Voice of the Mountain People

National Disaster Management Authority team leaves for Hunza

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 6, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The National Disaster Management Authority has dispatched a team to assist Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority in the on-going search, rescue and rehabilitation operation following the disastrous land sliding in village Atta Abad in Hunza, says a press release issued here Tuesday.

The team has been dispatched through three newly inducted helicopters available with the Cabinet Division.

The eastern part of Atta Abad village was declared ‘High Hazard Area’ by the NDMA in September, 2009, on the basis of a study conducted by the authority through Geological Survey of Pakistan wherein movement of terrain/ground resulting into cracks in the houses pitched on the mountain slope in the village Atta Abad, was observed.

The NDMA officials are closely monitoring the situation and are keeping liaison with all concerned authorities to minimise losses of lives and properties and alleviate the sufferings of the affectees – The News.

Posted in Hunza-Gojal | Leave a Comment »

Indonesia willing to invest in Gilgit-Baltistan agriculture sector

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 6, 2010

LAHORE: Gilgit-Baltistan has huge investment opportunities in agriculture and medicinal herbs as the area is not only the gateway to China and Central Asian States, but also has a well-established infrastructure.

This was the crux of the presentations given at Gilgit-Baltistan Investment conference held at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday. Indonesian Ambassador Isak Latuconsina, LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, Adviser to the Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Mian Shafqat Ali and LCCI former president Mian Anjum Nisar also spoke on the occasion.

Due to ideally suited climate and abundant water resources both the sectors have marvelous chances for vertical and horizontal expansion but unfortunately the sectors could not be developed to the desired levels for want of due participation of the private sector, said Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Drugs Inspector Kifayatullah Khan and Gilgit-Baltistan Agriculture Department’s Javaid Akhtar. Availability of trained contract farmers, well established tissue culture laboratories, storage and certification facilities make it convenient for the business community to put their money in these sectors. Gilgit-Baltistan horticulture policy also ensures a number of incentives to the private sector by reducing regulatory barriers.

Soft loans are also available to the businessmen for the development of modern horticulture business enterprises while expansion of Karakorum Highway and opening up of Babusar-Naraan Road are the added advantages. Speaking on the occasion, Indonesian ambassador said that there was no doubt in it that Pakistan’s private sector had the ability to write new success stories and the LCCI initiative would definitely go a long way in bringing Gilgit-Baltistan at par with other developed parts of the countries.

The ambassador said that Indonesia was ready to extend maximum cooperation to Gilgit-Baltistan government in its efforts aimed at bringing progress and prosperity in the area. The ambassador said that the Indonesian government was ready to help Gilgit-Baltistan government in exploration of coal and mining. Indonesia has the expertise in these areas and the sharing of technical skills could create a win-win situation.

The LCCI president said that agriculture was one of the potential areas for investment in the shape of production, preservation and marketing of quality fruits and vegetable seeds. He said that the very objective of arranging Gilgit-Baltistan Investment Week at the LCCI was to bring the area in the mainstream of the business activities because no government in the past paid any attention towards tapping the potentials of this part of the country. He said that the LCCI had decided to expand cooperation with the Gilgit-Baltistan government in the larger interests of the economy. He said that in a number of sectors, Gilgit-Baltistan had no match in the world and only because of little value-addition facilities these sectors could not grow. Speaking on the occasion, advisor to the governor Gilgit-Baltistan said that that organic farming has a very huge potential for investment because of the availability of a very hardworking human resource. He said that the sectors like hydro energy, dry food, and precious stones are the actual treasure, which, if thoroughly tapped, will change the fate of this region. Daily times

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Hunza landslide death toll rises to 13

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, Jan 5: Death toll in the Monday’s disaster at Atabad rose to 13.

About 30 people are still missing. Rescue work was resumed early in the morning on Tuesday.

National Disaster management Chairman Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed, Force Commander Gilgit-Baltistan Maj Gen Bajwa, Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah, Chief Secretary Babaer Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad and other officials reached the affected area.

Thirteen bodies mostly women and children were laid to rest at Aliabad, main town of Huinza on Tuesday amid tears. The bodies were recovered from the rubble and efforts are on to rescue other people still under the rubble, by the local volunteers and rescue workers who are racing against time to rescue others.

