Gilgit-Baltistan: Display of Traditional Items in GB

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GILGIT (ET): An arts and handicrafts exhibition was held in Gilgit on Saturday, allowing local organisations from Gilgit-Balitistan’s (G-B) remote valleys to display traditional items.

More than 50 stalls were put up in the exhibition organised by the Trade Development Authority (TDA) in a hotel.

“This is an attempt to promote local art and culture,” said Khalid Baig, a TDA official. “The local products are excellent and don’t have competitors elsewhere, which is why they can fetch good prices.”

Women and children showed up in large numbers and took a keen interest in items, including clothes, food and other decoration articles.

Local handicrafts like caps, jewellery and wooden utensils were also on display.

Saeeda Parveen, who came from Ghizer valley and had a handicrafts stall set up, said she saw a good number of buyers at the event. “It’s encouraging to see people coming out and buying items.”

Gilgit-Baltistan: 10 Days Folk Festival Concludes

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Islamabad (News): The 10-day folk festival Lok Virsa, which started on April 12 concluded on Sunday with a prestigious award ceremony. The mega cultural event was organized by Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) in collaboration with all the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

People from different walks of life attended the festival for 10 days in a big way, which featured artisans-at-work exhibition, provincial cultural pavilions, folkloric song and dance performances, cultural evenings, craft bazaar, NGO stalls, theatre performances and special entertainment for children and families.

Federal Secretary Ministry of National Heritage Gul Muhammad Rind said the folk genius of the people is the basis of their identity.

“It is therefore the sacred duty of a nation to pay homage to the perpetuators and promoters of its cultural heritage.” Earlier in his speech, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid thanked all provincial governments, sponsoring agencies and other institutions for their unstinted cooperation to Lok Virsa for making this national event a great success. “I am also indebted to our own administrative ministry, in particular federal minister Shahzada Jamal Nazir and Secretary Gul Muhammad Rind for their all-time support and guidance for organizing the festival”.

Describing the mandate of Lok Virsa, chief executive Khalid Javaid said although Lok Virsa was primarily a research-oriented organisation, it organised folk festivals in order to project traditional cultural heritage, so that young people are not overwhelmed by the onslaught of Western culture and lose touch with their own traditions. At the end, cash awards sponsored by different national organizations and individuals were given to the most authentic craftsmen and craftswomen on the recommendation of a jury of experts constituted by Lok Virsa. Jury held detailed meetings over the last three days and minutely observed working of each participating artisan so as to arrive on a just and fair decision.

Craftsperson who is crippled as a result of work was also awarded at the event in addition to those who demonstrated excellence and standard setting of high quality in craftsmanship; creative and successful alliance of traditional skills and innovation in material design. There was also a category for young budding educated craftswomen.

Among the sponsors, Royal Norwegian Embassy took the lead by contributing cash awards worth Rs500,000 for the craftsmen/craftswomen and folk artists participated in the festival from all over Pakistan. Other sponsors include THAAP NGO, Azad Kashmir Small Industries, Balochistan Small Industries, Sindh Small Industries, Right to Play NGO, Directorate of Culture Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Arts Council.

In total, sixty five cash awards worth over Rs700,000 were distributed among the winning artisans. Artisans from Punjab got 23 awards whereas Sindh 14, Balochistan 6, Kyber Pakhtunkhwa 12, Gilgit-Baltistan 6 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir 4. Ten cash awards were also granted to the folk artists and singers by the organizers.

Exotic cultural and musical performances were also presented during the ceremony, which were highly enjoyed by the audience. A large number of art, craft and music lovers, cultural personalities, diplomats, media persons and general public attended the event.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Strong Inclusive Political System to Defeat Sectarianism in GB

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GILGIT (ET): The regional leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has urged the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) to donate money to political parties in the province in order to keep sectarian politics at bay.

PML-N Provincial President Hafizur Rehman while talking to the media in his office on Wednesday said a strong and inclusive political system was needed to defeat sectarianism in the region.

“I urge the people to donate generously to parties as only a strong political system can bring harmony among the sects,” Rehman said, adding the PML-N had launched a fundraising campaign in G-B to make the party self-sufficient.

The regional president justified his appeals for donations claiming that if more people contribute to the party’s finances, it will not remain dependent on certain people who use their influence to control the party.

He urged people to back any political party of their choosing and refrain from encouraging politics based on sects, which has shunned the region’s progress in recent years.

“No one has benefitted from sectarianism; mainstream political parties are short of funds, they cannot even launch election campaigns, while the sectarian divide keeps thriving day by day,” Rehman remarked.

Talking about the fee imposed on patients at government hospitals, Rehman said the PML-N would not accept the government’s decision unless the G-B Legislative Assembly makes it into a law. He added his party would protest if the government does not take its decision back.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Governor Asks Youth to Become Goodwill Ambassadors of GB

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Karachi (PT): A delegation of Hunza Gilgit Ismaili Students Federation Pakistan (HGISF) met Governor Gilgit Baltistan Syed Peer Karam Ali Shah at the Chief Minister house Karachi. The federation was represented by HGISF’s Cabinet members and advisors. The meeting spanned for an hour and the focal point of the meeting was to highlight the issues and hardships faced by the youth of GB in Karachi as well as the future of the region.

The Governor emphasized the importance of unity among the youth of GB. He recommended the delegation to keep an eye on the developments back home and reiterated the importance of participatory democracy and the power of vote which is the only source to bring the real change in the society particularly in GB region. The governor expressed his satisfaction in the youth of GB and its potential to lead the region towards peace and progress.

