Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary








teacher trainer




15 January 2001



Bismillah Rehman-e-Rahim (In the name of God the magnificent and the most merciful). Today is January 15th, it is 6 o’clock in the evening and I am sitting at the home of Aman janab (Mr, sir) at Gilgit. Aman janab belongs to Shimshal, but to change his life and his children’s life, he migrated from Shimshal and is now residing in Gilgit. Today I am going to ask him about his personal experiences about life. I hope Aman will provide me with the personal information about himself.
Section 1
First of all Aman janab, Assalam-o-Aliakum (peace be with you). Could you tell me what is your age?
Valiakum Salam Dr sahib. I am now 41 years old. And my date of birth is 7th May 1960.

Very good janab Master sahib (Sir, term of respect)! Where is your place of birth?
I was born in Shimshal.

Where is your wife from? Is she your own choice or your parents’ choice?
At our time there was a system of arranged marriages, I mean parents decided and arranged to whom we have to get married. I myself didn’t take any step, my wife is my father’s relative and that is why he engaged me with her. But we are happy living together because I really enjoy [being] with my wife. While living with a close coordination I think that we may not be able to feel comfortable with our own choice of wife. I think that arranged marriage is the same as love marriage, in which the couples live as they wish.

Very nice master sahib. First of all, I would like to ask you how many generations of your family have passed away in Shimshal.
In Shimshal approximately twelve of our generations have passed away.

Do you have any information that during these twelve generations, which one of your grandfather’s has played a very good role?
In our family Maad has been born four times and passed away. And all of these four Maad’s were very creative or inqalabi (revolutionary) types of people. The first Maad was first arbob (Mir’s main representative in the village) of Shimshal. The second Maad was zarjh (foster brother: milk brother – breastfed from the same woman) of the Mir (rulers of Hunza state up to 1974) of Hunza. In those times your status was based on one’s relationship to the Mir. And the third Maad was my own father, who was not only the yarpa of the Mir, who is responsible to look after the livestock of Mir, but he also thought about the modern age. And I will further comment something on this issue as well, that inqalab (revolution) he brought in this matter. And the fourth Maad is the name of my own youngest son. My son was born in the same year and in the same month that my father had passed away. That is why we named him after my father’s name. And in our family people of this name have brought many, many changes.
Section 2
As you mentioned earlier that four Maads had came in your family, as your father was uneducated, how did he come to wish that you people (his sons) should get an education?
Dr. sahib, this is a very good question, and it is my favourite question and on which I want to give some comment. My father was definitely uneducated. As I told you before my father was the yarpa (Mir’s representative responsible for livestock production and supervision of central grain store) who gives the details of yearly work done by Shimshali’s for the Mir, but he was unable to speak Brushaski, (language of lower Hunza and of the Mir). When my father reached the Mir’s palace and tried to give him the details of work, he had to use a translator to communicate with the Mir. My father noticed that the translation was not accurately done and the translator didn’t tell the Mir exactly what my father had said. When my father left the darbar (Mir’s palace), and came outside and raised his hands for prayer, he requested that “take all my wealth and give my children a language” [here language means knowledge].
Thus he didn’t pray only, he worked as well. I think in my family, my father was a very revolutionary person. And I think it is not only good for me, it will be good for my village also, and God may know this. My father has a dream that we should do something good for our village instead of doing [things] only for ourselves. If we have got that noor (literally, light), meaning ability, then we might be able to do something good for our village. My father prayed to God to give his children a language. And language means ilm (literally, light), and ilm means knowledge. And due to God’s blessings, and due to the kindness and prayers of my father, as you are seeing that my all brothers are able to express themselves. And when my father started living separately from my uncle’s, at first he took my uncle Ghulam Rasool to the ilm–e-bar (school), and my uncle has also contributed a lot in educating me, he has played an important role in my education. When we separated from our uncle, at that time my father told me “don’t be anxious about me, you should go to Karachi and get the education, complete education from there and then come back.” Two days before going to Karachi, my father again thought that there are also four brothers behind me, and if I alone would get my education and the other four couldn’t get the opportunity and there would be a great loss. When my father asked me the same question and I also thought on that, and my father’s thinking or sense played the role of a light for me, and I thought that definitely the loss of one person is not a loss, but the loss of four people will be a great loss. Then I cancelled going to Karachi for higher studies and continued doing the same job, teaching, which I was doing before so that I could educate my younger brothers.
My father always prefers to save something for our future and even he didn’t wear the clothes that I bought for him. And following the sayings of my father, I always tried to save one or two pennies that I would be able to spend later on my brother’s copies and pencils.
