Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary








development professional




July 2000



Section 1
Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much for carrying out an interview with me

So, first of all perhaps you want to tell me a bit about your family?
[Starts talking in Urdu]. Maybe I will speak in English

Yes, whatever, and donít worry about mistakes.
I was born in 1973 on January 12th and Iíve got four sisters.

Four sisters and we are three brothers. My mother and father are still alive; their ages are around 59 and 60.

And what do your sisters do?
Well two of them got married; one got married in Passu sheís got around six daughters.

Six daughters?
Yes and two sons. And the second sister she got married here in Shimshal she has got three sons and one daughter. And then we have got my eldest brother, his name is Mohabat Ali. Heís got one daughter...

Yes and we are expecting the second. And Iím the fourth member, still single, studying, completed my study you can say and still jobless you know. And younger brother, heís still studying and I have two younger sisters both of them still studying.

Younger than my younger brother, Ibadat, is Taj Begum, one of the first girls from Shimshal who got an opportunity to go out of Shimshal and study in the Aga Khan Academy (premier school for girls of the Northern Areas based in Karimabad, Hunza). Now she is studying in Islamabad. And the youngest sister is Fatima, sheís around 14 years old now and sheís studying in Morkhoon, after Shimshal. So, my father and mother are both in the village with my eldest brotherís wife and all of us, we are out of Shimshal right now or studying and thatís it at the moment.

What about your father, tell me a bit about your father?
Well my father is actuallyÖyou know here we donít have this [system of] specialisation, people have to work on everything. Weíve got a small piece of farmland and livestock and all other things. My father is basically a carpenter he used to construct the village houses and then the community centre or anything in the village. So he is one of the earliest carpenters in the village, especially working with, carving the stone.
Section 2
Oh so heís a mason, as well?

Does he work with stone and wood or just stone?
It is you know you make stone blocks for building heís professionally special in that.

We call it a mason.
You can see the Jamat khana (religious and community centre of Ismaili Muslims) here, well he was the studentÖ the first person who was professional in constructing these kind of buildings came from Gilgit, as there was no professional in Shimshal. So my father was the first person who got training with him and right now he is like a kind of, heís the one who, like wherever you will see in the village this masonry work, my father has made a contribution there. And from my childhood, because I used to go with my father when he was constructing a home in the village or anything. So I have a very special feeling for my fatherís profession, I really like that. That special smell I can feel from newly built houses or that feeling you know that a family shares when they construct a new house and move there. So that I have got a very special feeling for my fatherís profession.
But together with that he is very active [in the community]. Like Iíll say this, [there] is always a little quarrel in the home you know, my mother will always will say that ďyou donít work in the home and you always working in the community for the community.Ē Because all the year weíve got something the community are working on, you know a bridge, constructing offices, schools or trails or anything. There is continually something going on in the village. So my father loves to work with... and thatís basically a good thing which I really like about my father. And heís got one more speciality Iíll say - that he can sing the traditional Wakhi songs. And he remembers maybe more, the most traditional Wakhi songs, more than 30 he memorises and he can sing them. So usually if there are special ceremonies or culture shows or those kinds of things, my father sings there. But thatís not something for money, this is a kind of a tradition we have, that if there is happiness everybody gathers and celebrates it. So the good dancer will dance there, the singer will sing there that is like enjoying things......
And Iíll talk about my mother.

You should have some water, do you want some more?
No I can do it without water! My mother basically belongs to Moorkhon. You know in olden times it was maybe 4 or 5 days walk from Shimshal when they got married. So we had, like our family had a relationship with that family where my mother comes from.
[Interruption from the houseÖ]
Section 3
So you were saying you motherís from Moorkhon?
Yes. So we had family relations, so like one of our grandfatherís got married from there and one of our grandmotherís was married in that family. So the two families already had a relationship. So my parents got married when they were very young, I donít know about 15 or 16 years old that was the tradition you know. So they have been, all these five days you know my father walked to Moorkhon and got married and they came here. And well my mother worked very nicely; you know adjusting is quite difficult. But in those days Shimshal was comparatively rich, because there was this Hunza state and it was kind of closed, no road, no other thing and no access to the outer world. So we had very limited resources in the area. Gojal was well-to-do compared to [lower] Hunza because we have got more land and these livestock opportunities and Shimshal was you can say was the richest in the area of Hunza. So we used to pay the maximum taxes and we used to...so Shimshal was considered a kind of very respected in those days. People felt proud to get relations with Shimshal. So my mother was married here and because my grandfather he died soon and so in this nature like in our remote areas with agriculture and farming system you know this thing counts very much that an orphan which my father was, was very young. So my uncles cared very much for them.
And my mother also shares the same thing with my father that she loves to work voluntarily. Sheís one of the early Volunteer Corps when it was formed in Shimshal. My father also served as a subidar (sergeant) which was the highest rank here and my mother also did the same so this is something they both really share. They both love working voluntarily. And my motherís good at... [he makes the motion of hand spinning].

Spinning yes

Or knitting? Which one or both
BothÖboth you know because I remember when we were children we used to have the most beautiful sweaters [laughing] my mother made for us, and these socks and hand gloves and she still does though she is very weak and sometimes she gets sick

I have a pair, Ibadat gave me a pair, theyíre white with a blue pattern here [points to top of hand]...
Those are what my mother did in Karachi you know. Because when we brought her to KarachiÖshe was sick a few years back, so we brought her to Karachi for treatment. But she canít afford you know [to be] sitting all the day inside the room so she couldnít understand what to do with all this spare time. Because how long you can just sit in the room? So she requested, ďplease can you find out something I can do at leastĒ So we brought her knitting needles. So she knitted, I donít know more than 10 pairs of gloves for many people as gifts.

And I have one pair
Ahh you are lucky to have one
Section 4
I wear them, in the winter time in England Iím always wearing them
Really [laughing]

And I say, ďThese are my gloves from ShimshalĒ [more laughing] But they are really warm because they are wool.
Right, right

So what about your childhood? Apart from sweaters, apart from fancy sweaters?
There are certain thingsÖ I wasnít the kind of child who was a troublemaker, no. I was obedient basically, I donít know maybe I say too much, but thatís what people usually say about me and my parents even. I was a bit you know, very out spoken. Whenever anyone came to the school or in the village asking questions so I was the first [to answer], though I donít know the real answer, I just go and answer it or when a foreigner comes to the village Iíll try to speak something. So I remember the first word of English I remember was ďwelcomeĒ because that was written somewhere on the mountain you know. So I just tried to, you know, memorise W E LCOME. And I remembered then I have been to school and talked to my colleagues you know and they were just surprised. So I was a bit interested in that kind of thing, no? And I really loved playing outdoors, outdoor games, but my motherís a bit strict about you know that you should study and this and that. And we have toÖ because my elder sisters they got married very young and so my mother was alone, and as I told my father usually goes to the community work so is outside the home. So we have to help mother, so I was a bit unusual, because usually helping mother, working and like making chapatti (unleavened bread) and these home things, boys rarely share. But I like, we are two people very famous for that in Shimshal. One is Johar and one is me.

Because we really helped our mothers, everyone really says that well you were that kind of personÖbecause I used to go to the place where women take water from. Weíve got the cuk (spring), where all the village women gather.

