Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary








development professional




8 December 2002



Section 1
Bismilah I Rahman ni Rahim today on December 8th 2002 I am having an interview with Muzaffer janab (Mr, sir). We are here in Islamabad at Inayat janab’s house. It is a calm sunny day.

Muzaffer janab I would like you first of all to tell me about your life, especially your early life?
Thank you Khaliq janab. It is so nice that I am having an interview regarding my personal life. My name is Muzaffer. I am 32 years old. I am from a village called Shimshal, as you know you are from the same village as well. I am an MBA graduate and am currently working for the Aga Khan Rural Support Program as Manager for its Enterprise Development Programme.
If we discuss through my life, I will tell you whatever I can recall myself at this moment. You know well that I am from Shimshal. We are five brothers, and I am a mid child - two brothers are elder and two younger than I. We have two sisters, both younger than me. The first thing I remember, and which I will start with is that I was brought to school on my uncle’s back. I was wearing new and good clothes and I was given some sweets. That is something I remember of those early days. I got my primary education in Shimshal. If I recall my childhood it used to be an interesting life there in the village. Economically my family was stable, comparatively a standard family in the village. My father was doing well at farming and my uncle was doing business and his job.
Those were days with initial awareness of education just beginning and parents sending their children to school. We would spend our time out of school playing local games. Most of the games we played portrayed our farming life. These were the kind of games where a bunch of kids pretend to be a herd of yaks, putting some baggage on them… and those kind of games. We would go to the riverbank make channels and fields and grow crops etc… That was the total life there in the village. I was a comparatively good student throughout primary - I often secured first position in my class. It was usually Mustafa or me; either of us would secure the first position in the class. The next good thing from those days that I remember is that my teacher had a very good attitude towards me. He would always encourage me to participate in social and religious activities, such as debate competitions, etc… extra curricula activities. So I remember there were Bazm-I- Adab (student assemblies) every weekend. Those (activities) encouraged us to learn how to speak in front of audiences, asking questions and how to answer, how to play dramas and so many other things. That was something I really liked.
I always remember a special word from my teacher. That is something I always remember and I always… as you know, the village…Up till primary school I had not seen anything outside the village - like a car or anything modern - because there was no road to the village. Ya! It is just yesterday that there is a road to the village. [The first car reached the village on 6th December 2002, two days before this interview was taken.] So my teacher - Daulat Amin janab was our teacher - he used to tell us, he used to define our village. He used to say that Shimshal is like, you know… we live between two big stones. I feel… oh, maybe we people are like ants. [Living between two stones refers to the village located between two high mountain walls and the people as compared to these mountains look like ants.] That always pinches (upsets) me that we are like ants. But the people in the plains - like those we read in the books about Punjab, Sindh and all this - these are actually people and we are like ants. So that always pinches me.
After passing my primary school I was kind of transported [laughing] because I was quite young. I was nine years old when I was shifted to the nearby village. My brother brought me on his back most of the way; only a few flat plains I walked. So we reached Passu. There I saw a vehicle for first time in my life. We were approaching the village, in a road turn we saw a big vehicle coming. I thought this vehicle would not be able to turn and crush us all, so I ran to the nearby mount. I was climbing and my brother was shouting at me, “Muzaffer! Come down.” I was crying, “No! This is going to crush me.”
That was my first encounter with a vehicle. I saw this amazing big thing moving, you know. [Both laughing] That was all new to me - the smell, the huge structure and the speed sort of thrilled me.
I spent almost six years in that village in my maternal uncle’s home. I remember we used to travel (walk) almost four kilometres to reach our school. I was nine years old; very young. As you know, we shared it together [both the interviewer and narrator were classmates]. And I visited my parents after 2 years. That was a strange experience coming back home (during the winter vacations). And you people were carrying me, [the narrator was unable to walk] that was hard. But besides that, I got many good things there, a lot of support. I used to recite prayers in the village Jamat khana (religious and community centre of Ismaili Muslims) and those things really enhanced me.
