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Wokhi people speak against discrimination by successive govts, NGOs

CHITRAL: The Wokhi people of Broghil have complained about discrimination against them by successive governments since creation of Pakistan. 

They expressed the reservation in an interaction with ChitralToday recently. Broghil is located at a distance of about 250 kilometres from the Chitral town in the northeast of the district bordering with the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan. “The area is mostly mountainous tracts. Elevations range from 3,280m at Kishmanjah village to 4,304m at Karamber Lake in northeast. The terrain is undulating, with steep mountains, wide stretch grassy plains and narrow valleys. The total area of is almost 3,400 ha,” according to Wikipedia. 

Though a large number of people come to Broghil in the summer and enjoy its environs, ChitralToday correspondent visited the area in December last year and found it buried under deep snow with its residents confined to the four walls of their small houses without any basic facility such as drinking water. There are about 250 houses scattered in small hamlets and settlements with no proper road to connect them.

These people still wholly depend on cattle farming for their livelihood. Due the lack of education, healthcare facilities and job opportunities the Wokhi people still live in Stone Age even in the 21st century. There is no electricity and drinking water supply system and the river is frozen in the winter. The natives collect ice/snow and melt it for drinking and other purposes during the season. Dung of yaks and other animals are mostly used as fuel for cooking and heating purposes.

Talking to ChitralToday, Sher Gauhar of Chokar, Mansoor of Pech Uch, Akbar Khan from Chilimarbad, Juma Baig of Shikarvaz and Tawar Khan of Kishmanja said successive governments never provided any facilities to the people of Broghil. They said even in the 21st century they had only one primary school and a dispensary but both were not accessible to most of the people.

The school lacks teachers and other facilities while the dispensary remains short of medicines and staff. They said before every election, representatives of political parties come to the area and make lots of promises but after winning the election they never come back. 

Last year, MPA Sardar Hussain came to Broghil and gave one grain grinding machine to facilitate the residents. But when the machine arrived the operator started charging Rs300 for grinding 40 kg of grain. As a result, the residents could not afford it and the machine remained unutilized.

Besides the government, NGOs, including AKRSP and SSRP, have also ignored the poor Wokhi people of Broghil and did nothing to provide them basic facilities. The AKRSP a few years ago arranged a few solar panels to light up the houses but they were provided to selected people and most of the residents still remained deprived of the facility.

The residents said in 2014 during the annual Broghil festival, SRSP chief executive officer (CEO) Shahzada Msoodul Mulk inaugurated work on the construction of a powerhouse in Broghil. But after his departure from the area, no progress was made on the project.  The residents said they were hopeful that being a prince, Masoodul Mulk would keep his promise but their expectations were wrong.

Are we not human beings, do we have no rights, are we not the citizens of Pakistan and should get at least the basic amenities of life. Why we are discriminated against?

It may be noted that the KP government enacted the Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organization (PEDO) Act in 2014 under which small powerhouses are being established in areas which have no electricity.

For Chitral, the contract for the establishment of over 50 powerhouses has been given to the AKRSP. But, surprisingly, Broghil has not been included in the list of areas to get any small powerhouse.

When ChitralToday contacted Darjat Muhammad, the director of the PEDO projects in Chitral, he said he would soon visit Broghil for a feasibility study. It meant that so far Broghil is not in the priority list of the AKRSP for the establishment of a powerhouse under the KP government-funded project.

Broghil residents said the Central Asian Foundation, launched by a resident of Gojal in Gilgit-Baltistan, carried out some work for the promotion of education in the valley. This NGO has set up three schools, including high school in the area where a large number of local children are acquiring education. When a resident from Gilgit-Baltistan can take such a step for the welfare of the poor Wokhi people, it is strange why the government and scores of NGOs active in Chitral have never thought of taking some humanitarian initiatives to bring a semblance of improvement to the lives of the Wokhi people.

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  1. Sher Nabi says

    Just comments on news clip is not enough, all of you have the ability and potential to do help the needy people by playing their role as a head of NGO or government offices, those who have visited broghil in February can understand the miseries of the people, how they surviving their lives no one can imagine.they valley will remain cutoff from the district chitral for more than 9 months in a year due to heavy snowfall,avalanches and later on landsliding rock falling, so the area is totally disaster prone. We would request to all NGOs and Government depts to take a series action against all the issues that are prevailing in the backward areas like upper yarkhun

  2. Salahuddin says

    Blaming ngos is not the solution of our problems . instead blaming we need to appreciate the 2 main ngos Akrsp and Srsp..please look on your past and think about’due to this ngos our education system become more batter then the other disst of kpk..because our main aim is our children education instead to make the other things.
    Im sure near future within a few year inshaa Allah the CPEC alternative rout will bring tremendous changes in our area.