The spring?
Yes the spring. So usually I was the only boy there. So you know thatís the place where locally we call it Ďthe radio stationí, because all the news will spread to the village from there, because women will all gather and you know gossip and chat about news and everything. So I remember that when I went there sometimes there were very good women who came and they will say okay lets give him a chance first and they will fill my pot with water first and send me back. And if the women are careless, so they wonít care and I would just wait there sitting feeling very cold, especially in the winter. And I used to work, even making chapatti and salan (curry) for my mother and I even, and I had some got from very childhood, I canít really relax if things are you know...[he demonstrates].

Messy, no, even today Iíve got that habit.
Section 5
You have to tidy things up?
Well you know if Iím in my room I canít study until Iíve put everything right. So even from when I was 12 or 11 I used to fix things in the home and try to make things look good. But you know when our motherís out, Iíll just fix everything then go out and start playing with my colleagues in the neighbourhood. So our neighbourhood was the kind of, the most, what do you call it? [We were] very naughty boys. We would make trouble for all the area. But things were constructive; I donít remember that I did anything really terrible that I feel sorry for. So my childhood - I really loved it, thatís a very very good memory for me. Wherever I go that has a really big kind of influence on my personality, whatever I am to date, negative, whatsoever it.
So Iíve got really good things that I can remember because I was too close to the nature you know. And not very much controlled and I was not very bad at school. Usually I was 2nd or 3rd position in school. And among my colleagues at school from the first class Iím the only one who got a chance to go to university and Iíve graduated from university. Though I had friends who were more intelligent than me, you know getting a chance, thatís the main thing. So there were a few girl students and boys and they couldnít get a chance. There were financial problems and usually your parents canít afford. I was lucky because my elder brother Mohabat he was already studying in Karachi and so my father helped me. And though he has no cash income my fatherÖbut because they have, they kind of promised themselves my mother and father, that whatsoever it is they will give us a chance to go and study.
So up to today, I am 27, my parents have never ever ever expected something that Iíll come and do, until I have completedÖ even traditionally, at 27 Iíll say itís not normal here that people donít get married. All my colleagues theyíve got married and theyíve got three, four children and I am maybe, only we are two friends who never got married. So this is because my parents say, ďokay youíve got your dream and we want you to study and we want you to achieve your dreams. So when you will feel comfortable when you will feel ready you can get married.Ē So thatís a kind of, Iíll say my parents sacrificed for me. Otherwise you know they have helped their parents from their early childhood and naturally we have to help them. But even now they give us a chance.

They donít expectÖ
No they donít expectÖ

So, how do you feel about not being married?
Well right now itís a bit, I feel hard, because whenever, you know when I am coming back from Islamabad after a year. This is the second question usually or sometimes the first question whoever it is. You know because in the village weíve got such close relationships. So each of the villagers we have to meet and we have to discuss things so they will just ask you know, so the first question usually is have you got a job or some will ask have you completed your education, the second is have you got, when are you going to get married and who, and this and that, and they will just make guesses. But yes Iím still, I donít feel bad pressure because my parents never tell me anything. I think that with friends you know we promised that we will get married in the 21st century.

Right, okay so you have...
No not all 21st century it was just December or January 1st, but we missed. If it is, this is controversial still globally, so if it is this year 21st century so we missed it otherwise Iíll just see for the next coming 21st century.
And Iíll go for my experiences as a student, because itís very special. Iíll try to explain to you about what a child faces from such a remote and small mountain village when you go out without a proper guidance without knowing what you are going to face, just a strong feeling from your parents and thatís all. And they just send you to get an education. So that was like err, maybe the most important experience a child gets from this village. For me it was 1985, 86 when I completed my eighth class, eighth grade here in the village - we donít have a high school here in the village, I had to go to Gilgit. So that was my first time going out of Shimshal, I was 12 years old. I donít exactly remember. And you know I read about the outside world in books and that was all, I'd never seen a car or anything. So everything was quite shocking, everything was just surprising to me you know, how huge a roadÖeven when I saw that road I couldnít understand how can they put all those thingsÖand the car is moving on it and everything surprised me.
I was staying in a hostel in Gilgit, we were eight colleagues who had graduated from Shimshal. We went to Gilgit and you know that was a time, kind of economically Northern Areas was not very well off and neither was Shimshal. So our parents used to send us maybe Rs150 monthly, thatís all you know [for] the fees you have to pay in the hostel and no pocket money, nothing as extra. And we used to walk from the hostel to the school and back. There was a fixed menu, but that was a good place where we socialised with other students from other areas from all over the Northern Areas. It was an Ismaili hostel. So there we got a chanceÖ
Section 6
Oh is it on the other side of the river in Gilgit, on the dry area?
Yes yes, we call it Konodass, Shah Karim hostel. That was my first time going out of Shimshal and well you know our education background, we used to have only one teacher here in Shimshal Daulat Amin janab (Mr, sir) and he used to teach eight classes in one room. Well he worked so hard you know but here the condition was, you know I donít remember when I got a proper book and notebook, because it was impossible finding things in Shimshal. So you can understand that the educational background was not very strong, so it was hard, you know, competing with those who are coming from different backgrounds, from good schools, from English medium schools. And the second thing was this language barrier because our mother tongue is Wakhi and in Hunza [the language is] Brushaski. So it (Brushaski) is more widely [spoken], and if you are out of Shimshal that is necessary. Then we were staying in Gilgit so we have to understand Shina, even if you canít speak it. Thatís something you know very important so we have to go through all these barriers and at school also it was [difficult]. Like Gilgit I canít really say that I felt comfortable there, because it was too hard, adjusting to that life. Yeah, and in Gilgit most of, well our students we couldnít pass it. Because the things were quite new, and then there was competition, and the resources were not enough, so I passed ninth class. Out of eight [boys from Shimshal], two of us passed ninth class, ninth grade. And for the tenth grade you knowÖ

Matric, only one book I couldnít pass. My maths was not very good so I failed. Then I returned to Shimshal but that was a kind of shock because people had a lot of expectations ÖAnd thatís an age you know you donít really understand whatís important you canít really, like the futureís not very clear. So I was like a kind of not a good boy then. Because I failed there and I came back. So I you know made this cricket bat for myself and I had a lot of boys with me, mostly those you know who failed [laughing].
And we used to play here, and we were the condemned ones. Maybe very strong, but thatís a kind of villagers really. Then I really started feeling that started to hurt me, that everybody, I felt that respect or that kind of the feeling thatís no longer there. So I just decided okay Iíll go to Karachi; and my elder brother was there, my cousin was there, Muzaffer. And I contacted them, but because they were spending a hard life there themselves, because working all the day and hardly making their livelihood and studying. So possibly they were unable to support me you know. Because my parents they were unable to, impossible for them to pay because the younger brother and sister they were studying in the village. So what they spared they used to spend on them. But I decided because it was very hard for me to live here, because I started realising that well I mean nothing without a proper purpose you know...without a purpose I canít spend a life here. So I just well, I couldnít get a green signal from Karachi to come, but here my mother especially and my father they told me okay youíd better go to Karachi because you should study. Because basically, yeah, I was not a bad student.
Section 7
Just the maths problem for one time
Yes thatís you know. So I left for Karachi and when I reached there, I spent four months completely in the home you know, I was not allowed to go outside. Muzaffer and Mohabat both brothers you know they stronglyÖ[laughing]

For studying?
Yeah they told me to study and do nothing. So there was a system, you can appear in examination for ninth and tenth both grade within a year. So I really worked hard and I appeared in the exam, when I was leaving people you know they told me. That was something you know that really motivated me to do something. Because when I was going to Karachi there were around 10 people in Gilgit sitting in a home where I was spending the night. So one of them told that ďwell I can bet that this boy will not be able to studyĒ because I was the style of playing a lot of cricket and all the things. So that really hurt me and I decided ďokay, I will do itĒ. So when I went to Karachi I really worked hard, my result was very good, it was a first division I passed my ninth and matric both in the same year. So that was a kind of good motivation for me. Then Iíve been to the college. I got admission in the college.

