Click on arrows
to find more
these themes








bank employee




6 July 2002


The interviewer knows Amjad well and narrator and interviewer clearly have great respect for each other. Amjad has lived in Karachi for the last 32 years, yet he retains close ties to Shimshal through his position as president of the ‘Task Force’ of the Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT) and through his annual visits to the village. He is an articulate narrator, who focuses particularly on migration and development.

Amjad first left Shimshal to get a better education in the village of Gulmit. After two years there, inspired by an older male relative who was already studying in Karachi, he decided to go to Karachi to continue his studies. He describes his journey to Karachi and his experiences and thoughts about migration to the city. Although his move was successful, he explains that most young people from Shimshal do not succeed in Karachi. This is due to it being an “emotional decision… they came to Karachi by following the footsteps of the others rather than properly planning and evaluating the economic situation of their respective households.” He goes on to say that “around 10% of our youngsters were successful and the 90% who were unsuccessful, I don’t consider them to be held responsible for their failure nor their parents – because this was due to various reasons such as lack of information and proper knowledge about the city.”

He reflects on the development that has taken place in Shimshal in the last 30 years. He explains in detail the background to the SNT, its successful management plan, and the future development plans. It is clear that he is proud of his community. He praises the efforts of many of its members in constructing the road, and highlights the effectiveness of the volunteers and scouts.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1-2  Interviewer’s introduction Amjad’s childhood memories: helping in the pastures and with agriculture in summer; playing games in winter. Amjad started school at the age of 12 or 13. Education in Shimshal at that time: “There was no proper building … there were no proper books … I decided to leave the village and go to a better place than Shimshal where such things were adequately available.” In 1966 Amjad left Shimshal for Gulmit.
Section 3-4  Difficulties for Shimshali students studying and living away from home. After two years in Gulmit, he decided to go to Karachi together with an older relative, one of the first Shimshalis to be educated outside. His journey to Karachi from Gilgit in 1972: “the journey from this point onwards was very interesting and exhausting. We reached Bisham via truck after three days. In those days the driving used to be done only at day time due to bad and uneven roads. But now we cover the same distance in about 6 to 7 hours.” The bus broke down but they eventually reached Rawalpindi. His first impressions of the city. Train journey from Rawalpindi to Karachi.
Section 5-6  Changes that have taken place in Karachi during the last 32 years. Amjad also mentions corruption and insecurity (although these comments are not very clear). Living arrangements in Karachi of people from Gulmit, Shimshal and Passu: “In 1973 we were about 70 people and along with guests it used to be around 80 in all. At that time we used to live with unity and love, helping and taking care of each others’ needs.” Interesting detail on how whenever guests came, they would go and have their photograph taken at a particular studio. “… there were always ties, check shirts and coats made readily available and we used to put them on in turns to have our pictures taken…you will realise our shortage of clothes in those days. I think about 101% of us had pictures taken wearing the same red tie, check shirt and black coat…”
Section 6  Previous students from Shimshal and surrounding villages who studied in Karachi and their achievements. His family lives with him in Karachi. Hopes for his children: “…it is my aim to bring up my children in such a way that they become independent. They should utilise the benefits of living in a city… If my children…should be skilled with some trade or another…as a skilled person they will never sleep hungry...”
Section 7  In 1979 he was asked by the elders in Shimshal to describe the living conditions in Karachi: “I told them that apart from doing our jobs we also do the general house chores such as cooking, cleaning, washing and even fill water from the taps like the same as our women do at our village… The elders replied ‘very tough life’.” Detailed discussion on how most Shimshalis who come to Karachi do not succeed.
Section 8  Tradition of migrating to Karachi – it is thought to be easy to live there. While this was the case in the past “nowadays life has become very fast, and due to excess population and the economic situation etc life has become very tough...” Amjad’s reflections on development in Shimshal since he left: “…the work done in this span of time is so much that we have not been able to do as much work in the last two centuries.” Efforts over time to construct the road: “…people from every walk of life participated in building this road. They were volunteers, scouts, carpenters, masons, old, young, military men and even children who took part in this cause, and it was only their sincerity and will to work that made it possible.”
Section 9-11  In terms of development planning, Amjad stresses the need to “to seek advice from our elders”. Success to date of the volunteers and scouts in implementing development projects etc. Amjad is president of SNT’s “Task Force”. Background to SNT. The development of SNT’s management plan: “in spite of lack of resources and unlike the other plans - which were made by other consultants utilising huge funds… you people made a better plan than the government consultant made… And when it was presented to the government on behalf of SNT that impressed the government officials.” Importance of Japanese photojournalist Hideki who he believes “changed the thinking of our younger generation and gave them a new awareness”. The “historic meeting” where several Shimshalis gathered in Lahore to discuss and formulate the management plan. Once completed it was presented to the local administration and representatives of WWF. Amjad explains that “It was a big encouragement that the chairman of Pakistan’s WWF…and the writer and consultant of Khunjerab National Park’s Management Plan were also present and praised our plan and this was indeed an honour for us as it was beyond our expectations.”
Section 11-12  Favourable response of foreign consultants to SNT: “…the local people “practically” know about their environment surroundings while the government officials are theoretical. Realising this the foreign consultants started backing SNT’s motive in all seminars and symposiums and convinced the international organisations to support locals’ ideas in the field of conservation.” Specific roles played by David Butz (Canadian geographer) and John Mock (American linguist and travel writer) in support of SNT. Amjad also praises the efforts of Khaliq and other members of SNT: “If you people were not active and motivated, the outsiders would not have had helped you people.” Future plans of SNT: the establishment of trophy hunting; the construction of an irrigation canal; development of a mountaineering school; and the renovation of Shimshal’s museum. Amjad concludes: “each organisation should perform an active role in the development of our community. And every organisation should have a strong and sound financial position.”