Introduction to CHITRAL
Surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in the world, Chitral is Pakistan’s northern-most district, situated just across the border from Afghanistan. The district is strategically located in such a way that its neighbors include Afghanistan, Central Asian states, Northern Areas of Gilgit and China. The valley is bounded on the north-west by the Hindukush Mountains, on the north-east by the Karakoram and on the south by the Hindu Raj range. With more than 40 peaks over 6,100 m packed in an area of 14850 Sq Km, altitudes in the rugged terrains range from 1,094 m at Arandu to 7,726 m at Tirichmir. Land access beyond the valley is restricted to a few passes, all situated above 3,500 m. The district is 322 km away from the provincial capital, Peshawar.
The Chitral valley and some 30 subsidiary valleys are drained by the Chitral river, which is known by different names along various stretches, and its tributaries. Originating the Chiantar glacier Yarkhun, the river enters Afghanistan at Arandu. Chitral’s main valley is 354 km long and varies in width from 4800 m at some locations to barely 180 m, while the side valleys are even narrower.
The tall and huge mountains of the district stop the way of monsoon rain; therefore the whole area is very dry and prone to drought. Summer and autumn mostly remain dry and not favorable for growing vegetation. Chitral hardly receives 10 – 25 mm of rain per month. Maximum and minimum temperatures fall between 37 and 21 respectively in Chitral. In winters, the weather remains very harsh and cold resulting in road blockage and loss to assets and even lives.
- Location: 35°53’15″N 71°48’01″E
- Area: 14850 sq. km.
- 99 Sq Km is suitable for Agriculture purpose
- 32 Valleys
- 30 Principal Passes on Hindu Kush mountain ranges
- Remains cut of from the rest of the country for six-months.
- It is bounded on the north-west by Afghanistan, on the south by Upper Dir and Kunar province of Afghanistan and on the east by Ghizer district of northern areas and Swat.
The district is a mountainous tract. The mountains are bare except for the lower part of the district and it is only in small patches at the bottom of the deep and narrow valleys that any cultivation is to be found. Altitude of the mountain ranges from 3500 feet in the extreme south in Arandu to 25263 feet at Terich Mir. The district is made up of several valleys most important and the largest of which is the Chitral-Mastuj valley stretching from Broghil in the Pamirs to Arandu on the southern tip on Afghan border. The others are Laspur, Mulkhow, Torkhow, Terich, Owir, Lotkoh, Shishi and Ashuret valleys.
The district contains numerous peaks over 20,000 feet, Terichmir being the highest with an altitude of 25263 feet. The Chitral-Mastuj valley which is approximately 320 kilometers long is surrounded to the west bordering Afghanistan by Hindu Kush range, to the east the Hindu Raj range and in between the Shandur-Karakuram range.
The climate of Chitral is distinctly continental. It is hot in summer, ranging from very hot in low lands to warm in the uplands and cool in the higher elevations. Spring weather is unpredictable with frequent rain and snowfall. Autumn has mild and pleasant temperature. The extreme max temp recorded in Chitral in July is 36o C. The summer at high altitude such as Broghil, Sorlaspur, Gobore, Begusht, Kiyar, Arkari, Owir, Rech etc, are cold and windy with extremely cold nights.
In winter most of the valleys are in the grip of northerly wind and blizzards. The extreme minimum temperature recorded at Chitral stations have been –0.9o C for the months of January. Chitral district receives rainfall between 250 to 1000 mm. The winter and spring precipitation is very important because it firstly, provides moisture to rabbi growing season and secondly, the whole year flow of streams and Rivers depend on the snow fall in these seasons.
