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August 1, 2020

Plea to keep Shandur as part of Upper Chitral

National

August 1, 2020

PESHAWAR: On 2 July 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the “Protected Areas Initiative Project” under which 15 national parks will be set up in the country under the umbrella of Green Pakistan Program (GPP).

In this regard, an official list of the proposed sites selected for setting up national parks has been notified. In that list, a glaring mistake is observed. At serial 8 of this list, Shandur is shown as part of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). It appears that the official list notified in this regard showing Shandur as part of GB is based on a wrong survey carried out by the survey of Pakistan a few years ago.

The said survey is based on Google map. But the historical and geographical positions tell a different story altogether. Historically as well as geographically, Shandur has been an integral part of Laspur valley located in Upper Chitral district.

The Federal Land Commission Report of 1975 has also clearly shown Shandur as part of Chitral. A plethora of authentic documentary evidences, besides physical possession of Shandur by the people of Laspur valley, are available.

As the proposed site for setting up a national park under the “Protected Areas Initiative” project launched by PTI government spreads over an extensive area stretching from Handarap village of Ghizer district to Shandur Top falling within the precincts of Laspur valley in Upper Chitral, the former making part of GB province and the latter forming part of KP province, it makes no sense to declare both the distinctly separate sites belonging to two different provinces as one national park to be managed by GB.

It should be kept in mind that Shandur serves as a summer pasture for the people of Laspur valley and has remained in their possession since time immemorial where they have set up over 200 summer huts/houses over a period of time.

Moreover, Chitral Scouts established its security post in 1986 at "Mahoranpal" Shandur to look after the security and logistic issues of the area round the year, and GB never raised any objection whatsoever. Historically, Shandur has never been a disputed territory between Ghizer and Chitral.

It was in 2010 when GB raised the issue of its ownership for the first time due to the reasons best known to them, since then GB has been trying to co-host the Shandur Polo Festival but has not been successful.