There are many events that take place with a huge national and international participation at the highest level in Pakistan but since adverse news dominates the media, such events are not duly promoted. For the longest time, Basant in Lahore was a best kept secret and so was the Cholistan desert rally unknown for many years till the participants made it popular.
Recently we happen to go to the 8th Annual Long Range Shooting Competition held on December 21st and 22nddeep inside the culturally rich province of Sindh at a place called Qambar Shahdadkot a place about six and half hours of drive from the port city of Karachi. The event is annually organized by Nawab Ghaibi Sardar Khan Chandio in the memory of his late father Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio and attracts top shooters from all over Pakistan. This was the 8th such annual meet. The event was sponsored by Zahid Motiwala of Guns n Accessories and we were invited along with our team to visit and be part of this event this year.
Our trip began on Saturday morning at about 5 am. Mr Zahid Abdul Qadir accompanied the team and organized the transportation from Karachi. Still dark in the late hours of the night we hit the newly constructed Karachi – Hyderabad M9 motorway. Right before Hyderabad at a place called Jamshoro, there is an exit to Indus Highway that traverses right in front of Mehran University toward the famous District Dadu and the City of Sehwan Shareef that is also the hometown of the Chief Minister of Sindh Murad Ali Shah.
So after having a very traditional hearty breakfast right before dawn on the M9 motorway, we made our way towards the Indus Highway. Not knowing what kind of roads to expect since this was our first trip so deep inside the interior of Sindh, we had braced for a very rough ride ahead. But to our utter surprise and that to a very pleasant surprise, the road infrastructure is very impressive and that too of the motorway grade. Our trip right till our destination was simply amazing. Contrary to the popular beliefs, the roads were impeccable, the law and order situation seems to have drastically improved and to top it all after hitting Indus Highway it was like driving through the lush green agricultural country of Punjab. Although at places there was terrain that could be expected of Sindh much of it was amazingly green. A lot of road infrastructure projects were underway all throughout and we all were wondering why don’t we hear of such development happening in Sindh. Mr Zahid Motiwala continued to inform us of the places and their importance and our production team got busy capturing the landscape and its people in their lenses.
On the way, we also passed the exit to the recently talked about the future tourist destination of Gorakh Hill where it snows. Yes, you read right, in the deep interior of Sindh famous for its deserts, there is a place where it actually snows in the winters and has very pleasant weather like that of Murree Hills in the summers.
Qambar Shahdadkot is a district that shares its borders with the district of Larkana and almost at the border of Baluchistan. As we reach our final destination by almost noon, to a venue that is like a valley tucked in between small hills, after a dramatic turn of a small patch of dirt road right off a very well constructed highway, the entire venue just appeared from nowhere. A huge plain ground stretching for miles surrounded by small hills and tents put up for the shooters and the entire shooting range just appeared from simply nowhere. The sight was just breathtaking. The terrain interspersed with sounds of competing shooters guns fire and the hospitality tents to facilitate the competitors and visitors alike was initially a lot to take in.
The Saturday, December 21st was the first day of the competition when the shooters from all over the country came to check their sights and got used to the conditions. With excellent weather that became pretty chilly as the day went by, the shooter along with their spotters set their sights on the targets they were assigned some 800 meters away. We came to know that there is the furthest long-range shooting in Pakistan. Before this, the longest used to be 300 meters. After the end of the day, we were taken to a tent city that was set up to accommodate the shooters and other crew. The facilities were immaculate. The tents were as luxurious as they could get and the food that was being served all through the day was amazing. Bonfires were set up at the campsite and all the shooters huddled near the bonfire for chitchat. Later there were spectacular fireworks. Later in the evening all the shooters and the event organizers huddled together in a large tent for the draws for the main event that would be held the next day on Sunday.
The main event began very early in the morning where all 44 top class shooters from Pakistan and abroad got together to compete for an event that is of the highest difficulty. The rounds began in the morning around 10 am and the whole valley started to echo to the sounds of high-powered rifles being fired. It was a totally carnival atmosphere where people from all across came together to witness the event. We also learnt that this event was highly popular and very prestigious amongst the shooting community. Big names such as Sardar Muhammad Jamal Khan Leghari, Syed ZarrarHyder Shah, FahadWazeer, MehfoozUrsani, Dr. Faisal Haq, Obaid Ibrahim, Syed Iftikhar Shah, Abdullah Zafar, Osama Zafar, Maj General Zafar ul Haque, Pir Shabir, Syed Shayaan Shah, Muhammad Asif, Mian Noor Muhammad, Mian Muhammad Aslam, MianRafique Ahmed, MianAftab Ahmed Khan, Imran Khan, Mohsin Nawaz, Abdul Rahman, Omar Yousuf Zai, EisaHyder Khan, Aneed Jatoi, Bilal Mushtaque, Zahoor Ahmed Soomro, Dr. Shafqat, Colonel Junaid Khan, Brig Noor ul Hasan, Colonel Asad, FarooqueNizamani, Aneed Jatoi, Muhammad Ahmed Nizamani, Ishrat Pervaiz Chandio, Junaid Khan Shinwari, Faqir Main Abdul Haq also known as MianMitho, Aslam Chandio, Ibrahim Khan Khoso, Shahzad Noor, Noor Zaman, AyazKhoso, Ghulam Mustafa, Muhammad Hussam Khan Chandio, Nawabzada Abdul Munnim Khan Chandio, Syed Asif Kamal Shah, NawabzadaRehan Khan Chandio, NawabzadaBurhan Khan Chandio, Muhammad Durrani, Commander Noor were among the prominent shooters present and you could see the tension to perform on everyone’s face but also there was such an amazing display of camaraderie where each competitor was also helping the other in their quest to win the event.
As the event went on, toward the latter part of the afternoon there were 5 finalists and now the target was set even further for the final round on top of a hill some 1,000 meters away. With darkness closing and the wind picking up it became even more difficult to get to the target.
The Chief guest Chief Minister of Sindh Mr Murad Ali Shah arrived with a number of dignitaries such as Mr Imtiaz Shiekh, Mr Nisar Khoro, Mr Agha Siraj Durrani and many others. This decent of prominent personalities depicted the importance of the event.
After an intense day of completion and brilliant display of marksmen ship finally, we had a winner. The first time attendee of the event Mr Imran Khan won the tournament.
Later everyone moved to the mega tent set up at the base camp for a very well organized and luxurious award ceremony where the Chef Minister of Sindh gave away the prizes to the winner of the competition, the runner-ups and also prizes for other various categories.
The event other than being an amazing display of high-quality sportsmanship, elaborate arrangements, and brilliant hospitality also opened us up to the fact that there are places in Pakistan for which we have preconceived notions about not worth going, actually qualify to be top class tourist destinations. We will try and let as many people know about this event so that this year at the 9th edition of the event, people must come and witness the brilliance of this part of Pakistan that should be kept a secret.