Annual Report 2015: Facilitating regional cooperation

Festival Builds Links between Pakistan, China within Karakoram-Pamir Landscape

The success of efforts to protect transboundary ecosystems relies in part on building bridges of friendship and cooperation between neighbouring countries and people. Building those connections within the Karakoram-Pamir Landscape was the goal of a 2015 festival that not only drew thousands of participants from China and Pakistan,  but was so successful it was extended four additional days and will be taken  up by the regional government as a regular event.

Organizing an international festival is a complex feat – particularly in this case, when it concerned a landscape straddling Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan and the Kasghar prefecture of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Security concerns are part of the challenge; so are the differing administrative structures of the two countries that cooperate within the initiative, which addresses the fragile high-altitude ecosystem of the Karakoram and Pamir Mountains.

The festival not only brought together the two governments in collaboration, including high-level officials, but engaged people of the transboundary area in cultural exchange and showcased indigenous products. In the spirit of cross-boundary friendship, 50 elders from Gilgit-Baltistan were invited to visit Chinese villages and offices across the border.

Initially planned as a two-day programme, it was extended to six days at the initiative of the Government of GilgitBaltistan, Pakistan, which bore the extra expenses and plans to take it up in the future as an annual event. China is also exploring a similar programme.