And now I can say God has accepted my father’s prayers and that is why one of my brothers has completed his education and is doing his job, two of my brothers are studying down country and my sister is studying too. That was my father’s prayer that they should get their education. This is a different thing that they should achieve their goal or not, but I am following my father’s mission. He had showed me that education is very important. And if you couldn’t be successful in your education, then everything is possible after it. Because if one is not successful, then he might be able to do the farming, do the grazing of animals, or do the work of a carpenter. But if he is a carpenter and then he wants to get an education, then he can’t do that. So my father said let all your brothers get an education and if [it is] not possible for them, then let them do other jobs. And this was the step of my father towards ilm (literally, light; education/knowledge).
I believe that if my brothers are getting their education then definitely they might be able to contribute something for our village. Because it was the wish of my father that we should contribute something for our village, we must help our village; we must do something for our village. But it will depend on my brothers’ willingness and choice, whether they would like to do something for our village or not, and I can say it will be in the hands of God.
Section 3
Master sahib, whatever you have mentioned earlier I think it is all due to the contribution of your late father. So I think we must learn a lesson from him. And now I would like to ask you a question. What differences do you feel in your own life and in your father’s life?
This is a very different question Dr. sahib. There are two different types of feelings or thoughts, which I usually felt. One feeling is that I have turned a little bit from my old, ancient tradition. And the second feeling is that I am going to enter into a new school. For example, like in English a ‘crossroads’, or in Urdu ‘churaha’, or in our own language ‘qush fedek’ meaning two parallel paths, and I am now on a ‘qush fedek’ meaning on two paths. One fedek (path) is my ancestor’s ancient lifestyle, and the other is my own new life. On the previous path, there were my father’s wealth, livestock, and his farming lands. And on the new path, which I have got, is my education. And I have seen livestock inside my education, I have seen farmlands inside this education, I have seen wealth inside this education, and I have also seen how to know and how to speak with others. And I thought that if I would follow only the ancient path, then I would not be successful in the future. So I planned that I must follow the new path; because through this I might be able to get everything.
For example, if I say that there are livestock, then you have to see that how the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) is working on livestock, how they brought livestock of different types from down country. And this is all because of education. And education is to know about anything, and to know about any thing is ilm, knowledge, and after this if we look at the farming side, AKRSP has introduced many new farming systems. We were only producing food for our own needs before, but now they have taught us how we can generate income from our crops, like, potatoes, seeds and fruits etc. and for these sorts of things ilm knowledge plays the role of light. Ilm means nothing separate, it means ‘light’. So I thought that according to the new life where there is light, I should follow that path. Instead of following the dark path, I must walk on the way where there is light, where everything is visible, and where I will be able to see everything.
God’s distorkhun (piece of cloth on which a meal is laid) is very large according to worldly life. If there will be light in front of me, then I will be able to see everything decorated on that distorkhun. But if I enter the dark way that is without education then everything might not be visible to me and I will not be able to see everything and eat everything. And definitely there is a chance of losing things. So for me ilm is a light and on the path of ilm I will definitely get those things for which I am having the ability and for those things which are heavier or things which I am not able to understand I will need extra light. So for this purpose I prefer this life, that is the step towards education, and I also prefer the same way for my brothers and sisters, and for my village as well.
As you know, when I was teaching in Shimshal, at that time my father took all the responsibilities of our home and I was given full time for my ilm and I was supposed to teach in the school and after that I used to go to the coaching centre rather then doing other household chores.
I always prefer to talk to my friends on the topic of ilm, that they should come towards ilm and go towards ilm. Because our Imam (hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, currently Prince Karim Aga Khan) also prefers this path and it is my belief that we must follow that path on which he is emphasising, because that path is more visible and clearer.
Section 4
Nice, master sahib, now I want to ask you another question, I think you are the first person from Shimshal who left his home and properties in Shimshal and settled in Gilgit. I want to know the reason for leaving Shimshal?
Thank you Dr. sahib. First of all in Shimshal I was doing a job, I was at my home there and working in my home. Many people used to ask me the same question that you have left your lands. But I think no one can leave his own lands forever and the same is with me. My lands and other properties are there in Shimshal and my own brother is there to look after that. He is working on my lands as well.
As I mentioned earlier, for improving my farming products my ilm would help me in a proper way. My farming lands would definitely wait for my children till the completion of their education and after completing their education, if they understand well, then definitely they will make better use of those lands. For getting one ton to five tons of wheat from a piece of land, I have to use a lot of fertiliser and seeds on that land. And I think [it] is not properly used by me, because I was not able to produce more from that land. And I thought my children might be able to use that land in a proper way. As I have told you before that sometimes ago, people were getting one to three tons of wheat from a piece of land, but now the pattern is getting changed, people are getting more and more from the same piece of land and are supporting their entire families. They are giving education to their children; they have their savings in banks from the same land. So I have also left my lands due to my job, because I have been posted to Gilgit and I couldn’t manage both things, that is my home and my job. I couldn’t manage to leave my children in Shimshal and live alone in Gilgit.
