Sustainability of Communities in Remote Environments: Hindu Kush, Pakistan

Multidisciplinary International Conference 2004

A recent multidisciplinary conference on 'Sustainability of Communities in Remote Environments: Hindu Kush, Pakistan' in September 2004 brought together international experts and local mountain people to highlight problems faced by remote communities in mountain environments. It was funded by private donations and by the following organisations:

American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan
Directorate of Archaeology and Museums NWFP, Pakistan
Glasgow Natural History Society, Glasgow, UK
Royal Geographical Society of London, UK
Linnean Society of London, UK
University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK
University of Peshawar, Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan

Photograph Copyright Azra and Peter Meadows.
Rural Community Agriculture in lower Chitral, Hindu Kush.
Cultivated fields and natural woodland left hand foreground. Arid mountains and the Chitral River in the right hand middle distance. Photograph 1997.

Conference Organisers

Azra Meadows
Peter Meadows
Raymond Stoddart
Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences,
University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Ihsan Ali
Director of Archaeology and Museums, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Currently (2009) Vice Chancellor of Hazara University, Manshera, NWFP, Pakistan

Nadeem Akbar
Director, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan

The three-day international conference was held at Baragali, the summer campus of Peshawar University in the Himalayan foothills of Pakistan at 7600 feet, and received considerable national media coverage.

Delegates from Denmark, Italy, Pakistan, the UK and USA, together with local schoolteachers, focussed on the sustainability of remote communities including the importance of health and education. They also considered the sustainability of plant and animal communities, of biodiversity, and of the geological and archaeological record, including the role of rivers and natural hazards in landscape modification. This included results of the 1999 Royal Geographical Society International Hindu Kush Expedition to Chitral led by Peter Meadows and Azra Meadows of the University of Glasgow and by Professor Israr-ud-Din of the University of Peshawar.  This expedition was also largely funded by the Royal Geographical Society, London UK, the University of Glasgow, the Glasgow Natural History Society and the Linnean Society of London.

Many communities and institutions in Pakistan, the United Kingdom and elsewhere have benefited greatly from the expedition and by being represented at the conference.  These include the people of Chitral and other parts of NWFP, and the following institutions, organisations and places:

American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan
British Council, Pakistan
California State University, USA
Directorate of Archaeology and Museums NWFP, Pakistan
Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Chitral, NWFP, Pakistan
Glasgow Natural History Society, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Global Climate Impact Studies Centre, Islamabad, Pakistan
Government College, Charsadda, NWFP, Pakistan
Government College, Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan
Government of North West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Herlufsholm Skole, Denmark
Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan
Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente, Rome, Italy
Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan
JBA Consulting Engineers and Scientists, UK
Linnean Society of London, UK
Lok Virsa, Islamabad, Pakistan
Mastuj Model School, Mastuj, Chitral, NWFP, Pakistan
Pakistan Science Foundation, Islamabad, Pakistan
Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Ribe, Denmark
Royal Geographical Society of London, UK
Rumbur Valley, Chitral, NWFP, Pakistan
Sarhad Conservation Network, Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan
Starslands Grammar School, Booni, Chitral, NWFP, Pakistan
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
University of Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan
University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

The conference encouraged the development of international educational links between institutions in developed and developing countries that are being beneficial to both sides. These links are also providing development potential for isolated rural communities in terms of education, health, clean water, and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Initially, it is hoped that the conference will promote tripartite links between the University of Glasgow and other institutions in the UK, institutions in Pakistan such as Hazara University, and institutions in Denmark such as Herlufsholm Skole, to study the environment, people and archaeology of the Hindu Kush and the Karakorum. This is already leading to the development of programmes for the sustainable use of natural resources of the area, and the preservation of the area's biodiversity, culture and natural heritage. It also means that a longer-term and wider understanding develops of the way in which isolated rural communities interact with their environment on a global scale. This will be vital as climate change alters the global ecosystem over the coming decades.

