Kalash Valley’s Catastrophe

I spoke to my friend Mehnaz last night who had just spoken to Siraj Ulmulk, her father in Pakistan recently. As I mentioned in my ‘Chitral – serenity untouched’ post @ https://omarulhaq.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/chitral-serenity-untouched/, we recently went to the Kalash Valley and had the opportunity to visit the Kalash Museum there. At the museum, we met a Greek gentleman who had arrived in the Kalash Valley a few decades ago as a tourist and having fallen in love with the valley, decided to stay. He was an extremely fascinating, passionate, and optimistic individual who, as a result of all his contribution over the years, seemed to be a real asset to the area as well as to Pakistan.

Hence it is most unfortunate that Siraj Ulmulk has confirmed that this gentleman has been kidnapped in the Bamboret valley of Chitral last night and may have even been killed.

This news has been very upsetting and come as a complete shock to all of us. I urge you to pray for his safe return.




  1. I think the victim’s name is Athanassis. Given the Bumbaret valley’s close proximity to Afghanistan, he could have been taken across the border. Hope he is alive and is returned soon. I remember his enthusiasm towards developing a roman english based written script to help the Kalash record events.Usually foreigners are kidnapped for political leverage, because they tend to attract much more international attention. I hope this is the case here and not just senseless violence.

  2. Very upsetting. He is genuinely a kind man. To come from a foreign country – invest 15 years of your life to develop another people – learn their language, adopt their customs as your own – to make sure their history is not lost in time. InshaAllah he is alive and well.

  3. This is awful news. I hope he’s ok.

  4. The good news is that Athanassis is, to date, alive. He was made to walk through Pakistan territory for over seven hours by his captors before they crossed him over into the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. They even got hold of a donkey from a bordering village in Pakistan for Athanassis to ride on. The donkey man later reported to the authorities that Athanassis’s captors were, althroughout the journey, attending to his comfort as much as possible. This confirms Qasims inference on your blog. The other good news is that the authorities in Chitral are determined to secure the release of Athanassis. There is good tem work being displayed between the army (Chitral Scouts) police and civil administration. Presently they feel this is a typical case to seek ransom. They are a bit worried that if the press over-plays it the result will be an increase in the amount to be demanded and also consequently make it that much more tedious to get to him. Also a thorough study is already being conducted regarding the loop holes which allowed the captors to carry out this diffifult task so easily. The Scouts, police and civil administration are all being headed by able and determined officers but unfortunately all three are very new (not more than two months) in their posts.

  5. Latest News. Athanassis (I think we have got this name wrong.I must check his correct name) has phoned his family in Greece telling them that he us being well looked after by his captors. So another reason to believe that the assesment made by Qasim in the blog seems correct. There is much optism in Chitral that he will be recovered safely.

  6. Thank you for letting us know, Siraj Uncle. Please continue to keep us updated. We are all praying for his safe return and I’m glad that he spoke to his family back in Greece as well.

  7. My entire family was in Chitral last year and travelled to Kalash and its mysterious beauty. We all have met the gentleman and spent two days at kalash.

    I am in touch with the manager of PTDC chitral and everyone is hopeful of the greeks return, we all hope that this valley is spared of the utter violence and destruction that occured in swat.


  8. khangul · · Reply

    an excellent visit to chitral and kalash valley

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