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Royal couple visits Chitral, witnesses climate-hit glacier

CHITRAL: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday visited Pakistan’s northern area of Chitral to explore the scenic beauty marked by magnificent Hindu Kush peaks, besides witnessing a melting glacier hit by the devastating effects of climate change.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, known for raising worldwide awareness about climate change, flew via a helicopter to the rapidly retreating Chiatibo Glacier situated at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the third day of their trip to Pakistan. The royal couple was briefed about the impact of global warming as they visited a village in Bamboret Valley of Kalash area, where residential huts and a military mess were destroyed in a 2015 flash flood.

Ghafoor Ahmed, Community-Based Disaster Risk Management Trainer from non-governmental organization Acted, gave a briefing about the damages in the aftermath of flash floods and about teaching the locals on first-aid in case of natural disaster and emergency.

William and Kate visited the Kalash Community Centre amid a warm welcome by the traditionally clad young boys and girls, who cheered the dignitaries by presenting a group dance to the beat of drums.

The Duchess, who donned the traditional brightly coloured beaded cap with fuchsia plume, interacted with the young Kalash, members of a 3,000-year-old civilization.

Earlier, Prince Williams and Kate Middleton on their arrival at Chitral airport were presented embroidered off-white gowns and regimental headgear of Chitral Scouts featuring a distinctive feather. This was the similar robe presented to Princess Diana, the late mother of Prince William, during her 1991 visit to Chitral. An album of photographs commemorating Princess Diana’s visit was also gifted to the royal couple.

Wazir Zada, the first-ever member of the provincial assembly from Kalash community, hoped that the royal couple’s visit will encourage foreign tourists to explore the ancient Kalash civilisation.

Deputy Commissioner Chitral Naveed Ahmed said the royal visit to Pakistan’s north is a clear-cut message of peace to the world. He hoped that abolishing the requirement of a no-objection certificate will boost international tourism in the region.

Archaeologist and incharge of Chitral Museum Syed Gul Kalash said it is an honour for Chitral to be visited by the British royals after Princess Diana. She urged the world to visit Kalash and explore a ‘living museum of a 3,000-year-old civilisation’.

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