Noose tightened around terrorists, says army chief

579ed525ef74c.jpgCHITRAL: Youth can play a key role in the fight against terrorism and in efforts to bring prosperity to the country, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif said in a speech at the closing ceremony of the Shandur festival on Sunday.

“The noose has been tightened around terrorists and their facilitators and the day is not far off when the country will become a haven of peace, prosperity and progress,” he said.

Gen Raheel gave away trophies, awards and prizes to the wining and runner-up teams and players.

“The Shandur festival not only attracts domestic and foreign tourists but also gives a loud message to terrorists that we cannot be intimidated into shunning our traditions,” the army chief said.

He reaffirmed the military’s determination to eliminate terrorism and expressed confidence that the country would soon become an icon of peace and progress.

He assured the people of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan that the army would spare no effort in relief and rehabilitation work in the event of natural disasters.

Gen Raheel said since programmes like Shandur festival attracted tourists, they were a boon to the region’s economy.

CHITRAL LIFT TROPHY: In the final played between teams from Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Chitral won 11 goals to five.

By the first half, GB were leading 5-3. But in the second half Chitral turned the tables by scoring eight goals and defending stoutly to thwart all attempts at their goal.

Shahzada Sikandar, the Chitral captain, was the leading scorer with three goals. Nasrullah, from the same side, was adjudged man of the match.

During the interval, supporters of the two teams danced to a tune featuring a flute and trumpets.

A contingent of the Army’s Special Services Group exhibited a free fall jump from a height of 18,000 feet.

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafizur Rahman presented a cloak to the army chief. Colonel Nizamuddin, Commandant of the Chitral Scouts, presented him a souvenir.

Among others present on the occasion were Chitral Nazim Maghfirat Shah, Shahzada Iftikharuddin, a member of the National Assembly, and several members of local bodies.

A large number of polo fans from Chitral and GB thronged the venue and the vast spaces around the ground were packed to capacity.

Hashim Khan, a retired polo player, said although he had been visiting the Shandur festival since its inception in 1982, he could not recall a better turnout than at Sunday’s event.

He attributed the overwhelming response to an improvement in the road network during the Musharraf era and a lapse of four years since the last event.

Our Gilgit correspondent adds: Besides polo matches, contests were held in paragliding, jumping, horse dance and tug of war.

Programmes featuring local music and folk dance were the hallmark of the three-day festival.

The Shandur festival is held every year from July 7 to 9 on the world’s highest polo ground — 12,000 feet above sea level.

This year the festival was not held on the usual dates because of Eidul Fitr.