The restive western border of the country, lining the troubled Afghanistan, plummeted into ceaseless political uncertainty and unstable security situation at the onset of the War on Terror and the region is still recuperating from the damages done in the decade-long turmoil.
While the populace of the region bore the brunt of the unstable security conditions, the turmoil was a breath of fresh air for the wildlife population of the region which thrived under the inaccessible conditions of the region.
Strengthening hope with the latest return of the Sarus Cranes in the Nagarparkar District in Sindh, the officials of the Wildlife Department have now revealed the spotting of the once-extinct Asiatic Black Bear in Chitral Gol National Park, adjacent to the Afghan border.
The discovery has jolted the Bear conservationists in the country who have long considered the presence of Black Bear along the Western border as improbable.
“This species of bear has been declared endangered on this side of the Hindukush belt since long,” said range officer Irshad Ahmed while confirming presence of black bear in the area here on Wednesday.
The sub-divisional forest officer of Chitral Gol National Park, Mohammad Buzurg, said that the species had never been spotted in the national park
since its establishment in 1984.
Azhar Ali, a biodiversity specialist said that the Black Bear population in the south of the region has been stable but was considered extinct in the Western parts of the National Park.
Bear hunting has been cited as the major cause of the extinction as the animal has been poached and hunted for the precious Bile used in the making
of traditional medicines.
“The forests of the southern Chitral border the dense forests of Afghanistan and transmigration of animals takes place in pursuit of congenial and suitable environment,” he said, giving another reason for the extinction of the species.
Black Bear is found in the Kashmir and adjacent areas and has been relatively unknown in the Chitral region until now.
The Chitral Gol National Park is known as the home of some of the endangered species in the world including the Markhor, Urial, Black Buck and the legendary Snow Leopard.
The District Administration of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa has finally taken notice of the ecological damage that has been inflicted on the once serene and breathtaking lake Saif-ul-Malook in the Mansehra District and has now imposed a complete ban on boating in the lake.
Saif-ul-Malook located deep within the Hindukush Mountains in the picturesque Kaghan Valley, has suffered colossal ecological deterioration with the rise of the tourist inflow in the region and beyond. The Glacial Lake which was once home of the Golden Trout has now turned into a heap of floating garbage and plastic bottles.
The orders were issued by District Coordination Officer (DCO) Mansehra Dr Ambar Ali Khan on Tuesday owing to growing complaints by environmentalists.
They maintained that the lake’s Aquatic life is at risk by the immense amount of solid waste dumped in the lake by tourists.
To ensure cleanliness and to protect marine life, the DCO has imposed a ban on parking and camping within 200 yards of the lake’s bank. He warned that violators will be dealt with strictly under the law.
With the onset of summer, picnickers from across the country throng to the lake where they enjoy boating and erect tents to spend nights on the shores.
It still needs to be seen that the ban is followed and enforced and would not fall prey to negligence of the law enforcement personals. There is an existing ban on
fishing in the lake but many of the tourists blatantly violate the law and are often seen sitting and gossiping with their drooling fishing lines in the lake.
The tropical lakes and artificial water reserves of Pakistan namely the Tarbela Lake and the Mangla Lake, have long been one of the favourite destination of the migratory birds who fly down thousands of miles from the Steppes of Russia and Siberia to escape the bitter cold.
With subsequent ecological disorder in recent times where one of the largest water lakes in the country, the Manchar Lake has experienced compounding problems, many of the birds have now decided to switch over to greener pastures for the past few years and are rarely seen landing on the polluted reservoirs of Pakistan.
In a surprising revelation, however, the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has now confirmed the spotting of the Sarus Cranes in the Nagarparkar district of Sindh, a bird which was once considered as extinct in the country.
Considered as one of the highest flying birds in the world, Sarus Cranes are known for their beauty and the longest air hauls in the world.
The information was shared by IUCN in a meeting organised by the Save Wildlife and Nature (Swan).
The Siberian crane had not been seen in Pakistan for many years whereas the population of demoiselle cranes and ommon cranes was also fast dwindling. And though Sarus Cranes were still found in large numbers on the Indian side, not a single had been sighted in Pakistan till this year.