In Karachi?
In Karachi yes, the government Islamic college, because Muzaffer was studying there. Now I didnít know you know what was a good college, what it means. But because Muzaffer was in that college I said okay Iíll study in that college. And Iíve been there that was good, but in my college days I got a kind of, in touch with, when I was coming for holidays, for first time from Karachi after spending three years...
Section 8
Three years before you came back?
Yes, and that was a different Inayat, a changed Inayat. Everyone said we really couldnít identify you because I was so much changed you know. My face and my physical appearance, I was totally changed. And when I started talking, everything was changed really, so people still say, we couldnít believe it was you. So on my first visit holidays I met some of the Japanese students. That was the early days when we started a kind of exchange program. That was mostly an idea created by Muzaffer and a Japanese student called Hideki Hamochi janab1; he was a graduate student from Nihon University. You know we got a chance to compare things; to kind of identify ourselves. Because, well Iíll say one thing, because usually we really feel that we are very remote, especially Shimshalis. In the hostel in Gilgit, and because thatís an age when you donít really realise what youíve gotÖand we donít value what all these, our lives, our resources, our culture, what everything means. But going out of Shimshal, that was the best thing that taught me to respect myself. Because I started really comparing, that what is the beauty of my own life, compared to Karachi a city life or a Gilgit, or wherever I go. And that was something you know I really felt that well, because in Karachi we used to talk about Shimshal a lot. And most of the boys just love talking about Pamir (Shimshalís mountain pastures), and that independence, and everything.

Khaliq was saying this yesterdayÖ
Yes. Those are the things that really changed our perception of our own self, our own society. We started realising that actually weíve got something, you know, that others donít: beautiful nature, the Himalaya, the mountains, glaciers, that independence - that most important thing that you can go about without fear. And so that was the thing which has really obsessed me about my village. And with these Japanese students, because they were also the young, facing the same problems - adjusting to their own society and questioning what we actually are in this modern age. We can see that in Japan they have achieved a very good, what you will see, they are a very modern society. They have achieved whatever they dreamed of economically - a very comfortable life. But now the young are questioning whatís ahead, what to do, what is the task now for us, what to achieve now? So they were students of that age, you can understand thereís a bit of confusion. So we felt well there is something we can share, we can exchange, or we can learn from each other. That was the idea, well I was younger, and Muzaffer and Khaliq they were the eldest ones. So Muzaffer was the first person locally who developed this relationship. And we used to discuss, and many students from the Japanese university and many from here, we used to discuss things. We found out that locally here in Shimshal things are going to change very rapidly.
So we were worried about this thing that things are changing so quickly. And we really realised, we felt that we are unable to preserve things, we are unable to make people realise what their life is and what all these things mean. Because you know this modernity, it looks so beautiful if you see it from outside: money; cars; cities; the beautiful lights and everything - if you see it from outside, it looks very beautiful. And but when you go inside and really you can see the darkness inside. People what they have got inside, sitting in the beautiful home or in a beautiful car, but there is something lacking in the inside - real happiness, or awareness, or a satisfaction. So we decided okay, we should, because here we felt, that a lot of festivals here and ceremonies are going to finish. People openly in their discussions you know say ďwell these things are worthless we should finish them we should be modernĒ. And new things were coming in, new ideologies.
Even though itís a small villageÖbut ideas like communism, and these kinds of things, weíve got everything here, like we used to discuss everything in the community and that started influencing life in Shimshal. We were no longer that isolated you know self Ėsufficient village. But things like the Iran Iraq war or the Gulf war, explosion of the atomic bomb in China, or anything, that influences Shimshal. What we felt that there was a fear, maybe we are losing very valuable things, that is because we realised it after experiencing these two very different lives. Traditional Shimshal life, which we belong to, and the life we spend in the cities. So we decided okay, we should work to make people realise that the things they have are valuable. And we felt thatís the only way that we can make them feel pride or dignity [about being a Shimshali], because otherwise, this isolation really makes you feel discriminated, and....
Section 9
Yeah, marginalised. I remember we used to hold a lot of presentations in the village, so we used to make slide shows and try to show them two lives you know, Japanese life and Shimshal life. Beauty from what an insider feels about Shimshal life, what an outsider feels about Shimshal life and we used to try and discuss with visitors what they really feel about this life. And what are their suggestions, what they will say, what do they feel is beautiful about us? And we are lucky because, itís hard to say because you canít really show it, that we or those activities they influenced. But here in Shimshal everyone says that and today Shimshal has a special image in the Northern Areas or while whoever knows Shimshal they have a special image. Thatís not isolation, thatís not discrimination, thatís not, you know once a prison for Hunza state Ė that is what Shimshal was, because those people who were condemned were once sent to Shimshal. Because this was the most remote and isolated areas.
But today the identity of Shimshal, the impression of Shimshal has changed. So this is because we have been successful in making people feel, making them realise that what they have got, they should learn to respect it, they should learn to you knowÖwe had to tell them well you have to be proud of it. That ďyou were born in this beautiful nature, you have no contribution to any damage globally, to any damage you know to the humanity. Youíve got respect - that is something you know the most precious thing you should keep. Youíve got this good relationship in the village. Youíve got this community system, this volunteer working system, helping each other and whoever is in trouble, everybody is there to share, so nobody feels lonely.Ē So the same thing, each and everything. This is something we have to tell them, because what was going on around, these changing things were really creating a gap between the younger and elder generations.
What we felt strongly, is that the old people, the aged people, they were trying to close their minds because the younger ones who migrated to the cities for education, who are out, involved in the modern economic system they were no longer able to listen to them, to respect them, so those traditional ideals, those traditional role models they were no longer there, it was going to change. So instead of respect for a very rational and skilful man, a very good agriculture man and qabil - we have an ideal for women, that a woman who has got a good command of the working of the home and these livestock systems and whose husband will offer the best food in the village during a ceremony and the home setting and what her husband wears and what the children wear - this is something that was a kind of ideal for women and men it was strongly there, and people used to work hard to be like those ideals. But those things were changing, there was a confusion; that was mostly, just 10 years ago I am talking. That people would openly say that well this is just killing time, celebrating all these festivals they are worthless you should go. Well man is going to the moon and why should we keep all these things, they are worthless. And even we got a lot of interventions like the National Park and other things and we couldnít understand how to face these things. People couldnít understand how to explain themselves to the outer world because they donít have a good understanding of their surroundings or global things, that what is going on around the world.
So, I couldnít concentrate more on my school or my college, I read very little and gave little time to my university. After my second year in my college I got involved in these social things, this Global Activity Group, thatís what we call it. And I used to spend four months a year in the village because the college system is not very strict in Karachi.
Section 10
This was during FA?
During FA (higher secondary school certificate) and continuously until Bcom and then the graduation, and two or three years later, and even in University when I was studying criminology, every year we got two months holidays so I used to spend those two months holidays in Shimshal. But what I feel, like what Iíve learned today, most of it is like I have learnt here in Shimshal. Like this is an experience, you know I canít get it from any university.
And we had a dream like because I had a chance to visit Japan through an exchange programme that was you know to understand what modernity really is like, because this is not something that we just want to hide from ourselves or something. But we were thinking, okay, how to dream for a better life, between modernity and this traditional life, or how to understand the qualities of our own traditional life. So I visited Japan and I had experienced going around many places in Japan and I saw many aspects of this modernity and I tried to see both the good and bad aspects of development. So that really influenced my view of the world, and my view of life. So on returning from Japan I decided okay, what can we contribute from this visit. So we decided okay, especially the Japanese friend who was breaking up the university programme from here, he also wanted to give a gift he wanted to give something back to the community. So we discussed and we decided that the most important thing we need right now is that if we can make people feel, realise, that their culture, their values, their identity, their surrounding, itís very precious, they should develop, they should get development, theyíve got a right you know. We canít stop development, itís important to be modern, itís important to get all the modern facilities. But you know we should not forget the real values, the things which have given us, which are the key to our happiness, spending a life in this hard and harsh nature.
So we decided, okay, both of us, we should try to cultivate these experiences which we have gone through into the students into the modern young generation, the young generation, so if they can realise how precious all these things are. If they can realise it from a very small age and they can learn how to respect their culture, and nature and their relationship with nature so that would be the most valuable contribution. So the Japanese friends they, because they used to research in the village, collect a lot of data in the village about history about culture about everything, so thatís the way we learnt. So we developed a simple system for the [Shimshal school] students. In ten aspects of life [including] agriculture, livestock, and their historyÖ we decided okay, if students can collect simple data and try to understand these different aspects of Shimshal life they will understand what Shimshal life means, or they will start respecting that their surroundings mean something. Because usually this curriculum here, they donít mention the local, they donít mention about anything from your surroundings, they will talk about trains, they will talk about the Qaudi Azam stone, they will talk about the aeroplane or something, but we feel that education is out there somewhere but not here around us. So we wanted to give them a look at how they can see their surroundings with their own eyes, with education. I contributed every four months of my year coming together with them, we used to make lectures for the students and all this process, we developed questionnaires for them and explaining things, how to collect data. Then through different small presentations in the village, we tried to make them realise that how important these things are.
So at least you should start asking me a question....
[Much laughing)] What kind of interview is it? Iím just talkingÖ
Section 11
Yeah but I donít need to, youíre going on very logically, so thereís no need, carry on!
Actually itís too long maybe

