Voice of the Mountain People

Archive for October, 2009

Rupani Foundation sets up gemstone cutting, polishing, training centres in GB, Chitral

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 21, 2009

Report and photographs by Asghar Khan

 GILGIT, Oct 21: An international organisation has established gemstone cutting and polishing training centres across Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to exploit the rich mineral resources of the impoverished regions for fighting poverty and joblessness.

Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral are rich in mineral resources but the federal as well as provincial governments have not taken serious steps to exploit them to reduce poverty and unemployment in the two poverty-stricken regions.

Rupani Foundation, an international organisation, has for the first time in the history of the region established gemstone cutting, polishing and training centres in Gilgit and Chitral on modern lines.

two ladies busy in polishing and cutting of gemstone at one of the centres set up by Rupani Foundation in Gilgit.

two ladies busy in polishing and cutting of gemstone at one of the centres set up by Rupani Foundation in Gilgit.

 “Over 400 people, 55 per cent of whom are women, have so far been imparted training in various skills at these centres,” Chief Executive Officer of Rupani Foundation Sultan Ahmed said at a briefing session at the Gemstone Enterprise Development Centre, Zulfiqarabad here on Wednesday.

Gemstone undertrainees at work at a training centre.

Gemstone undertrainees at work at a training centre.

“Many of these graduates have emerged as master trainers and supervisors, and have now assumed a multitude of responsibilities in the production units,” he said while dilating on the vision and future plans of the Foundation.

Plans are underway to convert the existing centres into training and production, he said.

The foundation also plans to provide the necessary support for the establishment of the required infrastructure for the development of the mining sector and facilitating the traders to bring their products from mine to market.

The finished products of gemstone prepared by the workers of Rupani Foundation Training centre

The finished products of gemstone prepared by the workers of Rupani Foundation Training centre

“This model is unique in that it will not only develop value-added chain for moving the precious stones from the mines to the market globally, but it will also bring in the necessary investments for creating an entire ecosystem for the targeted region such as the building of roads, schools, and hospitals and the development of agriculture,” Mr Ahmed said.


The Foundation plans to bring innovation and quality in the products for local, national and international market. This will ultimately bring a huge change in the economy of Gilgit-Baltistan by providing income opportunities to thousands of artisans as well as buyers and suppliers.

Established in 2006, Rupani Foundation aims to reduce poverty, enhance technical skills of women and unemployed youth, as well as promote social entrepreneurship and joint ventures. Rupani Foundation has expanded its scope internationally and currently operates in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the United States.

The foundation’s vision is to become a global leader in the sustainable development of mountain communities which today continue to remain neglected throughout the world. Most mountain communities have natural access to semi-precious and precious stone mines, but lack the skills to develop them into sustainable income generating opportunities.

Gemstyone4By establishing educational and training programs, the foundation can empower these communities to permanently break their cycle of poverty and join the global community as contributing citizens for generations to come, said Mr Ahmed.

The foundation believes that in order to create employment, promote community participation, and reduce poverty, there is a need to unleash the potential of the private sector through public-private alliances. Therefore, the foundation places itself as a catalyst within local communities by creating opportunities to encourage a vibrant private sector. It does so by supporting civil society groups engaged in social entrepreneurship to supplement private sector development.

The Foundation’s primary approach revolves around the development of local human resources in terms of entrepreneurial, managerial, technical, marketing and financial skills. It provides support to carry out research, conduct pilots and initiate projects in value-added sectors, said Project Manager Masaidullah Baig.

The Foundation also wishes to be a catalyst for the holistic development of an economic and social infrastructure to support the needs of marginalized communities.

Rupali Foundation CEO Sultan Ahmed speaks at a briefing session about the vision and plans of the organisation at Zulfiqarabad, gilgit ob Wednesday

Rupali Foundation CEO Sultan Ahmed speaks at a briefing session about the vision and plans of the organisation at Zulfiqarabad, gilgit ob Wednesday

After visit of the facility, the participants had some brainstorming session on how to collaborate for overall development of gems sector in the region. All stakeholders showed their great appreciation for the progress made thus far and also committed to work in a more collaborative manner for the development of gems sector which will ultimately bring positive impact in poverty reduction and economic development.

