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July 12, 2020

Proposed Handarab National Park: Move to change Shandur pasture status triggers outrage in Chitral

Peshawar

July 12, 2020

CHITRAL: The politicians and members of the civil society organisations have blasted the federal government for showing Shandur pasture as part of Gilgit-Baltistan in the proposed Handarab National Park.

Speaking at a press conference here, Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk, Abdul Wali Khan Advocate, Maulana Jamshed Ahmad, Muhammad Hakim Advocate, M I Khan Advocate, and others said that the people of Chitral would not forego their claim over the pasture and urged the federal government to withdraw the notification issued for the purpose. They maintained that prime minister had been misguided in order to seek the approval of the plan from him, which has created unrest among the people of Chitral.

They said that Shandur was situated in Chitral district while the Handarab National Park was located in Gilgit-Baltistan and there was a distance of 40 kilometre between these two places. They recalled that in 1895, the residents of Gilgit helped the British army transport goods till Karyangaz area near the Shandur pasture while beyond that point the people of Chitral accompanied them. They also recalled that the ruler of Chitral got a rest house constructed at Shandur Top in the beginning of the twentieth century.

The official record, they said, showed that the commandant of the Gilgit Scouts had sought permission from the ruler of Chitral to stay at the rest house in 1926. They maintained that the Shandur pasture was declared part of Chitral when a dispute took place between the residents of Ghazir and the people of Chitral over the ownership of Langar jangle.

They recalled that until 1988, the forest guards of the Chitral Forest Division guarded the pasture. They said the district administration of Chitral had been looking after the pasture since 1981. They added that the Chitral police registered the first information reports about the robberies and murders that took place in Shandur and the district judiciary heard the cases.

They maintained the provincial government had declared the Shandur Top feasible for the construction of an alternate route under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). They said that they would move the Peshawar High Court to get a stay order against this decision.

They also held the provincial government responsible for failing to provide accurate information to the federal government about the location of Shandur pasture.