Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary

Khayal Baig














Section 1
Bismillah Rehman-e-Rahim (In the name of God the magnificent and the most merciful). Today on Monday, 11th June I am at bech (uncle) Khayal Baig’s residence to share some of his life experiences with him. Before taking his interview I would like to tell him about this program. SNT and PANOS are running a joint program called the “Oral Testimony Program”. Fifteen people from Shimshal are working for this program [as interviewers]. Our main aim is to share the ideas, experiences and services of the people and to record or collect these things in the form of cassettes and then translate them into English and then publish it in the form of books. And whenever it would be published, we will give you a copy of that book as a gift. First of all I would like to thank you for giving us your precious time.

Now could you please tell us about your age and your earlier life?
Bismillah Rehman-e-Rahim, janab (Mr, sir) master sahib (master means teacher and sahib is used for Sir, a term of respect) Hajat. Thank you for considering me for this interview; otherwise I am not qabil (competent) enough for this interview. Anyway I will try my best to answer your questions as good as I can. I would like to start from my earlier life. In our earlier age there were many many difficulties, problems, and lack of facilities. I was the elder son of my parents and when I become mature enough to understand the condition of my parents - I had seen both my parents working very hard and facing many difficulties for earning their livelihood - at that time I thought what should I do for my parents? I asked my father that what can I do for you? And he said “nothing my son” and he did allow me to do something for them. He said “I had passed through the same process when I was at your age. I faced more difficulties than we are facing today” so he didn’t let me to do anything at that time.
[Next three paragraphs spoken in his father’s words] He said that “problems arose when my father passed away, and we remained orphans forever. We had seen our fellows being with their fathers and brothers and they were stronger than compared to us in every sphere of life. At that time the Mirs (rulers of Hunza state up to 1974) of Hunza were ruling the Hunza region, and each household was supposed to give tax in the form of butter, flour or local carpet to the Mir of Hunza. But due to extreme poverty we couldn’t pay that tax at all and we were so ashamed because of that. Our forefather’s, Ghulam Che and Chogh Bai were very well known and well off people of Shimshal, they were so strong and brave and before the Pakistan and China friendship, there was a war between these two countries and these two brothers fought against the Chinese. They had promised to die together and live together. They fought their enemies in Mustagh (a pasture in Pamir – Shimshal’s mountain pastures) and during the war they saw their enemies dumping something secretly hiding under the stones. And my grandfathers had crossed the river during night time and started searching for that thing and after a while they succeeded in getting that thing. And they again crossed they river and had left the place of their enemies and reached at their own land, and in the morning they had checked and fortunately there were ashrafi (golden coins) inside. They became so happy while seeing the golden coins, but they didn’t think of keeping those coins with them at their home. At that time they thought that they had succeeded in getting their enemy’s treasure, so they would serve it to the Mir of Hunza. So they started their journey towards Hunza, they reached Baltit (the ancient name of Karimabad the capital of Hunza) and they served the golden coins to the Mir.
The Mir became so happy and he picked his crown from his head and placed it on the head of my grandfather Ghulam Che. But he refused and said “badsha-e-alam (king of the world) I am not deserving to wear your crown, I am your rayadh (person who serves others/subject) and your crown might not suit my head. So please accept our gift because God destined it in your fate while me and my brother are young and brave, and we had never been afraid of the river or the mountains and we brought this gift for you from the land or territory of the enemy. We serve it to you and it is up to you, whether you would be happy or not.” The Mir became so happy, and at that time Russy miltiq (Russian guns, used for hunting) were very popular, and the Mir had given that type of gun to both of them as a prize. The name of one gun was khush awaz and the other was ahmadi. When my grandfathers reached Shimshal, the villagers became so happy; due to their bravery and they both became so popular among the villagers. My grandfathers were very wealthy. During the war with China they brought the Chinese people who belong to Quraking (place in China) to Shimshal and these people were supposed to develop land for our villagers, and my grandfather provided them with food. And after completing the land development, they again fought a war with the Chinese. Our grandfathers were very well known and very wealthy persons and were close to the Mir. And my grandfather Ghulam Che became the arbob (Mir’s main representative in the village) of Shimshal for one year.