Department of Archaeology and Museums NWFP Pakistan, Glasgow Natural History Society, University of Glasgow
Baragali Summer Camp, University of Peshawar. 6th to 8th September 2004.

Inaugural Session   10.30 to 12.45 hrs
Chief Guest:         Mr Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi, Chief Secretary, Government of NWFP.
Host:                     Mr Amjad Nazir, Secretary Culture, Sports, Tourism, Archaeology, Youth Affairs, Government of  NWFP.
10.30                     Guests to be seated.
10.40                     Arrival of the Chief Guest.
10.45                     Recitation from the Holy Quran.
10.50 to 11.00       Mr Amjad Nazir, Secretary Archaeology, Government of NWFP.  Welcome Address.
11.00 to 11.15       Peter Meadows, University of Glasgow, UK.
Introduction to the Conference.
11.15 to 11.40       Ihsan Ali, Director Archaeology and Museums,  Government of NWFP.
Archaeological Heritage of NWFP and Future Prospects.
11.40 to 12.00       Brian Hemphill, California State University, USA.
Bioanthropology of the Hindu Kush borderlands: A dental morphology.
12.00 to 12.20       Nasser Ali Khan, Director, Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar.
Globalisation of mountain regions: evolving policy initiatives.
12.20 to 12.30       Address by the Chief Guest Mr Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi, Chief Secretary, NWFP.
12.30 to 12.45       Vote of Thanks by Director Archaeology, NWFP.
12.45 to 14.00       Lunch and Prayers.

Afternoon Session I     14.00 to 15.30 hrs
Chairperson.          Professor Brian Hemphill  
Co-Chairperson.    Dr Anna Filigenzi
 14.00 to 14.20       Luca Colliva, Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan.
The Aspidal Temple of Taxila: Old interpretations and new evidences. 
14.20 to 14.40        Professor Israr ud Din. University of Peshawar.
 Population growth, settlement and pressure on forests in Chitral.
14.40 to 15.00        Adam Nayyar, Lok Virsa, Islamabad.
 Spatial and temporal perceptions among the Shina speakers of Pakistan.
15.00 to 15.20        Kenny Macrae, Herlufsholm Skole, Denmark.
Some thoughts on education in the Hindu Kush.
15.20 to 15.30        Question / Answer session.

Afternoon Session II.   15.30 to 17.00 hrs.
Chairperson.           Dr Nasser Ali Khan    
Co-Chairperson.     Mr Kenny Macrae
15.30 to 15.50         Syed Ayaz Ali Shah. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, NWFP.
Darag dialect: a Kalkot Kohistani and its relations with the dialects of the neighbouring valleys.
15.50 to 16.10         Muzzafar Hussain. Starslands Grammar School, Booni, Chitral.
Women’s status in Chitral.
.16.10 to 16.30        Anna Filigenzi, IsIAO, Rome, Italy.
 New archaeological researches in Swat Valley.
16.30 to 16.50         Randall Law*, University of Wisconsin, USA.
 Harappan contexts with NWFP and Jammu and Kashmir: new evidence.
16.50 to 17.00         Question / Answer session
17.00                        Tea/Refreshment

Morning Session I.    09.00 to 10.30 hrs.
Chairperson.           Dr Ruth Young     
Co-chairperson.      Dr Adam Nayyar
09.00 to 09.20         Raymond Stoddart, University of Glasgow, UK.
Soil transmitted helminths in the Hindu Kush, and their significance in the health of primary school children.
09.20 to 09.40         Muhammad Zahir. Government College, Peshawar.
Excavations at Parwak, Chitral.
09.40 to 10.00         Razia Sultana. Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad.
Pushtoons migration and settlement in the Peshawar Valley under the shadow of the Hindu Kush.
10.00 to 10.20         Saifullah Jan, Rumbur Valley, Chitral. Kalasha Culture.
10.20 to 10.30         Question / Answer session
Tea Break 10.30 to 11.00 hrs.

