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Arandu people demand basic facilities of life

Gul Hamaad Farooqi

ARANDU: People of Arandu located on Pakistan-Afghan border in the southwest of Chitral have finally spoken out against non-existence of basic facilities of life in their area.

The union council inhabited by about 25,000 people is still living still in stone age. There is no communication, healthcare facilities, schools, potable drinking water or other facility in the area.

Hundreds of people held a public gathering for their rights which was presided over by Abdul Majeed chairman of the Arandu village council. The meeting was attended by leaders of all political and religious parties whose one point agenda was to seek justice for the people of Arandu  

Arandu consists of five village councils. People of seven tribes live here and they have seen bombardments by Russia army during the Afghanistan war and later by American forces.  

Speakers at the public gathering said the construction of Arandu road had started many years ago but it was left incomplete and still the 32 km portion of the road is in shambles. The River Chitral flows between Afghanistan and Pakistan territories and in the past people of Arandu had relations across the border. For centuries, people of both the countries lived in peace but now they cannot meet each other.

Arandu public gatheringThe speakers said a Basic Health Unit in the area was upgraded in 2009 and given the status of Regional Health Centre (RHC) but still there is no doctor in the facility. The speakers said the doctor belongs to the lower districts and comes here after two months only to make his attendance and goes back after a few days. Only one local medical technician, Sher Ghani, runs the entire centre and examines the patients.

In this regard, our correspondent repeatedly called District Health Officer Dr. Fayyaz Rumi and sent him a message asking him for comments, but he did not respond.

However, Deputy DHO Dr. Ziaullah Khan said there was no truth in these allegations. He said there were two doctors at the RHC who performed duty for 15 days alternately. One of the doctors on duty at the centre yesterday fell ill and had to leave suddenly. Because of this, there was no doctor present at the RHC when elected nazims visited the centre.

The speakers said the high school of Arandu was also short of teachers while the higher secondary school was closed long time ago and there was neither a teacher nor a student in it. Now, the students of first year and second year study in the high school building.

District Education Officer Mehmood Ghaznavi could not be contacted as he had gone to Peshawar for some official work. Deputy Education Officer Shahid Hussain said there were only 244 students in Arandu High School with 15 teachers.

About the Higher Secondary School, he said there were only 34 students and nine posts of teachers were vacant which can only be filled by the secretary education.

The speakers said that there was neither mobile phone nor internet facility in the whole of Arandu. They said there was a regular mobile phone tower in Afghanistan area across Arandu due to which people living in Arandu including government employees use the cellular phone SIMs of Afghanistan. 

The speakers criticized the Department of Public Health Engineering and alleged that it had wasted millions of rupees on drinking water schemes which all failed. 

The speakers also criticized the forest department for not recruiting on merit.  Arandu is a forest area and it will be difficult to protect forests unless local people were recruited in the forest department. They said a regular quota should be approved for this backward area in Levies, Forest and other departments.

Those who spoke on the occasion included VC Nazim Abdul Majeed, Haji Ghulam Yusuf, inspector retired, Molaiddin Shah, retired headmaster, Qari Ali Akbar, Maulana Samiul Haq, Gulzada, Hazrat Ali and Shireen Muhammad.

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