My grandfather had two sons, but his brother had none. My father told me that one day my uncle asked him that he wants one of us to look after his lands and other properties; otherwise he will ask someone else to look after his home and other related things. My father said that “I told my uncle that I would ask my elder brother and we both will think on it. And after consulting my elder brother I decided to take the responsibility of my uncle’s home and my brother had to stay at our own home. I started living with my uncle and took all the responsibilities like the payment of all the taxes of Mir and his other household works on my shoulder. I served my uncle for 14 years. And at the end, my uncle said that if I had a son I was supposed to do the same services for him as I am doing now for you. And he also said that God might bless you with children and all of my properties are yours, and after then I got married and started living separately on the land of my uncle and my brother on the land of my father.” And all of this from my father about our home. [End of account in his father’s words]
Now I want to tell you something about my earlier life. When I reached the age of puberty, at that time the Government of Pakistan (meaning the army) came to our mulk (meaning village), and we had to take their ration, ammunition from Passu to Quz (a pasture). And we took one ton of rations from Passu to Shimshal. And they paid us forty rupees at that time. And the government didn’t pay our daily wages directly to our own hands. They had contractors who were responsible for paying our wages. And these contractors were not honest enough to pay our wages. Sometimes they gave us a piece of cloth instead of the amount and most of the time they paid nothing. There was a contractor from Gulmit (a village of upper Hunza) who never paid our daily wages. I always think of my earlier life when we had to travel to very far places with the government officials, with the army and with the survey of Pakistan. At that time we had no sandal (long shoes made of animal skin), no dress to wear and no food to eat, but we were united with each other. And that unity and love had never let us to feel that we had nothing to eat and nothing to wear, and the love for each other always covered all these things.
Section 3
Thank you for your comments now I would like to know about your services (volunteer services) for our village?
I was not that much able to give any services to our village. Daulat Amin (a school teacher) during his student life had led the foundation of a voluntarily organisation in our village. In the beginning this organisation became very strong, but later on it became weak, because Daulat Amin himself was busy in his studies, and he didn’t get time to run this organisation. And that is why Muhammad Nawab a permanent resident of our village was made responsible to run this organisation. And he made our young people aware of the benefits of volunteer services and our Imam’s (hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, currently Prince Karim Aga Khan) emphasis on these services.

Do you remember the year of the foundation of that organization?
Yeah, it was 1965. There was an army officer named Saleem who opposed Daulat Amin [claiming] that he is trying to make another army in Shimshal against the Pakistan army. And many of our late brothers who served our village were Daulat Muhammad, Aitebar Shah, Mayoon Baig and many many more had run this organisation during their time by serving the jamat (Ismaili community). And later on Aziz ullah came from Karachi and he started running this organisation by recruiting young people of my age by taking an oath from us. At that time there was no other system like the council (which deals with the setup of the Ismaili community in every village, like reconciliation etc), there was a council but no proper office were available for that council. Gulbadan and Aitabar Shah were also made responsible along with Aziz ullah to run the volunteer organisation. In the beginning some people were against this organisation, but with the passage of time they started favouring this organisation, because they began to understand that it is an Imamat institution (office of the Imam: Aga Khan) and it might bring many positive changes for them. After this organisation, many other organisations were established, and Shah Daulat was made responsible for running these organisations. He ran this voluntarily organisation for many years, and our youngsters were very cooperative with him every time. And they ran all the jamati (community work) work in a very sophisticated way. During his tenure a library has been built and he supervised the jamat during the construction. And then Subidar (sergeant) Sofi had taken over and during his tenure the volunteers became so united and everyone was ready to serve the jamat at any time. And Sofi Bai janab has constructed the local council office during his tenure. And the jamat has very actively participated to build that office. The volunteers brought the wood for construction from far flung places. And the volunteers had worked on the name of God by not taking any reward from the jamat. And our jamat were very happy due to their services, especially the aged ones. Before the construction of the local council office we built the Jamat khana (religious and community centre for Ismaili Muslims). All the jamat and volunteers have very actively participated in building the Jamat khana.
