Kalash community faces threats

ISLAMABAD: As members of the Kalash community we are facing threats to change our religion, our land is being occupied and the names of our places are being changed. However, the media is portraying only our dances rather than highlighting our issues.

This was stated by Gul Nazar, a representative of the Kalash community in Chitral, at a seminar on Thursday. The “Consultation on challenges for the Kalash community: the way forward” was organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) at a local hotel.

Ms Gul demanded that the Kalash area should be included in the World Heritage List in order to protect it. “Development work should be carried out in the area and basic facilities such as healthcare and education should be provided to the community. The syllabus of education should be in the local language. Doctors come to the Kalash valleys during the summer season and go back as soon as the tourism season ends,” she said.

Locals say Kalash areas are being renamed 

“Kalash people are not aware of their rights. On the other hand, people from other areas are occupying their land. Dozens of Kalash people have been forced to change their religion. We have been trying to protect our graveyards as people even steal the bones of our deceased,” she alleged.

“When we approached the police officer of the area to address the issue, he said we cannot teach him archaeology and he cannot not teach us security measures. So we had no option but to close the museum,” she said.

Luke Rehmat, another representative of the community, said the Kalasha religion was divided into pure and impure.

“Men cannot go to places where children are born and those who go to the delivery places cannot enter the respective village for a certain period of time but tourists violate these restrictions due to which the community suffers mentally as there are a number of stories (superstitions) associated with it,” he said.

“Our religious ways are being blocked and names of our places are being replaced with Muslim names such as Qaziabad and Ahmedabad,” he said.

Ali Ahmad Jan, the director of a civil society organisation, Sustainable Solution, said outsiders should not have the right to purchase land in the Kalash valleys like people of Pakistan cannot purchase land in Kashmir.

“Some religious groups have been working in the Kalash valleys and forcing people to convert to Islam. Once a Kalash person accepts Islam, they are not allowed to wear the traditional Kalash dress and even are suggested not to speak the local language. There are also some religious scholars who say every Muslim should convince at least six non-Muslims to accept Islam. As a result, forced conversions are on the rise in the Kalash valleys,” he said.

HRCP member Nasreen Azhar, who chaired the event, said the Kalash community land was being occupied by outsiders and a large number of constructions were underway in the area.

“People from other areas also go there to build restaurants. There is a need to look into all these issues,” she said.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said the Kalash community should move their case with the parliamentary committee on the marginalised people. He said every person had the right to live and practice their religion in Pakistan.

Iftikharuddin, Member National Assembly (MNA) from Chitral where the Kalash valleys are located, said there were severe security challenges in the area and the state had to fulfil its responsibility.



5 Replies to “Kalash community faces threats”

  1. Those who are saying Kalash women dont face harrassment, I request them to take two women from their household to Kalash, dress one in normal Shalwar Kamez and the other in Kalash dress. Ask them to roam around the villages for one hour and return. You ll be amazed to see that the Muslim girl would be respected every where and her sister wearing Kalasha dress would be harrassed by every tom, dick and harry. Not only the tourists but also Chitrali visitors and the newly converted Kalash Muslims are the ones who harrass the honorable Kalasha women. Strict laws need to be implemented in order to save the Kalash from this mob harrasment.

  2. Let us not turn blind eye to the reality here. If this is not the whole truth yet this is an issue and has always been in the past three decades. I have worked in the Kalash valleys for two years (2003-2004) for a project aimed at promoting cultural ecotourism. I know their culture and the people. If you sit with the educated lot you will get to know that they fear forced conversion. Why to grim so much about it(the letter) when the situation really exist and for how long we will be denying it. Why don’t we accept the fact that they continuously face this danger of extinction. They had a population of 3000 people in 70s which has reduced to 4100 now; where did those all people go? With no family planning practiced in the valleys and keeping in mind the national birth rate and yearly population rise; don’t you think their population would have been doubled by now? Let us accept this fact that both cases exist forced and voluntary conversions. As someone who has interest in the history of civilizations, I am of the view that at times even the voluntary conversions are based upon the dominant societal compulsions. There is no harm in talking about something which exist but it is unlike Chitralis if we deny that.

  3. Every Tom and Jerry is trying to become the counsel of Kalash people. We know very well how to live in harmony with other people of different religions and sects. Therefore, please mind your city and area and try to introduce reforms in Faisalabad so that the Barelvis, Deobandis, Ahle Tasheia etc can live in harmony and stop branding each other Kafir.

  4. برادر یه بات بلکل غلط اور منگڑھت هے یه بات اگر اپ لکھنی تھی تو کم از کم کسی کیلاشی قبیلے کے بژے سے مل کر ان سے کچھ حقیقت پر مبنی معلومت بھی لیتے.یا اپنی طرف سے کوءی وصح دلاءل بھی دے دیتے که ایسا کب هوا هے .یا کم از کم اپبے علم میں تو اضافه کرکے لکتھے . مختصر یه که.أپ کی اس تحریر سے تخریب کاری کی بو أری هے

  5. Brother it is totally baseless,kalasha people r living here peacefully,I m muslim and i have been working here with kalasha people.we r living here likebrothers..We respect the people of other religion

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