Chitral: a constant flood-stricken land

Chitral: a constant flood-stricken land

Muhammad Atif

Geographically, Chitral is located in the northeast of Pakistan and considered area-wise the largest district of KP. Chitral was administratively bifurcated into the districts of Lower and Upper Chitral four years ago.

Undeniably, the inhabitants living in Chitral are explicitly peace-loving, show great respect for education regardless of gender and have an intriguing taste in music. However, there is a missing piece in the puzzle the people of Chitral are so welcoming toward those in position holders that they oftentimes, compromise on their due rights.

Verily, Chitral has got all the ingredients for tourism – steep mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, lush green meadows – but failure at the administrative and managerial level since its inception turns the table elsewhere. Yearly, Glacial outburst in the wake of monsoon is taking away the beauty of this land and no one is even bothering to take apt actions.

Who is responsible then? The public or the government and public representatives. There is a famous proverb in Urdu, “tale ek haat say nhi bajti”, we can’t solely blame the leaders or the stakeholders for the whole mess up but evenly the public is involved. Whenever a newly-appointed DC/AC assumes office, they spent their tenure attending the traditional cultural nights and festivals, and ironically the public is happy to host them instead of putting their issues in front of them. The scenario is almost the same  for political leaders.

In 2015, Chitral witnessed an apocalypse that affected the overall architecture of the land, affecting thousands of people, and even in times of such crises not a single leader stood, and the people were yawning out of drowsiness.  There were no protests from the people at the level where they can take the attention of the officials to take measures for the way forward. This is very unfortunate to say that the Chitral people have failed to elect competent leadership despite having a literacy rate above average than other districts of KP. It arises serious concern, are we really literate or just we are holding degrees, if we can’t withstand our rights in such a situation then surely we are in a moral crisis.

Just a week ago, on the eve of Eid, glacial outbursts attributed to global warming caused the level of water to surge to the level that drown several acres of fertile land and houses, particularly devastating the livelihood for the people of Reshun.

The recent fluctuations in the water level come as a nightmare because the one-way road collapsed at the Reshun valley, halting transportation and the students who were visiting their homes after spending several months in different cities couldn’t make it to their villages on time, their families were jeopardized and lives were at stake.

In such circumstances, the local officials zipped their mouths, the public remain less vocal, and political and administrative stakeholders expressed their concern via social media instead of taking proactive measures. This is the level of our concern towards the damage and if the same response persists, the Chitral people will see the worst future. The people must have to stand against the incumbent, and demand their rights before it becomes too late.

(Muhammad Atif, from Nogh Lasht, Reshun, is currently pursuing a bachelor of microbiology degree from the University of Peshawar).

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