Swat Festival: Kalam-addicts can’t help it despite road troubles

Muhammad Shahid

KALAM VALLEY, Swat: The four-day Swat Summer Festival, held from June 20 to 23, definitely provided an opportunity to tourists to enjoy the cool weather of Kalam valley, but the topsy-turvy road leading to the area exhausts the tourists who have to take sound rest before enjoying such events.

The festival was inaugurated by Governor Engineer Shaukatullah, flanked by army officials including Major-General Sanaullah. A large number of people were present at the inaugural ceremony, including locals and families of the army personnel, who enjoyed various events on the occasion.

The tourists enjoyed the festival, for which the army had made sufficient arrangements. On the first day of the festival, the schoolchildren performed gymnastics and martial arts feats, while the army commandoes performed a free fall jump from a helicopter and received applause from the audience.

A smart contingent of the Pakistan Rangers also performed the parade and received applause from the audience. Major Ijaz of the Rangers told this correspondent that their contingent is unique in several ways. “In other countries, the personnel do this parade without keeping their bayonets on, but our soldiers do it with the bayonets on,” he added.

Other events of the festival included paragliding, Korean Taekwondo martial art, motorcar jump, motorcycle jump, marathon race, horse dance, water sports, archery, kite flying, fishing, rock climbing, etc. Stalls of various handicrafts and food have also been set up.

“I prefer Kalam to other tourist resorts. Here we have much greenery and a cool environment,” stated Wajid, a tourist. He added, however, that the area lacks facilities and should be provided amenities like communications and internet by the authorities.

Another tourist, Nadir Khwaja said the Swat Summer Festival is a nice event, but added that the festival should have local sports and music, instead of preferring the pop music. “This is a nice place, but the problem is that the area has been deprived of even basic facilities. Even the PTCL has not restored its system in the area in the wake of the 2010 floods,” he added

Kalam valley is located around 100 kilometres from Mingora, the Swat district headquarters. Though Kalam valley is considered one of the most beautiful tourist resorts, the area has been the victim of authorities’ indifference.

Asad Khan, who had arrived from Peshawar to enjoy the festival, said deforestation must be stopped in Kalam valley as the trees not only beautify the area but also help avoid more damage in case of floods.

Some tourists said they were afraid of visiting Kalam following recent media reports that floods have damaged areas in Kalam. However, they were amazed to find out that the reports were false.

kalam valley
A file photo of Kalam valley from a hilltop.

A sports journalist Ghani-ur-Rehman said the festival should have local sports, adding: “Local players should be involved and rewarded for participation in such festivals.”

A minister of the previous ruling party in the province had once announced to install chairlift in Kalam. However, a simple road could not be constructed to facilitate tourists, let alone setting up a chairlift in the ‘Switzerland of the Pakistan’.

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