By Zahid Ali Nizari
It is about Shotkhar. Starting from the vast plateau of Kaghlasht, the Torkhow tehsil in Upper Chitral, comprises these villages: Istaru, Wehrkop, Ryeen, Shahgram, Mehlp, Shotkhar, Mayar, Buzund, Wazam, Boop, Washich, Lamkushum, Sholkhanj, Shuchanlasht, Yakhdeez, Khot, Rabat, Khashun, Zanglasht, Ujnu, and Rech.
All these villages have their own peculiarities and unique identity. However, this essay focuses on my native village of Shotkhar. Shotkhar is a picturesque village in tehsil Torkhow. In remote past it was known for life threatening scarcity of water. But at present, the village enjoys facility of both drinking and irrigation water.
There are three main channels for irrigation water here: the BoopXoi, which originates from a neighbouring village, Boop,; NoghXoi (translated the New Canal) from the same village; and AdrakhoXoi (the Highland Water Canal), originating from Uju, Khot, and mainly satisfying the thirst of the Upper Shotkhar.
As far facility of drinking water is concerned, in 1998, water pipeline system was arranged from an area named Ormu, situated across the hillside on the east. Only a year or so ago, drinking water was brought from Hunkut, Lower Khot. Now let us come to the villages adjacent to Shotkhar. To the east of Shotkhar are the hilly grazing areas and private farmlands. To the north east is Lamkushum; to the north, Boop; to the North West, Wazam; to the west is Mayar; and to the south, Shahgram,the headquarter of Torkhow.
Majority of the population belongs to Shia Imami Ismailia community – more than 80 percent; the rest follows the Sunni Hanafi school of thought. Both the communities have been living here for centuries in perfect peace and harmony, sharing their joys and sorrows and helping and supporting one another through thick and thin. There is perfect interfaith harmony in this village.
The people are actively involved in community work with the commendable spirit of unity and cooperation. Long live, spirit of brotherhood! Shotkhar is one of the most fortunate places to have been blessed with the Didar of the 49th Imam of the Ismailia community, Prince Karim Aga Khan, in 1987. According to the Ismaili school of thought, the Imams are Divinely Guided Personalities from the Progeny of the Holy Prophet (SAAW), through Hazrat Ali-ul-Murtaza (A.S) and Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-uz-Zuhra (A.S).
People of various clans and origins inhabit Shotkhar. They are: Sheghneie; Zondre; Khybere; Dashmane; Pininshohe; and Baike. The tribe who came here and settled here before any other tribe came to reside here, is the Sheghneie. The forefather of the Sheghneieclan was Qarawul, who was the first person to have come from Sheghnan and settled here as an immigrant.
He is the Great Grandfather of the Qarawulay branch of the Sheghneie tribe. He settled in the central part of Shotkhar, named Deh, also called Qaraulandur. Shotkhar ganisher ma hardiaz hagha Markhaza De ma Qarawulaan hasiran (Nizari) The village consists of these hamlets: Nasodur; Daghar; Deh; Shuchkham; Shekhanandur; Laghandur; Kharbuzanlasht Posheriandur; Shohandur; and Khotekandur. Shekhanandur is named after a saint, Sheikh Baba Khaki (RahmatullahAlaihe), whose monument is still present here, and is known as Quran Bohrtu) – the image of the Holy Quran, naturally inscribed in a stone.
The people of Shotkhar attach paramount importance to seeking of knowledge and wisdom. For the purpose of educating the people, there are four alma maters in Shotkhar: Government Primary School for Boys, Shotkhar; Government Primary School for Girls, Shotkhar; Government Middle School for Girls, Shotkhar; and Community Based School, Shotkhar. Some of the students satisfy their thirst for knowledge from the Aga Khan Middle School Buzund, Government Higher Secondary School Shagram and Salik Public School, Shagram.
For cure of ailments, there stands the Aga Khan Health Centre, stretching its hands of support and generosity in order to say ‘Get Well Soon!” It provides facilities in the field of heath. It creates awareness about appropriate preventive measures and provides treatment facilities at their doorstep.The people of the village are appreciative of the health services provided by the AKDN. It provides health amenities, shoulder to shoulder with the government. As many as 450 persons from this village are also getting benefits from the facility of Sihat Card provided by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The dwellers of Shotkhar are hardworking, who are rendering services in various fields of life such as Education, Army, Air Force, Police Force, Chitral Scouts, Frontier Corpse et cetera. Some also work abroad in various positions.
They have an extraordinarily rooted love for hard work. The last topic of my discussion is agriculture. In Shotkhar almost all kinds of luscious mouth-watering and lip-smacking fruit are grown. Some of them are: apple; apricot; peach; pear; plum; mulberry; grape; cherry and walnut. The climate of this village is suitable for all kinds of local fruit that are grown in any other part of Chitral. Cultivation of persimmon (amluk) has also proved a successful step. Almost every kind of vegetable can be cultivated here successfully.
Moreover, the climate of this village is suitable for crops such as wheat, barley, maize, millet, lentils and others. New ways of farming need to be adopted, along with introduction of new crops, for improvement in field of agriculture. Finally, I would like all the praiseworthy readers to join me in the prayer: May my villages prosper!May Allah Almighty, for the sake of Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (SAAW) and his Holy Progeny (A.S), shower His Blessing over all His servants. May our beloved country, Pakistan, prosper by leaps and bounds!
(The writer is Lecturer in English, Aga Khan Higher Secondary School Kuragh).