No no no itís not too long at all, youíve got maybe 15 minutes, but if you need to go at nine itís okay.
So that is what we continued. Then we got, well Iíll come now to, well Iím still jobless no? So I canít talk about my career. But honestly saying Iím not very serious about that. I donít know why, but I have never seriously thought about my career ever, I donít know whether it is heredity or something, because my father is also the same you know he just loves working voluntarily. And Iíve got the same thing, now we have formed this SNT, the Shimshal Nature Trust...maybe Iíll talk a bit about the rational and why we had to form it.
You know it was a common threat the community felt, in 1974 almost 90 percent of Shimshal was demarcated as a National Park....

In 1974?

When you were one years old?
When I was one, yes. You know people didnít know what a National Park means, they didnít know anything. And I remember when I was very young that people used to say that there is a ban on hunting but poaching was there, people used to poach around, because there were no guards around here. But still maybe there are a few places in the village on stones, ďShikar amuna haiĒ - hunting is prohibited. So that is what we knew about it, but we didnít know why it is prohibited, no one knew in the village the consequences of a National Park on the community life, on our life. So it was in the 80s the late 80s the government decided you know, because mostly the they concentrated mostly on the core area of the National Park, that was Khunjerab and the Shimshal area was a transition area which was not actually the core area for the breeding of these Marco Polo Sheep, for which this National Park was formed. We had no Marco Polo Sheep historically in Shimshal. We have blue sheep, markhor, ibex and the occasional Tibetan wild ass, we donít have the origin, still we donít know it, and snow leopard, brown bear, in some parts of, and many many other wildlife weíve got, wild birds and wildlife. But the most like this beautiful Pamir, very beautiful meadow, our pasture and glaciers and all these things.
Okay in 1974 it was demarcated as a National Park but in the 1980s because the government were getting a big grant, I donít know from some international NGOÖ
Section 12
Maybe IUCNÖ They decided to implement the Park in the Shimshal area also. But the community you know for the first time felt a threat and they resisted it. But you know people couldnít understand how to resist it. Rationally they couldnít understand what a National Park means and what its implication would be for their lives. So they just opposed it and sent back some of the Park wardens who were visiting Shimshal and Pamir. The villagers all gathered and sent them back.
In 1994 the government of Pakistan hired WWF to formulate a new management plan for the Khunjerab National Park so they completed that management plan in 1995. And there was much pressure on the locals to implement the Park rules in Shimshal. Meaning that we have to vacate all those areas demarcated as a National Park and we have to bring our livestock out of that area. Some areas were agricultural land, not some, but much of our agricultural land, half of the villageÖhave you been to the bridge up there?

Youíve never been there, but on the other bank of the river the way we go to Pamir there are some lands called Yalakhsh and Bandasar. Thatís the area they demarcated as a National Park and on the way to Pamir and along the Chinese border side we have a lot of areas in Ghunjerab we used to cultivate, they are agricultural lands for many years, like 2-300 years people have been cultivating there. So it was okay, it was just decided somewhere that this was a National Park and nobody came to Shimshal to analyse this thing to analyse what will be the consequence on peopleís lives, what the people will do now..

