Royal couple mingle with Kalasha, see melting glacier

October 17, 2019

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THE Duchess of Cambridge smiles as a Kalasha woman adjusts a Chitrali feathered cap on her head while the Duke prepares to wear his cap.—Dawn
THE Duchess of Cambridge smiles as a Kalasha woman adjusts a Chitrali feathered cap on her head while the Duke prepares to wear his cap.—Dawn

CHITRAL: Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate, on the third day of their five-day trip to Pakistan, paid a visit to Chitral district on Wednesday to observe the effect of climate change in the region.

During the visit, the couple flew to the Baroghil Valley National Park in the extreme north and the Bumburate Valley in the south where they mingled with the Kalasha community.

In the Baroghil Valley, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge observed a number of glaciers and the process of disintegration and the formation of glacial lakes from a close range while they were briefed about the climate change situation by a geologist.

They were told that climate change had triggered the process of recession of glaciers that led to disasters in the form of floods. The royal couple was also apprised of the ecological importance of the valley that houses a large number of glaciers and about the vulnerability of the people living in the marginalised valley.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pay a visit to Chitral district

The couple met environmental experts to discuss the issue before going on to spend their afternoon with the Kalasha community.

Upon reaching the Bumburate Valley, the couple was given a red-carpet reception by the Kalasha community — led by MPA Wazir Zada — from where they drove to a number of sites devastated by flash floods in 2015. The royal couple was told about the causes of the natural disasters in the region.

It was the apex moment of joy for the Kalasha community when they saw the Duchess and the Duke try on feathered Chitrali caps and the splendid Kalasha shawls.

The royal couple mingled with the locals and talked about their rituals. They showed great interest in a Kalasha music concert and dance.

Mr Wazir Zada told Dawn that during the interaction of the royal couple, the Kalasha people expressed different aspects of their primitive culture and also highlighted their issues which pose a threat to their survival.

He said the royal couple was also briefed about some of the interventions of the Aga Khan Development Network aimed at poverty reduction and raising the standard of life of Kalash apart from making the region resilient to natural disasters.

The royal couple also expressed interest in the preservation of wildlife species, including Kashmir Markhor, whose population is on a steep rise due to the collective efforts of the communities.

On the occasion, minority MPA Zada told the couple that the Kalash community was highly indebted to the Muslims living in the valley for ensuring survival of 2000-year-old civilisation. He said that the Muslim community was friendly towards the Kalash people and safeguarded them against any external aggression.

Later on, the couple also visited a number of typical houses of Kalash in Kandesar and observed the community’s unique and prehistoric culture.

Sources said that due to the shortage of time, the royal couple could not visit the old fort of Chitral although that was included in the itinerary of their visit. The couple left for the federal capital before dusk.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2019