The Governor called upon the youth of GB to play their role actively equally in the political and social arena. He gave a detailed historical perspective of the region as well as struggle of Shaheed Bhutto and his family in contributing towards the sustainability of democracy in the country regardless of hardships.

The delegation of HGISF discussed the major issues faced by the students of GB residing in Karachi such as accommodation and limited quota seats at national universities. Moreover, the increasing inclination of youth towards substance abuse in GB was also discussed and the delegation appealed to the Governor to work in this regard.

The Governor assured his full support for the federation and reiterated that the students of GB residing anywhere in the world are “Sons of Soil” and they must strive to achieve the best and should become goodwill ambassadors for our region. The members concluded this meeting by thanking honorable Governor for his valuable time.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Tourism Session in Germany Focuses GB

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Islamabad (PT): Institute of Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) locate din Berlin, Germany, held a session to discuss the opportunities of leisure and tourism in Pakistan, with a particular focus on the Gilgit-Baltisan region.

The session was attended by Pakistan’s envoy, Abdul Basit, MLA Raja Azam Khan and the Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan, Sajjad Saleem Hottiana.

Traditional items like Chugha  and traditional caps from Gilgit-Baltistan were offered to the organizers of the session by the Pakistani delegation.

The Chief Secretary and MLA Azam are visiting Germany currently along with a delegation of Pakistani tour operators to attract tourists in Pakistan.

Pakistan, in general, and the Gilgit-Baltistan region, in particular, have immense tourism potential in the areas of mountaineering, cutlure, religious heritage, environment, mountain sciences and archaeological sites. However, without improving the law and order situation in Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan, the efforts to attract tourists will remain futile.

Gilgit-Baltistan:First trophy of 2013 Claimed by American Hunter

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Gilgit (ET): In the first week of December 2012, the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government announced a quota for trophy hunting in the region for 2013, inviting national and international hunters to the region, which is known as a “living museum” for its varied wildlife and natural beauty.

It is home to a number of exotic animals which makes hunters flock the area for trophy hunting, a male-dominated sport which sees them hunt wild game animals.

Such an opportunity was not passed up by an American national, who became the first hunter of 2013 to claim an ibex as a trophy when he hunted the animal in G-B’s Gojal Valley.

“Mr Jerry Otis Bush has hunted an ibex trophy at the junction of rivers Khunjerab and Ghewjerav,” said Rahman Posh, Chairman Khunjerab Village Organisation [KVO], an umbrella organisation of seven villages in Gojal Valley.

Posh told The Express Tribune on Wednesday that the ibex hunted by Bush had 40 inch long horns. He spent at least four days with the communities and wildlife officials in the valley, searching for a suitable animal to hunt.

Posh said that after the successful hunt, Bush announced a donation of $500 to KVO, which he said would be used for providing health insurance to vulnerable families of the community in the valley.

According to the latest survey, the number of animals big enough for trophy hunting in G-B stood at 446 ibexes, 117 markhors (large species of wild goat) and 190 blue sheep.

Wilayat Noor, a conservator in G-B confirmed the hunt and hoped that more wild game hunters would visit the region to hunt the game after paying a legal fee to the federal government. “It is the hunting season [and] we hope more hunters will come,” Noor said.

For the hunting season 2012-2013, the G-B government slapped a $40,000 hunting fee for a markhor, $6,250 for a blue sheep and $2,500 for an ibex. Upon a successful hunt, 80% of the fee goes to the respective community where the hunt takes place.

The trophy hunting programme was first introduced in the early 1990s in the Bar Valley of Nagar in G-B.

Last year, one markhor, one blue sheep and 28 ibexes were hunted in the region and as stipulated, 80% of the hunting fee was given to the respective communities as part of their share, an official document said.

The communities of Gojal Valley have invited more hunters to visit the valley for hunting the animals as they have a quota for more hunts.

Gilgit-Baltistan:WAPDA Implementing Mega Projects in GB

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LAHORE (Monitoring Desk): Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Raghib Shah has said that water sector projects are vital for sustained economic development, poverty reduction and social uplift in Pakistan, particularly the remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. He expressed these views in a meeting on Friday with Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah at the Wapda house.

While speaking on the occasion, the chairman said that Wapda is implementing a number of mega and medium-sized projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, including the Satpara multipurpose dam (generation capacity of 17 MW, water storage capacity 0.093 million acre feet) and Diamer-Bhasha (generation capacity of 4,500 MW, water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet), 7,100 MW Bunji, 34 MW Harpo, 80 MW Phandar and 40 MW Basho Hydropower projects, etc.

Apprising the chief minister of the progress on the projects, he said that the Satpara dam has been completed. The construction work on 13 contracts for Wapda offices, colonies, contractors’ camps, model village for affectees, roads and infrastructure in the project area of Diamer-Bhasha dam – a priority project – is progressing at a good pace.

The process to acquire land is continuing, while expressions of interest to appoint consultants have also been called. Various financial options are being analysed for funding the project, he added.

The chairman said that detailed engineering design and tender documents of Bunji hydropower project will be completed by end March this year. He further added that two European Development Agencies, namely AFD of France and KFW of Germany have shown interest to provide funds for the Harpo hydropower project.

Dilating upon their benefits, the chairman said that these multipurpose projects will ensure availability of water for irrigated agriculture, help mitigate devastating floods and generate low-cost hydel electricity. In addition, a number of employment opportunities will also be available to the locals in Gilgit-Baltistan during construction as well as operation and maintenance phases of these projects, he said.