Rupani Foundation being pioneer in establishing such centres is optimistic about the future of gems sector in the area provided that there is greater support and encouragement from government, private sector and other key stakeholders.

Senior representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan Gems and Minerals Association (NAGMA), local tour operators, mineral traders, AKRSP and Serena Hotel officials and a large number of people participated in the briefing session. 

The guests later visited the lapidary for Gemstone Cutting and Polishing Training as well as services.

Posted in Art, Economy, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Trade | 2 Comments »

Kidnapping, torture of Natco station manager condemned

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 21, 2009

By GT Report

HUNZA, Oct 21: People from all walks of life and the candidates of all major political parties and notables of Hunza, Gojal and Nagar have condemned the alleged kidnapping and torture of NATCO Station Manager Sultan Ayub by the supporters of a candidate for submitting the nomination papers of Zafar Iqbal.

Talking to Dawn they termed the incident “shameful and disgusting aimed at destroying the peaceful environment and disturbing political process in Hunza valley”. They demanded stern action against those behind the incident.

“A handful of people could not stop the people of Hunza from exercising their democratic rights,” remarked PPP candidate Wazir Baig. 


Kamil Jan of MQM, SherYar Khan of PML-N and others also condemned then incident and asked the administration to arrest those nominated in the FIR and unmask those involved in the incident.

Some of the candidates pointed finger of blame at the candidate of All Hunza Action Committee for the incident. However the AHAC leaders termed it a conspiracy against the committee and demanded to identify the culprits and take stern action against those involved.


Police sources informed this scribe that the culprits have tortured Ayub as a punishment for filing the nomination paper of Zafar Iqbal for the forthcoming election despite a boycott call from All Hunza Action Committee. The Aliabad Police has filed FIR against 5 alleged culprits on the base of the investigation from a arrested taxi driver who was picked after the incident.  Police sources told that they have told the elders of the culprits to hand over them to police before


It may be recalled here that Sultan Ayub had submitted the nomination papers of NATCO General Manager Zafar Iqbal, who is also a candidate but the returning officer, Hunza, and Chief Election Commissioner rejected his papers. He has moved the chief court against the CEC decision.


Meanwhile, the candidates of all major parties contesting in the upcoming election of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly have formally kicked off their election campaigns after allotment of symbols. Information and coordination offices have been opened in Aliabad and other major towns.


Close contest is expected between Wazir Baig of PPP, Kamil Jan of MQM, Noor Muhammad of Hunza Action Committee and Shehryar of PML-N. Similarly some other candidates including Rehmatullah Baig of PML-Q, Ijlal Hussain of KNM, Shahbaz Khan, Karim Sher Khan are also contesting the election.   


The office-bearers of the local chapter of PML- N have shown concerns over granting party ticket to Shehryar Khan, the son of former Chief Executive Ghazanfar Ali Khan. Talking to this scribe Haider Tai Vice-President PML-N Hunza chapter said that the party high-ups have ignored the concerns of the party workers while giving tickets. They said the PML-N workers will support the candidate of All Hunza Action Committee.

Posted in GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Swiss govt keen to develop tourism in GB: envoy

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 20, 2009

By Our Reporter

ISLAMABAD, Oct 19: Swiss Ambassador Markus Peter called on interim Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, Qamar Zaman Kaira here on Monday and discussed issues of common interest. 123

The ambassador expressed his government’s keen interest in development and promotion of tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan. He said his government had invested in the economic and social development of the region and pledged more assistance to speed up the development process in the region.