But you know, we faced a kind of problem: children would discriminate against us because of us being Shimshali, being remote, with no road and staying in others’ houses or having a slight difference of accent etc. So these were some things… I always felt, you know even some teachers ridiculed that too. So I always felt that very strongly. So, you know, staying in another person’s house was a very different experience.
Those days created a kind of strength and patience in me… you stay in another person’s house and there’re none of your family members there with you. You can’t show that closeness, you know, so we kind of sat and spoke in a very reserved tone. There in school I was not an extra-ordinary kind of student... No good performance in the beginning. Then, one day, something really happened… I believe in duaa (prayers)... I used to work for my uncle; we used to care for our uncle’s livestock. So one day I went there and the next day was my examination. I remember I had a mathematics examination the next day. I was there to search for the livestock; they were lost somewhere. We came back home at night time. I was worried, kind of crying. I was worried that my uncle’s livestock was lost and with the pressure of examination next day. I came to my uncle’s house. He was a nice man, he told me that what I did was a sacrifice and he will pray for my success. He promised not to send me to care for the livestock again. I remember that night. I was so disappointed and I sat down and opened my mathematics book. I solved only, I correctly remember, about seven questions from different chapters.
The next day when I went to school, it was a real miracle. Out of those seven questions, four were there in the question paper. I solved four questions and one I was not able to conclude correctly. As you know, you have to attempt five questions.
So! When I got my result, I had secured the highest marks in the history of that school. It was 80 marks. I was really happy and so were my teachers. I secured second position in the class. That really encouraged me. Then the next year I secured first position in the class. When I went to 9th grade I secured the highest marks in my school.
Section 3
So what do you think of those first good marks? Was that a miracle or prayers of your uncle or what was it?
You know, sometimes these miracle or incidents - whatever you call them - happen. I very strongly believed at that time that it happened because of the prayers of my uncle; but that really encouraged me and it was a turning point in my career. I became like a shining student and a good performer in my school. In my matriculation examinations, we had no teacher for mathematics or English. So in the exam I scored above 80 in all other subjects except these two subjects where I scored below passing marks. But I received grade marks and passed the exams with grade C.
I travelled to Karachi (for higher studies). That was another interesting thing. That was the first time for me to travel to a big city. We rode in an air-conditioned small coach with some Europeans from Gilgit. That was my second time to visit Gilgit. From there we travelled to Rawalpindi. When we were travelling - you know our area is very deserted - when we were passing through Kohistan, the whole green mountain surroundings, I thought, “Wow! That is like paradise.” And I still remember each of those songs played in the coach. When we reached Rawalpindi, I was amazed to see so many people and cars moving around. I felt a different music around. Then we traveled by train to Karachi. Apart from in my books, it was my first time to see a train. That too was a wonderful experience you know. Those long swarms like stuff all moving. It was all plains, one after the other, and we were waiting for where the plains end and the mountain starts but there were none, till we reached Karachi.
Karachi really amazed me but my first days were a really hard experience, because we had no home there, no place to live. We stayed a few days with some people and then they told us straight that you can’t live with us. Then we were going here and there and we had no money. I had injured in my leg in Shimshal; I was in pain but had no money to go to the doctors. I remember I spent almost one week without food. I was shifted from there to some relatives from Ghulkin. I think if I spent a few more days wandering Karachi without meeting my relatives, I would have become a thief or something. I was so close to that, because to survive you have to do something. We spent almost eight cruel months like that (without money at his relative’s house). I remember there was no mattress to sleep on. We had a bed cover to sleep with. I had a single pair of clothes that I used to wear for college and at home. Those were really hard days of my life.
