Alijah Ghulam Uddin Ghulam Hunzai – An Intellectual Jewel of Gilgit-Baltistan

Alijah with Prime Minister of Pakistan

Alijah Ghulam Uddin Ghulam Hunzai is one of the most revered scholar and poet of Gilgit-Baltistan. Ghulam Uddin Ghulam is known for many as Ustad Ghulam Uddin, ‘Ustad’ denotes in Burshakshi language as ‘Educator’. Alijah Ghulam Uddin has served a lifelong service to educate the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. His meticulous services in the field of education started around late 1930s, when he was about 12 years old and one of a very few people in the beautiful valley of Hunza who have then an education till 5 grades. His journey begins as a voluntary school teacher in the picturesque kingly hamlet of Altit which continues till now when Ustad-e-Muhtramis still engaged in educating youth and the masses while his age is above 90 years. The blessing of being actively involved in the generation of knowledge and its dissemination around millions of people is a rare gift and Alijah Ustad Ghulam Uddin being bestowed by this gift.

Alijah Ghulam Uddin Ghulam Hunzai has brightened the hearts, minds and souls of people across Gilgit-Baltistan through his saintly poetry in multiple languages including Brushaski, Persian and Urdu. His poetry is one of the most relaid and sang descants from radio Pakistan. His poetry is being inspired by his spiritual journey, love of nature, and his tremendous affection and attachment to the culture and people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Alijah at WorkAlijah in Love with Nature

One of the most distinctive achievements of Alijah Ghulam Uddin is the translation of the Holy Quran into Brushashki language, he is the first one in the history to achieve this reverential achievement. In recognition of his grand services the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shukat Aziz has invited him at Prime Minister House and present to Alijah the token of appreciation and expressed gratitude for his tremendous scholastic services towards the Muslim Ummah in general and for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in particular. Alijah has presented the Brushashki translation of the Holy Quran to Prime Minister.

Alijah in Discussion with Prime Minister

Beautiful Representation of Beutiful Culture of Gilgit-Baltistan – Brisbane Australia

Celebrating religio-cultural events away from the birthplace and loving abode of ones is an effort to reconnect with all your loved ones and recalling the precious memories of the good times.  At the same time when you are presenting good of your culture abroad, it leaves a very soft and good image about the area and culture one belongs to and it creates respect and honor among others towards your community and nation.  The people of Gilgit-Baltistan living abroad are the representative and ambassadors of the our beautiful regions, people will know us through the acts and deeds of them.

We are very proud to see a magnificent display of our culture, including the beautiful dresses and dishes of Gilgit-Baltistan by our brothers and sisters living in Brisbane, Australia. We are proud of you and salute your effort to keep our magnificent culture closer to your hearts and minds.

Here are some of the beautiful displays our the dress by lovely kids and their parents

the main group pic

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Novroz Mubarak To All

jamshedi_nawruz

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Balti, Shina and Brushashki would be Included in the National Languages of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has called for the formation of a national language commission to develop criteria for giving national language status to all major languages spoken in the country.

A meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage presided over by Marvi Memon of the PML-N on Thursday adopted a resolution for setting up the commission. The commission will protect and promote mother tongues of Pakistan, giving them the national language status to enhance inter-provincial harmony.

Azhar Jadoon, Talal Chaudhry, Gulam Bibi Barwani, Syed Ahmed Ali Shah, 11 other lawmakers and language experts attended the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the history and importance of Pakistan’s mother tongues, their national language status and their role in creating inter-provincial harmony.

In the resolution, the lawmakers appreciated the importance of the country’s major mother tongues like Balochi, Balti, Brushaski, Brahui, Hindko, Khowar, Kashmiri, Pahari, Pashto, Punjabi, Seraiki, Shina and Sindhi. Source

The Aga Khan’s tightrope walk in Tajikistan

The Pamiri spiritual leader risks state alienation as tension over regional autonomy rumbles on.

Joshua Kucera
Joshua Kucera is a freelance journalist based in Washington, DC.

[Note from GB Times: His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, has always advised his followers all over the world to be a good citizen of the country they are living in and abide by the rules and laws at their best. Usually Imsailies (Followers of Aga Khan) are proving to be peaceful and progressive, respecting diversity and pluralism]
The Pamiris of Tajikistan are among the world’s 15 million Ismaili Shia Muslims [Reuters]

To much of the world, the Aga Khan is famous as a celebrity royal, with a jetsetting lifestyle, a personal fortune estimated by Forbes at about $800m – including a $150m yacht – and Rita Hayworth as a stepmother.

