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Red card: G-B to boycott Shandur Polo Festival

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GILGIT(Shabbir Mir): The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government on Thursday announced a boycott of the upcoming Shandur Polo Festival and accused the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government of monopolising the event’s affairs.

HunzaNews, June 13th, 2014.

The decision was announced by G-B Minister for Information Sadia Danish during a hurriedly-called news conference at the Gilgit Press Club.

“Shandur is historically part of our region but we aren’t being given a due share in the event by the K-P government,” Danish told reporters.

“Ideally, both regions should share responsibilities of arranging the event equally but unfortunately this is not happening,” she said.

The minister regretted the K-P government’s lack of response to suggestions made by G-B to arrange the event on an equal footing.

In 2010, Gilgit boycotted the festival in protest against the federal government’s decision to assign the management and organisation of the event to K-P and over a dispute as to which government has ownership rights over Shandur, which lies between G-B’s Ghizer Valley and Chitral district of K-P.

The minister asked the federal government to settle the issue which is presently under discussion by a boundary commission set up earlier.

“We have brotherly ties with Chitral which we want to continue,” she said, adding the boycott is meant to register G-B’s reservations over K-P’s continued “encroachment” over G-B.

Gilgit and Chitral compete every year at the festival witnessed by sports and travel enthusiasts, both local and foreign. The boycott will dent the event that attracts thousands of people to the world’s highest polo ground, at 12,000 feet above sea-level. 

 Express Tribune

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