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Heads may roll over Shandur festival row in Chitral

By Zulfiqar Ahmad

ISLAMABAD: The fate of the three-day Shandur polo festival slated to take place from July 7 hangs in the balance after Deputy Commissioner Chitral Khurshid Alam Mahsud started calling the shots in team selection despite not being member of the committee.

The controversy started after the DC intentionally dropped Shahzada Sikendarul Mulk, who is considered to be the pioneer of polo in Chitral, as he had in his credit of laying the foundation of Shandur polo tournament by organizing a match back in 1981 between the teams of subdivision Mastuj and Yasen.

And then in 1982 it got the attention of the government which declared polo tournament on the world’s highest polo ground every year, for which visitors from all around the world throng the valley to experience a traditional polo match.

However, this time around when the tournament is hardly few days, the deputy commissioner has not only made the tournament controversial as all the teams both from lower and upper Chitral have boycotted the tourney besides staging a protest against the highhandedness of the deputy commissioner.

The boycott and protests by the polo teams and the people of the area against removal of Sikender who has been leading “A Team” of Chitral polo since 1981, will create an unrest in the area.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who is expected to be the chief guest at the final match between Gilgit and Chitral, has also been informed about the controversy which may result in rolling of some heads, including the deputy commissioner and some of his sympathizers holding important positions in the district.

When contacted by ChitralToday, the deputy commissioner said he was busy and would return the call but did not call till filing of this report at 11pm.


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