20 جون، 2014

#Polo fans upset by #GB govt boycott of #Shandur festival پولو شائقین مایوس

 

CHITRAL: Polo fans from Chitral have urged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan governments to amicably resolve the dispute over the Shandur polo ground to ensure that the famous Shandur Polo Festival takes place on schedule.

According to them, the GB government’s boycott of the Shandur festival at the eleventh hour had sent shock waves across Chitral valley.

Tour operator Riaz Mustafa said the festival was a boon to Chitral and GB as tens of hundreds of tourists from within the country and abroad showed up to rejuvenate the dying tourism industry badly hit by terrorism.
“A good number of tourists have booked rooms in major local hotels and even, tourists have begun coming here. The cancellation of the festival is a bad happening for us all,” he said.

Polo player Zar Laal said local residents had great passion for polo and they’re disappointed to see the GB government boycott the mega event.
Call for amicable resolution of row over ground ownership

He said he’d regularly been going to Shandur since 1982 when the polo festival was included in the calendar of events by the government but he felt highly perturbed to learn about the decision of GB government to boycott it.

“A polo player or its fan has nothing to do with the controversy about the ownership of the ground. He only wants the festival to be held on schedule and both the governments should realise it,” he said.
MPA from upper Chitral Sardar Hussain said he was hopeful that the GB government would review its decision and participate in the event to make it a success.

He said he was in contact with the GB political leadership to let it know that the cancellation of the event would inflict huge losses to both the governments.

When contacted, Chitral deputy commissioner Aminul Haq said all issues related to the polo ground and festival were settled during a meeting of the representatives of the two governments last month.

He said allocation of 400 seats in the VIP enclosure of the polo ground and the inauguration of the festival by a dignitary of the region were the major demands of the GB government and both of them were accepted by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.“However, the knee-jerk decision of the GB government to boycott the festival and raising the question of the ownership of the Shandur pasture at the eleventh hour has shocked us. The provincial government matter is trying to persuade the GB government to end the boycott,” he said.

The GB government had boycotted the polo festival in 2011, too, but the event was not postponed where intra-district polo matches were held.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2014

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