PESHAWAR - Chitral has once again clinched the Shandur Polo Festival trophy after defeating Gilgit-Baltistan by 10-5 in a one-sided final played at the world’s highest polo ground in Shandur valley.

Inspector General of Frontier Corps Major General Waseem Ashraf was the chief guest on this occasion. Deputy Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Jaffar Ullah, Minister for Tourism Gilgit-Baltistan Fida Ullah, ambassadors of various countries in Pakistan, a good number of local and foreign tourists, polo players and officials of Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) were also present there and witnessed the final. There were tight security measures taken in and around the polo festival by Chitral scouts and police for the smooth conduct of the festival for participating teams from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.

Right from the word go, Chitral team dominated the proceedings and scored one after another and in the end, they were the ultimate winners. After taking the lead, Chitral lost an edge over the final, giving due chance to Gilgit-Baltistan team to make a comeback but they then fought back well and first reduced the margin and then fired fabulous five goals in the last session of the final to win it 10-5.

The festival is an annual feature of the TCKP calendar, which costs Rs 40 million wherein local teams from Chitral and Gigit-Baltistan took part and like every year, Chitral once again won the battle. Besides the finalists, other teams were Laspur and Ghizer.

The polo game has now got international fame and every year thousands of visitors and tourists from across the world come to Chitral to watch the grand gala. The local cultures including music and Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan’s performing art was also displayed. A tent village had been set up for providing boarding and lodging facilities to both foreign and domestic tourists.

This time, the polo ground had been renovated while there were a number of other programmes including work of local artisans and cultural nights. The district government of Chitral, police, army and other stakeholders had assured full cooperation in making the event a success.

The tourists also enjoyed cultural and music evenings while fireworks was arranged at night. Paragliding and traditional dances of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan were also performed. The paratroopers of SSG also have a free fall from the 10,000 feet besides demonstration of paragliding which enthralled the sitting spectators.

Chitral is the most peaceful region and it attracts thousands of domestic and international tourists annually, especially during Shandur and Kalash festivals. The arrival and participation of a number of foreign and domestic tourists has shown the world that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the most beautiful and peaceful land of the world and anyone can see its beauty without acquiring non-objection certificate (NOC).

In the end, chief guest Major General Waseem Ashraf gave away trophies and cash prizes to the winners and runners-up. The winners were awarded Rs 100,000 while runners-up got Rs 90,000.