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Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza

A team of 11 young researchers presented their case studies on responsible tourism at GB Boys Degree College, Hunza on 1st September 2018. The objective of the seminar was to sensitize local masses with the dire need to manage tourism and also to initiate discussions for the promotion of responsible tourism.

Haider Buluk

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Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza held in Aliabad

The researchers tried to shed light on the importance of preservation of culture, tradition, heritage and most importantly environment while maintaining the hospitality tradition of Hunza people. The researchers collectively argued that tourism industry should translate into rural development through strategies of pro-poor policies and resisting urbanization.

Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza held in Aliabad

The presentation also included a dialogue between young researchers and the audience. A major research report tracing demographics, perceptions, preferences and behavioral patterns of tourists was shared. It was followed by other case studies on topics like women’s earning pattern, infrastructure, the commodification of local food, waste management, child labor, women’s mobility and presence in public spaces, career choices among youth and loss of locals’ ownership of land. The researchers were open to feedback on their work with due consideration of the study’s limitations.

Asst. Prof. Sher Ali

Asst. Prof. Sher Ali

Principal GB Govt. Boys Degree College Hunza, Asst. Prof. Sher Ali welcomed the team and said, “it is heart-warming to see youth of Hunza contributing their time and efforts for the society and it is very promising to see them investing their energies in research”.

Elucidating the theme of conference Iram Shaista Khan, the team lead, presented the major research and briefed the participants about the dire need of social mobilization, community resilience and policy guidelines for the management of tourism in Hunza. She opened the stage for critical assessment of how irresponsible tourism is effecting Hunza both socially and environmentally.

Iram Shaista Khan

Iram Shaista Khan

She said that out of the total, 97% of tourists use private transportation and only 2.1% of visitors are using public transportation to come to Hunza. This statistic is alarming, with respect to carbon emissions and the urgent threats posed due to vulnerabilities of the region. Her research provided significant findings which can be used in the future to come up with an informed policy for tourism in GB.

Safiullah Baig, the guest speaker, shared his views on how drastically the culture and ecology of Hunza have been affected in the last few decades. He said managing tourism is important because it has become a matter of survival for the poor indigenous people.

Sultan Madad

Sultan Madad

The main findings of the case studies include the increase in unplanned constructions, congestion in Public Spaces, lack of parking areas, restrictions on local female mobility, increase in earning opportunities for women, increased demand for local food leading to modifications, loss of locals’ land ownership due to monopoly business practices of non-locals, possibility of commodification of natural resources, absence of construction by-laws, low capacity of waste management institutions, incineration of huge amounts of plastic, lack of awareness about environmental issues, students leaving school to start tourist enterprises, child labor, increased employment opportunities for youth and seasonal employment.

Haider Ali

Haider Ali

Gari Khan’s study highlighted the issues of waste management. He revealed that out of total waste 82.3% consists of plastic and the only waste processing method is incineration in open areas. “Due to non-local monopoly businesses the locals are getting stripped of their land,” said Haider Ali, further elaborated how this is likely to lead towards privatization of natural resources. Other speakers include Nasira Bano, Bibi Fatima, Humaira Bano, Sadia, Naheed Akhter and Bibi Nelofar.

Sultan Madad, a senior activist of Gilgit-Baltistan, appreciating the hard work of the researchers said that people have to take immediate actions to manage tourism in Hunza by reinforcing the existing village rules and customary laws. He asked for the mobilization of youth to work for the betterment of the society. Tajir Hussian Lecturer, Development Studies appreciated the presenters for spreading awareness and stressed on the importance of grassroots research for the informed policymaking.

Asghar Khan, Manager Hunza Serena Hotel (Baltit Inn) described in detail the concept of Responsible Tourism. He highlighted the importance of maximizing benefits for the local community through the utilization of local material and local human resource.

In conclusion, the audience stressed that every region of GB should benefit from the emerging tourism industry and such kind of research should be conducted, in order to, prepare locals for “Responsible Tourism” management; which should benefit local economy while minimizing risks for society and ecology.