When I was shifted to my Ghulkin relatives, they were such nice people. They took care of me a lot and managed all these crises till my brother, who had luckily joined the army, started sending money. It was a nice environment there. Very good people, they always said good things. Then I slowly picked up in the better environment. I got my bachelors degree with very distinct marks. Then another interesting thing happened, I met a friend from Japan, and we visited Japan. I got my result there I secured very good marks. Then the visit to Japan and meeting that good friend of mine almost entirely changed my idea and vision of life. The friend was Hideki Yamauchi janab. When I came back from Japan after staying three months I was an entirely different person. I had a vision of my own about life and courage. We were the first people from Shimshal to visit a foreign country. The kind of experience we had there with many educated people and discussing intellectual things really changed me.1
After coming back from Japan I spent a few months in the village. Then I got admission in Punjab University, but I could not feel comfortable there because of the student politics there. Then I got admission to an MBA course in Quaid-I-Azam University. I think I was lucky to have been admitted there. I spent great days in the university. I finished university and for my internship, I worked for the AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Program). After that I joined AKRSP as a career. I worked hard there and luckily I got very good supervisors. I remember my first year there, I continuously came back home past midnight. Then I managed to get a space of my own in my organisation where I was offered many options. I got opportunities to conduct studies and got training abroad. Those opportunities really boosted me. When I came back I started working for the Enterprise Development Program.
In the meantime, I helped my brothers and sisters getting education in colleges and universities so I needed a good salary to support them. I switched my job to a comparatively better paid job in a UNDP project; that was with the Northern Areas Development Project, I worked in an area called Chilas. That was not an easy task. We always had our office bombed or our cars under fire. That again was a turning point in my life. It was hard for me because I came from an area which is really peaceful and I had no experience of working under that kind of pressure. I spent two years there in Chilas. There I saw practically what hell and heaven is. To me it was peace and violence. If there is peace it is heaven. I felt people in those areas are living in a constant misery. I recognised the importance of my area, it is so peaceful. I spent two years in that project and was fortunately offered a better position here in the AKRSP again. They called me back and offered me the position of FMU manager for the Hunza region. Now I am working as a manager of the Enterprise Management Programme here.
In the mean time I got married, and have three children now; one daughter and two sons. That is the entire story about my life so far.
Section 5
Muzaffer, would you like to tell me, what are the elements to build your career - as you are one of the people who got success in life - what are the elements that contributed to it?
Thank you so much. I think it is a very difficult question. If I am really or not, there is more than one factor. One very important thing which I learned was from the three words I learned from Mrs. Shereen Waljiis (wife of the founder of Waljis – a successful Pakistan travel company) She told me once that if you want to be a successful person in your career you should have three characteristics: that is honesty, sincerity and [to be] hard working. These look like very simple words but if you really think of them deeply they are very important. If you work really hard sooner or later you get the result. If you have sincerity to your cause that gives you fuel to work, and if you are honest you feel so comfortable.
The second thing is that you should not think that you know everything. You should always think that you know a little or even know nothing. That develops curiosity. You should have a strong belief in your origins, your livelihood, culture, kinship, and faith. These all give you strength. I think these are the elements that I think are very important in one’s life, and you should have some skills as well. And you should concentrate on developing those skills that you think you can perform well with.

I will ask another question, you have seen remoteness and the most developed and modern societies. What differences are there regarding human relations, regarding peace of mind etc?
I think it is good to discover differences and similarities. I told you earlier of my teacher’s word that we live between two stones. When I was in Karachi I never even told people I was from Shimshal. Even to the friend of mine from Japan, I never told him that I was from Shimshal, because I felt being a Shimshali means remoteness, isolation, discrimination. The first kind of revelation came to me in Japan. That was maybe the first time I looked deep and tried to understand life and human society. I tried to understand the ugly side of the glittering (modern) world. There I realised what it meant to be Shimshali; I felt it is a blessing, not a shame. I felt there are opportunities being where I am from and what I am. That is what I built my career on. After that I can tell people that I am from Shimshal – where there is no road and stuff. So, though there are obstacles, you can build on that.
