By Muhammad Shahid
ASBANR VALLEY, Lower Dir: As the sunrays fall on the green hills in Asbanr valley of Lower Dir district, the wheel of life begins turning gradually, with children on way to schools, farmers to their fields and so on.
Mr Aslam, about 17, has the knack of walking through an ever-flowing stream in the valley, amid lush green forests and towering hills.
Aslam has given up schooling at a tender age when he was a student of class-VIII, and so are most of the youth in the valley.
“Take to the left; be careful, your feet may slip on the wet rocks of the Khwar (stream),” he says jumping from one stone to another. Mr Aslam, a resident of Chota Asbanr village, said he might go abroad for a job.
Most of schoolchildren give up schooling in the valley because they either have to go overseas to earn a living or manage affairs of the house at their village.
For around 40,000 souls of this naturalist wonderland, life is quite simple: getting up at the crack of dawn, going to the fields or running errands and getting into a peaceful sleep after daylong activities.
Mr Niaz Muhammad Ajaz, a cobbler working in Asbanr Bazaar, told TNN that he did not earn much amount daily but that he was satisfied with his job. Two brothers of Mr Ajaz are working in Saudi Arabia.
“I am just able to run my domestic expenses, but thank God I am with my family and people, not overseas,” he said.
Besides their subsistence farming, scores of families rely on the overseas’ earning as they own small lands that cannot earn them adequate profits. The agricultural produce are mostly wheat, rice, maize and vegetables in Asbanr.
Having an area of almost 120 square kilometres, Asbanr valley is part of Chakdara tehsil of Lower Dir district and is around 37 kilometres from Malakand.
It is the border area between Lower Dir and Swat districts. Swat and Lower Dir headquarters Timergara are located on its eastern and western sides, while the cloud-piercing mountains of Upper Dir are located in its north and Chakdara town in its south.
The valley houses several villages including Shorshing, Butt Qilla, Abbeshah, Guli Bagh, Kashmir Dherai, Bambolai, Qilla Shah, Banda Shah, Kumbar, etc.
But it requires perseverance to travel between various picturesque villages in the valley due to the rough patch as the area lacks metallic roads.
Though the valley is just 15 kilometres from the main Chakdarra bazaar, the travel to the Chota Asbanr village, which is located in a corner of the valley, takes much time due to the zigzag and rough route that has several bends and slopes.
However, upon reaching the place, one is amazed to see the beauty of nature in the valley and forgets the difficulties suffered on the way. Though locals live a tough life, the fact remains that the valley can be a magnet for tourists if developed by the tourism department authorities.