CHITRAL: The exodus of hundreds of families from Chitral to Peshawar and other cities with the start of winter has been continuing for last five years, with the number increasing every year.
Escalating prices of oak wood, frequent power outages, unavailability of natural gas for heating and cooking and scarcity of food items due to closure of Lowari Pass, the only road link to the district with rest of the country, are said to be the reasons behind the migration.
While increase in salaries of government servants, abundant employment opportunities in the district due to launch of mega projects and arrival of a large number of NGOs offering lucrative jobs to locals have improved the financial position of thousands of families that they can afford to travel to other towns to get through winter with some comfort.
Talking about the trend, former project manager of an IUCN project in Chitral, Dr Inayatullah Faizi, said this was a pleasing fact as it reflected the increasing per capita income of the people of Chitral.
He said the well-off families left the district in December to return by March when the schools and colleges were reopened after winter vacations.
He said in the past it was unusual for the families to migrate to warmer cities during the winter season and only a limited number of individuals could do so leaving their families back in Chitral.
Mr Faizi said now it had become a matter of social status for the affluent people to spend their winters in Peshawar, Islamabad and other cities.
Mohammad Faisal, a college teacher, said it had become his routine for last nine years to go to Peshawar with his family of eight to spend winters there.
“The money which we spend on buying oak wood during the three winter months is far more than the rent of a house of four rooms in Peshawar,” he pointed out, saying they got fresh vegetables and other food items in Peshawar, which were not available in Chitral as Lowari Pass usually remained closed owing to snowfall.
Mr Faisal maintained that while in Peshawar his children were able to avail tuition, which he believed, was the main reason for many Chitrali families to migrate to the provincial capital and other cities.
Haji Altaf Gul, a leading businessman in Chitral city, said he had constructed a house in a posh locality of Peshawar where his family stayed during the four months of winter.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2017