CHITRAL: Speakers at a national conference on ‘economic development in Chitral’ here on Sunday laid stress on exploitation of the potential of tourism and value addition of the local raw material in the fields of agriculture, mines and minerals, cottage industry for better earnings and expanding the local market, thereby speeding up economic progress of the district.

Organised by Chitral Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) with the financial assistance of World Bank, the conference was attended by the delegates of different chambers of commerce, trade union leaders, academia, economists and activists of development sector, in which papers were read out on the potential of tourism, agriculture and minerals in Chitral. Development perspective of Chitral was yet another theme.

Speaking on the occasion, founding president of CCCI Sartaj Ahmed Khan said the scenario was changing fast in Chitral in the field of economic activities due to its exposure to the outer world in the wake of completion of Lowari tunnel, which brings both opportunities and challenges for the locals. He said it was high time a map of economic activities was shaped.

Conference on economic development organised by Chitral chamber

He said the manpower was the largest and most precious asset of Chitral whose potential should be utilised to the full so they could come forward and exploit the natural resources bestowed upon Chitral in the form of its unique topography, rich and diverse culture, including that of primitive Kalash people, mines and minerals, agriculture and hydropower.

The University of Chitral project director Dr Badshah Munir Bukhari said the conference would help develop a clear vision about economic development of the district. He said development of private sector was important to end dependency on government for creating jobs.

The sector papers presented on tourism by Nizam Ali and Shahzada Maqsoodul Mulk suggested that the dilapidated road infrastructure should be improved, and tourist resorts should be developed, showcasing the diverse culture and scenic beauty of Chitral.

In agriculture, radical measures were recommended to bring thousands of acres of barren land under cultivation by mechanisation of farming, development of fruits and vegetables and putting a strong system of value addition of agro-products.

Israr Saboor and Dr Bilqees said Chitral valley was more than 400 kilometers long, thereby providing it with a variety of climatic conditions; the alpine and sub-alpine zones had large variety of herbs and non-timber products.

The other speakers said mineral potential of Chitral remained to be exploited because of flawed and defective policies of the governments.

Haji Ghulam Ali, former president of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries, stressed on the need of developing entrepreneurial skills among the local youths.

Dr Yasir Arafat presented the development prospective of Chitral and said many indicators of local economy were showing upward trends thereby promising a uniform and steep progress in future if given proper input.

The conference was also addressed by Commandant of Chitral Task Force, Colonel Moeenuddin, district nazim Maghfirat Shah, MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, minority MPA Wazir Zada, Lower Chitral deputy commissioner Naveed Ahmed, DPO Waseem Riaz and others.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2019