N. Areas to boycott Shandur festival


weekly bang-e-sahar saturday june 14-20 June, 2008

By our correspondent
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 ordered 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. 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 a commission to settle the dispute between two sides amicably, but no action has been taken so far. Ashraf Gul of the polo association said they would not participate in the festival till things become clearer. “We face humiliation at the hands of the other side from having seats for our guests to finding proper accommodation. Their attitude towards us has always been insulting,” he added. President Peoples Lawyers Forum Amjad Hussain Advocate said it was a conspiracy of bureaucracy to create hatred in the hearts of people of NAs for the PPP. He condemned the decision of the prime minister and demanded that he should immediately withdraw the orders.

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