Chitral and its geographical importance

Prof. RahmatKarim Baig 

The conglomeration of major and minor valleys inside the snowbound border peaks of Chitral has enjoyed a unique position in history since time immemorial. This status of the location of Chitral was duly understood by the rulers of the past so they arranged a defense system based on their experiences.

Chitral and its geographical importance. They had a category of red zone passes and less dangerous passes of Chitral which were used by raiders and when the British Indian authorities came to know about the strategic location of this mountainous state they were intrigued for its closeness to Tzarist Russia and the southward penetration of that great Empire. It was a phase of alarming concern for the British so they befriended Mehtar Amanul Mulk with gifts and, arms and ammunition and thus got involved in the politics of Chitral. This British friendship proved beneficial for the future of the people of Chitral in many ways.

The passes leading out of Chitral are numerous, but a few of them are more important for their easiness to enter the borders of Chitral while many more open for a short time in summer and are also difficult to cross.

The Kho population of Chitral fought invaders at different fronts and killed a larger number of invaders than could be expected of a small community with poor defense resources. It may be ascribed to the leadership as well as devotion and patriotism of the Kho people. The Chitralis had given more attention to development of defense technology or weapons and (cf. Hindu Kush Study Series: Vol. one; proceedings of 2nd International Hindu Kush Cultural Conference) used their local resources to be self sufficient to fight a prolonged battle against an invading army.

The locals had the natural benefits of knowing all the local open and secret routes to attack their enemies when they were well inside the state and then attacks were planned and the lucky one managed to escape the battle field, leaving the dead bodies and wounded ones of their Force. Many of such victories were because of the mountain tracks and heritage trails over the hills which have their specific names and they have played role in the defense of the State of Chitral from the long past into the near past.

Now that the old heritage trails have been so important for us (but at present forgotten and unknown to the present generation), we have to take initiative to document those trails with all the details of the trails in all parts of Chitral. These lie in almost all valleys from the south of Chitral to the last point in the north. The work is demanding and devoted research scholars and the University of Chitral has to select a group of students and assign work on this topic to finalize their research papers.

Those who have closer link with the subject must be included in this task and in this way the Chitrali students of this day will travel to various parts of Chitral and get acquainted with the people, their resources, the indigenous knowledge of the particular parts of the region and glean all the relevant information and it will take a few years to include all the trails so that Chitral University should be proud of having achieved a valuable volume of the strategic trails and defense points of the State and the role of the heroes of the defense system of the princely State of Chitral. 

Chitral and its geographical importance.

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