Chitral’s claim over Shandur refuted
13 August 2007
Gilgit: People of Ghizer district in the Northern Areas have refuted the claims of Chitral and have said that historically as well as at present the meadows of Shandur remain an integral part of their district. Sarfaraz Khan, a former member of the Northern Areas Legislative Council, told Dawn that the documents of the British Raj were ample proof of the demarcation of the Shandur area as a boundary between Ghizer and Chitral, wherein the watershed of Shandur Lake had been declared the line separating Chitral and Ghizer districts. He said the sanctity of the Shandur Lake and its watershed should be honoured to avoid clashes while the Langar pastures were already 15kms inside the boundaries of his district. “Over time the Chitral administration and some officials from the NWFP based in Gilgit attempted to tamper with the documents on the ownership of Shandur but all historical facts negate this contrived scheme of fudged demarcation,” Mr Sarfaraz added. He claimed that Ghizer was part of the Gilgit Agency during the British Raj and in 1936 the then British political agent of Gilgit Agency Mr Kolf constructed the Shandur Polo Ground to play polo during moonlit nights because this land was part of the Gilgit Agency and Ghizer. The former NALC member said due to this reason they had been managing the land since the British era and vowed that all purported encroachments and expansionist designs would be thwarted. When asked about a recent dispute between the people of Chitral and Ghizer districts over the ownership of a pasture near the Shandur polo ground, he said that they were not ready to surrender their ownership over land that genuinely belonged to them for the past 80 years. As far as the grazing rights were concerned, he said there had been mutual understanding between the elders of Ghizer and Chitral that they would allow cattle from both sides to graze wherever they wanted to. He said that was why the people of Laspur (Chitral) had been grazing their cattle in Shandur for many years and similarly the people from Phander (Ghizer) had been grazing their cattle in Laspur (Chitral), which should not give credence to ownership claims. He said he would file a petition in the Supreme Court if the issue was allowed to linger on by the ministry of states and frontier regions (Safron) and the ministry of interior for arbitration with which the settlement of the dispute had remained pending since 2001.