Governor Kaira said the government was taking special interest in the development of the region and cited the example of the self-governance and empowerment package announced recently as one such step towards political, social and economic development of region. He assured the ambassador of all help in their efforts for the social and economic uplift of the region. They noted that the existing bilateral relations between the two countries would be enahnced and cemented in all sectors of economy.

Posted in Tourism | Leave a Comment »

GB Election: 7, 14,966 to caste vote on Nov12

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 19, 2009

By our special corresponden

GILGIT, Oct 19: The Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan has said that as many as 712966 voters will exercise the basic democratic right of vote on Nov 12, out of which 330391 are female.

According to details provided by the Election Commission, the total number of voters in the six constituencies of Gilgit district is 218555 while Skardu district has168729 registered voters. Ghanche and Astore district have 69572 and 54271 registered voters respectively. The number of registered voters in Diamer district is 118576 and Ghizer district 85263 registered voters.  

In Gilgit district, LA-1 has 47835 registered voters, LA-2 has 62048 and LA-3 has 39665 registered voters. The number of registered voter is 21259 in LA-4, 13688 in LA-5 and 34060 in LA-6.

While in Skardu district, 28010 registered voters are in LA-7, 39325 in LA-8, 23524 in LA-9, 22304 in LA-10, 23266 in LA-11 and  LA-12 has 32300 registered voters.

Similarly, LA-13 constituency of Astore district has 27299 and LA-14 constituency had 26973 voters.

In Diamer district, La-15 has 38849 voters, while la-16 and la-17 has 36751 and 25785 voters respectively. LA-18 of diamer district has 17191 voters.

In  LA-19 of Ghizer district, the number of registered voters is 27737 while la-20 and la-21 have 32533 and 24993 voters respectively. 

In ganche district, LA-22  has 26499 registered voters. While  la-23 and la-24 has  25187 and 17886 voters respectively.

Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan | Leave a Comment »

‘Wakhi Cultural Festival’ potponed

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 16, 2009

By Our Special Correspondent

Islamabad, Oct 20:  Wakhi Cultural Festival organised by GECA in collaboration with the Lok Virsa which was to commence from 21st October, at the Lok Virsa, Islamabad as been postponed in view of the current security situation.geca

Artisans from all areas of arts from Gojal valley were invited to participate to showcase the rich cultural heritage, folklore, oral traditions, handicrafts and music of Wakhi people.

The festival will now be held in the third week of November.

Posted in GECA | Leave a Comment »

SSG man from Hunza killed in GHQ operation laid to rest

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 14, 2009

By GB Tribune Report

HUNZA, Oct 14: Muhammad Ayub of the Zarar Company of Special Service Group (SSG) of the Army who laid down his life during operation against terrorists at General Headquarters (GHQ) in garrison city of Rawalpindi on Saturday last, was laid to rest amid hundreds of mourners in his native village Hyderabad here on Tuesday.

Muhammad Ismail, father of Muhammad Ayub lays floral wreath on the coffin of his son.

Muhammad Ismail, father of Muhammad Ayub lays floral wreath on the coffin of his son.

Civil and military officials beside a large number of people from surrounding towns and villages participated in the funeral of the martyred. Moving scenes were witnessed during the funeral. The mother and sisters and relatives of the commando wept and prayed for the departed soul.

Floral wreaths on behalf of President Asif Zardari and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani were laid on his grave.

The coffin was brought to Karimabad in an army helicopter.

Addressing a big gathering, speakers praised the bravery of the young commando and said that he had added a new chapter in the history of bravery of the people of Hunza while serving the country and fighting the extremists.

Talking to local mediapersons Ayub’s father, Hawaldar (retired) Muhammad Ismail said he was proud of his son and lucky that his son had embraced martyrdom while defending the motherland.

He said Ayub had followed the footsteps of his grandfather who was also martyred in 1948 during Gilgit-Baltistan’s liberation war.

Ayub’s brother, who was also injured during military operation against Swat Taliban recently, vowed to rejoin his regiment and follow the footsteps of his elder brother after recovering from the injuries.