Only thinking about the environment, not people? Okay I donít know if they were thinking about the environment or if they were more concerned about the budget thing.
[Laughing] Okay so we got very huge pressure from the government and then the Commissioner who is like the highest government official in Northern Areas he visited Shimshal with all the heads of government departments and people in Shimshal basically received them. Itís not in our culture to make the guests feel bad. But some of them (villagers) had to shout slogans that ďwe oppose the National ParkĒ. But after that we felt really strongly that the Park officials were kind of threatening that we will use force. So mostly the educated young that are out of Shimshal we started thinking about it, like Johar Ali, Muzaffer, Khaliq, and we were young ones. We shared some discussions with them. Amjad, Mehboob, Karim, Yasmin we used to gather in Gilgit and think about it, we should you know avoid this confrontation which the community is going against the government. And we should think about a way out. So we started thinking, okay we have to find out why we are actually opposing it. So we had to go through the documents which they had written about the national park and the locals resistance to it and everything. And we realised something, because there were some of the reports like by John Mock2 and many other people, and David3 also had some research papers about it. They clearly mentioned that basically it is not the community who is responsible for the failure of Khunjerab National Park but it is the administration and it is the way they implement it.
So we started rationalising things, okay why should we be opposed to protecting nature? We are basically traditionally, or culturally we are not against nature conservation, we donít have a concept of conservation but our concept of life is that we are a part of this nature and in Shimshal we donít have the concept of self here without this environment. And we canít really understand Shimshal without all these mountains, the glaciers, the wildlife, Pamir and all this life which means Shimshal. So we had to re-think why there actually should be this National Park, why should there be a National Park. It should be there because if you feel that there are species in danger, nature in danger, then you are required to protect them. But there was no such sign here in Shimshal. Because we have these blue sheep and ibexes, well if you go for wildlife and they are in their 1000s. It is a part of Shimshalís life that we used to hunt traditionally and we have a history of above 600 years here in Shimshal, well itís not fixed, but itís something about 500 or 600.
So we were thinking that all these 100s of years weíve been living side by side with this nature and these animals; and also that in the future we have no planning for any major changes here in any of our lives. We thought things are changing because of tourism, because of migration, and because of other things, but we donít have any planning; the community had no planning for example, putting some big industry here or mining or something such a huge thing that would change nature. And we felt that, because we studied about Khunjerab National Park, the core area which was under guard after 1974 there was a huge budget they were using and there were guards continuously working there. And the Marco Polo Sheep which it was actually supposed to protect, from 1974 to 1995 from 500 it came down to hardly they say they can just see the footprints and nobody knows whether it is actually there or not, and this is the reality. But okay, they say it is something about 45 or something...
[Interruption for a few seconds]
So we were thinking all these things you know. It came down to 45, so how they can assure us? They were not successful there, why? All those budgets, it means the system is not working, there is something wrong with the system. And on the other part, we have got here no guards, we still hunt, and Iíll explain later that we have a traditional system for hunting. We donít hunt indiscriminately. There is a special system, that you have to, itís a pride to hunt the trophy ibex, the best one, they will count the [rings of the] horn [to see] how old it is. And people share the game throughout the community and itís usually hunted ceremonially. Or they are mostly hunted by the people who spend the whole winter [in Pamir] caring for the communityís yaks. We donít have this indiscriminate hunting system. So we haveÖI personally carried out interviews with around 40 people in the village, people who have spent all their lives in different areas in the pasture and they are in very close contact with those animals. And I surveyed them because I was personally unable to go and count the animals. So we found there are more than 4000 ibex and blue sheep around Shimshal and we compared it with the Khunjerab area and they hardly had any. So we were thinking, why okay, there is something [wrong] with their system. On our side there is nothing wrong they are not in danger. And they are mostly claiming this over grazing by local livestock but traditionally we have a very practical system for that we call them shpun (herders) there are 5, 6 people in summer, because mostly it is the girls and women in the pasture. So mostly the girls will guard the animals. They had divided the whole Pamir into different zones...
Section 14
This is traditional?
Yes, traditionalÖbecause we have minimal land there and a lot of livestock and we have to manage it otherwise there is not enough grass. So they will start, you know one month they will spend in the lower pasture called Shujerab, then they will go and spend three months on the high pasture, Shur and then go down to the lower pasture Shujerab because the grass again grows for one month. And even in those particular areas everyday they have to manage in a particular area, and guard them and shift you know like they start from the first area and come round and go back to the first area because itís (the grass) has again grown to the level. And in the winter time they have to spend, there are many small pastures on the Chinese boarder side. So in winter they mange in the same way and we take most of the livestock to Shimshal village so here you can see that the people have small goat sheds and they collect all the grasses in summer time and the wheat and other straws you know for winter.
So we are very much managing everything and there are no areas, like there is a natural border, we claim it, people wonít believe it but it is. [Locals claim that there is a natural border between the livestock and wild animals - they donít graze in each otherís area and therefore there is no competition between the local livestock and wildlife for grazing here]. And people say that where the Chinese occupied the main land, the Pamir, the main Pamir and they continued their occupation for 20 years. And in this 20 years no livestock was using the main Pamir area, youíve never been to Pamir but thatís a huge meadow with two lakes in the middle so thatís you know my mother says because the villagers had access to the lower pasture only that is Ghujerab in the main upper pasture it was under Chinese control. And for 20 years they controlled it and the grass was grown very good but there was no, they say we had never seen ibexes or any wild animals coming in the main pasture no. So that means that they have got a natural system that to a certain altitude the livestock and above that livestock will never use it, they will never go there and the wild animals live there so livestock has no access neither to their core area, their habitat areas, nor to the transition, all the mountains around here are the transition area for the wild animals we donít use them for livestock. Okay so what we found was that there was no competition between local livestock and wildlife. And we had a lot of other things that we have to re-think about these changes that are happening, tourism and all those things. So what we decided was okay, what we require now, like basically we are not opposed to nature, we are not destroying nature, like they used to expose communities in their reports that these are people....
[Beginning of tape 2]
So we decided that what we need now is to inform the government and the people, organisations concerned with the nature that basically our relationship with our surroundings is not something damaging to them. And if okay, for the sake of nature. And in our relation....
[Slight interruption as the electricity goes offÖ]
So we felt that okay that what we require is that we should try to articulate or we should try to tell our life and our relationship with our surroundings to people who are concerned with nature or wildlife or things. And because itís a modern......
Section 15
No, its kind of a bizarre thing, you know everyone talks about this nature, everyone talks about the environment. You can understand the city people just have a walk (demonstration) and thatís a walk always every year and non-one knows whether it helps or not, and there is a symposium, thatís the modern way of doing things.
So to make them understand because they anyway people sitting in the city or having that kind of mind set that they are damaging the nature, you canít make them realise that its right or wrong. So we had to consider those things also that how to make them understand that we are concerned. Because they are not going to accept what we explained this weíve got natural borders, or conceptually weíve gotÖ weíve got very special feelings for them. They canít understand these things; they actually count you know. The way of social control here that is that this is a mergachjai, a place of spirits, which means a lot to people and people have to respect that and thatís enough for controlling; we donít require rewards and punishment or guns to control people about whatís wrong and right. But that is what really controls people, people respect things you know. But we have to address very different people who canít understand our language, who canít understand ourselves.
So we had to articulate everything in a formal way so we have written this management plan for the Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT). Itís not for the SNT only but this is a management plan, the nature stewardship component of the SNT. And here we tried in some of the areas where we ourselves feel that because of modern interventions, because of tourism because of our traditional relationships changing we feel that they are affecting change and we should get more sensitive about it. And we will vacate some of the areas like, it was a conceptual thing, but in the management plan we decided the wildlife zones, the management zones, all these zones you know. That was for a management purpose that we decided okay from some of these areas, because thatís practical; we have to live life here, itís not something in the air, its practising life and we canít kick people out of something its impossible we donít have alternative things for them to offer. So we decided okay some of the barren lands which lay around the river banks we should develop them and some of the pastures which we call the semi-pasture zone we can vacate those areas for wildlife, we can surrender them. And we will try to shift more and more from the pastoral area to the self-developed area but that is long-term planning. And we will with the passage of developing these areas we will shift to those areas, this is what SNT has decided. But our concept of development, and our concept of respect to nature and all these things. Because we canít say nature if your [????] gets your livestock. Nature, our concept means that you have a feeling of respect with them, not controlling them, not managing them, not with guns, not with something, that doesnít mean nature so we decided okay we will keep this relationship we will secure this respect, it is a commitment of the community to itself.
And this is you know the most satisfying thing for us, the people who hunt say it is like an addiction, they love hunting. But we were lucky: from the day the community, decided that okay we will stop hunting, we witnessed that those people, they never hunted again, and that was without reward, that was without punishment, that was without fear. They just decided that, that was a commitment to us and they keep that. So this is like a kind of, our relationship, we say our contribution. Our vision of development, never excludes no man from that nature and preserving them or something. So we decided that development okay we have to care for quite a lot of things. So we decided that in SNT we should form these different organisations, like Shimshal Culture Programme. And that rationale was that we donít have written histories we donít have all these folk stories, or songs and everything, and everything is transferred through generations, mentally, from the history of Mamu Singh to the ...
Section 16
Orally, yes and songs and everything. And how it was transferred, was the community works like the agriculture works all the brotherhood we have divided the all Shimshal, the 1000 population for the agriculture management we divided them into three [lineage] groups Ghazi Kathor, Boqi Kathor and Bakhti Kathor. And then their generations were divided when it is a big group it is hard for them to manage all the agriculture work so they again divided into sub-groups and we call them skuins (extended family group, sub-group of room, the main lineage groups), so thatís you know a kind of socially arranged, locally arranged system for agriculture work and the same we have got for livestock farming...

