GILGIT: The residents of Hisper valley, situated near the Biafo glacier, are deprived of basic facilities of education, health and communication.
The valley comprising about 1,500 people remains cut off from rest of the country most of the year as the road often remains blocked either due to landslides or snow avalanches, forcing locals to travel by foot to approach other areas in emergencies or purchasing commodities.
Darya Ali,a local resident, told Dawn that though the valley was famous for its natural beauty, the residents still yearned for basic amenities of life.
He said foreign tourists visited the area for trekking to Biafo glacier and climbing Pumari and Kunyang peaks.
Consisting of 250 households, the valley can be approached from Nagar Khas by road and from Shigar side by foot.
Mr Ali said the valley was also inhabited of wildlife species like ibex, markhor, chakor and others, adding the 28-kilometre road connecting Hisper with Nagar Khas remained blocked for almost 10 months a year because of frequent landslides and snow avalanches.
Mohammad Ishaq, another resident, said locals voluntarily removed snow and landslides from the road. He said a suspension bridge was also swept away by swollen river.
He said the lone government dispensary in the area had neither medicines nor a doctor, adding patients were often carried on cots to the hospitals miles away from the valley, with many of them often dying before reaching hospitals.
Mr Ishaq said temperatures in the area fell below minus 15 Celsius in winters, making locals unable to move out of their houses.
He said the valley had only one primary school, which had no teacher. “A local has been assigned the job of teaching over 300 children enrolled in the school,” he said.
Basharat Hussain, another resident, said Hisper valley residents were the most neglected people of the country, adding some well-off people had migrated to other areas, the poor had to contend with what they had.
He lamented that no government or non-government organisation had ever taken care of the misery of the valley, saying the locals made both ends meet by growing wheat, vegetables, and cattle breeding.
He said the valley had potential for boosting adventure tourism as it was surrounded by glaciers and snow lakes.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2018