The birds, the experts said, were found in all the four provinces and except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, all the three provinces had imposed a complete ban on cranes’ trade and trapping. Influential hunters, however, had made these official restrictions meaningless, they observed.
“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [KP] tops the list where these birds are hunted on a large-scale followed by Balochistan and Punjab,” Mr Ashiq Ahmed Khan, senior wildlife conservationist, said, adding that it was due to extensive hunting that the cranes conservation centre in Lakki Marwat district of the KP could not succeed despite funds allocation.
The ecological degradation of the Manchar Lake which has been receiving effluent from certain industrial units in the vicinity, has dealt a severe blow to the wildlife population in the region.
The increased amount of Urea found in the lake water has considerably declined the growth of algae in the lake water, hich thereby had a direct implication of the fish population in the lake.
These migratory birds which are predominantly dependant on the fish of the lake were forced to look for other alternatives to sustain their migratory period in the region.
I usually avoid getting drawn into arguments with people on the internet, because there’s really no point. I even try to avoid reading the comments on online newspaper articles, because I know I’m more likely just to make myself angry than actually to learn or reconsider anything. But when a particularly poisonous commenter on Huffington Post started arguing that the 138 Pakistanis who are now almost certainly dead after being buried by an avalanche on the Siachen Glacier last Saturday are undeserving of our sympathy and compassion – I couldn’t help but rise to the bait.
And here is a slightly extended version of the indignant screed I ended up writing in response. (To give you some context, I took objection to this gentleman’s comments about Pakistanis, whereupon he called me naive for being “enamored with their attempts at hospitality”, claimed that living in the UK qualifies him to understand Pakistanis far better than me, and reminded me that “[t]hese people are our enemies and enemies deserve no compassion. “)
Sir, you are the naive one.
Naive to think that living in the same country as a large number of Pakistanis make you an expert on what kind of people they are. It would be possible to live in the UK for decades without meeting a single Pakistani– I know, because I’ve lived there for 30 years myself. If you were able to explain your relationships and encounters with these people in more detail (are they friends? family members? clients? colleagues? neighbours?), then I might be more inclined to take you seriously.
You are naive to let your opinion be mediated by the government and the media. You know how this stuff works, yes? A story will only be published or broadcast if it is considered ‘newsworthy’. (As it happens, I am currently staying with a British-Pakistani journalist in Islamabad, so I’ve witnessed this first-hand – not all of the stories he pitches are accepted by his channel, depending on factors as varied as how much airtime they have, how slow news is in the rest of the world, and what sort of image they want to convey of Pakistan.) If, for example, a poll showed most Pakistanis think the UK and the US are pretty much OK really, but are much more interested in paying the bills on time and making sure their kids do their homework, do you think it would make headlines? Of course it wouldn’t.
You are naive to conflate ordinary people with their government, and even more naive if you actually believe that the domestic and foreign policy of a country accurately represents the interests and opinions of its people. Just look at what’s been going on in the UK for the past two years.
You are naive – and rude – to dismiss the hospitality I have received throughout Pakistan (including no-go areas like Balochistan) as“sweet nothings” and “polite platitudes”. I have spent over two months in the country, spoken with hundreds of Pakistanis, and not spent a single night in a hotel or guesthouse. People have shared their food with me, given me presents, introduced me to their families, invited me to their weddings and thrown parties in my honour. (I asked myself time and time again – “would this happen to a Pakistani travelling in the UK?”) My hosts in Quetta were so embarrassingly generous that I ended up leaving the city with more money than I arrived. When I was ill in Chichawatni my host made sure I wanted for nothing, and my previous and future hosts all phoned up every couple of hours to check I was OK. My hosts in Lahore went to considerable trouble and expense to source me a new cycling jersey from London, after my old one was torn by their dog. A man I’d never met happily offered to lend my father a bike when he visited, and when I went round to collect it he fed me lunch, gave me a lift back to my hosts’ house, and invited me to a family wedding taking place that evening. When I am cycling between cities, the highway police regularly stop me to ask if everything is OK, and are unfailingly polite and friendly. Between Jhelum and Rawalpindi, some of them even insisted on buying me a bag of drinks and snacks.
