N. Areas to boycott Shandur festival

11 June 2008
The Dawn

GILGIT: The people of Northern Areas have criticised the decision of the federal government to hand over the management of Shandur festival to the NWFP and termed it an injustice with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. President Pervez Musharraf had directed the ministry of tourism to take over the management of the Shandur festival from the NWFP government two years back. But on the request of NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani recently ordered that the festival be managed by the government of NWFP again. Talking to this correspondent in Gilgit, people belonging to various walks of life expressed astonishment, saying how the affairs of an event being organised at a ‘disputed’ territory could be managed by a party to the dispute. Meanwhile, the Northern Areas Polo Association has informed the local administration that they would boycott the event due to what they said the discriminatory attitude of the federal government. “We have informed the administration that we are boycotting the festival and nobody will participate in the event” Ashraf Gul, president of the association said. When contacted, an administration official said, “Until now we have not been officially contacted by the other side as how the event should be organised this year.” He said during President Pervez Musharraf’s regime it was decided that till decision of the boundary dispute between NWFP and the Northern Areas, the event shall be organised by a neutral party. He said the president had also announced formation of a commission to settle the dispute between two sides amicably, but no action has been taken so far.