Living in those big cities… you know, these man-made things, you get fed up after a while. But in nature you don’t feel that. Although I succeeded in building my career here, there is one thing that I always want to go back to Shimshal. And I hope one day I will go back to Shimshal. It is because if you go a certain level, you need peace which could be acquired in a real life not an artificial one.
Section 6
You are more of an economist. What kind of economic changes are you observing around this area and what changes are you expecting?
These I think are very important question to our society and life. Talking about Shimshal you know we have an agricultural and pastoral society. Our livelihood circles around agriculture and pastoral life. The new changes that are affecting these livelihood sources - changes like education, flow of tourists to the area, etc - will bring new livelihood sources. And the old ones too are changing with new facilities reaching in like electricity and the road. I think in the future too the main source of income of the villagers will remain agriculture and pastures but the uses will be different; we will use the pastures as tourist attractions and will grow cash crops in the village. You know we’ve got comparatively a huge area, 2700 sq km. It has a lot of attractions for tourists and adventurers - the glaciers, peaks and meadows - we have lots of attraction for them. The other thing is, I feel the thing that will really benefit people is the glacier; apart from [being] tourist attractions they are the sources of fresh waters.
I think we have the resources which will not put us in competition with our immediate surrounding or region, but directly put the community on the international scene.

Do you think it will be a source of income for the villagers or…?
That is what I am telling you.

Muzaffer, you know Shimshal remained isolated for a long time. Now the time has changed and we will have more interaction with our surrounding villages and outside. What would you say of the previous situation and the current changes?
Well, you are right. Things are changing more rapidly than they were in our parents’ lives. Fifteen years ago, I was a shepherd in the village; today I am an executive officer and so it is with the entire generation. That of course is a big change. That isolation too has a gift of its own, we had an identity… A bit mysterious the life there, you know: yaks, strong people, no road and things like that. Very few people had access there. So some of these are facts and some just myths but whatever it sounds like life is so very clear and known there. But once this road gets there the community will get to a new challenge of competition and the most serious challenge for the community will be redefining our identity. So we will have quite a lot of adjustments to make. I feel the next five or six years will be hard for the community - a sort of crisis of identity. We will have no more distinctions now. We were geographically distinct but now many people and things will come in, so things would require a lot of adjustments.
If you see it more broadly, things are changing so rapidly. Globalisation can have a strong impact on people’s lives even in Shimshal. We would no longer be able to maintain the sense of being the sole custodians of this environment. The changes can even turn your strengths or positive things in life and society into weaknesses – such as your simplicity, honesty and stuff... So I think there are a lot of things to learn and adjustments to be made.
Taking it broadly, another thing that I want to mention here is that the Hazir Imam’s (Aga Khan’s) vision of promoting pluralism in the jamat (Ismaili community) and advocating it globally are helpful for small communities like Shimshal to maintain their identity and gradually adjust to the changing world. Another thing which the village was really lucky for was the visit of Hideki Yamauchi janab, in particular to Shimshal. He gave us a new way of looking at things. Now we got over those things very nicely. We represent the area now for its culture and traditions. So today everyone feels [that] being a Shimshali is a strength and these activities helped us prepare for the changes internally also. With these feelings I think we can smoothly come through the changes with a strong identity of our own.
Section 7
Do you think there are differences between the villages in Gojal and Shimshal -particularly the culture and traditions, as you said identity? Do you think Shimshal has anything different? If there is, with the opening up, will that finish or mix with Gojal?
Thinking locally, Shimshal has a strong identity within the surrounding villages; it is historical. But as far as the local culture, values and norms are concern they are the same. Local society is more mature in Shimshal because it remains one of the more resourceful villages in the Hunza state. Because of the geographic situations there is more cohesion, mutual respect and caring in Shimshal; there is more space and sharing in the community and people remain more uninfluenced because of the physical isolation. Differences are [there] but more in terms of the physical remoteness and access. But we will be required to learn many things from the surrounding villages where, because of KKH, they have been exposed to the outside world and they have adjusted to the new changes -developing more of a business-like attitude. That would be shocking for us but somehow they are necessary.

