Voice of the Mountain People

Archive for October 21st, 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 »