Rahmat Karim Baig

Future of the indigenous people of Chitral

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

Chitral is a landlocked country of a very peculiar location with borders with Afghanistan from Arandu to Begusht and this section of our border is porous but onward the sierras rise to glaciated peaks to 6,000m and then to 7,000m peaks exactly on the Pak Afghan border up to Kankhun pass.

From that point, the high peaks lose their height and reach Boroghil pass. With this glaciated borderline of high peaks of the Hindu Kush, human life within Chitral area is safe and no intervention from outsiders is possible.

In the eastern border, it touches with Swat, Ghizer and Dir – all have friendly relations with Chitral or so we have presumed. Inside this mountain boundary, the Chitralis have to live with small plots of land with a small amount of produce. Thus, Chitral has to depend on supplies from Punjab as KP has no surplus wheat, rice produce and the same is the case with Afghanistan where there is no stability and the country has no future supply expectancy.

The subsistence farming is very much poor in Chitral except for fruit production, drying and export to other districts is bright but it is still at a very initial stage due to lack of awareness and infrastructure.

Minerals have already been leased out and occupied by tycoons and the man of Chitral can work as a miner if he dares to do so, so this field is closed to our coming generation. Trade in the markets has been occupied by money lords with roots from other nationalities and they are buying assets at high cost. They cannot be competed with by Chitralis in business so the indigenous people have to resort to education – both general and technical – through which they can beat their rivals in various disciplines.

We have got to impart best possible education to our coming generation and must stick to this objective as tenaciously as possible. This is our only chance or avenue that we can take and run to co-exist with the rest of the population of the province where Pathans have overwhelming majority and they are unwilling to do any kind of developmental work inside Chitral. In my view, as Chitralis we have to focus on education for a better future.

Depending on tourism for livelihood has no good prospect because as long as the neighbours of Chitral get tourist friendly there will be hundreds of years to be borne.

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