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Archive for the ‘GECA’ Category

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 »

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.

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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.

Posted in 5584, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Political Parties | Leave a Comment »

Wakhi artists enthrall audience

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 11, 2009

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 5584, Art, Culture, Education, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Pamir, Society, Tourism | 1 Comment »

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 »

‘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 »

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 »