Is this different from kuryar?
I couldnít understand what kuryar means?

I donít want to interrupt you, but if you have a lot of work you cook a lot of food, you invite people to help you.
Thatís a different thing. You know one skuinÖ when the agriculture work starts with a festival, the whole community attends the festival and they start working. We have got three main channels that irrigate the lands and we have got three groups. One will use one channel, second and third and then you know the water is managed because itís like less than what we require. And then because they used to plough with the bulls not the tractor so itís impossible for one household to have a pair of bulls to cultivate, or personally he canít cultivate all. You can understand that working alone itís hard. So all the skuin they consist of 8 or 10 households - the immediate family which is divided into different householdsÖ so one skuin will work together, like today they will work on my fields, next day on someone elseís fields. And they have got the pair of like 6, 7 bulls and okay the day they will work for me they will share food from my home and then the next day they will go to another, this is how they manage. But you know traditionally we have gotÖ, first Iíll talk about the festivals okay.
We have 13 or 14 festivals we celebrate around the year and they are so rational. The first winter festival we call it Hoshigaram means the noodle and garam means hot, so hot noodle for this festival you know we prepare hot noodles from every household.
Section 17
By chapattis, cutting them into thin strips?
Yes by chapatti, so this is especially a celebration for children because in winter you know itís snowing its hard, mostly people spend inside and thatís the end of January people celebrate this Hoshigaram. For children it is like the childrenís village divide into three or four main areas, and the children from every area they will go around every houses collect food stuffs from there and gather in one house and cook food all the night.

The children?
The children yes. And there is a certain age, you know especially the eldest should be, those who never got married yet. It is mostly for boys, and for girls there is a different arrangement and Iíll talk about that also. So they donít just prepare and eat the food themselves. This part of the village will invite another part of the village and they will come and eat their food and then they will invite them and they will try their best to offer the style, the talk or the food they will offer they will try to put more butter, to make them feel that weíve got more hospitality or respect there. But there are games also, competitions, that you will try to, like if you are preparing the food, so a group will come from there the ones who are more brave or more strong they will come and fetch something from there, not fetch but what do you call it?

Not steal,....... snatch. Everybody is sitting there and they are cooking meat and in front of everybody he will just jump from the hole of the home (in the roof) and take and run away.

Snatch it you know. These are competitions or something a kind of game amongst themselves they will share food, all the night they will spend together this is the beginning of the festivals. Then comes Vichhosh (outdoor soup festival)Ö

Do the girls do something in Hoshigaram?
They, no in Hoshigaram they donít have any celebration.
Then comes Vichhosh, this is a celebration when that coldest season has gone. So we have this local calendar [see testimony 13 for a detailed description of this] in the mountains, there is a certain area we call Yeer Har Yupk Pervevn, it means that the sun has touched the river. So people celebrate by, they will clean everything...

Same in England, Spring Cleaning?
Yeah I celebrated something similar in Japan also. So they will clean things this is Vichhosh and they will celebrate it among the community as a whole. Then comes Tagam (sowing festival). Nauroz we have first, Nauroz is when the first shoot comes out of the land, so people celebrate it like this is the welcoming ceremony of, we welcome Spring that life is there again. Thatís different, a mixture of religion and culture. Basically it is culture, these are not religious festivals these are cultural festivals, but our grandfathers, our peers you know they transformed it into a very Islamic system and we have very special prayers for them,..
Section 18
For Nauroz?
For all of these festivals they start with special prayers you know and they concentrate on how it contributes to the community system, the relationship you know. So Nauroz we celebrate amongst all villagers commonly. Then comes Tagam that is the day that they start the ploughing so we celebrate this festival together with special dishes. And then weíve got Chaneer (harvest festival).

Is Tagam when you decorate the house
Decorate the house specially.

With the white, with the flour
And we offer special food, this seman (local sweet dish), you know the sweet dish

Diram fitti
Ah yes Diram fitti.

