By Dur Wali Khan (Laspur)
Matiltan is an extremely beautiful and picturesque valley of Swat with its mesmerizing landscape and lofty mountains adorned with tall pine trees. It located at the extreme north of Kalam in the district of Swat. Here one finds oneself very close to the mother nature and can relish the pristine purity of existence.
Recently, I visited Matiltan for two days with a view to have an interaction with the Khowar speaking community who are believed to have migrated to this valley from Handarap in district Ghizer, Torkhow, Sorlaspur and some other parts of Chitral around 300 years ago.
During my short visit, I had the opportunity to interact with the community of Matiltan and surrounding villages having a population of about 2,500 Khow families.
There are five different Khow tribes settled at Matiltan and surrounding villages such as Aryana, Ushu and Paloga with their following details:
Bozukay migrated from Sorlaspur, Khushay from Rayeen in Torkhow, Nadiray from Handarap, Ghizer and Madaklasht, lower Chitral, Khotukay (Baikay) from Torkhow, and Waliye (descendants of Sheikh Shah Wali Baba) from Handarap, Ghizer.
This scribe belongs to the descendants of Sheikh Shah Wali Baba, the grandson of Syed Kasteer Gul, commonly known as Kaka Sahib Ziarat, Nowshehra. The descendants of Sheikh Shah Wali Baba are called Waliye (its sub-tribes are Konay, Zikonayand Baloshey) and a sizeable number are settled at Matiltan and surrounding villages.
Khushay forms the largest component of Khow community at Matiltan and surrounding villages followed by Waliye (Zikonay) while Bozukay are the smallest component that can be counted on fingertips.
Apart from Khowar, Gowari is also spoken by non-Khow community but a majority of the population at Matiltan and surrounding villages speaks Khowar.
There are three important passes: Dadreli Pass leading to Handarap, Ghizer, Kachikhani Pass that leads to Sorlaspur, upper Chitral, and Khukush Pass leading to Ghizer and Shandur. Tourists generally travel on foot through unfrequented narrow gorges during summers to reach the area.
Generally, education facilities in Matiltan and surrounding villages are not very encouraging. There are three government Primary Schools for boys, one for girls and one High School for boys at Matiltan. There is only one Higher Secondary School for boys at Kalam, some eight kilometres away from Matiltan.
All this depicts a dismal scenario of education facilities in the valley demanding an immediate attention of the government of KPK. There is a dire need to improve the education facilities in the valley on war footing.
Unfortunately, like education facilities, health facilities too present bleak prospects.There is one single dispensary at village Ushu, some 4 kilometres away from Matiltan taking care of the health facilities of the huge population.
Majority of the people are engaged in farming. However, a considerable number of people is also associated with hotelling and trade. The overall standard of living in the valley is abysmally low calling for immediate measures to be taken by the provincial government to alleviate the sufferings of the people as these areas have not been given due attention in the past.
The poverty-stricken people of Matiltan and surrounding villages deserve immediate attention of the government of KPK. It is a litmus test of the present government and it is hoped that it will come up to the expectations of the poor masses of this valley.