Festival featuring literary, cultural & wildlife events begins in Qambar-Shahdadkot
LARKANA: ‘Colours of Qambar-Shahdadkot’ — a three-day festival featuring literary sittings, a conference on wildlife sanctuaries in Qambar-Shahdadkot district and cultural events as well as mystic and folk music shows — got under way at the Langh lake, a wildlife sanctuary situated 19 kilometres from here, on Friday.
Larkana Commissioner Mohammed Abbas Baloch inaugurated the festival which drew large crowds on the first day.
MPAs Sardar Khan Chandio, Khursheed Junejo and Ghulam Mujtaba Isran and Commissioner Baloch appreciated efforts by Deputy Commissioner Shahmir Khan Bhutto in organising the event, and said he not only conceived the idea of holding such a festival but also proved himself right that thousands of people were eager to see this happen in this part of the province.
The huge participation reflected people’s desire to reintroduce the wildlife treasure present in Qambar-Shahdadkot district, the lawmakers noted, and held out the assurance that maximum possible support would be extended to organisers of such cultural events in future. They were of the concerted opinion that the festival be made an annual feature.
Speaking to Dawn at the venue of the inauguration ceremony, DC Bhutto said that the Langh and Drigh lakes in this district had developed from an abandoned course of River Indus and had been declared wildlife sanctuaries in 1977 and 1982, respectively, under the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance, 1972.
Local wildlife officials and residents of the district say that 40,000 to 50,000 migratory birds belonging to as many as 40 different species visit the lakes during winters. The lakes suffered extensive degradation due to expanding human settlement all around them, besides the areas next to the lakes.
The officials stated that strict ban was in force on the hunting or poaching of migratory birds as well as tree felling at the lake. “The wildlife department has initiated a project to rehabilitate the habitat,” they added.
Observing that little from the allocated funds could be spent on these sanctuaries in the past, DC Bhutto said this time the funds would not be let to lapse. “It has been decided to utilise the funds on the promotion of healthy activities relating to wildlife conservation, cultural and literary events etc in the district,” he said.
In reply to a question, the DC said that Rs20 million was being spent on this three-day festival for which the wildlife sanctuary [Langh lake] had been chosen.
“A host of features of the three-day festival encompass Sindh’s literature, culture, traditions, handicrafts, sports etc besides covering issues of education, health, agriculture and other sectors in debate sessions,” he said, adding that the district administration was encouraged by the enthusiasm and keen interest of the large number of participants.
Among a host of stalls set near the lake’s rest house, one had some rare photographs dispayed prominently. It was a selection from the collection of Dr Ghulam Shaheed Isran which attracted many of the visitors. The photographs related to visits to the lake by former Pakistan president (1958-1969) Ayub Khan, former prime minister (1973-1977) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former Shah-i-Iran (1941-1979) Reza Shah Pahlavi and many other dignitaries.
“It speaks of the importance of this wildlife sanctuary,” the man sitting at the stall said. Eye-catching handicrafts put on display at a stall set up by the Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) was another attraction for most visitors who took keen interest in the indigenous embroidery, delicate needle work and Sindh’s exclusive rillies.
The health, agriculture and other departments have also set up their stalls to highlight government’s achievements in the sectors and efforts to bring about further improvement.
Somewhat unexpected and heartening was crowds of youths, both male and female, from urban and rural areas at the book stalls set up by the Dr Muhabbat Buriro Academy and Sindhica organisation. Kashif Shaikh, the salesman at the Sindhica stall said he did not expect such a big number of people to visit the stall. “Many titles I had brought here went out of stock although I was invited to hold a stall at the festival at the eleventh hour,” he said.
Stringent security was noticed at and around food stalls as the venue is located on the Larkana-Dadu section of the Indus Highway, just two kilometres away.
At a segment, wildlife conservator Taj Muhammed Shaikh and Ghanwar Khan Isran read out their papers covering the topics of lakes, birds and wildlife in echo system and history of Langh lake. Other segments on the first day included a literary conference, where poets presented their compositions.
Sughars [folk poets] also presented their works covering a wide range of subjects holding the audience spellbound and receiving great applause.
“The events on next two days have been restricted to Qambar town,” managers of the festival said, adding that Pakistan Peoples Party’s women wing leader MNA Faryal Talpur was expected to be the guest of honour at the closing ceremony. They said the festival would come to an end with a ‘musical night’.