As compared to other villages, doing something in our village is very difficult. And running the village according to the set pattern, and doing something for the villagers is very problematic. As compared to the other villages, our village is backward, it is separate and our village chores are totally different from other villages. But instead of these things notice how our volunteers are giving exemplary services to the jamat. There are 70 volunteers in our village volunteer corps at this time and when I was a volunteer, there were only 40 or 50 people with this organisation. Later on the ranks have been changed and the head of the volunteers had been given a new name and that was a captain. And I had been chosen the first captain of the volunteer corps of our village. At that time I became anxious whether I would be able to fulfil my responsibility in a proper way or not. But after taking the oath I became so happy that I had been working as a member, but now I had given a big post to serve the community. I sent my gratitude to God and prayed that God will give me courage to run this organisation with the cooperation of all the members to serve the jamat in a better way.
When I started working, all the members along with the vice captain Rustam had fully cooperated with me. And they never refused my command as an illiterate person. During my captaincy, I felt that there is a need of a community hall for the jamat where they could get together for any sort of meeting or for some other purpose. The volunteers had no kind of office, and we used to do our meetings at the homes of our members or at the community members home. I discussed the issue with the members and they all said Bismillah (in the name of God) and agreed to start the construction. And for this purpose Shagoon Muhammad janab gave a donation in the form of some amount along with trees for construction, flour, one ton of butter and also a few livestock for meat. And Samim Shah janab had given a donation in the form of cash Rs 5000 for this purpose. Our villagers from the combined storage donated a ration. But before the completion of the building all of our donations were finished and we were in need of further donations. We arranged a meeting in this regard and discussed the issue with the volunteers. And they agreed to donate rations from their homes. The wood was brought from Noghardoominn (name of a pasture) for the construction by the volunteers. The office had been handed over to the jamat after the completion by the volunteers under my supervision. And the jamat became so happy with this initiation by the volunteers and they arranged the opening ceremony of the office by themselves.
I had been the captain of the volunteer corps of our village for six years and during this time, I have seen utmost unity among the volunteers. And I would never forget their cooperation and therefore I am really thankful to all of them. They never disagreed on anything which came from our jamati institutions. They always preferred to do volunteer services for the jamat than their own personal work. And that is why during my leadership, the president for the local council and mukhi and kamdia (second highest local religious leader after mukhi) were very happy with the volunteers. And as well as the volunteers there were two more persons who worked as secretaries during my leadership: Raza janab and you Hajat janab - you two had a big hand behind my success and goodwill. After six years I resigned from my volunteer services, because I was well aware that there were youngsters whom must be given a chance, who were educated and more suitable to run this organisation. And the villagers along with the volunteers had given me a farewell party and presents were given by them, which are still present at my home. And I am glad that the volunteers are making progress from time to time and they have more opportunities to improve themselves. But the only thing which makes me afraid is that the unity which was there during the leadership of Daulat Amin, Mohd Nayab, Gulbadan Sahib, Subidar Shah, Subidar Sofi, Aziz Ullah, and myself is not now the same as it was before. And the disunity I think it might be due extra engagement of people in different types of work.
Section 5
You think that people are not doing voluntarily services as they were doing before?
Yes, the pace of work is not the same as compared to the past. Presently the volunteers are not having the same emotions for giving services.

On the basis of your experiences, do you think that this problem would have a solution or not?
What I would say for this. I think the main reason is promotion, which is given to a few people and the remaining are feeling the difference. I think this might be the reason for the slower pace of volunteer services, because you know, nowadays everyone works to get some reward. I am telling you this master sahib, because during my representation, an ibadat gah (place where people offer their prayers) was built in Shevvert (a pasture), and it was decided to build an ibadat gah in Shevjerab (another pasture). And our volunteers welcomed the decision and started working with great enthusiasm. When the foundation of the Jamat khana was led, again my brother Samim Shah had given a donation on the name of his late mother. And after receiving the donation, the volunteers had carried the wood for the construction from the village Shimshal to the pasture.
Section 6
It was during your leadership?
Yes, it was during my leadership. And that is why I am saying that the volunteers must not be lazy at any time. Because they have to serve the people in the name of Allah, and Allah in return has to give the reward. During the construction of the Jamat khana when it was announced that Nazir Sabir (mountaineer belonging to Hunza – the first Pakistani to climb Mount Everest) had given a donation, then our volunteers had carried the wood from Shimshal to Kook (a small pasture) on their backs for the purpose of building the Jamat khana, and now it is not possible for me to give the name of these volunteers individually. During road construction by AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Programme) these volunteers had given great services to our community. And whatever has been initiated during my leadership, the volunteers had finished it with a great success. And now this all about the volunteers and their services; now if you would like to ask another question.

