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Kalash festival ends, girls’ miseries continue

Another Kalash gala concluded Friday amid prompt and pedantry but the remote region bordering Afghanistan still lack far behind in social uplift in many spheres such as girls education. The scenic area known for fabulous heed has absolutely no girls school or girls college leaving all the female population illiterate and in highly deplorable condition.

Lack of basic education for the females of the area is not a personal vendetta but a collective responsibility for all who claim providing fundamental rights to all and sundry in every nook and corner.

Most of the girls, who want to get education have no other option but to go to boys schools and get their education up to matric in co-education system.

The unique Kalash Valley has exclusive characteristics, marvellous scenery, outstanding location and wonderful people living in peace from the hundreds of years in the outskirts of the city of Chitral in the northern areas of Pakistan yet there is dearth of female education living life of illiteracy and ignorance.

Astonishing to know, there is a no girls’ college; and what to say of a college, there is no high school for girls of this valley which seems a disaster to the half of the population.

One can draw a clear picture from the fact that without basic education to females, how can they actively participate to females, how can they actively participate in uplifting economy of the people of the valley.

A local journalist while highlighting the issues faced by the people of Kalash said that the government should do more to enhance or boost life condition of Kalash people. “Roads leading to Kalash valley are in a dilapidated condition and Kalash people pay more than Rs 3000 for booking a cab for 22 KM road”, he said.

The conditions of Kalash Valley could be very perfectly analysed from the fact that there is no college in Kalash valley, no girls’ high school in the valley, no mobile phone service.

The locals say that the health facilities are also equal to none as the only Basic Unit health of the area is also run by an NGO.

The economic dilapidated condition of the area could not improve until and unless, the concerned authorities reserve a quota for the locals in border police, Chitral scouts, Chitral police or in any other government jobs.

Another alarming fact is that the border police collect tax from the local and foreign tourists but on the contrary they do not spend money for the betterment or providing and improving civic facilities in the area.

It is feared that the Kalash culture will diminish if proper and concerted efforts are not made by the authorities as there is a dire need to focus on this area through out the year and not only during the festival days.

There are also so many other reasons which are spreading disappointment among the locals of the area as we have to admit that we are failed to protect this unique culture of the world.

The four-day Joshi festival in Kalash which started on May 13 ended on May 16 with an optimistic approach that it would bring betterment in the lives of the enriched cultural history of the people of the valley.

This festival is celebrated, every year as a spring festival in the middle of May usually lasts for four days and honours the fairies and also safeguards the goats and shepherds before they go to the pastures.

Giving details about the Kalash festival, Joint Secretary Ministry of Heritage and Director General Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), Mashood Ahmed Mirza stated that the annual moot attracts number of foreign tourists which reflects international interest in this event.

“The law and order situation has improved manifold due to which we are expecting increased number of foreigners, resulting in booming economy and promoting soft image of the country in the comity of nations”, he maintained.

To a question about the economic condition of Kalash people, Mirza categorically stated that a handsome amount is earmarked in the annual Public Sector Development program (PSDP) by the provincial government of KPK due to which the living standard has improved manifold.

However, various pro-active steps are direly needed to safeguard the slowly diminishing the enriched culture of Kalash which are an icon for the people of the valley and the girls’ education should be focused with a commitment to equip them with their fundamental right.

These are deprived and underprivileged people constantly being ignored for the uplift of their life style and living conditions which are very well known hurdles in their economic boost.

Basically, most of their happy days are, when their festivals take place. The three main festivals of the Kalash are the Joshi festival in May, the Uchau in autumn, and the Caumus in midwinter which attract not only domestic visitors but also huge number of foreign tourists visit these festivals every year.

These festivals generate temporary job opportunities for the locals and if calculate the festival days, these are not more than 10 days per year. Their lives depend upon the earnings of these ten days which they spend for the rest of the year.

However, on the contrary, the locals of the area are not happy on this support. They term it as not a significant contribution which should have been made by the government.

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