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Ghizer ignores GB govt’s decision to boycott Shandur festival

GILGIT, June 19: Opposing the Gilgit-Baltistan government’ s decision, the Ghizer polo team has decided to participate in the three-day Shandur festival from Friday.

The opening polo match would be played between the teams of the district Ghizar and of Laspur valley. This was announced by Gul Wali, the captain of the Ghizer polo team, while speaking to the polo enthusiasts before leaving for Shandur in Chitral on Thursday.

He added that whole year thousands of enthusiasts of polo waited for the event. “We have no dispute with anyone; therefore, it has been decided to participate in the event.” He said historically we have brotherly ties with Chitral and we do not want to shut down our ties. Traditionally we have been participating in the event and thousands of lovers of polo cannot remain without enjoining the event.

“We have kept the game of polo alive without any support from the Gilgit-Baltistan government so far. How can we miss the event,” said Gul Wali.

The Shandur Polo is without any doubt played at its purest form, where there are no umpire, no holds barred and absolutely no rules. It has attained legendary status and is of great interest to international and adventure tourists alike. Since 1936 polo tournaments are held annually here from 7th July, and since Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhaw was formed in early 1990s, it became an to 9th annual event of its calendar. Many politicians, Public Figures have attended this three day match. In 2014, due to the Ramazan, the dates were changed by the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to 20thJune.

Adviser to the chief minsiter on spots and tourism Amjad Khan Afridi has planned an inauguration ceremony tomorrow. This is the first time an official ceremony will be held on the first day. Usually, the third day was the main highlight.

Acting Secretary Tourism Hamayun Khan along with Managing Director Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accompanied the Adviser to Shandur for the inauguration.

At 11am, a match will be played between Laspur and Chitral. Laspur is a village near Shandur. Each team has six members with a 2-4 reserve players in case of injury etc. The match is divided into two halves with a 10-minute interval.

During the interval the locals enthrall the audience with traditional and cultural performances. The game is one by the team scoring a total of nine goals. Other activities planned for the opening day are Paragliding, Mushaira, Tug of War, Football match by Chitral Football club Vs Mastuj Football Club and Cultural show at amphitheater. The festival also includes folk music, traditional dancing, a camping village set up at the Pass and numerous other activities to enjoy such as fishing, horseback riding, mountaineering, hiking and exploring.”

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is likely to be the chief guest on the final day of the festival on June 22.–Manzoor Ali  

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