I have had long discussions with a whole range of Pakistanis – Muslim, Christian, atheist, secular, male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor, middle-class, military, civilian, educated and illiterate. Almost all of them show a far more nuanced appreciation of international affairs than their counterparts in the UK. They recognize the flaws and strengths of their country, and are passionate about improving it. They criticize their government. They condemn the Taliban. Many of them have lived, worked or studied abroad, speak several languages, and have a cosmopolitan outlook that makes me feel positively parochial in comparison. They are highly aware of how they are perceived by the rest of the world – much more so that I, as a Briton, am. They accept that I am not a Muslim, and do not attempt to criticize or convert me. Some of them – Christian and Muslim – have told me they are now praying for my health and happiness, and that of my family.
Suggesting that all of this warmth and generosity amounts to “polite platitudes” is just ludicrous. It seems rather unlikely that every single Pakistani I’ve met (and some of them I’ve become very close to) has set out to pull the wool over my eyes, and to deceive me about their true nature. If they saw me as ‘the enemy’, surely at least one or two of them would have expressed hostility? It seems far more likely, sir, that you are mistaken than that I am.
Finally, you are especially naive to think that saying “enemies deserve no compassion” makes you substantially different from the equally deluded Pakistanis who, as you say, celebrated the deaths of innocent people on 9/11.
Emily Chappell has been to several countries around the world and is now crossing the Karakorum Highway into China on her bicycle. Her incredible story can be read and followed on her blog http://thatemilychappell.com/2012/04/in-defence-of-pakistanis/. This piece has been copied from the same for which we are thankful.
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has upgraded its services in Chitral through a challenging team effort in the hilly and snow covered region.
This past winter season saw an unusually high rate of snowfall and severe hail storms due to which PTCL’s Lowari Hill repeater got damaged, affecting is DSL and Wireless services in different areas of Chitral.
Covered in 10 feet of snow, the Lowari Hill top repeater is situated at a height of 10,256 feet and is in accessible by foot in winters. It serves as a nerve centre of PTCL’s telecommunication services to Chitral.
Despite the harsh weather condition in the area where wind speed is around 110 km per hour, PTCL immediately undertook repair work with full diligence to streamline services to this important region.
In the midst of heavy snow and storm, a team comprising eight people was dispatched. It managed to transport heavy-duty equipment to the site with the support of 30-40 locals on foot.
“PTCL upgraded the services by repairing the foundation of the tower, thus restoring DSL as well as wireless services for different areas of Chitral,”said GM Wireless North, Wajeeh Anwer.
In a historic verdict passed by the Montana attorney general last month, the honourable jury has come up with the decision that although the Central Asian Institute, run by the climber-turned-philanthropist Greg Mortenson lacks water-tight book-keeping, no criminal wrong doings whatsoever have been found in the investigations regarding the operations of the organisation.
Mortenson’s CAI shot into limelight last year when Tipped off by Greg's board member Tom Hornbein (Everest Hornbein couloir), in spring 2011 American Jon Krakauer of Everest Into Thin Air fame alleged that Greg exaggerated his story and embezzled money from his foundation.
Krakauer released a digital book teaser on Amazon.com and appeared in a popular investigative TV show calling Mortenson's work "a beautiful story, but a lie." The attacks took place as Mortenson was scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery. Soon after, some individuals filed for investigations.
Mortenson, who normally appears in seminars and publicity campaigns for his book “Three Cups of Tea”, written on his personal account of a failed K-2 Expedition. His stay in the remote mountainous village of Korphe with the locals thereby triggered his urge to build schools in the remote and barren regions of the Karakorum in Pakistan. The book soared to unprecendented stardom, hitting the Best Seller’s List within weeks and the author has been utilising the returns from the book to establish schools in the region.
Greg stayed in the Korphe village for few weeks and while wandering through the houses during his stay, noticed a girl trying to write something on dirt with a maple twig. He was so moved by the sight that he decided to built a girls school in the village, something which was unprecedented in the history of the region.
CAI's mission is reportedly good and its financial situation is strong, said the report. CAI took in $72 million in donations from 2003-2011 and still has more than $23 million in reserves.
Unable to verify all his expenses, a settlement agreement has been reached calling for Mortenson to reimburse CAI $980,000. He has three years to repay the balance because he lacks financial resources to pay it all back at once.