You spoke about natural resources. Shimshal possesses a vast area and we have got a lot of resources, we used to spend a self-sufficient life. Now what kind of changes do you think would be there?
As I told earlier, we are a resourceful village. Once we are linked to the market there would be changes. For a while, we will be losing certain things. But I feel there will be strong gains from within for better utilisation of the marketable resources. In the immediate surrounding the villages have no competition with us for the local resources. I am afraid of one thing, that for a while we - in pursuit of the upcoming new opportunities - will discriminate against our present sources of livelihood. People will rush to the market, but once we get those market shocks then people will rethink and redefine our things. For those things we require social sensitisations you know, to make people realise how important a self-sufficient life is. It is very important to realise how careful they must be to make conscious efforts to adjust to the changes.

So you think that people will start rethinking their past experiences and reuse them?
Yes… Yes, I think after some time that may happen.
Section 8
You are talking about these new changes regarding livelihood, relying on market and market-based resources. Do you feel there would be more mobility? Like our people going to the cities?
Yes, I think we are already facing it. As you have seen the last few years till the 9-11 happened, there were a lot of tourists and especially the youth were moving out mostly in the summer to earn money. But I think the utilisation is positive. It is more for children’s education. There will be out-migration for higher education and jobs. But if the sources of income in the village are improved that will help many people to stay there for business etc. But anyhow, the fear is there that many resourceful people will be leaving the village.

Would you comment on the informal and current formal institutions in the village?
I think it is a huge topic. To start, I think with the biggest informal institution is the family and that has not very much changed. But for the last few years we are witnessing changes there. It is becoming more of a nuclear family; a smaller family. As you know, traditionally we’ve had the joint family system. That is happening there. If we talk about the village level institutions, from the last hundreds of years, they have kept up with changes… Like the time of the state of Hunza, they had their own institutions like arbob (Mir’s - rulers of Hunza state up to 1972- main representative in the village), yarpa for financial matters, lubis for security and yurt (the community) and others. So these were the institutions and people with defined roles they were performing. Then within the village we had this room (main lineage groups) as an institution for agriculture works. That was very institutionalised, with defined practices for a room, skuin (extended family group, sub-group of room) and vuroot (the family); a role in agriculture works, in ceremonies and so such were the community [institutions].
We had changes after the Hunza kingdom ended. We had [a new] political system come in with a lot of confusion. That really disturbed the local society because we had no experience with that, and the political ideas and system developed in the urban setting, in an environment of exploitation, really could not fit the small cohesive local society here.
We got numberdar (government representative in the village) and member union councils who were new to the society. They had no example. So they - instead of finding new roles for them according to the local needs - started copying what they [the numberdars] do in the rural areas of Punjab and other. It was more of an exploitation. The union’s councils were based more on the slogans and things. What happened after these changes was confusion between the traditional institutions and the new ones. But people could not own the new one so far, because they had no local base and they did not try to find one. They were more ad hoc things rather than formal institutions.
This institutional gap was timely filed by institutions of the Imamat (office of the Imam: Aga Khan) founding the councils, volunteers, scouts and arbitration committee etc to run the local society. The community cohesion was streamlined to efforts of society building and development by the AKRSP, who encouraged people to build roads, canals, and other things the community required on a self-help basis. They introduced systems of collective decision making and sharing resources. They introduced Village Organisations (VO) that worked as launching pads for economic activities. These approaches were built on the traditional ways with a more defined and refined system. They introduced more grassroots changes; changes according to the needs of the local society and the pace and changes needed. They introduced basic skills like record keeping, accounting, collective decision making and managing local resources; and also introduced methods to improve productivity and income. These were more secular institutions.