Haider Ali is studying Sociology at F.C. College, Lahore. He is from Hunza Valley and is interested in studying and sharing his views about the affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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Chitral

7 Photo-stories on World Water Day 2020 from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC)

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AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
AKAH Pakistan

World Water Day is celebrated every year on 22nd March as an observance day to highlight the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

As part of the World Water Day 2020 celebrations, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) shares these stories of people from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral whose lives have been deeply impacted by water and sanitation-related projects in the region.

AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
Over half of the people across Pakistan lack access to safe and clean water and have no choice but to consume water from whatever source exists in their villages, regardless of quality. Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, aiming to improve quality of life, is implementing water supply schemes across mountain communities in Pakistan.
AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
In mountainous parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, traditional wells are used as water reservoirs collecting the water coming from streams through canals. This water, coming directly from open sources, is unsafe as it is contaminated due to its exposure to both humans and animals. Without access to another source of water, people use this unsafe water for different purposes including drinking, cooking, and other domestic purposes.
AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
Clean drinking water has always been a huge problem for communities living in mountainous areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Women and children are impacted the most as they must travel long distances to fetch water for cooking, washing, and laundry. AKAH’s work to connect each household to safe and clean with a water tap in their home enables women to keep their children safe from waterborne diseases, spend more quality time with their families, and also reduces time and labor lost to fetching water.
AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), with the help of communities, identifies water sources in the village, tests the water quality using its technical expertise, develops water infrastructure, constructs water reservoirs, and provides each family with a water tap in their home. More than 500,000 people across Pakistan now have access to safe drinking water in their homes, through AKAH’s efforts.
AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s WASEP model uses a community-based approach to help mountain communities get year-round all-season access to safe water. AKAH’s approach uses deep digging and other techniques to ensure that water does not freeze in the pipes despite the fact that these villages are covered in snow for more than five months of the year.
AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
“I enjoy taking freshwater from this tap in my home; you would say I am in love with it that’s why I stand here many times a day”.
AKAH Pakistan World Water Day 2020 Stories
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, with its mandate to improve quality of life, is helping women and young girls across Pakistan enjoy a healthy life, by providing access to safe water in their homes, reducing their exposure to water-borne diseases, allowing them to spend more quality time with families.
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Crime

Hunza Police Raids and Seizes 230 liters of Araq, arrests illegal Hunza Moonshine maker

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Hunza Police Raids and Seizes 230 liters of Araq Moonshine - Hunza Water
SHO Hunza (Facebook)

Hunza Police had raided an illegal Hunza moonshine distillery in Altit town of Central Hunza Valley and seized around 230 liters of Araq. According to a post published on Facebook by an account associated with SHO Hunza District, the police raided the illegal moonshine factory based on a tip.

The successful operation was led by SHO Hunza himself. A team of policemen who participated in the raid posed for a photo with an illegal moonshine maker after seizing Araq and distillation equipment.

The post further mentions that an FIR has been lodged against the owner of the factory. The distillation equipment and 230 liters of Araq, some of which were already filled in reused mineral water bottles, were seized from the illegal moonshine factory.

Hunza Police Raids and Seizes 230 liters of Araq Moonshine - Hunza Water
Araq (Hunza Moonshine) filled in reused mineral water bottles seized by Hunza Police.

Raids of such kind are not new in the Hunza district. Despite a rise in making and selling of the Hunza Moonshine, locally known as Araq and sometimes referred to as Hunza Water by tourists, authorities have failed to formulate address the issue.

During the past five years, at least seven such raids have been made but the real issue is far from being addressed.

Hunza Police Raids and Seizes 230 liters of Araq Moonshine - Hunza Water
Illegal Hunza moonshine distillation equipment seized by Hunza Police.

According to a survey in 2015 by a youth organization, 3 out of every 5 men in Hunza consume Araq at least once in a month. Due to a ban on publicly buying and selling of alcohol, the illegal moonshine makers find a way to fill the gap.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, the local moonshine making industry is thriving in the districts of Hunza and Ghizer.

BBC reported in 2013 that despite a public ban, alcoholism is becoming a rising issue in Pakistan. Despite excise taxation on liquor, beer, spirits and alcohol, there is no written national policy in Pakistan adopted to address the many issues related to alcoholism.

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