The summer and autumn form only about 32 percent of the total annual rainfall. It is received from the thunderstorms, which often give torrential rains and cause great damages due to floods. Dust storm also occurs during July and August, particularly in the afternoons. They rarely bring showers. Nearly all the moisture contents of the monsoons become almost exhausted over the plains of India and Pakistan before reaching these remote valleys. Chitral, therefore, benefits little from them. Detail data on temperature and precipitation recorded at Chitral is given below:
Mean Temperature (oC)
Month Max Min Precip(mm) R. Humidity (%)
- January 8.82 -0.67 36.80 51.09
- February 10.06 0.64 63.36 51.54
- March 15.03 4.25 106.69 51.21
- April 21.92 8.40 88.51 47.11
- May 27.83 12.48 44.58 35.75
- June 34.42 17.89 5.49 23.07
- July 36.00 20.16 6.19 34.05
- August 34.69 18.82 6.51 46.27
- September 31.18 13.29 7.64 48.30
- October 25.00 7.49 16.10 47.35
- November 18.48 2.93 9.51 42.29
- December 11.33 0.00 41.35 50.23
- Annual 22.90 8.80 442.32 44.08
Source: Meteorology Department Chitral, KPK, Pakistan.
The area that is now Chitral has been inhabited for at least 4,000 years. Its people belong to over a dozen different cultures and speak more than 14 languages. As a result of its unique location and historical links with Central Asia and Europe, the material and non-material culture of Chitral bears traces of Greek, Iranian, Mongolian, Tatar and Turk influences.
According to 1998 census, Chitral’s population stands at 318,689 (162,082 males and 156,607 females). These statistics show that the population has increased at an average rate of 2.5% annually since the 1981 census, as opposed to 3.3% growth during the period 1972 – 81. About 80% is living in remote and risky areas and only 20% is settled in urban area of Chitral and Drosh town. The population has now reached to 400,000 settled in 40,000 households scattered over various valleys stretching over several hundreds km from Arandu in south to Boroghol in North.
Traditionally Chitral is agrarian based society where people grow wheat / maize for their livelihoods. Most of the people live on subsistence farming while the land holding is increasingly becoming smaller. According to an estimate, almost 80% of the population holds small pieces of land which hardly suffices their needs of growing crops and fruits. Fruit is produced in most parts of the district and consumed locally. Approximately half of the cultivable land falls in the single cropping zone located in Lotkoh, Mastuj, Mulkhow, and Torkhow tehsils.
The average per capita income estimated in 1997 was PKR 9,543 per annum. It might have increased over the last decade; however, around 40% population is feared to be living below the poverty line.
A noticeable number chunk of people particularly from upper parts of Chitral go to the different cities in down country in order to seek seasonal jobs in winter and come back in spring to resume agricultural activities in spring. Another source of income is Chitral Scouts, which accommodates over five thousand people. Besides, different departments of Government, non-governmental Organizations and private sector contribute significantly to the economy of the area. Another source of income is the remittances contributed by small number of people working in foreign countries, particularly in Middle East. Individuals working abroad also contribute to the economy through remittances which is very small though.
Despite the poor economic condition, Chitral is rich in natural resources including minerals, medicinal plants and suitable areas for cash crops like, potato and fruits. Biodiversity is a great potential which can also be deplored to make it a contributing sector to the economy of Chitral in the long run. Promotion of tourism can also make substantial contribution to the overall development of the area.
As far as infrastructure is concerned, Chitral region is accessible from Dir via Lowary Pass, from Gilgit via Shandur Pass and from Muhmand agency via Nawa Pass.
Main roads leading to sub-tehsils were constructed by the government in different spans of time. The road from Chitral to Booni (75 km) was matelled in 1990s with the support of Chitral Areas Development Project (CADP) a semi-government organization. The link roads connecting valleys and villages were built with the support of local government and NGOs in partnership with communities.
According to a survey (District Government Chitral and IUCN 2001), roads stretching over 680 km have been built so far, out of which 177 km is matelled. In addition, several bridges were constructed in different valleys and villages with support of local government and NGOs.
Telecommunication services are rapidly growing in Chitral. Within a short span of time, PTCL expanded communication network all over Chitral. Today there are 13 exchange units providing communication facilities to the people in remote parts of Chitral. Wireless loop system introduced by PTCL has brought tremendous change revolution in exchange of information. Besides that a number of mobile network companies have galloped to most of the areas in a bid to provide maximum coverage and of course to have more business.