In the beginning when they were in Shimshal, sometimes I couldn’t even support them to fulfil their educational needs; I couldn’t fulfil their other basic requirements of daily life. My wife was alone in Shimshal to look after our lands and everything, and it was very difficult for her to manage everything alone and that is why migrated from Shimshal and decided to live in Gilgit. And I thought by this way I would be able to look after my children and will also be able to fulfil their educational requirements and other needs as well. And the main objective behind living in Gilgit is to give my children a quality education. And there is a possibility that when my children grow older, then they could live in a hostel and I would again get the chance to go back to Shimshal, because I like Shimshal very much. And for me Shimshal is as sweet as shait (sugar). So I again say that my migration is due to ilm, because our Imam, His Highness, is emphasising very much on ilm and I think I would follow that path on which he is emphasising.
Section 5
You were the head teacher of our Shimshal school before migrating to Gilgit and you know the situation of our school very well, so now I would like your comments on how could we bring changes in our educational system in our school?
It is a very difficult question, but anyway I will try to do some comments on that. The first step, which one has to take, is developing ideas - that is thoughts in one’s mind. If someone has some thoughts, feelings and ideas about something in his mind then definitely he would think over that and concentrate on doing that thing in a better way. Nowadays we the Shimshalis are agriculturists and herders and that is why we are fully concentrating towards these two things that is livestock and agricultural land. And the reason is that these two things are the only means of earnings for our entire population in Shimshal and we have no any other means. We have no any transportation facilities at all. And if we suddenly leave these things then we will definitely die due to hunger.
So I couldn’t say people should come towards education at once, but the process should be continued slowly, as it is going now. We are living in a small village and if we compare ourselves to other larger villages, then we come to know that those villages have produced the same percentage of educated people as we did. In Shimshal four or five people have completed their master degrees, ten to fifteen have got their bachelors degrees, and more than this have completed their intermediate and now many are students studying down country. So for the students I would like to give the message that they should pay full concentration to their studies, because it does not have any demerits, rather it has many merits for them in return if they utilise their time in a proper way. For example, we are constructing paths for our pastures, we are building shelters for our livestock in the pastures, and we are building houses for ourselves in the pastures for grazing animals there. We are doing these things from many decades and now I think we should finish these things because 16-17 of our generations have passed while doing the same thing. And in my opinion now it is time to look towards the condition of our schools, we should build our school building, we must think who should be the teacher in our school, who will be the suitable candidate to teach in our school. These things must be part of our thinking now. And we have to facilitate these teachers in our school, because they are the builders of our future generations.
Here I want to give you an example of Ghizer. People are extremely poor in that area, because they have no source of income like tourism and selling of their own produce like potatoes etc. and most of the male population of this district have migrated to cities in search of jobs. Most of them have joined the Pakistan army and the rest are doing small jobs in the cities. The reason behind their migration is to make their economic condition stable. And I have seen that they have built beautiful schools in each village and 100% of the parents are sending their children to schools. And they are paying their children’s fee, which I think is too much as compared to their living condition. They have built beautiful model schools in every village and are paying full concentration on education. Because they have seen that the people of Hunza have progressed due to education.
But unfortunately we became careless nowadays and we are not trying to do progress in the same pace and manner. And it is human nature that one can’t critically judge oneself rather then someone else. If we look at our past and we see the progress made by our educated brothers of the area and then we can change our direction towards education, schools, our children’s copies and pencils. And as if people change their thinking, that they start checking their children when they come back from school, that whether they have learnt something or not, ask their teachers about their children’s progress in the school, take ideas from the teachers about their kids, because a teacher is always having many ideas and information about all individual students. And as you know a person can step towards prosperity by having different ideas in his mind and by consulting others in this manner. And in my opinion people should be as conscious for their kids as they are for their goats and sheep like that every evening they used to ask their kids whether the goats and sheep are all back to the shelter or not. And I think this conscious must be their children as well.
Section 6
You have given very good information about education to us. And now I would like your opinion about the drawbacks in our school in your time as a head, and I also want to know the reason that whether that drawback is from the parents’ side or whether there is some other reason for that?
