BOONI: Shandur is part of Chitral but the federal government’s recent document showing Shandur as a part of Gilgit-Baltistan has created anger among the people of Upper Chitral.
Early this month, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched “Protected Areas Initiative” under which 15 national parks would be set up or (existing ones) fully protected across the country.
According to a list issued by the federal government, one of the 15 proposed sites is Handarap Shandur, which has been marked as a part of Gilgit-Baltistan.
This proposed protected area spreads over 815 square kilometres from Handarap village right up to the Shandur top.
Taking to ChitralToday, Tehreek Huqooq-e-Awam information secretary Muhammad Pervez Lal said for centuries Shandur has been the summer pasture of the people of Laspur.
But after the Shandur festival became an annual feature patronized by the government and attracted international and national tourists the government of Gilgit-Baltistan all of a sudden made an ownership claim over it.
Mr Pervez said there are documentary evidence and proofs showing Shandur as a property of Chitral. The annual festival is also arranged by the district administration of Chitral and the provincial government while Chitral Scouts checkposts have been set up on Shandur for decades.
He said apart from the documentary evidence, Shandur was and is under the possession of the people of Laspur valley of Upper Chitral and will remain so in the future as well.
He said the government’s list showing Shandur as a part of Gilgit-Baltistan was intriguing and would create tension in the area, and would be resisted by people of Chitral at all levels if it did not rectify the blunder.
He said the PTI government, which is in power both at the centre and KP, should clarify if it had mistakenly declared Shandur as a part of Gilgit-Baltistan or intentionally.
He said if the government did not make correction showing Shandur part of Chitral and issued a new list of the proposed site of the national park the people of Upper Chitral under the platform of the Tehreek would launch a protest drive.