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Qaqlasht festival fails to attract govt attention

CHITRAL, April 16: The Qaqlasht festival has been held regularly for the last quarter century in upper Chitral, however, it has failed to attract the attention of Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP). The festival is held in spring season by the residents of Qaqlasht plateau in the district. It lasts for four to six days and males of all ages from all the 10 union councils of Mastuj subdivision participate in it with great enthusiasm. Sardar Hussain Shah, the MPA-elect from Mastuj, told this correspondent on Wednesday said that the festival dated back to centuries when it used to be a permanent feature of the calendar of events of the dynasties, who ruled Chitral in succession. cultureHe regretted that TCKP neglected the important event, which had the potential to attract thousands of tourists to the area from the nook and corner of the country by proper planning and advertising. “Situated at a drive of only two hours from Chitral city, the 18 kilometres long and 3 kilometres wide plateau presents a panoramic view in spring season as two rivers (Mulkhow and Biyar) flow on both its sides and confluence at its tail near Kuragh village,” Mr Shah said. He said that the peculiarity of the festival was that it had kept alive a good number of cultural traits, which were specific to Chitral. It was not just a source of entertainment and recreation, he added. “If someone from outside Chitral has to see the traditional games, weapons, dresses, cuisines and folk songs and musical instruments, then he should attend Qaqlasht festival,” Mr Shah said. He said that there were many facets of their culture that were likely to be obliterated from their memories like falconry (hunting by falcons) and folk musical instruments like sitar but those were intact only due to the festival. Mr Shah said that the patronage of the government to hold the festival at major scale had always been nominal or zero. The local people themselves arranged and financed the festival, he said. The MPA-elect planned to take up the issue on the floor of provincial assembly to include Qaqlasht festival in the calendar of events so that it could be held by the government every year with large resources. The festival this year will commence from April 20 for which preparations are in full swing. The competitions of shooting by obsolete weapons, falconry, tug-of-war, traditional polo, cultural shows and many folk games will be held during the festival. Bashir Hussain, a shopkeeper in Chitral Bazaar, said he had been attending the festival for the last 10 years regularly.–Dawn]]>

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