So then Chaneer?
Now in Chaneer you know we celebrate it in the neighbourhoods. In Chaneer thatís a kind of mixed festival, that we make special food and go to the neighbour and all the neighbours will gather in one home, women in one and men [in another] and they will share the food. And then the men will go to the river bank where they will receive the first special produce of the livestock from Pamir. So thatís with a special feeling that they will go and receive the products from there. Okay that is Chaneer. And continuously, like it depends mostly they are designed, that when you require a community work, to startÖ it starts with a celebration with all the community and when we feel that......
[Short Interruption]
It is designed in a way around what are we going to do after the festival. If it is community work we celebrate it with the community, it is designed that way. And then if it is with the room (main lineage groups) we call it, you know the tribe of three lineages, then we will celebrate it and share things among them. Then there is the importance of neighbours so we celebrate it with neighbours. When the first fresh produce is ready like the peas, or wheat and barley. When it is completed, the grains [are ready], so we celebrate it with fresh products from the Pamir and we celebrate it amongst the main lineage - the room.
And there are special festivals for girls that they will gather this lot of food stuff from many houses. And girls in a special season when fields are green they will stay in their fields to care the fields from the birds and animals to destroy or eat them. So all the girls will gather these food stuffs and go to their fields, that area and they will gather and make different kinds of foods and share them among them and boys will we will try to snatch the food from them. This is ... so the festivals are so beautifully arranged and very good, this is maybe the main thing which holds us together, we mentally prepare you know what is next now. And with every festival there is a game and after this Vichhosh we will start this local polo thatís without a horse
Section 19
Like hockey
Like hockey yes a traditional hockey and with Vichhosh we have a tuksori (game similar to cricket) a different kind of game. So with every festival it has a special game which starts with the day of the festival we celebrate that.
So now you know, I was talking about the old history, the old things, how they transferred through generations, the songs and everything. They transferred because people used to gather at these ceremonies, and these were usually the topics: who contributes what to the community: this is a person who helped the community in a difficult time, he is a person who did that big thing for the community. And history and the family tree system, and the songs. So these things you know the young used to gather together with the elders. And because it is a system that when after a certain age, like in their 60s, they will come to the land while ploughing but they will not work, they will just sit at the edge of the field and they will gossip, they will talk, they will talk about the history and everything. And we feel that group of people is very good, that they (the one ploughing their land) will feel really rich or very good, who have got a many old people who are sitting there, it looks very lively. So you know people just take their turn to plough and then take rest for half an hour and then the next people do the same and so these are times when people discuss about all the things and these things have been transferred to the community. But all these systems are breaking down because of education, because of migration and because of modern interventions. And now we donít have a chance to sit with all those old people and listen to everything, so none of us know about Shimshalís history; we canít even properly speak the Wakhi language. And we felt that with the dying of people we are losing everything. So I will again say that the Japanese friends have made a big contribution making us realise all these things, but we decided okay we should establish this Shimshal culture programme that we should try to preserve all these things otherwise we are going to lose them.
And in the Shimshal self-help development programme we have a bright history because we were isolated and there was no system of sponsoring by the government or someone helping with projects so we have a traditional system. A family that has access to wheat and yaks and other products he will donate it and he will show some of the area okay this is the trail thatís hard on the way to Pamir or on the way to Passu. So all the olden trail from Passu to the Chinese border in olden times it was more than 15, 16 days walk and that was through this ridged mountains, people with the hand tools made these trails, so how were they making? All just through these individual donations; we call it nomus (system of donating resources for a community project in the name of a relative). So we will donate it by the name of my father or my mother and that name will always remain there, like the community will say something like that personís trail that personís bridge, that personís animal fence, that personís whatsoever you donate and make it.
And the same thing we continued until the present day. Like the schools we have, all the classrooms are donated by someone, by the name of someone, even the community centre and everything in the village, the whole irrigation channels, everything. They are locally sponsored by individuals and locally we feel a kind of satisfaction, pride for that. And the others volunteers and we share with that so itís a community ownership, not individual. So we make irrigation channel and divide the land and everybody shares it.
So we were feeling that this modern donor or NGO system we require them because you canít stop people from getting their rights, they should develop things. And itís really too hard living in Shimshal without a road, walking three days so we require access. We decided okay we should have a bit of control on these things like these good traditions we feel they are very good, we feel they are our identity, they should not be finished. So in the self-help village development programme we decided we should continue this culture, we should continue this system [of nomus] and we should try to modernise it by prioritising the communityís need instead of just selecting an area without any proper planning, they should go for planing and the community should discuss what are their immediate needs and what can pay off very well to the community and what can last long, like we have to see a project from every angle and then decide who will sponsor this thing.
And then we felt okay in certain areas we require international or this funding, for these small things we have just local arrangements but in some areas we have big changes, that we want to develop many parts of the barren land to decrease our dependency on the pastures. So this is something, you know our contribution to a wider, a global thing or environment, if we want to be sensitive that tourists should not pollute the glaciers or other things. So this is something the community cannot do it all on itís own, because traditionally we donít use them, we donít pollute them, so we donít have arrangements to clean them, we donít have this responsibility to make these campsites to make arrangements for the water to make them clean. Because company owners they are just concerned with their income they donít care whether the areas are polluted. So this is something imposed on us from external forces, this is an intervention that we donít have arrangements for. So for these kind of things we have decided we can get funding for these kind of things or those things for which locally we donít have arrangements, otherwise we will continue supporting ourselves without non-local help.
And this is our rational for development and we think that well basically because there are a lot of people who are actually sharing the benefit of the glaciers, who are sharing the benefits of those wild animals or this nature and thatís not something only for the community, that is our contribution to the world community, we decided that okay we will protect them. So have got a responsibility like, so we share the same air, if that polluted air you know that damaged from them they have responsibility somewhere. I donít know where Chinese, America whosoever they are but the visitor if they come they visit those lands, those glaciers, they have naturally got a responsibility that they should contribute to preserving it or keeping it clean. And we decide okay we will provide them with an infrastructure or the community will assume the responsibility to our extent we will try to keep it clean like if a group is going there weíve got some porters with them. So we will try to make sure that they donít use the natural wood which is very rare here in high altitude where we are living and you know just throwing out everything. So the community decided self-imposed rules for themselves and for the visitors also to make sure that things are not damaged or polluted. So this is our rationale for the self-help village development programme.
And then you know in certain areas we have surrendered our control like in the future possibly we will decrease some of the numbers of livestock or other things. We have alternative sources, like we surrendered the hunting system without a ...
So I was saying there are certain areas we surrendered our control like hunting system, a complete ban on it, the community volunteered surrendered this thing. Certain wild plants and other things we used to that. So we have tried to limit the access to those areas...
Like with the ban on hunting because now there are a lot of wild predators and instead of going for the wild animals the local livestock are an easy hunt and they provide a buffer for the wild animals, so they prefer coming to the livestock but there is no compensation we can pay the communityís claims for that we canít arrange anything for that. So we need to find a new source of income for the community that they can depend on in the future. And we have this tourism we have potential for that but we are very sensitive about it. We are thinking we will give them access to certain areas not disturbing the core wildlife areas and we decided that okay we have got skilled people, some of the good mountaineers in Pakistan, the best mountaineers in Pakistan we have about 37 trained mountaineers who provide services for any foreigner visiting for climbing in Pakistan. They go all over the mountains in Pakistan. And so that is a kind of asset weíve got and we have to use them for the benefit of the whole community and they are ready to work for us.
So we were thinking to establish a mountaineering school because mountaineering well globally it is going to maybe end because the expeditions and all these things because man has almost conquered everything and so expeditions are no more there. But okay in Pakistan it is new and is now getting very famous and we have to market this thing. So we have on our planning to establish a mountaineering school where local trained people can train people from the cities who are interested and for the visitors also we are very choosy about it. Well okay we will, very limited, we will give them access to the social life here. We are concerned with not contaminating the local culture very much. So, but a certain group who the community itself will manage it directly and make them experience many aspects of the social life here in Shimshal, with sight-seeing some of the areas and climbing some of the, trekking peaks and give them experience. But that is for the community that the benefit will go to the community as a whole, personally the people who work for them, and some of the benefits will go to SNT. So indirectly to the community and SNT will use this income for development of or the protection of the areas or other things which the community requires such as education or other things we require to invest in. So this is our vision for tourism in the future that it can give a better income to the community as a whole. Otherwise, just working as a porter for companies and groups, we donít feel that will change peopleís destiny here. And thatís more damaging because if things, like people are not very much responsible for things they are not involved in very much. They donít care about what they are doing. So we are thinking in the future this tourism will contribute to the communityís income.
Then we have got this environmental education programme which we can say is a major contribution from that Japanese friend (Hideki). That is his, feeling or thanks what he learned from the community, which he wants to share, he wants to give back. So he has been supporting it from his personal things and thatís continuing. But itís a real source of pride for us. Last year, the students with the teachers, they have been to Gilgit and they presented to the government departments and all the NGOs. And when they presented it that was a real surprise for everybody. Because we usually, the institutions, like government education departments and Aga Khan Education Services they import this idea of environment from somewhere and try to implement it here but culturally and environmentally we are quite different from them and so they never adjust here or they canít successfully implement it here.
But this is something, our concept of environment is quite different from others, because we think that we are just part of everything and we have got an agreement with this nature, you know we get things and we have to return them back so we have to rationalise things and our relationship in that way. So through this environmental education the students are learning about their relationship, and from a very small age they can understand the basis of all the different learning, what you call them, like they can understand what economics basically means. They can feel that economics is basically there in the village and they can understand from this childhood what is science, what is politics, they can you know thatís a major thing globally or you can see in the country and its hard to understand it at that level. But if you start experiencing and start realising that the base of everything lies there in the village and you start rationalising them or understanding them from this small village, it will be much easier for them to understand at the university level.
And the other thing which is more important is that we have got different from others is our understanding of life. You know the city children understand life horizontally. Itís in fragments, professionally everything has been divided, you know
Section 22
Into different sectors?
Sectors, so they donít have a concept of life as a whole they will understand what they encounter, like their fatherís a doctor so they will have knowledge of medicine and that kind of thing or what mothers do, or what immediate access in the studying. But here you know they understand life, they take life as a whole and it is very much complicated, the relationships, the fabric is very complex and very much interrelated...