But to the small Pamiri minority of Tajikistan, he is their spiritual leader and a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed. And when fighting broke out last year in the Pamiris’ biggest town, it thrust the Aga Khan into an awkward political dispute: between his benighted followers in Tajikistan who feel that the government treats them all as enemies, and Tajikistan’s autocratic president on whose permission the Aga Khan depends to remain in contact with his flock.

The Pamiris of Tajikistan are among the world’s 15 million Ismailis, a sect of Shia Islam that also has a large numbers of adherents in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan have been a centre of Ismailism for at least a millennium, and today residents of eastern Tajikistan are overwhelmingly Ismailis. During the Soviet era they were cut off from the world Ismaili community, but the Aga Khan’s first visit in 1995 to a rapturous reception was one of the landmark events of the region’s history.

In the two decades since Tajikistan gained independence, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – his aid organisation – has become the dominant force in the economy of the Pamirs, the most remote part of an already remote country. With a staff of 3,500, the foundation is the largest employer in the region and signs of the Aga Khan’s largesse are ubiquitous in the Pamirs: from rural schools and health clinics, to a new university and park in the centre of the main city of Khorog, where neat lawns and tastefully modern wooden playground equipment evoke Scandinavia more than the remote mountains of Central Asia.

101 East – Tajikistan’s missing men

Tajikistan’s central government has long had an ambivalent attitude towards the Aga Khan’s presence in the Pamirs. Embarking on independence as the former Soviet Union’s poorest republic, then set further back by a bloody civil war in the 1990s, for most of its independent history, Tajikistan has barely been able to provide services to its people.

So on the one hand, it was relieved to not have to take responsibility for the Pamirs. But as the central government in Dushanbe has slowly consolidated its authority, it has come to resent the effective autonomy that the region – officially known as the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region, and commonly referred to by its Russian acronym GBAO – has gained. A 2008 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reported that “the Aga Khan Development Network is making GBAO an example of liberal economic development and better education, but struggles continually to get buy-in from a suspicious government most concerned with control”.

The Pamir’s ‘commanders’

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon tried to capitalise on the Aga Khan’s popularity while simultaneously undercutting him: in his political rhetoric to the Pamiris, Rahmon emphasised his role in allowing the Aga Khan to return and operate in the region.

The central government’s worries about control in the Pamirs were compounded by the strong authority of a handful of men known in Khorog simply as “the commanders”. While the Aga Khan and his foundation were fulfilling GBAO’s spiritual and economic needs, the “commanders” were tending to the region’s security. Former civil war leaders who had been given some local authority as a result of the peace agreement that ended the war in 1997, the commanders operated like mafia bosses: leading organised crime operations while also protecting Pamiris from the predations of the central government. As Ismailis, they are followers of the Aga Khan - though they are unaffiliated with him. As with the Aga Khan, as the central government gained power it sought to rein in the commanders’ authority.

This all came to a head on July 24, when a high-ranking security officer was killed near Khorog, and the government – on the pretext of catching the commanders, whom the government charged with the murder – carried out a military operation against the town. The scale of the operation – which used helicopters, mortars and dozens of snipers posted on the steep mountains enveloping the town – made clear that the government’s goal was not just to capture the commanders but also to send a message that it intended to rein in the Pamiris’ autonomy.

But the operation backfired - not only did it fail to capture any of the commanders, but it also quickly turned the town against the government and only strengthened support for the commanders. Many ordinary citizens took up arms and fought the government soldiers.

During the fighting, the Aga Khan and his foundation played a key role in brokering a ceasefire, and it was his moral authority that convinced the aggrieved residents of Khorog to give up the fight. When I visited Khorog earlier this summer, over and over I heard the same refrain from residents: “We only gave up our guns because the Imam asked us to,” they said, using the Aga Khan’s honorific.

And about a month after the ceasefire, one of the commanders was killed under mysterious circumstances. At a rally protesting the death – which townspeople blamed on the government – the local head of the Aga Khan Development Network, Yodgor Faizov, made an uncharacteristically blunt statement criticising the government.

Imomnazar Imomnazarov [the commander] was a real man who followed the command of the Aga Khan and laid down his arms,” Faizov said. “He died like a real man. He could have rallied people around himself and armed them, but he did not. Today we can be proud that the people of Badakhshan after July 24 did all that was asked of them. We complied with all the authorities’ requirements. From now on, the people have every right to demand that troops be withdrawn; the people will decide their own fate. Our young people will themselves bring order to the city.”