Shireen bech (dear uncle) would you please tell us something about nomus (name of a relative)?
Nomus master sahib, it is our tradition. I can’t remember the exact time or year [when nomus originated] but it (the projects under nomus) started right from Farukh-e-Deyor. At Farukh-e-Deyor, there was a nomus project of Ghulam Nasir. And while crossing that place [further upstream], there is a valley called Durband where they had constructed a fortress, I mean constructed a huge wall. And a darwazabar (large gateway) had been put at the front of that wall to stop the entry of the enemy because there was one way and no other place to cross, and that had been made by the villagers. Everyone had constructed small houses, far away from the valley and my grandfather Qalandar Ali had given a great contribution by constructing a qalha (literally, fort: a huge shelter to accommodate the livestock of all the villagers).

Where is it (the qalha)?
It is in Shev Khon and is in use till today. And then poop (grandfather) Maimoon had constructed a bridge to cross the river of Shuraghel (name of a pasture), but later on the river had swept away that bridge. And it was a nomus. And then came Shuwert, where poop Mohib had built a bridge on nomus, but that bridge was not enough for people or livestock to cross. And along with that bridge poop Dilbar had constructed another one as a nomus in the name of moom (grandmother) Bakht Numo.
If we talk about nomus, in Shuwert there are two skord (bridges) and two vandan (place where shepherds take their yaks for milking). One vandan is in the name of late brother Muhammed Amin and the second one is in the name of late Aunt Shah Nabi. In Shuwert there is another small bridge, which also is a sign (nomus) of my father-in-law, Ghulam Nasir’s family. And when we come to Shevjerab, where in the entrance bech Qurban Khan had constructed a bridge for livestock, and then Aziz Ullah had constructed another bridge as a nomus, and then Shaeen Baig had built a vandan in the name of his late mother as a nomus. And there is anther vandan for livestock and yaks on the name of Uncle Aliyar. There was a bridge as a nomus by the grandfather of Uncle Mullah Qurban, and that bridge was reconstructed again on the name of late Uncle Mullah Qurban. And these were all in the name of Allah.
And then comes another bridge constructed as a nomus in the name of Uncle Nazar Mohd, and this bridge was reconstructed three times and now it was constructed as a nomus in the name of Uncle Rehman Baig. And next to that bridge was another one which was in the name of grandfather Farhad situated in the Chap Pert. Then comes a path called Arbob-e-Peryen [peryen means a narrow path in the rock] which was constructed in the name of moom Izzat Numo. And then poop Imron (it is actually Imran, but we pronounce it Imron) had constructed a khoon (house) and a vandan in the name of his late mother. And there is another path called Adob-e-Peryen and that way was constructed on the name of Diwana Shah. And then comes Tong Tonge Yand another suspension way, which is our sign as a nomus in the name of poop Qul Mohd and moom Hakim Sulton.
Whatever I told you about nomus from Farukh-e-Deyor till now is all on the name of God to overcome the problems of the people. And then comes Piryan Sar (name of a pasture) where there are two houses, one is by poop Rahim Shah and another is of poop Noor Shah’s. One house was built in the name of moom Nobot and another in the name of poop Noor Shah for the facility of the jamat. And then comes a huge slope where my grandfather had constructed a big gate made of wood to stop the livestock there. And then comes a place where there are two paths, one is for the livestock and yaks and the second is for the people. The path for the livestock is by arbob Bulbul and the way for the people is by Alim Bai janab. And beneath that is a gate of poop Bobi, and that is also theirs, and this gate was always shut down for wild animals, I mean this gate had protected our livestock from wild animals. And there were another two paths, one was by poop Qushqar Baig to come from Tang and one path from this side, that is Wayeen path, and that was of poop Khuda Bardi, bech Qurban Ali and of Rahmat Rahim’s sign.
As you know the existing skord (bridge) of Perian (a place), many nomus have been done and now the skord and the khoon both have been made in the name of poop Norooz (it is Nowroz, but we pronounce it Norooz). And then at the Mydoor Sam the way (path) is in the name of poop Rahim Shah’s at the Waheen (name of a place) for the yaks to pass. And at Tang another way was constructed in the name of my poop Qalandar, and we had reconstructed that in the name of my late father. And my brother Dildar Big (it is Baig, but we call it Big) had built a house in the name of his mother-in-law, and Dildar Big had also constructed the remaining portion of that way, which we had not been able to construct.