The massive landslide, caused by shearing off a portion of the mountain, hit Atabad, a small hamlet, about twenty kilometres from main Hunza, damaging over 40 houses, a community centre, a school, cattle pens, trees and orchards, causing panic in Hunza-Nagar.

The boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza River, forming a lake that would threaten the low-lying villages and submerge many villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide has damaged over two kilometres stretch of the Karakuram Highway, disrupting all kinds of communication links and traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families have been evacuated from the village to safer places.

A thick cloud of dust blanketed the whole Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

People of Atabad village had noticed shearing off the rocks, with cracks developing fast on it in 1994 when a high magnitude of earthquake jolted the village.  Later the local authorities declared the area dangerous without making any alternative arrangement of relocation and rehabilitation of the inhabitants. The continuous geological movement had developed huge gullies in the village and surrounding mountains. The people from the dangerous zone of the village were evacuated some days ago.

The residents had conveyed to the authorities concerned about the danger.

Experts had suggested rehabilitation of the residents to some alternative area, as living in such a hazard-prone environment could result in disaster anytime.

But the local administration not responded to the concerns of the people. Had they taken the issue seriously the loss of life could have been avoided, a volunteer working with a civil society organisation said requesting not to be named.

The residents had boycotted November 2009 elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly as no candidate – either ruling party or from other parties – had taken their problem seriously.

A delegation from the village had met Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira at Karimabad Hunza to inform him about the danger. He had assured them of help but no concrete steps were taken.

Posted in Economy, Environment, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Natural Resources, Society, Water | 1 Comment »

President orders quick relief work in Hunza village

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Jan 5: President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed grief and shock over the Hunza disaster which caused loss of lives and destruction to property.
In a statement here on Tuesday, President Zardari directed the local authorities to undertake immediate search, rescue and relief operations to help the affected families.
He also sought a report from the government of Gilgit-Baltistan regarding the measures taken and the provision of shelter, food and medical help for the displaced people.
The president directed the local authorities to provide best possible medical care to the injured. He also asked the local authorities to take note of the blockade of the river and adopt immediate measures to ensure that it does not cause any damage to other villages.
CDA: A team from the emergency and disaster management of Capital Development Authority was also dispatched to Hunza on Tuesday. According to an official announcement, the team comprising 26 rescuers, group and team leaders from the urban search and rescue component of EDM directorate has been sent to the area along with sophisticated equipment, listening and detecting devices in a helicopter.
The CDA chairman, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi has directed the next batch of rescuers to remain on standby in case of further requirement.
The crews of EDM directorate have been trained by the experts in Finland.
PRCS: Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said it has started providing relief items to the victims of the landslide, said a press release.
It said relief items including food, tents, blankets and stoves were being provided to the affected families at Karimabad.
PRCS Vice-Chairperson Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar held a meeting with the society’s Gilgit-Baltistan chapter chief Mir Baz Khan and assured full support for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the victims and directed the officials to expedite the rescue and relief operation.
Ms Bakhtiar said assistance would be extended to the far-flung areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. She said PRCS national headquarters was at standby to help the victims and provide them support as per requirements.
Meanwhile, noted mountaineer Nazir Sabir expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the Hunza village.
In a statement issued here, he urged the government to mobilise all resources and manpower to provide quick relief to the disaster-hit people.__Courtesy Dawn

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Landslide hits Hunza village; 10 killed

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010


By Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Tuesday, 05 Jan, 2010

UNZA, Jan 4: At least 10 people, mostly women and children, were killed and a number of others injured when a massive

landslide caused by shearing off a portion of mountain devastated a village here on Monday.

According to rescue workers and witnesses, about 40 people were still trapped in the rubble of mud and rocks. Ten bodies have been found and rescue workers are facing difficulties in rescuing others because of lack of equipment.

The landslide hit the village of Atabad, about 20km from Hunza. It destroyed over 40 houses, a community centre, a school and a number of cattle pens, trees and orchards.

Boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza river and formed a lake threatening a number of low-lying villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide damaged a two-kilometre stretch of the Karakoram Highway, disrupting traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families were evacuated. A thick cloud of dust engulfed Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives. He asked the authorities concerned to provide best medical facilities to the injured.

Teams of doctors and rescue workers have been dispatched to Hunza.

Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly rushed to Hunza to oversee the rescue and search operation.

The speaker told Dawn that the affected people would be given compensation after an assessment of the damage. Villagers would be evacuated to a safe place, he added.

The people of Atabad had noticed shearing off rocks, with cracks developing fast on it when a high magnitude earthquake jolted the village in 1994.

Our Correspondent adds from Gilgit: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah has announced Rs2 million for the families of those killed in the landslide. A spokesman said that compensation for the losses of properties would be announced after an assessment

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Anothet Year , Another Chance

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 1, 2010

New Year’s Reality Check

Another year, another chance
To start our lives a new;
This time we’ll leap old barriers

To have a real breakthrough.

We’ll take one little step
And then we’ll take one more,
Our unlimited potential
We’ll totally explore.

We’ll show off all our talents
Everyone will be inspired;
(Hmm…while I’m writing this,
I’m getting very tired.)

We’ll give up all bad habits;
We’ll read and learn a lot,
All our goals will be accomplished,
Sigh…or maybe not.

Oh well, Happy New Year anyway to our readers!

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Tussle between Federation and Punjab Govt puts the future of 60 students on stake

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 1, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The tug of war between Federal government and Punjab government has put the future of more than 60 students of Gilgit-Baltistan on the stake.

According to sources, Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, on the occasion of his visit of Gilgit-Baltistan, had announced to increase quota and number of reserved seats of Gilgit Baltistan students in all the colleges of Punjab, providing degrees in professional field.  

In order to ensure implementation on the announcement made by CM Punjab, a notification was issued on 5th December 2009, according to which, the notification, 25 seats were increased in MBBS while five seats were increased in BDS to provide standard education and eliminate poverty in Gilgit Baltistan.

In this regard the directorate of education of Gilgit-Baltistan had sent a list of nominated students and colleges to federal health ministry, which was making un-necessary excuses and creating problems for the nominated students of Gilgit Baltistan.

The sources further revealed that on other hand, classes in Medical colleges had started a month earlier than scheduled.

It was also stated that Federal government and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) have permitted the students to get admission in a low level private Medical colleges of Gilgit Baltistan.

These colleges consist of few rooms, which are creating hurdles for the admission of the intelligent students of the Gilgit Baltistan.


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Wakhi Cultural Group  

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 24, 2009

Posted in 5584, Culture, GECA, Hunza-Gojal | Leave a Comment »

Indigenous languages, cultures face danger from globalization: scholar

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 16, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Noted linguist, Prof Dr Tariq Rahman, has endorsed the aspiration of Pamiri people for saving the 3,000 years old Wakhi language and culture. As he put it, languages endow prestige, pride and power to a people who speak it.

He was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar on “Wakhi language” on the third day of the Wakhi Cultural Festival at the Heritage Museum here on Friday.

“Your people are giving a call for the right to educate children in your Wakhi mother tongue from becoming obsolete, and it is a cause we support,” he said.

Prof Rahman recalled UNESCO concern about the danger confronting indigenous cultures and languages. Among the 6,000 languages in the world, 2,500 are about to disappear or have already ceased to exist. According to UNESCO about 3,000 languages lose their carriers every year. Smaller community languages face danger from globalisation that wanted to impose a monolithic world culture across the globe.

“This in turn provokes reaction of the kind that we find reflected in religious extremism and terrorism,” Dr Rahman said.

He suggested a three-tier scheme for education in the mother tongue, with a bridge opening to a more appealing language, such as Urdu, and also rounded off with education in English. But the system must be applied uniformly throughout the country, including in the schools in which the children of the elite receive education.

He said that economic and cultural trends influence attitudes of people towards their language. No language is superior or inferior intrinsically. It was the political and economic power of a nation that determines the position of a language.

He said that due to globalization the powerful economies were influencing minority cultures and resist their promotion.


He emphasised pluralism in the globalised world with space for all cultures.

The seminar was addressed by a number of experts including, Asmatullah Mushfiq, Nazir Ahmad Bulbul, Fazal Amin Beg, Azam Beg and Shambi Khan. They expressed the fear that the Wakhi language will die unless it received proper attention for its conservation and preservation as was being done in Xinjiang, China and Tajikistan. There the Wakhi language was being used and researched extensively.