That helped reduce tensions again. But since then, many in Khorog have begun to criticise the Aga Khan and his organisation for becoming co-opted by the government and for being too reluctant to enter politics. Faizov’s apparently forceful statement, they say, was in fact emblematic of a carefully calibrated policy to get the Pamiris to stop protesting while doing nothing to change the conditions underlying the Pamiris’ grievances.

A depoliticised elite

Faisal Devji, probably the world’s most prominent Ismaili intellectual and director of the Asian Studies Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, criticised the Aga Khan Development Network’s role in a much-discussed article published last fall. The organisation, Devji argued, is too dependent on the government for its presence in the country, and has created a depoliticised Pamiri elite that is unable to deal with the serious challenges facing their society.

“[T]his silence by the ‘neutral’ institutions of a foreign-funded civil society works only to prevent a resolution to the problem brought to light by the violence this summer,” he wrote. He also quoted a letter written by a number of Pamiris to the Aga Khan complaining of the “neutral” approach taken by the AKDN in Khorog. “We are confused by their response and are at a loss – whom can we turn to in such a dire situation that affects the lives and securities of all jamati members?”

One fighter in Khorog, when I asked him about the role of the Aga Khan and his organisation in the town’s conflict, paused. “They tried,” he said, clearly reluctant to criticise his spiritual leader. But he went on to point out that, had an organisation such as the United Nations or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe brokered the ceasefire, then the government would have faced some consequences for breaking the ceasefire (as it seemed to do with the killing of Imomnazarov). But Rahmon, he argued, cannot be intimidated by the Aga Khan. I heard other complaints that the foundation discouraged people from marking the one-year anniversary of the Khorog fighting this summer, trying to sweep it under the rug.

Meanwhile, the sense of cultural estrangement between the Pamiris and the rest of Tajikistan has sharpened. While the cultural differences between Pamiris and other Tajiks had not been previously very salient, in the past year they have taken on new meaning. Pamiris told me they now prefer not to speak Tajik, but rather Russian or their own Pamiri languages (related to, but not mutually intelligible with, Tajik). I heard allegations from intellectuals in Dushanbe that the Aga Khan had ambitions of forming his own state, and a state-run think tank recently accused unnamed “certain forces” of trying to create a “Great Badakhshan” from parts of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Both in Dushanbe and Khorog, the expectation is that the government will some day soon try to finish what it started and launch another military operation. Khorog residents have vowed to fight back even harder this time. If fighting starts up again, the expectations of the Aga Khan from his followers will no doubt rise – and silence may no longer be an option.

Reporting for this story was made possible by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Teachers Appointed on Merit in Baltistan – Cheif Minister is Upset

Baltistan: In an unpreventable way under the pressure of the Civil Society of Gilgit-Baltistan and Judiciary an independent and meritorious test of the all those candidates of Teachers who were previously appointed based on corruption and kickbacks have been selected and rejected.  The first phase was held in Baltistan where many candidates with high profile political links and support have seen the door out including the niece of Chief Minister and many of his relatives and the son of Agriculture Minister, his daughter in law and Son in Law as well as the daughter of the Investigation Committee as they have been failed to pass the test.

File Photo

At the same time it was time of joy and celebration for many candidates who have passed the test of merit and would be serving the younger generation of the nation of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Let’s celebrate here the approach and efforts of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and the members of Civil Society including Media for making this happen. It does show that in Gilgit-Baltistan people know to get their rights no matter whoever is trying to snatch their rights, and they are very particular about the fairness to ensure quality education.

The selection committee for the tests was comprised of the educational officer from Hunza and Gilgit, to maintain impartiality. Although, there was an immense pressure from the Chief Minister to influence the appointment process of the teacher, but the selection committee nobly and dignifying resisted all the pressure and appointed teachers on merit. Previously it is said that the Chief Minister and one of his cronies named as Kachu Fayaz (Commonly known as Money Machine of CM) have appointed teacher after taking Rs. 300,000 to 400,00 per post of the teacher.

