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Chitralis’ migration to urban areas

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig       

This article has nothing new for many of my countrymen as they see thousands of families leaving their houses in the cold high altitude areas of Chitral to cities – to be in warm places as well as enjoy educational, health and other civic facilities.

This migration started many years ago but now has reached a level which we can call depopulation of Chitral. The houses in most villages have been closed and locked and none is left behind to look after the deserted houses. There was a poem in the coursebook of the intermediate class with this title: ‘The deserted village’ in which the poet portrays the activities of his village of his early childhood but after many years when he returned from a journey he saw that all those healthy social activities had disappeared and the village was like a desert in the absence of youth, elders, healthy and social activities. He was dejected at the sight of the great change and wrote an elegy.

The same is the case with our villages at this moment of our age because the men of the mountains have been migrating to cities and the settlements in the mountains and the age long infrastructure has collapsed.

Why people are migrating from their ancestral villages?

  1. Their extended families need more food, firewood, fodder for cattle etc. and these are not obtainable

in the far off valleys in sufficient quantity due to over population.

  1. There are no health facilities and in winters the narrow mountain roads get cut off due to heavy snowfall and avalanches so access to hospitals become impossible. The patient dies without getting medication.
  2. The prices of food stuff is very high because of bad roads, high fare of vehicles, hoarding of shop keepers and that high price cannot be paid by a poor family.
  3. The cold is severe and prices of wood, charcoal, gas is too high and unaffordable.
  4. Good education is not possible for their children.

There are also other reasons as well. It is the poor performance of the provincial governments to provide better facilities in the distant valleys to discourage migration trend. If measures are not taken according to the needs of each valley the trend may accelerate and there will grow more slums around the cities and more problems will crop up for city governments.

Also that the old settlements will remain unattended, the water channels will remain unrepaired, flow of water will be impossible and the plantations and greenery shall turn into deserts. The deserted villages will show the poor performance of the rulers and civil administration. The tracts of lands, fruit and non fruit trees shall dry up. Desertification comes gradually and its responsibility falls on the owners of the lands as well as the governments, the representatives of all levels.

There are so many rivers and streams in the mountain regions of KP, for building hydel power houses to provide fuel to the people and to satisfy them by providing other articles of daily use. Desertification has set in due to irresponsible governments and unsympathic representatives who have failed to remedy the needs of the voters.


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