdle is advertisements on larger scales. More importantly, these sports do not require hefty investments.

From a couple of years back, government has initiated on-road cycling competitions and Sarfaranga cold desert safaris, which are highly encouraging sports activities to boost tourism potential areas and local economy. The darker side of government based sports events is more reasonable to discuss, when commons evaluate such sports on financial basis. The major chunk of earnings lone benefits hoteliers and government agencies. Such activities fit in an example, “to sieving down minimum portion of earnings to the rest of population”. The factor of deprivation still exists in above mentioned cases.  Beside these endeavors, trophy hunting is a productive collaboration between communities and government, where both parties share agreed proportion of revenues. In hunting sports, animals’ right activists and extinction of endangered species are major concerns and to avoid these issues locals have to choose sustainable development programs as mentioned earlier.

With the passage of innovations in GB’s tourism industry, people will get more creative ideas but essence of extreme sports remains on halt until its execution on field. Getting benefits out of communal harmony is essential need of contemporary time. For instance, mountain biking can be arranged in Bagrot valley as it has accessibility to main towns like Gilgit city and Danyore. Reason for mentioning this mesmerizing valley is due to least discovered and underrated tourist place. Interested mountain bikers can fly or can travel by road to Gilgit and further it takes approximately 45 minutes on drive. The lofty mountains, glacial water, waterfalls and glaciers of Bagrot will be sources of pleasure for participants. Other potential sports include river rafting can be organized on Indus River, Ghizer River, Hunza River and dozens more. Mountainous geography of Gilgit-Baltistan is naturally blessed with distinctiveness in terms of rivers, mountains, scenic landscapes and glaciers but these blessings can be cashed on sustainable terms with an alternative to construction based tourism.

Practically speaking, indigenous inhabitants need a triggering factor such as valley based small co-operative societies and investment boards to collect small amounts from households with aim to invest in these business oriented sports. Furthermore, such contributions will generate curiosity to get their-selves involved on practical grounds for monetary returns as per their share of investments. Additionally, these initiatives do not need direct government involvement in financial terms but to extent of legal matters.

The contributor is a student of M.Phil (Development Studies) at PIDE, Islamabad. 

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