As I have a lot of experience in teaching and have spent most of my life time in Shimshal and have worked as a head teacher for five years there from primary level to middle level, I came across different experiences while working as a head. So first of all I want to tell you about the educational progress in our village at that time. When I joined the school, there were only thirty students in our school and Uncle Ghulam Rasool was running that school, and he had taught as an honorary teacher for two years. And after him Uncle Azizullah came in and he taught on pay for two more years and he left teaching forever. Again Uncle Ghulam Rasool came in and he started teaching on pay and then he handed over to me and left teaching himself, because he had been separated from his brother - that is my father and he had to do his other responsibilities as well.
So initially the problems I had to face were in the primary level due to cultural norms. The introduction of female education was a totally new concept for people to accept. They were sending their sons to school but were not agreeing at all to send their daughters. And for this purpose I personally visited their homes and motivated the parents to send their daughters to school and by this way we increased our enrolment numbers in the school and within a year the total number reached to sixty students. And due to this a new teacher Sher has been appointed with me. And we both collectively started running our school in a more organized and in a very good way. When our school was a primary school, at that time it stood as the 2nd best school in the Hunza region. According to the analysis of our educational system, AKESP (Aga Khan Education Services Programme) Moorkhun school ranked first and our school ranked second.
But later on our community has decided to upgrade the school up to a middle section without any proper planning. The community didn’t think about the after effects of that upgrading and they totally depended upon the system rather then doing something by themselves. And in return it had some negative impacts on our school. I think if the jamat (Ismaili community) had planned it properly and built the building first then we might not have had to face the problems later on; because at that time we had only four classrooms of 10x12 and we had to accommodate nine classes in the classrooms available, and in return the upgrading brought problems instead of happiness. Problems for us and the large number of students i.e. 3-4 classes in one room have made the classroom environment very disturbing for us to teach in and as a result we were not able to give proper education to our students and to make them understand anything properly, and that is something which has continued until now.
The other draw back that we faced was, the jamat had requested AKESP to upgrade our school and they have accepted their request. But the jamat didn’t think about whether our teachers are having the skills or capabilities to teach the middle section or not. The jamat had forced the AKESP system but we the teachers were not prepared to run the middle section in our school. And as a result we the teachers had faced so many hurdles while teaching the middle classes. All of our teachers have been trained by AKESP to teach the higher classes. But when they were trained, they were prepared and have finally got the teaching skills to teach the middle classes, then suddenly the medium of instruction changed from Urdu to English. And unfortunately, we were all Urdu medium teachers and we needed the same training process again. We were like the raw woods from which the carpenter used to make new things. The first training took five years and the second one will also need the same time or more to be completed. So we faced these sorts of problems while running our school.
Another problem, which we faced, was due to the fee collection from the students, because this idea had never been heard of by the parents. We were like a small kid who always depends on their mother for spoon-feeding. In the beginning education was free for us, from our AKESP system, but our Imam (His Highness) didn’t like free education, and he didn’t want us to be dependent for our whole life. So in 1995 AKESP had introduced the system of fee collection. The amount was nominal, it was only 5 rupees (currency), and now it has increased to 100 rupees only. But our jamat had felt that as a burden for them and were not ready to pay that amount. If we realise today’s education has became very expensive, people are paying thousands of rupees to educate their kids. Today 100 rupees is nothing, but the dependency on AKESP makes it a burden and as a result many people are not sending their children to school. But I think if they sell one or two goats each year that might cover their children’s annual fee. But the problem is that people are not thinking in that way.
Another problem is that one is not able to get the benefits of education at once. We cannot see it, because it is not visible. But in the case of wealth or something else it is different. For example, if a person is having a goat, then within one year it could be two. Or if one starts making new lands then they could be increased in number from time to time. But in the case of education, parents have to spend at least 25 years, and after that they might be able to get the benefit, if their child might get any job. And that is why people think about whether they will educate their children or not. And that is why we are not trying to upgrade our school to a higher level. In our village people are sending their children to school up to middle level. But after that they couldn’t take the decision about whether to send their children, especially their daughters to downside for higher education or not. We had run a coaching centre in Shimshal for many years to educate our students within our village up to Matric level (secondary school certificate). And many of our students had passed their matriculation during that period, but due to some carelessness from the community side it had been closed and our education stopped at the middle level.
Another change which is taking place in our educational system today is the merit system. Today the students are very competitive as compared to the past. Because in the past we had seen that those students who got admission in the professional colleges had passed with grade ‘c’. But today the trend has changed, students are now getting 80% or above marks to get admission in these colleges or universities.
We can say that education is common for all today, but in our village students are not competent, they are getting education just for passing their exams. But I think education needs hard work, and struggle. Without struggle education is meaningless.
