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Kalash MPA stresses need to protect indigenous communities at UN

NEW YORK/UNITED NATIONS: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa MPA Wazir Zada Kalash has called for allocating special seats for indigenous communities in the law and policy-making institutions like parliaments “without considering their number”, ARY News reported.

Mr Wazir Zada was nominated by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s minority seat after the party swept through the province in 2018 elections.

He belongs to Chitral’s ancient, indigenous Kalash tribe which is known for its unique customs and traditions.

Speaking at the 18th session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) on Wednesday, Mr Wazir Zada said that he strongly believed that adoption and preservation of indigenous communities was the ultimate responsibility of the state and government of the country where the indigenous people resided.

“Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan is fully committed to promote, develop and protect the indigenous community and culture. This is why I was nominated on the single reserved seat for minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the first time in history”, he said.

“I belong to the only indigenous community Kalash community living in the three valleys of district Chitral of Pakistan numbering 4000 individuals only. The Kalash people have kept alive the unique culture and tradition for the last more than 2000 years in its original, natural form”, he said.

“We celebrate seasonal festivals, marriages and even deaths through traditional dances on folk songs for the departing soul.

He said that such unique traditions and rituals were alive in Pakistan and fully accommodated by the majority [Muslim] population, adding that minorities in Pakistan had constitutional safeguards.

“I feel proud to say that this small community still exists because of the love and respect of the Muslim population who live by us and with the specific focus of government oversight and care. The Constitution of Pakistan gives equal rights to all the citizen and everyone enjoys the religious as well as social rights”, he said.

Mr Wazir Zada also met with Pakistan’s ambassador to United Nations Maliha Lodhi during his stay in New York.

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