And there is another bridge Master sahib which was constructed many times in the name of Chechen and his brother’s name, but the place was not suitable and the river had swept away that bridge. But donations have been given by the villagers and the volunteers have carried iron rods from Passu village and have reconstructed that bridge. Chechen’s name is still used for that bridge, but actually the credit goes to the volunteers. And the road for that area had been constructed in the name of moom Chon and there is a house for the travellers. And a peryen has been constructed in the name of foch (aunt) Gulchin till Past Forzin (name of a place). And in the same place there is a house, which is on the name of foch Mushk. And the road started from that place has been constructed in the name of my Uncle Mohd Atta. And Daulat Amin had continued that road in the name of his father Khalifah Shaheen and his late mother, and has been finished the peryen. And after then Aman Khan had continued the road in the name of his Uncle and his Mother. When finished then Uncle Mullah Qurban had continued the construction in the name of his zadbood (wife, another word used for wife is jemat) till Gare Sar (name of a place). And from Gare Sar you people (meaning the interviewer) had constructed the road till Farukh-e-Deyor. And from Farukh-e-Deyor onward till the end of Gare Sar there is a bridge which is by Niamat Ullah.
And at last people have been constructing the way of Tang of our Pamir area in the name of God and nomus, started from the Farukh-e-Deyor till moom Bibi Maharame Sakord are the signs of different people in Tang area. When we reached at the Waheen (name of a place) there is a way for yaks to cross in the name of poop Nazar Mohd or poop Gul Atta. And on the upper side the way is ours, it was in the name of poop Murad, and later on it was constructed in the name of foch Joyban , it is in the Targeen (name of a place) for the livestock to cross. While coming downward from the Targeen area, there is a very dangerous slope at Shach Merkroya which has been constructed in the name of bech Maddik. And now a bridge has been constructed as a nomus for Daulat Big at Yarzeen. And on this side the way was called Goze Raj, but I don’t know exactly whose grandfather had constructed that till Uch Ga, come to the Waheen - I am telling you about nomus and have reached to the Zart Garben.
And in the Zart Garben there was a cave in the name of my grandfather called Khushal Big boye (boye means cave) and there was another cave, called Qalandare boye. And there were no other place to stay except these two caves. And after sometime poop Bori had built a house on the basis of his wealth. This place was a very very problematic and difficult place. And this house was very beneficial for all the jamat, and we are still getting the benefit of that house, especially on rainy days etc. Gov Jerab was another difficult area for the travellers to stay, because there were no such things like a cave or a house where we could stay. And that is why my brothers had decided to build a house for our journey and my brother late Mohd had built a house there in the name of his mother, and the villagers are using that house till today. While on the other side of the Waheen there is a house which has been built in the name of bech Abdullah, and now I guess I had finished the Gov Jerab areas work, which had been done in the name of God.
And I now I would like to come back from Purchod Washk (name of a place), oh no, there is also a bridge on the name of Aunt Bibi Numa as a nomus. While reaching at the Tang of Zart Garbe, another gate has been built in the name of Mohd Khaliq. That gate was also built while considering the needs of the village, because this gate stops the livestock to come to the Bande Sar (name of a place). When we reached to the Bande Sar the way for that place is also in the name of God as a nomus in the name of Maimoon and the villagers had made that peryen. And this is all from Farukh-e-Deyor to Bande Sar about the nomus in the name of God by the collective participation of the community to overcome their difficulties. Our yaks/animals might be comfortable, if the animal way would be constructed through the Tang area. The small yaks are passing through the Tang area while going to Pamir, but it is not suitable for the big ones to cross that way and they have to pass through the Waeen and it is a big difficulty for them.
Section 9
What do you say about the future of nomus? Do you favour its continuity or not?
I can’t say anything. Till today it continues, and it is fruitful for the jamat. Through this system the jamat have overcome many of their difficulties. And it had no negative impacts. And I don’t know about the future. Maybe the government would provide more schemes to overcome our difficulties or maybe a courageous person like you will give a donation for some sort of constructive works like the previous ones.

At the end, I would like to thank you for such a nice interview and for providing such nice information, thanks a lot.