Widening the availability of education and improving standards are keys to upgrading human capital. Currently, the standard of basic education on offer is unsatisfactory, while flaws exist in the focus of higher education. Growth that has taken place in the education sector to date does not adequately reflect the needs of the people. In addition to factors specific to each locality, the quality of education suffers because schools are ill-equipped, teachers are not motivated and supervision is ineffective.
Low enrolment figures, meanwhile, may be attributed in part to a lack of awareness about the importance of education but this is not the only reason why few individuals pursue academics in the case of young men, poverty forces even those already enrolled in school or college to drop out and instead seek employment. Without the benefit of vocational skills or technical training, men are forced to take up low-paying unskilled work which only serves to trap them deeper in a cycle of poverty. Among women, the most serious constraint to expanding education is the insufficient number of middle and high schools for girls.
The following measures to improve both the quality and reach of education:
- Adapting a two-track approach to focus on mass education as well as professional training;
- Seeking policy, administrative, moral and material support from stakeholders to improve educational institutions;
- Establishing a quality facility for technical education with a curriculum geared towards employment opportunities available in Pakistan and abroad;
- Obtaining policy support at the national level to enable students from Chitral to gain admission to professional institutions elsewhere in the country;
- Instituting a student scholarship program;
Lack of clean drinking water is yet another issue faced by District Chitral. Before the tap water system was introduced, people used to drink water from springs, streams, rivers, lakes, and glaciers. There was a time when, snow was melt at homes to get water in the winter. However, with the passage of time, things have improved as a result of interventions made by government departments and NGOs.
Apparently, most of the population has access to tap water however, the ground realities are different. In many cases, people who had availed water schemes have reverted back to traditional way of using water because those projects could not sustain. Communities put the responsibility of maintenances on the implementing agencies, while implementing agencies consider it communities’ responsibility.
The local government in Chitral with technical and financial support of German Government started a large project of drinking water for the population of Chitral town a decade ago. Water was brought from a spring, 20 km away from the town which is home to 30,000 people. Later on, about 10,000 beneficiaries were added.
The local government and other NGOs have also contributed to make drinking water accessible for communities. Conventionally, fetching water has been the responsibility of women and as a result of all interventions mentioned above, the burden on women has lessened to a greater extent which is a positive impact on their lives. Despite all these improvements, there remains a larger portion of population, which has no access to drinking water let alone safe drinking water.
Government of Pakistan is the main service provider in health sector in Chitral. In the district there is a shortage of doctors and other staff in THQs and BHUs hospitals. Looking at the available health facilities, the emergency situation in time of disaster appears to be very difficult to be managed. According to the statistics one doctor is available for 8,510 individuals and one Nurse for 26,666 individuals. This is very alarming situation even in normal times let alone the emergency situation. There is acute need of strengthening health sector by providing required staff to address the needs of communities living in these mountainous regions.
S/No DHQs THQs RHCs BHUs CDs
01 01 03 06 20 28
Tehsil, Union Councils of the District:
There are six sub Tehsils, two sub divisions (Chitral & Mastuj) and twenty four Union Councils in Chitral District. Which are as under;
- District Chitral
- Sub Division
- Tehsil Chitral
- Tehsil Drosh
- Tehsil Garum Chashma
- Tehsil Mulkhow
- Tehsil Torkhow
- Tehsil Mustuj
- Tehsil Arandu
The 24 Union Councils are;
- 01. UC Kuh
- 02. UC Danin
- 03. UC Chitral-I
- 04. UC Chitral-II
- 05. UC Ayun
- 06. UC Broze
- 07. UC Shishikoh
- 08. UC Drosh-I
- 09. UC Drosh-II
- 10. UC Ashurate
- 11. UC Arandu
- 12. UC Shoghore
- 13. UC Karimabad
- 14. UC Lotkuh
- 15. UC Owir
- 16. UC Kosht
- 17. UC Mulkhow
- 18. UC Terich
- 19. UC Khot
- 20. UC Shagram
- 21. UC Yarkhun
- 22. UC Mustuj
- 23. UC Laspur
- 24. UC Charun