Situated on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, district Dir has been blessed with soaring mountains, gushing rivers and other natural spectacles which leave tourists spellbound. Areas like Laram valley, Shahi bin Shahi, Kamrat valley, Thal, Lalmoti, Sherinigal valley etc., attract people for their unmatched natural beauty. In the district of Lower Dir, which had been adversely hit by terrorism and floods, a festival was organized at ‘Scout ground’ Bilambat on April 17, 2014, under the auspices of Pakistan Army. The event proved to be a resounding success.
The four-day Dir festival was visited by thousands of men, women and children and the pleasure and delight of the local people was really worth watching. The festival meant to promote Dir culture featured many colorful stalls for the amusement of the visitors. In these stalls, the traditional caps of the area, special knifes, and many other local products were displayed. Government departments like Health, Education, Fishery, and Civil Defense also had their stalls which were also tremendous source of attraction for the people. In a rare Pyrotechnical demonstration, the sky glittered with lights and presented a very special view.
According to Ahmed Butt, a tourist from Lahore, “I have found the valley best of all the places I have visited as the climate is very pleasant and really better than that of Murree, Swat, Gulyaat, Abbotabad and all other valleys of the country. I really wish to stay here for a long time.”
According to another tourist, Muhammad Afzal, “if the government puts its concentration on mending the roads leading to the valley, there is no reason that the people will not come to this valley for tourism. I was really mesmerized to see Dir’s culture and I was not feeling any sense of insecurity due to the presence of the Army personnel everywhere as they have installed check-posts here for security. I have enjoyed the festival a lot. The hotel residence should also be given attention for corrective measures.”
The area was worst affected by Talibanisation and attacks from Afghanistan, especially in 2009-10, and then floods further devastated it. In such an area, the army’s initiative to arrange this festival was an appreciable work. Traditional Khattak dance and Pushto music, Chitrali dance and performance by a Punjab music band also entertained the visitors. Dance by youth on drum beat and unprecedented coverage by print as well as electronic media was also source of attraction for the people of Pakistan.
As per Commandant Dir Scout and in-charge Dir festival, Col Nasar Hayat Lalyka, “the main objective of this festival was to give the people of Pakistan a message that the area was secure and safe for the tourists to come after military operation here. Tourist can come here without any fear and they will be provided full security. Those who want to come here for trade purposes are also welcomed and they will not face any problem here. Pakistan Army has been organizing such events in all the areas affected by terrorism and will continue with this tradition. So far over 70 festivals have been organized by Army in different areas of Malakand division.”
If some factors are kept in view and the incumbent government plays its role in this regard, the situation will be more favorable for the visitors. These steps include construction and renovation of roads leading to Malakand division which are in adverse condition. Moreover, it must be ensured that militancy does not re-emerge in this area as military has cleared it off terrorists.
Furthermore, the people cut the forests for domestic due to unavailability of gas in the area. The government should provide some alternate sources of energy for these people and the cutting of tree should be banned. More tree planting should be done to secure the natural beauty of this marvelous valley.
By Abdullah Madni, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, April 28, 2014