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Multan—Tourism Development Corporation Punjab (TDCP) will try to attract international racers for participation in its third annual Cholistan desert jeep rally expected to be held in March 2007 at Bahawalpur.
TDCP has decided in a meeting to contact ambassadors of foreign countries, particularly the Arab countries, to come to Cholistan desert to watch the rally.
“We will also try to ensure participation of at least ten jeep racers from foreign countries to give international colour to this rally”, Regional Manager TDCP Multan Shoaib Ahmad told APP by telephone.
The Sep 23 TDCP meeting was chaired by its Managing Director Irfan Ali. Representatives from Four Wheel Drive Club (FWDC) Lahore Mujahid Zafar and Suhail Ahmad, Roni Patel from FWDC Karachi, Mehmood Majeed from FWDC Bahawalpur, Col (rtd) Kamaluddin Rana from Houbara Foundation, general manager (operations) TDCP Mrs. Shazia Ikram, EDO F&P Dr. Raheel Siddiqui, tourism officer Ashfaq Khan, and rally cell members Musa Raza, and Saqib Rasheed attended the meeting.
In 2006 jeep rally, Dubai car rally champion had registered for the contest but voluntarily withdrew for his four-wheeler was powerful and well equipped than the other participants. “We may add more categories to accommodate powerful vehicles in 2007 rally”, Shoaib said.
“An ambassadors’ city comprising of luxurious tents equipped with all facilities would also be set up near historical Derawar Fort in Cholistan desert to facilitate the ambassadors in case they decide to witness the rally.”
March 9-10-11 are the tentative dates for the mega three-day event which would be finalized later. “We may hold the event earlier than the aforesaid dates in March.” Shoaib said, Punjab government has offered a helicopter to get aerial view of the rally and to serve as ambulance in case of any accident.
The 2007 rally route would be over 250-kilometre long, some 20 kilometres longer than the 2006 rally, Shoaib said adding the route committee has been formed comprising Shoaib himself, EDO Dr. Raheel and FWDC members Mujahid and Mehmood Majeed who will visit the area for inspection of route after Eidul Fitar.
Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz has sent an appreciation letter to the TDCP on two successful jeep rallies in Cholistan desert and has promised federal government’s coordination in holding the event in future.
Promising strict observance of rules, Shoaib said entry fee has been enhanced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15000 per pair of participants i.e driver and navigator. Procedure for allotment of numbers to participants has also changed.
Participants would have to join a race at a five-kilometre long oval-shape route at the dry bed of river Sutlej to get numbers according to the positions they will secure in the race.
According to tentative programme, dinner at Darbar Mehel Bahawalpur would be held on March 9, 2007, stickers would be pasted on vehicles and their fitness would be checked at circuit house on March 10 and five-kilometre race at the river bed would be held the same day at 12 pm.
Main race will be held on March 11. Prize money has been enhanced from Rs 100,000 last year to Rs 150,000 for first position holders in all categories. Second position holders will get Rs 100,000 each and third Rs 75000 in each category.—APP