  3. Zohran Shah says

    There is no doubt that Chitral is one of the underdeveloped districts of Pakistan. Particularly, in terms of access to basic amenities, Chitral is the most neglected district and the plight of its inhabitants has failed to attract the attention of successive governments. The situation in Broghil is even worse due to remoteness of the area and lack of approach roads. The troubles of Chitralis clearly reflect the failure of our political leaders but unfortunately we have become habitual of blaming each other and criticizing those institutions, which, in their capacity have done a commendable job for the development of Chitral. Although, the role played by NGOs might not be ideal, criticizing them without considering the ground realities would be unjust. Since 60s, AKDN institutions have been working in Chitral and making efforts towards socio-economic development of the people without discrimination. For the last two decades, other NGOs have also been playing their role in the development of Chitral. It is the effort of these institutions that the situation in Chitral is much better than many districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
    As far as the role of our local and national leaders is concerned, they are so powerless that Amir Muqam had to intervene to ensure opening of Lowari Tunnel for two days a week. When Chitral bazaar still lacks public toilets, it is a distant dream that our leaders would pay heed to development of Broghil. We are equally responsible for continuous sufferings of the people of Broghil. Our businessmen are more interested in supplying opium to the area instead of providing basic commodities. We do not promote the use of healthy Yak meat but rely on tasteless buffalo meat from down country. However, we are very impatient to criticize whatever role other institutions have played in the development of Chitral in general and Broghil in particular.
    There are certain points which need to be clarified regarding the role of NGOs in Broghil. Each NGO has a set criterion to follow. For example, you cannot open a school in any village if the number of students is not enough. Nevertheless, AKESP opened five Community Based Schools in Broghil during 2003 for 120 households scattered from Kandkhoon to Lashkargaz. When the students completed their primary education, Hashoo Foundation provided one teacher in each school for teaching middle class students. Later in 2010, IREAD.ORG, Canada-based NGO, provided scholarships to the students for higher studies in Booni. From 2010 to 2016, IREAD has provided scholarship worth around Rs15 million to 368 students from Broghil. Recently, the Institute of Mountain Area has also constructed few class rooms in the area.
    Sitting in the comfort of rooms and resorting to unjust criticism would not do any good to the area. It would be a great service to the people if we extend support to at least one student from Broghil each year. If we really want to mitigate the sufferings of Broghil people, we should also make efforts in an individual capacity.
    Zohran Shah

  4. Shah Karez says

    The AKPBSP has completed 5 projects of drinking water supply in the lower part of the valley during 2016, one DWSS in Pech uch and one in Chikar is underway while a number of Drinking Water projects in the upper Broghil area are being planned for 2017. This will address the need for drinking water in the area. Additionally one flood mitigation project has been completed in Kishmanja. To boost up tourism a number of tourism related projects will be initiated in the next working season.
    A number of projects have already been completed by AKRSP and I am sure there are others in the pipeline including on-going hydro power generation in Chikar. According to my knowledge AKESP has initiated CBSs in Dubargar, Kankhun, Pech Uch, Chilmarabad and Lashkargaz. One hydro power project is underway in Ishkarwaz supported by SRSP, hopefully they will complete this project.

  5. Gul Hamad farooqi says

    Sir I visited Broghul valley in November 2015 and returned in Dec 15 and shoot a number of documentaries on poverty, frustration and discrimination of Broghul people as well as I also shoot Wakhi culture docmentary on first time which available on TV channel websites and even my facebook timeline but after that I requested local people so many times to guide me for visiting the area again for detail docmentary but ……………..

  6. ehsan ali says

    poor souls, why government is not helping them. it is their basic right to have schools for kids so that awareness of drug addiction can be eliminated. i think they don’t have anything to do especially in winters and use opium to keep warm. if they get electricity , they would use heaters and watch TV to kill tehir time.

  7. Imtiaz Booni says

    they have to change their life and their destiny for themselves no one would come to overhaul them if they look to others and be dependent on govt and NGOs.

  8. Sher Wali Khan Aseer says

    ٰ I strongly support the comments of Mr.Fawad. Not a single government of the past and present have ever attended to the sufferings of these people. The AKRSP has done a lot but because of lack of follow up programme, some of the the projects could not be sustained. First MHP at Kishmanja, Lasht- Vedinkot,Broghel jeepable Track, Chikar Link Road, Ishkarwarz- Lashkargaz pony track, Koi pedestrian bridge, Rehabilitation of opium addicts and many more projects were completed by the AKRSP. Other AKDN institutions, like AKHSP and AKESP have opened dispensary and school, respectively. The biggest obstacle in the way of economic enhancement of these people is opium addiction which exhausts all their meager income. The government and the NGOs must collaborate to eradicate this curse from the lives of their coming generation. Otherwise, no measure would prove fruitful in changing their life condition.

  9. M.fawad says

    Agree to disagree. The ex-bureaucrat and niw PPP leader should have criticised his own party MPAs for doing nothing for the hitherto neglected area. After ZA Bhutto, the successive governments had also ignored this area. The politicians in Chitral must realise that the NGOs receive funds from foreign countries through a lengthy process. Instead of dragging the NGOs into controversy for their own liking and disliking, the leaders must appreciate their contributions. The leaders should guide the DC, instead of requesting him, about the requirements of the peculiar area. Broghil needs special attention of the rulers and local leaders belonging to all parties must play their role in ameliorating their sufferings.

  10. Sultan Wazir Khan says

    I appreciate Chitral-Today for highlighting the miseries of the residents of this strategic border area-BOROGHOL.It is a crystal clear picture of the failure of the government to provide the basic facilities to its citizens.It is a slap on the faces of the Czars of SRSP and the AKRSP who very oftenly show rosy pictures in their power-point presentations in their work-shops and seminars held in the hotel RIVERSIDE INN and the PTDC MOTEL Chitral. Why the members of Provincial Assembly ignored these people, is an other big question mark. Through Chitral-Today,I would like to request the Deputy Commissioner Chitral, kindly to consider this area while allocating the CDLD projects.

    1. Khan says

      The people of Broghil are the citizens of this country and the primary responsibility of the government.

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