There are other reasons or hurdles for not providing higher education to our students and that is the non-availability of teachers in our village to teach the higher school children. And the parents could not afford to send their children to downside for higher education. Many of the parents had sent their sons to down country for the sake of higher education, but they were not able to bear their financial needs. These students have to do small jobs to cover their educational needs as well as other needs and that is why they couldn’t concentrate well on their studies. And till today our students are facing the same problem down side.
The teachers in our village are facing many problems due to the lack of facilities. Because in Gligit the teachers are having all the facilities needed for teaching the students, they have proper classroom facilities, like black boards, libraries and other resources or teaching needs. And for the students as well, all the basic facilities like copies (notebooks), pencils and other things are easily accessible. While these things are out of reach of our teachers and students. In Shimshal even students of class 8 are not having their copies and books according to their needs. But instead of all these difficulties, if we compare ourselves to other advanced villages, where all the basic facilities are available, then I think we can say we are far better the those. Because living in Shimshal and getting education like the other villages of Hunza is very difficult, it is difficult to get education like the people of Gilgit and Gulmit while living in Shimshal. But if we look at our backward area and then compare ourselves to other villages, then we can say we are better then those living downside villages.
Section 9
Thank you Aman sahib, as you were living in a village, but now you had moved to the city, so I would like your opinion that what differences do you feel in these two types of life?
You have asked a very nice question, but I don’t know I will be able to give you a nice answer or not. I think Gilgit is basically a village, but now it has changed into a city, because all the facilities of city life are now available here in Gilgit. For me city life is like a hell, but village life is a heaven, because I am a person who believes on mental satisfaction rather then on physical comfort. In a village the jamat work together, help each other in solving problems, live happily with each other, and participate actively in each others’ happiness as well as anxieties. While in a city even you can’t expect these things from a member of your own family. I would like to give you my own example, one night I was so sick because of fever and body pain. My uncle along with his son was also at my place in Gilgit. I badly needed for someone who could take care of me at that time. But no one came to me in my room to ask me even for a glass of water. They slept well throughout the night in a separate room while leaving me shivering alone in my bedroom for the all night and I couldn’t sleep for a single minute. At that time I missed my own family in Shimshal, I thought if I were in Shimshal my family members might all get up to take care of me by calling the doctor, and doing arrangements for other necessities relevant at that time, and all of them would contribute something at that time to comfort me. But in a city things are opposed to this. Your neighbours will not take notice if you have no water at your home, or your family members are hungry for many days, or if a thief enters your home and loots everything or killed someone.
So I can say that in a city life there are always anxieties, but in a village, life is safe and you can live without any danger. In a village, if someone is very old and in his last stages and is living alone he is also having some hope that “if some thing happened to me, if I fell ill, than definitely there would be someone who will take care of me or if I die then someone will definitely care for my dead body”. In a village no one remains hungry, because there is always someone’s door opened to enter. Your relatives are always there with you. But in a city the case is different, people living within the same roof are alien to each other. There is always the danger of bandits and other dangerous things. But in a village everyone is having the same standard of living and are living a happy life. They are all from the same class and the concept of poor and rich never exists among them. If we look at the situations in our own village then we see that there is a person who is poor but is aged is having his own personal identity and self-respect among others, and the youth are always ready to take care of him in every situation.
But in a city those people are respected by others, who are wealthy. They don’t care whether the person had got the wealth from what means, they only care about how much wealth he is having, and in which sort of house he is living and what type of car he is driving. These are the prides of a city life. And when a person migrates from a village to a city for the first time, then these thing becomes a source of anxiety for him. Here I will give you an example, sometime ago I attended a meeting here in Zulfiqarabad, Gilgit and during the meeting someone said that we the jamat of Zulfiqarabad, and I objected to him using the word ‘jamat’. I said how could he use this word without having any common goal, interest and problems. You’re not aware of my problem and I am not aware of yours. According to me ‘jamat’ and ‘community’ consists of a group of people who are having their own common needs/goals and who collectively strive to achieve that goal or solve their problems if they had any. And I think in a village things are like a spreg (a flower), because they are with each other in every sphere of life. While in the city life, other facilities are available to make a person physically comfortable, like there are more opportunities to get education, health, transportation and other basic facilities. But a person would need enough money to avail all these facilities and opportunities around him. And I prefer village life for myself.
Section 10
I am really impressed by your views Aman sahib. Basically your profession is teaching and you are now working with AKESP as a master trainer, so I want to know your opinion that what you expect from our young generation who are studying downside? And if they come back to Shimshal, what changes they should bring with them?
