GILGIT: People of Shimshal, also known as the valley of mountaineers, in upper Hunza district, on the northeastern Pak-China border, are worried about their livestock stranded in a valley as Chinese border security personnel are not allowing the shepherds to bring them back before water level swells in the Braldu River.
According to local people, over 800 yaks, a major source of their livelihood, are currently stranded in Shar-i-Laksh (Sharlik in local parlance), a winter meadow.
Due to difficult terrain and non-availability of trek, the area remains cut off from rest of the valley from May to October due to rise in the level of Braldu River.
The Shmishali shepherds have to cross the river to Chinese side at a number of points between Furzin Dasht and Farukh Diyar to get to Shar-i-Laksh.
Shimshal community representatives, Didar Ali, Shambi Khan and others told mediapersons that the area had been historically part of Shimshal before the 1963 Pak-China border agreement.
However, there are certain areas which have not yet been demarcated, they pointed out, saying that for last couple of years Chinese border security forces had been harassing and detaining the shepherds when they crossed the river at several points to the Chinese side during about nine-hour trek from Furzin Dasht to Bladas.
Last year, four people were arrested and taken to Tashkurghan and released at Khunjerab pass after talks between the authorities of the two countries.
Last month, two shepherds were also detained when they were heading to Shar-i-Laksh to bring back their yaks.
One of them suffered a heart attack because of fear for life and was admitted to a hospital at Kashghar and later handed over to Pakistani authorities after remaining under treatment for 17 days.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2018