Baroghil: marching towards mainstream life – Pakistan

"LIFE is no longer tiring and unpleasant for me in this valley and, for the first time in 14 years, I am ready to spend the next winter season here because the basic necessities of life, including electricity, are now available," says Tahira Bibi. , the first enrolled in the Baroghil Valley. Earning his Master's degree at Karakorum International University, Gilgit, last year, said he avoided coming to the valley from Gilgit, where he preferred to stay in the shelter or stay at a relative's house after the universities and the university closed for vacations. because she The valley lacked basic amenities.

"My father, who worked as a day laborer in Gilgit and other cities, dared to send me to the city of Gilgit to educate me from elementary to master's degree," he said, adding that his stay in a city outside the Baroghil Valley made it I feel sad because life there was still so primitive.

“Until 2013, the people of the valley had not yet seen a vehicle and had to travel on foot to the town of Yarkhoon Lusht downstream for two days to board a jeep. They did not know about electricity, and even vegetables were new to them.

“Their diet was limited to bread made from a wild variety of barley native to the valley. Bread made from wheat was a luxury here, ”according to Tahira.

Now she is determined to stay in the valley since her village has been electrified, the houses have heating and clean drinking water. Now vegetables are also grown.

She is grateful to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for bringing modern living comforts to a valley that remained inaccessible in the absence of a road network.

Tahira is also excited about building a path for the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP). Unlike an existing dirt track for jeeps that remains open for only three months during the year, the nine-kilometer route from the town of Kishman Ja to Pech Aus, which includes two transportable suspension bridges, will provide access to the valley of all time Baroghil

Currently, vehicular traffic is restricted to three months of the year because the road passes through mountainous terrain full of rock falls and landslides for nine months of the year.

Baroghil, which flanks the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan, is located at the northern end of the Chitral district, at a distance of 280 km from the district headquarters. It is sparsely populated, with 2,000 people living in 13 adjoining villages.

It starts to snow from September and continues until the beginning of May; During this time, the locals practically go into hibernation because the valley receives more than five feet of snow.

The main source of livelihood is the raising of cattle, which satisfies their food needs and fuel energy needs. Manure cakes are dried and stored in the summer season.

The valley is surrounded by more than 10 glaciers, including the Chiantar glacier. The Chitral River, which originates in this valley, is known as the Kabul River in the Peshawar Valley after entering Afghanistan on the southern Arandu border.

The current dirt road to the village of Ishkarwarz, in the lower part of the valley, was built by Pakistan's army. The AKRSP extended it to four other villages to Lashkargaz, which erected a steel bridge over the river in the village of Ishkarwarz with the financial help of the German state bank Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW). Lake Qurambar, located near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, is inaccessible by road.

The intense cold weather that affects the valley for much of the year has led to an extremely high incidence of opium addiction among locals of all ages and both sexes. Not only has it pushed them into poverty but it has also incapacitated them to carry out agricultural activities that can improve their quality of life.

Over the years, an increase in development activities has blessed the region with a network of bridges, water supply schemes, irrigation canals and walls to protect against flooding.

Agriculture has arrived and model farms for vegetables and other cereal crops are emerging in different villages. “The AKRSP was not only a pioneer in the cultivation of vegetables, but it was also a step further last year by hiring food technologists and professional chefs to demonstrate to the villagers how to cook vegetables. Until then they didn't even know how to peel onions, ”Tahira observed.

The celebration of the Baroghil festival for the first time by the provincial government through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tourism Corporation is intended to attract outsiders to the valley. Very few people from different parts of Chitral have had the opportunity to visit the area so far.

Tahira believes that the latest project has begun to generate a positive change in the lives of the locals, but adds at the same time that there is still a long way to go.

The valley is rich in biodiversity, as it has snow leopards, Himalayan mountain goats, Marco Polo sheep, musk deer, brown bears and 83 species of birds. Tahira says that the people of the valley will begin to appreciate the importance of the unique ecosystem and the rich biodiversity of this region once they leave poverty.

Posted on Dawn, October 2, 2019


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