Strong sentiments: G-B govt hopes for successful Shandur festival

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has expressed hope Shandur Polo Festival would be a success, denying it dispatched people to set up a check post in the area.

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“We pray for the success of the festival, but there are certain elements wishing to sabotage it,” the G-B government spokesperson, Faizullah Farak, told The Express Tribune on Monday.

Farak’s comments came a day after Chitral district nazim Maghfirat Shah accused G-B of sending thousands of workers to build a check post to forcibly occupy the land of Shandur. “This is rubbish. We can’t even think of taking a step like that,” said Farak as he was asked to comment on the matter. “There has been an understanding that G-B and Chitral will hold the event on a regular basis and we are sticking to that understanding,” he continued.

The spokesperson said the dispute over Shandur is unresolved while the organisation of the event is a settled matter. “There are certain elements in Chitral who want to sabotage the event for their personal gains,” he said. Farak also participated in a couple of meetings between G-B and Chitral to hold the event. He said the organisers agreed to spare an equal number of seats for G-B government officials and those of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “Likewise, stables would be provided for horses from G-B as well as K-P.” Last week, G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman said the polo tournament at Shandur will be held under the supervision of the Frontier Constabulary (FC).

Meanwhile, social activists started opposing the event in Shandur, saying it not only destroys the natural environment, but also intensifies rivalries between the people of the two regions which share the same traditions, culture and language. “Please stop this. After causing damage to the environment, the event is now breeding hatred between the people,” said Ali Ahmed Jan, a leading social activist.

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