Morning Session II.   11.00 to 12.30 hrs.
Chairperson.           Dr Syed R. Baqri  
Co-chairperson.      Mr Raymond Stoddart
11.00 to 11.20         S. Sajidin Hussain, M. Sheikh, M. Mudasser, and M. Nadeem.
Global Climate Impact Studies Centre, Islamabad.
Climate change variability in mountain areas of the Hindu Kush and its implication for water and agriculture resources.
11.20 to 11.40         Ruth Young, University of Leicester, UK.
Archaeological discoveries in the Chitral Valley.
11.40 to 12.00         Syed Harir Shah, Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Chitral, Pakistan.
Community based disaster and risk management (CBDRM).
12.00 to 12.20         Luca Olivieri*, IsIAO, Rome, Italy.
Preliminary results of the 2004 survey campaign in the Kandak Valley and adjacent areas.
12.20 to 12.30        Question / Answer session
Lunch and Prayers.   12.45 to 14.00 hrs.

Afternoon Session I.    14.00 to 15.30 hrs.
Chairperson             Syed Harir Shah.     
Co-chairperson        Mr Luca Colliva
14.00 to 14.20          Peter Meadows, University of Glasgow, UK.
Mountain climates, weather and the historical record.
14.20 to 14.40          Aziz Ahmed, Mastuj Model School, Mastuj, Chitral.
Education in a Chitrali context.
14.40 to 15.00          Lutf-ur-Rehman, Government College, Charsadda, NWFP.
Excavations at the stone-age site at Angu Gatkai, Bajaur, Pakistan.
15.00 to 15.20          David Archer*, JBA Consulting Engineers and Scientists, UK.
Climate, climate change and hydrology of the Upper Indus Basin.
15.20 to 15.30         Question / Answer session

Afternoon Session II.    15.40 to 17.00 hrs.
Chairperson.             Professor Israr ud Din.     
Co-chairperson         Dr Azra Meadows
15.40 to 16.00           Asghari Bano, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.
Community development in Skardu and Hunza.
16.00 to 16.20           Adil Zareef, Sarhad Conservation Network, Peshawar, NWFP.
Role of civil society in protection and preservation natural and cultural heritage.
16.20 to 16.30           Question / Answer session
16.30 to 17.00           Birgitte Sperber*. Ribe, Denmark.
Video Film. Water in the Hindu Kush - nature and culture interplay.

Morning Session I.     09.00 to 10.20 hrs.
Chairperson               Mr Nadeem Akbar  
Co-chairperson          Dr Asghari Bano.
Chief Guest,               Mr Andrew Picken, Deputy Director, British Council, Pakistan.
09.00 to 09.20           Syed R. Baqri, Pakistan Science Foundation, Islamabad.
Sources of gypsum in the Indus Valley as utililised by the Harappan Civilisation.
09.20 to 09.40           Amir Nawaz Khan,  Jamil Ahmad  & Atta ur Rehman, University of Peshawar.
Causes and impacts of flash floods in the Hindu Kush region: a case study along the Chitral Buni road.
09.40 to 10.00           Azra Meadows, University of Glasgow, UK.
  Remote communities and their balance with the environment
10.00 to 10.20           Question / Answer session
Tea Break 10.20 to 10.40 hrs.

Morning Session II.   10.40 to 11.40 hrs.
Chairperson.  Professor Dr Ihsan Ali
10.40 to 11.40           Resolutions and Recommendations.
Vote of Thanks and distribution of conference shields to delegates
Lunch and Prayers.  12.00 to 13.00 hrs.
13.00  onwards.   Afternoon Excursion to Galiyat high mountain valleys in the foothills of the Himalayas. 

THURSDAY 9th SEPTEMBER  -  09.00  Delegates Depart.
* = paper presented by another speaker.

Photograph Copyright Azra and Peter Meadows
Tractor and thresher in a Kalash valley, Chitral, Hindu Kush.
Note the very narrow unmetalled road, and the mountain torrent in the background.
Photograph 2006.