People offer fateha after funeral prayers of Muhammad Ayub at Hyderabad Hunza on Tuesday.

People offer fateha after funeral prayers of Muhammad Ayub at Hyderabad Hunza on Tuesday.

Col Feroz, Station Commander, Pakistan Army, said that about 30 soldiers from Gilgit-Baltistan have sacrificed their lives during the Swat operation. His heart is with the families of the killed jawans, he added.

Dr Inamullah Baig on behalf of the bereaved family thanked the Army and the Government of Pakistan for bringing the body of the young commando to Hunza. He said the people of Hunza had always been and would remain on the front line to defend the country.

Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal | 3 Comments »

Aga Khan discusses Pakistan’s economic, social uplift with Zardari

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 13, 2009

By Our Special Reporter

ISLAMABAD, Oct 13: Prince Karim Aga Khan, founder of the Aga Khan Development Network and spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, here on Tuesday met with President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed matters of mutual interest, including economic and social development of the country.

His Highness Prince Aga Khan discusses economic and development issues with Presidents Asif Ali Zardari at the Aiwan-i-Sadar in Islamabad on Tuesday.

His Highness Prince Aga Khan discusses economic and development issues with Presidents Asif Ali Zardari at the Aiwan-i-Sadar in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The two leaders discussed possibilities of cooperation in communication links between Pakistan and Central Asian states.

Sources told GBT that President Zardari sought help of the Aga Khan in the construction of Pak-Tajikistan road through Chitral.

The two leaders also discussed the possibility of cooperation in developing education city in Karachi.

The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Acting Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, Qamar Zaman Kaira as well as representatives of the Aga Khan Development Network.

Earlier on his arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport from Tajikstan, the Aga Khan was received by Mr Kaira and the Aga Khan National Council for Pakistan president Iqbal Waljee and other officials.

In Tajikstan the Aga Khan and Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Asadullo Gulomov inaugurated an urban park in Khorog, the main city of mountainous Gorno-Badakshan Automomous Oblast (province).
“The park is not only a place of beauty to be enjoyed by many generations of future citizens and visitors to Khorog,” said the Aga Khan, “it is also one of the earliest symbols of the processes of change for which I hope and pray in this region.”

Interim Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira and The Aga Khan National Council President Iqbal Waljee recieve Prince Aga Khan on his arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Tuesday.

Interim Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira and The Aga Khan National Council President Iqbal Waljee recieve Prince Aga Khan on his arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Tuesday.

The revitalization of the $4 million Khorog Park, the main municipal green space, was undertaken over the last five years by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), in collaboration with the Governorate of GBAO.

The first phase of the park construction was completed in 2007. The project has created 65 jobs and employed an additional 120 people during the five years of construction. Forty people were trained in stone masonry during this period. Local sourcing of construction materials has also had a significant impact on the local economy.

Posted in Education, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal | 7 Comments »

Peace activists from Gojal receive warm welcome in Gilgit

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 12, 2009

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

GILGIT, Oct 12: Two young peace activists from Gojal were accorded warm reception on their arrival at Gilgit, the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan, on Monday.

Ejaz and Asghar Rumi completed the first phase of the Khunjerab-to-Karachi peace walk. KIU Vice-Chancellor Dr Najma Najum, faculty members and hundreds of students received the peace activists near the University campus.

Addressing the gathering Dr Najma Najam, appreciated the young students for their courage and effort for promoting peace, love and harmony. She said such healthy activities are vital for a healthy and pluralistic society.

Later the KIU students accompanied the two students in a procession to the Chinar Bagh bridge where hundreds of citizens from Gilgit welcomed them.

Political and social circles consider the two young students’ mission an important step in the direction of creating peace in the wake of the recent unfortunate incidents in the city as well as in other parts of the country. They say such moves should be encourages to promote peace and harmony.