Your question can be answered in to two points of view. First one is, when a person starts his city life, he develops his thinking accordingly. But the villagers are very simple and they think that these people coming from the cities play with them. And this approach is due to the generation gap, because if one thinks or talks about something and others couldn’t understand his ideas, this can create a problem. But anyhow if one left his village and migrates to the city this doesn’t mean that he starts thinking negatively for his village. I think he will always keep positive thinking for his village and try to bring better things for his village. But I couldn’t say that these people would do everything in a right direction, but it is possible that most of the people will bring positive changes and many of them will also bring negative changes with them. For example, there is no sign of cigarettes in our village, but if a person goes to down county and become a chain smoker and when he comes back to the village then there is a possibility of transferring that habit to other persons, and we can say that the person had brought a negative change to our village. While on the other hand a person who comes back after completing his education will definitely bring a positive change with himself by doing things in a right direction. And his own friends as well as others will try to follow him in a right way. So we can say that it has two aspects, positive as well as negative.
Section 11
Aman sahib you may have more to say on this topic, but I have almost finished my questions related to education, but now I want to know about your favourite game in your childhood?
I was so dull in playing games. I was enthusiastic to participate in different games but my luck never did well with me. Whenever I played polo (local game), my friends mostly hurt my head and I went back home with a big cry without finishing the game. I also liked to participate in playing tuksori (game similar to cricket), but my ghatenz (stick/bat) never touched the tuksori (small piece of wood curved in a specified shape), and as a result my friends always sent me back to my home. But there was another game called tough-mai, tough means goat and mai means sheep. In this game we had to collect small pieces of stones mostly in two colours, that is black and white. The white stones were supposed to be mai (sheep), and the black ones as tough (goats). These stones were mixed up in the beginning and we had to separate these stones from each other, and the person who did this first was the winner of the game. There was a special trick to separate these stones from each other by throwing the stones up and catching them on the opposite side of your both hands and again throwing them and separating one colour of stone from the rest on the right side of your hand. In this game two to twelve people can participate. And all of them are supposed to play it turn by turn. And I think this game was a kind of analysis to build the mental capacity of a child and I personally liked that game very much.

Now I would like to ask you one more question related to your poetry. As you are among one of those people, who are doing poetry in the Wakhi language in Shimshal and I want to know when you started doing poetry?
Okay, well. It is not my own struggle at all you can say it is a gift from God. And naturally it exists in me. I was in class three when I started doing poetry. There was someone’s wedding ceremony, and I was there along with my sathi (friends) Sabz Ali and Laili Shah. We were enjoying the ceremony, but suddenly we decided to recite a poem. You can say that was a parody, a copy of a local song, sang by a hunter doing hunting. Now I don’t remember the actual wordings of that song. But anyway we had changed the original song and completed our own parody. And that was the beginning of my poetry and people who were present there had also appreciated and have encouraged me to present that at the ceremony. After that I left Shimshal and went to Gulmit for further studies. I stayed in Gulmit till the completion of my 7th grade. During that period I never touched the poetry again. After completing my 7th grade, I wrote a new poem for the first time in a written form and it was in Urdu language and the wordings included were: “jo sach poocho to batil keleia talware Ali hai”. But now I had lost the paper and forgot the remaining part of that poem.
After that when I was in class 9 in Gilgit, at that time many of my friends like Johar, Farman Ali and Shahid had done their matric and were going down country for getting higher education. When they were leaving we arranged a small farewell party for them and during the function I presented a farewell song for them which was also written by me, and that was: “hostel se jane walo hafiz khuda tumhara”. And that was appreciated by all my friends and fellows present during that time. Many of my friends from Ghizer side had taken that poetry with them and had presented that on different occasions in their area and people liked that very much. And that was the poetry which made me realise that I can do poetry as well and after that I started doing poetry in a more proper way.
During my summer vacations I went to Shimshal to spend my vacations with my family. At that time my uncle who was a teacher in the school handed over the responsibility to me to run the school during my vacations. We were preparing for the Salgirah (important Ismaili celebration on 11th July), at that time some of the students asked me that I should write a qasida (poem praising God) in Wakhi. They said that we are supposed to present the qasida in Brushaski (language of central Hunza) which is difficult to present. So I wrote a qasida, although it was not so standardised but that is part of my book “Soghat-e-aman” (gift from Aman) and since then I continued doing poetry. Though I am so busy with my job, but whenever I get sometime I try to write something.
I left Urdu poetry and came towards Wakhi poetry, because many, many people have contributed and are now contributing for this language and I also thought that my Urdu poetry might not be according to the standard of the Urdu speaking people and they might not accept it. And I decided to contribute my time for the Wakhi language for which nothing had been done. And mashallah (thanks be to God) I had completed my first book of poetry and sent that to some of my friends in Karachi for composing. And I hope it will be published soon and come to the market and people’s comments will definitely help me to judge the level of my poetry. And I would like to tell you another thing that the first naat (poem praising the Holy prophet) which was telecast on radio Pakistan Gilgit was also written me, and Ahmed Jami presented it on the radio. And that I think was also a privilege for me.
