CHITRAL: Since July 16, torrential rains and flash floods have wrecked havoc in the scenic valley of Chitral, which is located in the extreme northeast of Pakistan along the Afghan border.
Area-wise, Chitral is the biggest district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Spread over 14,850 square kilometers, Chitral is inhabited by around o.5 million people who speak a distinct language called Khowar. Though located in an area marred by militant attacks, Chitral has remained peaceful throughout the year.
Before the creation of Pakistan after the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Chitral was a princely state with its own administrative and judicial system. Different dynasties ruled Chitral the last one being the Katur family. After partition, Chitral was one of the princely states which announced to merge into the new country. In 1969, the state was formally abolished and Chitral made a settled district of Malakand division in the NWFP province which is now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Floods affect everyone
According to ChitralToday correspondents, the current floods have affected each and every family in terms of destruction to properties and blockades of roads.
The district of Chitral has about 35 sub-valleys where people live in over 600 scattered, small villages and hamlets. The main source of livelihood is subsistence agriculture.
There is a single and narrow track that connects the Chitral town in the south to areas in upper parts of the valley. From Chitral this road moves to the Broghil valley in the north along the main river that is called Yarkhun, Mastuj and Chitral river as it flows down to Arandu in the southwest before entering Afghanistan and reenter Pakistan with the name of Kabul river near Peshawar. The road from Chitral branches off to the sub-valleys of Chitral such as Garam Chashma, Mulkhow Torkhow, Laspur and Yarkhun etc. the floods cut off the road in the south of Kuragh village which is located a few kilometers north of Reshun which is the first border village of upper Chitral.
Most affected areas: Scores of villages in the Mulkhow sub-valley of upper Chitral have been washed away with loss of human lives number over 30. Eight members of a single family lost their lives in the Uthol village of the area. As the only bridge connecting these areas on the right bank of the main river is also damaged, communication links to the affected people is broken. This area is located in upper Chitral which was already cut off due to the road blockade at Kuragh.
Reshun village has also been devastated by the floods while a small village called Green Lasht is buried under debris.
The Kalash valleys in the southwest of Chitral are also cut off with over 25,000 people stranded in far-off villages in three small valleys. They are also in an urgent need of help and rehabilitation.
The other hard-hit area is the Garam Chashma valley where many villages have been swept away along with the only road from the Chitral town. As a result, the flood-hit area is running out of essential food items with the displaced people needing relief goods such as tents, blankets, food items and medicines.
Many villages near the main Chitral town such as Broz Drosh and Ayun have also been affected by the flash floods and the residents are still living in fear of more deluges.
There are also reports of floods from the Laspur valley near the Shandur pass where public and private properties were damaged.
Due to blockades of roads, the whole upper Chitral has run out of daily-use items. The area is also facing fuel shortage and as a result mobility of people, especially relief assistance, is not reaching the affected people.
A large number of people had reached Chitral to spend summer vacations and celebrate the religious festival of Eid after Ramazan, the fasting month, when the floods struck and cut off the roads to a number of sub-valleys. Now they are stranded in their villages and need urgent evacuations.