Chitral Today
Latest Updates and Breaking News

The resentful

Two major issues affect the most vulnerable in the world today – globalisation and climate change. And among those who are vulnerable, the most affected are those who have been marginalised. Globalisation consumes the world’s cultural diversity whereas climate change threatens biodiversity and natural resources, leaving vulnerable communities and nations at the mercy of natural disasters. Pakistan is among the worst victims of both these phenomena and here too marginalised communities bear most of the brunt. There seem to be layers of marginalisation in Pakistan. There are many who don’t have any say in the political affairs of the country. Most of them are indigenous to the land and dwell in the northern mountainous ranges. The land these communities inhabit is rich in cultural heritage as well as natural resources. In Pakistan these communities are the least known and least represented politically. Very few people know about the indigenous communities of Chitral, Dir, Swat, Indus Kohistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Having been cut off from unified power centres centuries ago, these communities have yet to assert their political rights. Gilgit-Baltistan is a ‘province’ only in name; the same can be said of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The so-called chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan and prime minister of AJK answer to certain federal under-secretaries. This is not much different from the ‘colonial period’ when political agents did this duty. It may even be said that at times the then English political agents or governors did better than their present counterparts. Any research material on these communities has been written mostly by colonial government functionaries deployed in these areas in those times. Unfortunately there has been no real addition to these studies by Pakistani historians, ethnographers, archaeologists and cultural or social anthropologists. While parliament may include a few legislators from Chitral, Upper Dir, Swat and Indus Kohistan, being unaware of their political rights and strengths, these men and women can never represent the people properly. Many among them come from political parties that don’t have solid agendas. In Chitral people only have a choice between the royal family members or the mullahs. In Indus Kohistan, election usually means selection; and the powerful tribal lords – Maliks – or mullahs get elected each time. In Upper Dir or Swat these marginalised communities are confined to single provincial constituencies only. Not only have these communities added to our cultural diversity, their mountains also feed the plains of the rest of Pakistan via the Indus, Swat, Chitral and Dir rivers. With forests, biodiversity and water resources, these areas are rich with all that nature can offer. The federal and provincial governments are interested in using these areas for hydroelectric power generation in order to overcome the terrible energy crisis affecting the country. A number of these projects are underway in Gilgit-Baltistan, Indus Kohistan etc. It is understandable why those living in Lahore, Karachi or Peshawar would be jubilant about these initiatives. However, this is just one side of the story; how badly these projects affect the local communities and their resources is not questioned at all. How will these communities benefit from such projects? The resources of these communities must first be used for their own development. The harsh winters, a crumbling infrastructure and dysfunctional education and health facilities are their lot. New policies need to be introduced. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for example, when hydel energy is generated free electricity must be provided to those areas and communities where the projects are constructed. This will help their development, and will also help preserve their forests with firewood consumption being lowered. This can also reduce urbanisation as most of the people tend to live in cities because of the rough winters. The resentment in these communities continues to rise but is hardly ever noticed. With no powerful voices to plead their case, they are the marginalized and the forgotten.–The News]]>

You might also like

Leave a comment

error: Content is protected!!