I had participated in a poetry competition in Gilgit , arranged at the district level and late, Ghulam Mohd Baig was the chief guest of that competition. I was the first and the only person from Gojal (Upper Hunza) who represented the Wakhi. Though the crowd didn’t understand the language, but anyhow they appreciated it being done in Wakhi for the first time. So I can say these are the things which encouraged me to continue working for the development of my poetry.
The main objective behind my poetry is to work for the survival of our Wakhi language because many words of our language had been lost or replaced by other languages. I am trying to get back the lost words. For example muthi (locally made medicine used to treat cuts or burns) had been replaced by an Urdu word marham. So I am trying to use these sorts of words in my poetry. Nowadays I am busy working on the alphabet of our Wakhi language, I want everyone to be able to read our language. It is now only accessible to those people who are working on it, but I am trying to introduce it to the common masses as well as the foreigners as soon as I can.
Section 13
Interesting, thank you for your comments. Now I would like your opinion on Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT). Are you satisfied with the work of SNT?
For me the Shimshal Nature Trust is a [form of] highly advanced thinking. I can say that it would be difficult for everyone to understand SNT. But if one might be able to understand it once, then he may realise that such a nice thinking had never taken place in our village. Because we are now moving towards change and modernisation never brings only positive aspects with it, but it brings both positive as well as negative. As I told you I like the game “tough-mai” very much, so now I can also say SNT is a very good hand, as for the game an expert hand is needed to separate the two colours of stones from each others. Like that we can say SNT is our expert hand and it will help us to differentiate between positive and negative aspects of things.
Different types of visitors are visiting our village, some of them have positive thinking and others may not. Some of them may work for the progress of our village but others may prefer their own individual needs only. So like this many people will bring many type of ideas with them to our village and we must be careful in this regard to which ideas we should accept and which should be rejected. For example, the world has an idea of protecting wildlife, they said “remove all other animals from the mountains and make it a place for wild animals.” While SNT is having a different idea, it is saying no, all these animals would be together for the safety of each other. God has created man to live in this world along with other living and non-living things. Some are dangerous but on the other hand they might be helpful in protecting him from any danger. So I think the vision of SNT is very good. There is a need to make our villagers understand how we can be organised on one platform, and manage things in a better way.

Thank you for your comments, now I would like to ask you one more question that what is your expectation from the road construction of our village?
The fedek (road) is the first step towards any type of progress or you can say progress depends upon roads. We had already made an impossible mission possible for our village through helicopter and that is the electricity system. Like this we took the tractor in parts to Shimshal through helicopter for our convenience. So you can say that the helicopter had played the role of a road for us to take things to Shimshal.
As I mentioned before the road couldn’t bring only positive changes with itself, but it might bring both negative as well as positive changes. The road which might bring prosperities along, will also bring anxieties for us. So my opinion is that in the beginning it will bring anxieties with it. Because we are not prepared for the negative aspect and this might include financial change. All of us might start running towards wealth. And secondly, it will bring different types of visitors for us. Visitors means not our own relatives but it means people from down country and foreigners. And the people of Shimshal should have to be very careful about these outsiders. Because if you now visit other villages of upper Hunza, then you may come to know that these people have developed their attitudes like the urban people. And they are not trusting on the outsiders at all. So we can say that the road might bring an attitudinal change in us. We will have to meet different types of people, and we will have to face different challenges in our daily life. We are today facing different problems, but later on we have to face different problems at the village level.
But there would be many developments along with these challenges. Education would be common for all and everyone may easily get education. As I mentioned the problem of the parents that they couldn’t build the school building due to non-availability of the constructing material would be solved after the road construction. We would be able to get the required materials along with the machinery in our village. There would be many economic developments and competition among people for economic stability on an individual as well as on collective basis. If one remains free, then it would be very difficult for him to live. So by this way we can move towards progress, and will be able to move ahead along with other downside villages.
The way of communication will be very fast and we might not need to settle in Gilgit with our children like me, because we would be able to get all the facilities here in Shimshal. So I can say that although this road will bring some negative changes, but I hope it will also bring many, many positive changes for us as well. Because today everyone has his own needs and limitations and the idea of collective thinking is slowly going out from our society. We are now giving more importance to our personal needs, rather than to collective needs. And those people who had spent their life together, worked with each other and had helped each other would feel these things and they would face difficulties due to these changes. But those people who are living in cities and who know spending their life according to the modern age will feel comfortable. This is my analysis about road construction, but instead we will be able to do progress. And as I mentioned in the beginning we have to face some difficulties, but these difficulties would be an experience for us and on the basis we would be able to do some progress. And these are some of the developments of the road construction.