The Ismaili Supreme Council for Gilgit, Chitral and CA – Regional Councils

A memorable Picture of shared by Ikram Beg of the  Ismaili Muslims Council for GB, Chitral and Central Asia with president of council Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan of Hunza in 1973. It was an independent Council Serving the Social and Welfare activities in Gilgit and Chitral under the benevolent guidance of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV. The members of this council were responsible for successfully developing many of the current Aga Khan Development Network (ADN) organizations such as Aga Khan Education Services and Aga Khan Health Services beside the initiatives for religio-cultural development. However, today there are several regional  Council of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, and are working under the National Council for Pakistan, which has a dominant authority and in fact the regional councils are more of rubber stamps and ineffective. Therefore, a dominant majority of the Ismaili Muslims is seeking to restore the status of the earlier Supreme Council for Gilgit and Chitral  to push out the domination of the Khoja (More Indian based) Khatiyawadi interventions in the all religio-cultural and social development initiatives. An overwhelming majority of Ismailies of Gilgit-Baltistan feels that their cultural based religious practices have been distorted and have been brought to a point of elimination by the Kathiyawadi (a segment of Khowajas) dominated national leadership who have an economic advantage over the developing economies of Gilgit and Chitral. In fact, this fact has been academically as well been accepted and recognized.  Although changing the current positions of the councils in Pakistan may not be an easy task to achieve as it is a faith related matter too, but struggle in the right direction could pave the way to meet it.

A Sheer Propoganda and Threats by KPK Government Over Strategic Land of Gilgit-Baltistan

 With 30 days left in the 40-day ceasefire brokered between opposing tribes of Kohistan and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) over a disputed stretch of land, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), G-B and the central governments have still not resolved the matter.

On Monday, members of the Bhasha Dam Action Committee from Kohistan, comprising MPA Abdus Sattar Khan and 12 others, met Adviser to the K-P Chief Minister on Inter-Provincial Coordination Haji Abdul Haq Khan and urged the government to take solid measures to protect the Diamer-Bhasha Dam from further controversy.

During the meeting, Abdul Haq said in the larger interest of K-P, the committee announced by the provincial assembly should visit the disputed area before April 10 to assess the situation on ground.  He added a complete report should be submitted to the Boundary Commission so the row between the two sides can be resolved before the ceasefire ends.

“The G-B government should stop its illegal intervention in the eight kilometres of land which has been declared controversial by the K-P government,” said the CM’s adviser. He accused the G-B government of deliberately creating controversies about a strategic area and drawing the ire of K-P lawmakers.

Committee members said the G-B government and Appellate Court have termed the upper Kohistan area a disputed territory, which is dangerous for the state.

“The area includes the property of people from Thorak area of Diamer and Harban in Bhasha, however, it is clear in the official records of K-P, the Survey of Pakistan and Estate Notification of 1955 that the area falls under K-P’s jurisdiction and remains a part of Kohistan for administrative purposes,” said MPA Abdus Sattar Khan.

Sattar added that it is essential the state devise a joint strategy to tackle the issue. The MPA further said that Kohistan lawmakers, the K-P Assembly and district administration will not let anyone alter the provincial and district boundaries of K-P.

The ongoing dispute between Kohistan and G-B regarding the ownership of an eight-kilometre stretch of land took a violent turn in late February when armed clashes between both sides left at least seven people dead and dozens injured.

On February 28, the K-P Assembly reacted strongly to the tension between the two regions and formed a jirga comprising the home secretary, DIG Hazara and Kohsitan MPAs. This team was deputed to visit the area and submit a report to the K-P government by March 3.

Despite repeated attempts, Sattar and adviser to the CM Khan could not be reached to enquire about the status of the sought report.

The view from across the fence

Meanwhile, Sajadul Haq, spokesperson for G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah told The Express Tribune, “The K-P government is intervening in the territorial borders of G-B and we will not let that happen.”

He further said the people of G-B were not responsible for the clashes.  “The G-B home secretary has taken up the issue with the K-P government on the directives of CM Shah. It will be further discussed with the K-P and federal government once the G-B CM returns to the country,” said Haq.

Saudi are Responsible for Terrorism in Iran and Worldwide: by Iraq PM

Saudi slams ‘irresponsible’ terror accusations by Iraq PM

Saudi Arabia slammed as “aggressive and irresponsible” on Monday accusations by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the kingdom was supporting global terrorism.

“The kingdom condemns the aggressive and irresponsible statements made by the Iraqi prime minister,” an unidentified official told the state SPA news agency.

In an interview aired on Saturday, Maliki charged that Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Qatar were supporting militant groups in Iraq and across the Middle East as well as terrorism worldwide

What Subsidy Demand a Strike all over Gilgit-Baltistan

Charter of Demands

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