PESHAWAR, 28 Feb 07: NWFP Chief Secretary Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi has ordered that effective measures be taken to protect Kalash’s shrines and structures and stop construction work by outsiders in the Kalash valleys of Chitral district.
Officials told Dawn that the decision was part of short-term measures initiated for preservation of the Kalash tribal culture under President Pervez Musharraf’s directives.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had recently appointed Mr Qureshi as the main coordinating and supervising authority for the short-term measures, for which the Ministry of Culture will allocate Rs7 million.
The officials said the provincial police officer, secretary for home and tribal affairs, secretary for culture, managing director of the Sarhad Tourism Corporation and the district coordination officer of Chitral had been directed to submit their reports in this regard within 30 days.
They said the DCO of Chitral had been directed to verify demarcation of the Kalash Valley’s reservation by the Survey of Pakistan. He has also been directed to nominate three persons to the Kalash Advisory Board as local representatives and a similar number from NGOs, including the Hindukush Conservation Association, UK/Kalash Environment Protection Society and the Greek Group.
According to the officials, a notification of such members would be issued once their names were communicated to the provincial government.
To control growing construction activities and damages to the cultural heritage of the valley by outsiders, the PPO, secretary for home and tribal affairs and the DCO of Chitral have been asked to raise boundary walls for temples and other worship places in consultation with the local people so that the centuries-old structures could be protected.
The chief secretary has also directed the DCO to strengthen the Qazi system of local elders by increasing their number in each valley and raising their honorarium.
To attract foreign and domestic tourists to the historic valleys, the DCO, NWFP secretary for culture and the managing director of the Sarhad Tourism Corporation have been directed to hold Kalash festivals like Joshi, Rochal, Phool and Chitarmas. They have also been asked to establish souvenir, artefacts and traditional dress shops in the valley. (Dawn–Mohammad Ali Khan)