Nazir Ahmad Bulbul lamented that the younger generation was prone to developing feelings of inferiority when they come to the cities in search of work or education and stop using their language with which the culture also suffers. Once a small community language goes into disuse among the young, it dies with the death of the elderly speakers. Once that happens, the nation loses its individuality and in course of time it also dies with its peculiar culture, character and moral attributes.

The speakers highlighted the history, rich cultural heritage and traditions and evolution of Wakhi language over the centuries. They also presented recommendations for promotion of Wakhi and other local languages of Giglit-Baltistan as all the dialects spoken in the region were in danger of extinction.

The speakers lauded efforts of Lok Virsa and GECA for their combined efforts for promotion of Wakhi culture and language.

Director of Lok Virsa Khalid Javaid vowed to play his role to promote the Wakhi language and culture.

In his presentation Fazal Amin Beg traced the history of the language and said the Wakhi language belonged to the Iranian group of languages, assimilating a number of Persian and Arabic words, but recently it had been overwhelmed by the spread of modern information technology. He also complimented those women of letters who had contributed to the richness of these languages with their literary and poetical work.

Azam Beg Tajik also paid tributes to Wakhi scholar Haqiqat Ali for his pioneering work on the script of the Wakhi language. The assembly resolved unanimously that all Gojali should speak their own language and disseminate it through publications and propagation on electronic media.

Tayib Jan,Vice-Chairman Education com mittee of the Gojal Educational and Cultural Association thanked the chief guest and other guest speakers for the valuable contribution for the promotion of Wakhi language.

Neelum Nigar, secretary of the education committee in her introductory remarks explained about the Wakhi language in -historical perspective.–Coutesy Dawn

Posted in 5584, Culture, Education, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Society | Leave a Comment »

Peace a must for development: Mutabiat

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 12, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HUNZA, Dec 12: Peace, harmony is prerequisite for sustainable development in Gilgit-Baltistan, said Mutabiat Shah, the newly-elected technocrat member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.

Talking to mediapersons in Gilgit, he stressed the need for promoting interfaith and cultural harmony in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“The PPP-led Government has empowered the people of Gilgit-Baltistan through the recently announced self-governance Order and it is now our responsibility to implement it and strive for the basic rights of the people and seek more steps from the federal government,” he said.

While stressing the need for a coordinated and team work, he said focus should be laid on uplift projects targetting the marginalised and left-out segments of the society. The region has great potential of power generation which needs to be exploited to augment the development process in the region, he added.

He said the students of GB need to be given education according to the region’s specificities which would further help in developing relevant human resources in the region.

Mr Mutabiat, a well reputed experienced professional with over three decades experience in development sector said he will work for introduce reforms in the prevailing outdated system and promote merit and transparency in governance the region. There is a need to enhance the capacity of local media as a watchdog on legislators and bureaucracy.

He will encourage civil society initiatives and implement projects at grassroots level institutions while utilising the experiences learnt during the engagement of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme.

He said the local support organisations (LSOs) have the capacity to increase the effectiveness in service delivery and receiving mechanisms.

He will develop a consultation body of educated youth and professionals to multiply the benefits of development and prepare youth for the future leadership positions, he added.  Mr Mutabiat wants to identify and implement projects after consultations and according to the aspirations of the local communities.

He said he will build a strong team work with Wazir Baig to implement the 19 portfolio projects which were announced during the election campaigns in Hunza. He said they will ensure to secure additional seats for Hunza in the GBLA which was the main demand during the election.

Gojal well deserves the status of sub-division after the formation of the new Hunza-Nagar district, he said.

Efforts will be made to convince NHA to take over the roads of the far-flung Shimshal, Chipurson and Misgar valleys, he added. The approval of PC-IV of different projects in health and education sectors will ensure effective service delivery to the local communities, he said. Efforts will be made to develop sense of belonging among the youth and restoration of common image and prestige of Hunza valley.

He thanked the PPP leadership for entrusting him with the position. He said the people of Gojal are committed to the PPP manifesto and will never forget the services rendered by PPP since the time of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Meanwhile, the PPP Hunza chapter also thanked President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira and other party high-ups for nominating Mutabiat Shah as member of GBLA on technocrat seat.

They expressed hope that he will utilise all his capabilities for the development of GB.

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