Between the different things?
Yes, so instead of very much emphasising on one thing, things are more controlled by their interrelationship not specific things. We canít just concentrate on education and forget everything, we canít concentrate on development and forget other things. So we try to give the students a vision, that they can understand these differences; like how to see life in fragments like nature, festivals and how they contribute, how they mix and make a society as a whole. So they are experiencing all these things and they get a chance to demonstrate it in front of the villagers. During different festivals and ceremonies they have presentations to the... They go out of the village, they go to a wider audience. In the future we hope, we have a dream that some day we will be able toÖthese children will appeal to something that will be more meaningful than these big demonstrations and walks and things where it is just people go and depend on rhetorics. But that they will do something very meaningful....
Section 23
You mean internationally?
Internationally, thatís a dream. And because we learned, like we have mixed everything, I canít say Inayat without Shimshal, and it is we are very much one. If I talk about myself I feel I am talking about Shimshal; if I talk about Shimshal I feel I am talking about myself. So we all share the same dream, the same things like it is something we have got and Iím confident well I feel that students and people are going towards the right direction. And these things they are really helping Shimshal understand you know what their life really means and why, what is their importance. Though importance doesnít mean that we have to play a very huge role in the world community but every existence has its own worth or its own purpose you know. And if we can realise it we can do something, maybe thatís the purpose of life. Maybe that is everything we are here for and that gives you a purpose in life. So I canít say that, but it is a kind of dream that people can do something, they can share something thatís their contribution to the humanity.
So with these programmes we have one more this womenís development programme.
And that is something which is kind of inspired by the modern concept of things which is very much the gender issues, otherwise we donít have the concept of women as something different. The roles are very muchÖthough it is clear cut decided that these are womenís work, managing the house, and taking care of the children Ė this is all in the traditional society that we have.
And we have the strong ideals for the men and for the women and they contribute continuously wherever it is, like pasture life is there, it is their state, womenís place, their roleÖwe feel out of place there...they enjoy [being] there. So we canít say that we have to do something for the womenís development so we say ďWomen in developmentĒ. But they are in everything, if we have a celebration they have an equal part, and they are always there beside men, so yeah we donít have the concept of any discrimination against them or in the roles. But things are changing a bit, you know Iím in the city studying there and you know men go and work for the army and go outside, earning money with the tourists as a porter. The agriculture work which traditionally has to be a manís job is now left for the woman. So you are becoming happy because gender issue are there [laughing].
[more laughing] I can feel that.
So this is we donít have control on these things, but the main things is that discrimination or everything happens when people donít adjust to the changes. So people should take things rationally we should think about all these things, the changes, and rationally we should make decisions that okay, because the roles for women and men it is very rational and the changes are occurring because of this changes, modernity they can be solved only rationally. Like, Iíll give an example, why these early marriages happen here. As for how we understand it, we donít have this system of free friends, free copulation, pre-marriage this meeting of boys and girls. So to save the society from social evils - that was a rational arrangement, if they are married they will be saved from many social evils. It is a small society so it goes wider and everywhere the same thing. Now things have been changing we feel in the cities that well we are getting married very late but there is no other arrangement but I mean still we have the strict system that there is no system of you know...
Section 24
Being able to have a boyfriend of girlfriend before marriage?
Girlfriend, before marriage yes. So and there are some social bad cultures, like we call jahez (dowry), like with the marriage you have to offer a lot of things.

Yes dowry so all these things which I donít know why we sometimes take them religiously, but this is all maladjustment, what you call them they never adjusted.

Something changes but not everything?
So they should have changed and adjusted to all those other systems in accordance with that so that it never breaks down from the mainstream of society. But now there are troubles in cities there are crimes against women or discrimination all these things because of this maladjustment. So these are some things we should be very rational about and you know that, in other aspects of life, always when things are changing the roles should never stand stagnant, they should change in accordance with the wider changes, so and here we are lucky that we are changing and the womenís role is also changing. Like there are modern institutions, like SNT is there, like councils, we have social establishments to meet the modern requirements and they are religious and social. And weíve got representation from the women in all these things. They are actively participating in all social life of the village. So I hope that this will help us like what as a student we are, in the village, as sensitive people we want a safe transition. Well the reality the changes you acquired through centuries, like in England, the wheel and industry more than 200 years ago. And you came a long way you know through all these changes and in 200 years you came up to this level but we are going through all these changes within 10 years and if the road is there we will get everything. We are like, every thing is at risk, so this is just we are preparing for things that things should not go, we should not forget everything. So for me, all these things Iíve been doing, or we are dreaming, been doing is just to acquire this safe transition that we can transform somewhere with something of our own, not everything all adrift. We will go out there.

You donít want to become victims of the change; you want to become part of the change?
Well you know we want to rationally, we want to see changes and we want to understand it. So what Iím saying is it is a mixture of my dreams and my view of life and my personality and maybe everything and that is what motivates me always. I have been working for SNT it is not something local arrangement for development of the village but we have a very sweet dream, we have very rational ambitions or something behind all these activities and we can understand that how small we are, and how our contribution it is. But well to a person from a small society it is worthy to live for, and itís a worthy task to spend a life for. So basically I am not a kind of pessimist and well I prefer the tasks which are, well I will not choose the most beautiful, the complete the one, the easy one. I like something I can contribute to and that should be in finally something good which I have contributed to.
So thatís all about myself and okay that your question was about me, now you can continue with the next question [much laughing]
Section 25
I think youíre tired I think we should stop
No I can talk all the night.........
[At this point Inayat is called to attend a meeting and the interview finishes.]

1 Japanese photojournalist from Nihon University; he organised several visits to Shimshal for groups of Japanese students and was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Education Programme.
2 A linguist and travel writer who has carried out research in Shimshal and elsewhere in Gojal.
3 Geographer who has carried out research in Shimshal and who edited SNTís management plan on behalf of SNT.