GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan government has decided to boycott the three-day Shandur polo festival due to a lingering territorial dispute with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
The GB government also decided to organise separately a three-day Shandur polo festival after failing to reach a consensus with the KP government to jointly organise the event.
The Shandur festival is scheduled to start from July 22 on the world’s highest polo ground, Shandur, located at 12,000 feet above the sea level. Matches between archrivals Gilgit and Chitral teams are considered the major attraction of the event.
The GB government also boycotted the event last year and in 2011, it accused the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government of monopolising the sport.
A meeting was held in Islamabad between GB and KP representatives to work out an amicable solution to organise the festival, but the dialogue ended without any result as none of the participants was ready to take a step back from their stated position.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, lawmaker Fida Khan said on Saturday the GB government failed to reach consensus with the KP government to organise the event jointly.
Responding to a question regarding GB’s right over Shandur territory, he said Shandur was a part of Gilgit-Baltistan, but KP administration had illegally and unconstitutionally occupied it.
“KP administration is deliberately escalating tension by illegally occupying the territory,” he said, adding if the tension continued, both sides would suffer.
Regretting stern stance of Chitral administration on hosting rights of the event, Fida Khan said: “The GB government had decided to boycott the event when Chitral administration refused to host the event on equal basis.”
He clarified that the Gilgit-Baltistan government had given the territory to Chitral people for cattle grazing on temporary basis. He also questioned deployment of Chitral Scouts in Shandur, demanding their immediate withdrawal.
He demanded of the federal government to ensure amicable solution to the dispute through a boundary commission, which was already in place for resolving contentious issues.
He said GB government would arrange a separate Shandur festival, adding the date for organising the event would be announced later.