Islamuddin, candidate of PPP for the forthcoming election from Gilgit NA-2, Haji Abid Ali of PML-N and student leaders of all major political parties were also present along with social and political activists. The two students along with the citizens, social and political activists gathered at the Chinar Bagh and offered special prayers for peace on the Yadgar-e-Shuhada. The rally gathered at Ittehad Chowk after marching through Kashrote, NLI Market.

Addressing the gathering the two peace activists thanked the citizens of Gilgit for showing their urge and love for peace. They vowed to spread the message of peace and harmony of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan through all major cities of Pakistan.

The community from Gojal also arranged a musical evening for the peace walkers.

The two students will leave for Islamabad on Tuesday morning on the second phase of their peace mission.

The two young students embarked on the peace walk from the 16,000 feet high Khunjerab pass on the Pakistan-China border on October 4 despite heavy snowfall. The walk will conclude in Karachi.

Posted in GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal | 1 Comment »

Protest drive comes to logical end; 22 file papers from Hunza

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 3, 2009

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, Oct 3: While ending the month-long protest campaign, almost all major political parties and individuals here on Saturday opted to electoral politics by filing nomination papers to contest for the lone seat in the forthcoming election of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.protest4

At least 22 candidates from various major political parties as well as independents filed their nomination papers in the Returning Officer’s office. This is for the first time in the history of Hunza that such a large number of candidates have filed papers.

About 200 people were gathered in front of the office of the Returning Officer on the call of All Hunza Action Committee (AHAC) to stop the candidates from filing their application.

After failing to stop intending candidates from filing nominations, the top leaders of AHAC also submitted their papers and the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Serious differences surfaced within the committee over boycott of the election.

nomination 2Talking to this scribe, Baba Jan, Chief Organiser of Progressive Youth Front said that his party will devise the strategy soon. He said his party is still in favour of election boycott.

The action committee has now been transformed into electoral body, an angry protester commented while others praised the decision for peaceful ending of the boycott.

protest2Those filed their papers included Zafar Iqbal, Ghazanfar Ali Khan, nomination4Atiqa Ghazanfar, Wazir Baig, Fida Karim, Noor Muhammad, Mir Baz Khan, Sher Yar Khan, Saleem Khan, Aziz Ahmed, Waheed Murad, Fazal Rabani, Naik Naam Khan, Karimullah Baig, Abbas Khan, Abuzar Ali, Lal Hussain, Ghadir Shah, Doulat Karim, Karimullah Baig, Kamil Jan, Bahadur Khan, Shahbaz Khan, Shah Khan, Rehmatullah Baig, Rozdarullah, Arif Hussain, Ijlal Hussain and Karim Sher Khan.

Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Politics | 1 Comment »

GBLA polls: 382 file papers

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on October 3, 2009

By Our Special Correspondent

GILGIT, Oct 3: As many as 382 intending candidates on Saturday filed nomination papers for the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly elections, official sources told GB Tribune.

The Election Commission officials said that they have received 382 nomination papers to contest elections for the 24 general seats of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly scheduled to be held on Nov12.

According to the Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan, Zafar Waqar Taj, for the six seats of Gilgit District 144 intending candidates have filed nominations.

For six seats of Skardu District, 71 candidates have filed papers. In Skardu-I, 12 candidates, Skardu-II, nine candidates, Skardu-III, 10 candidates, Skardu-IV, 16 candidates, Skardu-V, 17 candidates and in Skardu-VI, seven candidates have filed their papers.

For three Ghangche District seats, 21 have submitted nominations.

In Ghangche-I, six candidates have filed papers, Ghangche-II, 10, and in Ghangche-III, five candidates have filed papers.

For four seats in Diamer district, 51 have submitted papers. For two Astore District seats, 42 have filed nominations and for three Ghizer district seats, 55 candidates have filed nominations.

Nomination papers will be scrutinised on Oct 7.

All former members have again submitted their papers to contest elections.

Corner meetings, rallies and campaign are getting momentum in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Posted in GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Politics | Leave a Comment »