BOONI: Unnecessary security checks and VIP culture are not only costing the cash-starved government millions of rupees ever year but also dampening the enthusiasm of the public to participate in the annual polo Shandur festival.
The annual Shandur polo festival is held from July 7 to July 9. But with each passing year, the local people have been facing increased inconvenience and even humiliation in the name of security at the world’s highest polo ground.
— Fakhr-e-Alam (@FakhreAlamBooni) July 13, 2023
Every year, the provincial government spends millions of rupees on the mega event, but there is no record where the money goes as common visitors to the venue even don’t get proper space for camping or sitting to watch the matches.
Veteran polo player Shahzada Sikendarul Mulk, who led the Chitral team at Shandur for over four decades, expressed the fear that in coming years people from Chitral and Gilgit-Baltsitan would stop coming to Shandur to witness the matches.
Criticizing the increasing encroachment of the military and civilian bureaucracy on Shandur, he said they have occupied the whole venue and its surroundings pushing the public to stay away in the name of security.
The only way to keep these bureaucrats away is to stop funding to the festival. If funds are stopped, no one would come here except the people of Chitral and GB who have been celebrating the indigenous festival for decades.
Shahzada Sikendar also regretted that the government spent huge amounts on providing facilities to its bureaucrats every year at Shandur but had no funds to construct the road to the area. Moreover, even polo players taking part in the festival were not provided any substantial financial assistance.