Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig
(One of the many reasons to be discussed later).
There is a general idea about the inhabitants of Chitral that they are comparatively civilized, docile and have good manners, but this presumption arose out of misunderstanding due to inaccurate interpretation to those who come with questions about the inhabitants of this hinterland.
In fact, in Chitral, there are numerous tribes with roots from out of the borders of Chitral. All and each tribe has its own inborn characteristics, traits and moral standards. The Kho tribes of old Chitral had their own values much different from the Kalash or Tajiks who also had come to live here. The Kirghiz have their separate identity, approach to social issues, the Wakhis have brought their own cupidity. The Pashtoons later came and continued to maintain their culture and tongue and do it today.
The old men of Chitral were not as lazy as they are today. They came here with poor resources but worked very hard to reclaim tracts of lands and dug water channels and got land produce as much as they required. This habit of hard work was an asset and transmitted from generation to generation.
As long as they were a tribal society without a cruel ruler they were free to do better work and competitive qualities but when kingship began to rule the tribes and assigned duties to each tribe taxes and the impressments discouraged the zeal for greater personal gains and the state intervention discouraged the smaller tribes for the menial role assigned to them plus state beggar.
The rulers of Chitral have left a very dark image of their characters. The rivalry among princes of two families left the people perplexed as whom to support and they had to change their loyalties every other year or month on the ascension of a new prince.
They did rule but mostly for a short span of time and the people had to suffer with the fleeting fortune of their favourites. This was not a time of peace for the whole of the state and the chain of rivalry continued to a point when the Britons appeared on the political scene and established a stable period but they did not do anything for the common man.( R.C.F. Schomberg). The impressments continued and the support extended to the ruling prince was of no value to the downtrodden tribes.
The local people had no rights over their lands; which could be snatched from them and given to a rival any time, even without any reason. This lack of sense of ownership of landed property crushed the ambition to improve one’s farms and get better land produce. They lost their interest in farming except a few slavish families who also tried to suppress the poor section of the inhabitants around them.
The rulers never encouraged their subjects but discouraged them. For example, one lower middle class man had built a wooden Takht made of planks of wood for his domestic use and guests but the ruler got report about such a new type of seat. He was exasperated and sent men to lift the wooden Takht from the house of the man and carry it to his fort. He wanted to impress upon the people that common man had no right to live a better life and the masses had come to understand that any improvement by them will bring the ruler’s wrath and destroy his household.
Thus they had little desire to improve their domestic life and standard of living. They lost all interest in hard work. They did not want punishments. They could not escape the borders of the state with their families but escape of the head of the family meant that his land will be confiscated and members of the family will be given to an aristocrat.