SRINAGAR: If New Delhi permits Princess Aliyah Pandolfi, daughter of a Kashmir-born Pakistani diplomat, to carry out her plans, drones will fly over Kashmir skies soon, not for military purposes but for the preservation of endangered wildlife and plant species. Princess Aliyah, who lives in Northern Virginia, told Kashmir Reader over the phone that she plans to talk to the government of India to implement her ideas.
“To work for the preservation of endangered species in my native land is difficult but not impossible. I used to hear from my father about the hangul and snow leopard and the threat to their existence. The inspiration for the preservation of such species comes from there,” said Aliyah who is an MBA from George Mason University. The key force behind the project will be Aliya’s husband Dr. Ronald Pandolfi who has 20-year experience in the application of robotics, communications, aircraft, and weapons systems to counter poaching of endangered species.
The Pandolfis successfully put to use the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones to counter poaching of rhinos in South Africa. The biggest advantage of using drones in wildlife conservation is that they do not intrude into the natural habitats of wild animals, Aliyah said. In the context of Kashmir, it would mean that wildlife officials need not venture into hangul’s territory. Crazy about Kashmir Kashmir has an imprint on every major endeavour in Aliyah’s life. She is the CEO of the non-profit ‘Kashmir World Foundation’ whose “projects create healthy habitats for humans and wildlife”.
She has named KWF’s art and fashion division Kashmir Rose, which is also the name of her first-born child. The Kashmir Rose sells and promotes Kashmir arts and handicrafts in the US. Through this division, she aims to raise funds for Kashmir artisans. The KWF claims that through Kashmir Rose, over 200 Kashmiri artisans and their families “now have an opportunity to dream again”. The science, technology and wildlife security division of the KWF is named Kashmir Robotics, which provides technical guidance to organizations protecting endangered plant and wildlife species.
“I am simply crazy about Kashmir. My world starts from Kashmir and it ends in Kashmir,” said Aliyah, the youngest of the four siblings. Her father was Srinagar-born Bashir Ahmad Malik, a diplomat at Pakistan embassy in Washington. Malik had moved to Pakistan in the mid-1940s. “My father often shared his childhood stories of Kashmir. His 10-mile run through the beautiful mountains and valleys of Kashmir to eat his favorite fruit that he would pick from a particular garden by a serene lake,” she recounts. Malik died at the age of 80 on October 7, 2012.
“I will continue his jihad for justice and freedom from oppression until it is my time to reunite with him in harmony and peace,” Aliyah said.
Return of the native
Aliyah plans to visit Kashmir this year to shoot a few documentaries about Kashmir art and history. Under the DaVinci Challenge project, she will be training a few Kashmir students in drone technology. These students will also be trained to educate the locals about Kashmir’s endangered wildlife and dying arts.
“Kashmir is the most beautiful place on earth. People have gone through of lot trauma they need to exhibit unity and patience,” she added.