But I would like to tell you another thing, as you know our access to down side and back to the village is by foot. And today time it is the most important thing of our life. Now it takes three days to reach Passu (a village of upper Hunza), and if the road is constructed then we would be able to spend these days in our home and use this time in some constructive way. For example, you came to Gilgit along with your wife and it took five days to reach here in Gilgit. But after the road these things will finish up and you will reach from Shimshal to Gilgit and get back to Shimshal on the same day after doing your work in Gilgit. So in this way you will be able to save four of your precious days, and you may be able to complete your own work and might give some time to your village as well. To us the most difficult thing is how to give time to your village. If we think that why there isn’t any proper school building, hospital building or why the people do not properly clean up the canals? So the reason is that people have lots of their own works to do. They have to take all their basic needs from Gilgit and it takes them a long time. Whenever we will get the transportation facilities in Shimshal, at that time most of us will never need to come to Gilgit, they would give money to the drivers and will get their needs in Shimshal. And some people would open their stores, and others would get things within the village. And by this way people would be able to save their time along with getting all their needs in the village. And in their spare time (which they save from travelling) they would do some other jobs, like they would build new canals, make new farm lands and work for their village.
And you know now our living standard - that is our food and way of living - is to some extent the same, but after the road there would definitely be a big change in these things. And instead of these we have a lot of our local products which have no value now, for example, palos (local woven carpet made of yak or goat hair) [but] after the road we would be able to make our own factory in Shimshal. Now we waste most of the goat hair, but in the future we will collect these hairs together and instead of wasting that, we would properly make use of that and sell these sorts of products to generate income. And like this we would sell other locally produced things like local cheese etc. and the amount we get will be used for our children’s education, and to fulfil other needs. And there would be a change in our life; we would be able to spend our life in a more proper or standardised way.
We never have the shortage of grass in our village but we saw that people of the down villages are bringing grass from the Punjab side. Just imagine, if getting grass is possible from down country, then what else can be? So just think that if we have the road then we would be able to get many, many facilities within our village. And the road is the only source to get all these facilities and without the road all these things are impossible. Presently our electricity system is off due to some technical faults and after the road it is possible that a bigger powerhouse can be built. And through electricity we would be able to save the fuel wood, because we are not having enough fuel wood. We are not having enough trees, and if people get extra time then they would grow trees for themselves, and that might be a contribution for the prosperity of our country as well.
And like AKRSP which had bought much progress to our area and we would be thankful to AKRSP that had started our road construction and had made it possible for us to complete it and we would be able in future to interact with the world. AKRSP has many other projects as well but due to communication problems we are not able to benefit from those projects. If the road is constructed then we would definitely get benefit from those projects also. Like they have a micro credit system, people are getting loans to do their own business, but the people of Shimshal are not doing that business. And why are they not doing any business? Because they are not having time, they are busy in doing their farming, grazing animals and also they have to take things from Gilgit to Shimshal. If they are in need of ten tons of things in their home, so for that they have to travel ten times to get those things to Shimshal. So if there will be road then they would get the things at once through vehicle. So by this way they would save their time and spare it for other tasks. So I would say that we all have to struggle very hard to construct our road as soon as possible for our progress.
But before the completion of the road we must think that, do we have some hotels in our village where we would make our guests to stay? For this purpose our villagers have to think collectively that there would be at least one motel where those guests should stay whom we cannot make stay at our homes, like the ones who come from Punjab, or our Pathan brothers, people from Gilgit and foreigners etc who are not our relatives but are our guests. So we must have a hotel in Shimshal for this purpose. And this must be before the completion of the road so that these people may not disturb our cultural values, our personal guests and as well as our own villagers.
Section 16
Thank you master sahib for all these information, now I would like to know about your hobbies?
My hobby is photography. I had never seen my grandfather. He had died many years before my birth. Schomberg (a foreign explorer in the 1940s) had made my grandfather’s photograph and that photograph had enabled me to know and see my grandfather. And it has inspired me a lot and I started doing photography and now I am having a lot of photographs and their negatives. And I hope in future these photographs may be helpful in doing research. I am not travelling without camera, I always have my camera with me. I am a naturalist basically, I love nature, natural scenarios and to record all those beautiful things on earth which are God’s creation.

Thank you for a very nice meeting master sahib, all this information is very interesting and valuable for all of us to benefit from. Again I would like to thank you for giving me your precious time.