By Mohsin Jamil Uddin
When all of a sudden, you come across a place or a situation in which there is an acute dearth of water, the spontaneous word coming to your mind would be Shotkhar. But today we will try to remind you that this scenic village in the Torkhow valley of Chitral is no longer devoid of the basic necessity of life – water.
Thanks to their resilience and hard work, the people of Shotkhar have now almost overcome the perpetual shortage of water which once was a major issue and even won the proverbial acronym for their village. But still drinking water is available for only four months through a pipeline the chamber of which is located 12 kilometers away from the village.
During the rest of the year, the people of the village drink water from a local canal that is totally impure. The village has no perennial stream of its own so the inhabitants draw water for their basic need from near Khot village. For this purpose, they have constructed a long water channel called Boop Xoi, starting from the south of Khot village. If you travel from one end of the water channel to the other on foot, it takes around one and a half hours. When it rains heavily or if there is flooding, the canal is washed away, cutting the supply of water to the village.
During the rains and floods in July-August this year, the water channel to Shotkhar was damaged at different points. The people of the village spent 12 days to reconstruct the canal and restore the water supply to their area. Shotkhar is located at a distance of 34 kilometers from Booni, the main town of upper Chitral.
There are about 180 to 200 houses in the village with an estimated population of 2,000. A majority of the people of Shotkhar belong to the Ismaili community who have lived in complete unity with their brethren of the Sunni school of thought for centuries.
There are two Jamatkhanas and four mosques in the village. A majority of the people of Shotkhar belong to the Pinin Shovey clan followed by Zondray. There are a number of primary schools for both boys and girls besides one primary school for girls set up by the Aga Khan Education Service. Besides, there is also a middle school up to the middle level.
Mausoleum of Baba Khaki
Oral traditions passed on through generations say that there lived a Muslim saint in the village of Shotkhar when it was inhabited by non-believers. The saint had in his possession a copy of the holy Quran. Once the pagan people of the village tried to attack the saint and snatch the holy book from him. However, in a jiffy the holy book turned into a stone in front of them. That stone in the shape of the holy Quran is preserved in the mausoleum in the village where people from different areas come and pay their respect.