I realised one thing while working in Diamar [Chilas]. Traditionally they had very similar and very good institutions and a cohesive society, but they were left at the behest of the exploitive new system and of a more individual exploitation and they lost their social integrity. In our area, with the new changes, these institutions provided forums to address the new issues coming with changes. Things are more to the will of the people. They can change individuals, practices and the scope of their role or the approaches to fit the community’s needs.
With the new things coming in, people felt they needed dynamic institutions; they couldn’t be restricted to a numberdar. They need institutions where you can change the name of an institution, the composition of an institution, the scope of an institution and the practices of an institution. That is where SNT [Shimshal Nature Trust] came in, with a broader futuristic vision for the community. It gave the community a forum to think about their own perspective on any new issue. It is more like people taking control of their own lives. So I hope that SNT should remain a dynamic institution building on the indigenous resources and rational adjustments. I hope it should remain dynamic. It should keep changing but keep the local values as core to build on.
Section 9
Would you like to talk about the major characteristics of the Shimshal Nature Trust? Regarding its indigenous experiences and how people are seeing it?
Thank you. I think it is a very interesting question for me. I think we all think that the Shimshal Nature Trust is not a new thing or an innovation. It is a bridge between inside and outside the village. It is just putting into writing the local traditional practices. It is just taking the indigenous experiences to the modern people and on the other hand, taking modern things in the way where people can understand them.
Putting it more in detail, it started with interventions. When the outside intervention came in, like the National Park, people felt they were not fairly treated. People tried to resist it, the way things are resisted in our region—through demonstrations, slogans and violent oppositions and other. People did use those techniques but we realised that it was not effective and that this way we really can’t say what we want to say.
We tried to find a way and we felt that the local lifestyle and traditions were a better carrier of our message. So we tried to build on that. What we tried to do is we tried to understand the main issue and the problem. What we found is that there are no differences in the issue or cause but in the method. It was a two-way education to the community and the outside. So we tried to articulate the local practices by putting them in the way that is more familiar (understandable) to the government and other organisations. And there was something to change.
What we tried to do here is rethink our own practices and life and tried to understand the outside world. When we tried to understand these indigenous practices we realised that the indigenous wisdom and practices are closer and relevant to the sustainable resource used and are more environmentally sensitive. That is where we based our point of view on and advocated it. We involved children in data collection to prove what we were saying. We think it is more important to understand the people’s feeling of their surrounding than articulating regulations and imposing restrictions.
If you think of the different programmes of SNT you will understand how they cover the whole aspect of local life; such as its culture programme, it’s nature stewardship programme and its development program based on the indigenous practices. We tried to educate children through the EEP (Environmental Education Programme), showing how science and education is out there in their own village and they can learn from their surroundings. Otherwise, as Hideki janab said, the school curriculum talks about the urban areas and things like trains, cars or Lahore, which have no relevance to a child’s daily life here. They feel education is out there in the cities, but we tried to give them a new outlook on their own surroundings and life.
I think that is important for our relationship with our surroundings, rather than imposing restrictions. So what we did here was a whole new approach to conflict resolution. Instead of demonstrations and asking the government to give us this and that, we tried to tell them that we have a culture of taking initiatives. So in the process, we tried to understand the local life and re-educate people on that.
I hope and I think we need more research and in-depth knowledge to sustain these practices. That will help us solve our problems.
Section 10
So in SNT you oppose the “asking culture” and try to rely on local resources?
Yes, that is what is there. That is how people have been living for hundreds of years; self-sufficiency. The demanding culture is not local, that is what came with changes. The notion, you know, that you should demand from your government to do things for you and you should not do anything yourself, that is a bad culture from the south. That is in the rural Punjab and Sindh or NWFP (North West Frontier Province). We here for a brief period witnessed it and did that. But what SNT is striving for is the revival of, or to give value to the practice of self-reliance. What we are doing is to tell people, “No, demanding is not important. What you need to do, why don’t you initiate doing it?” That is a more honourable way of doing it. That is the SNT’s approach.
Section 11
What do you think about the future of SNT? What type of idea will we adopt or share?
It is again a very crucial question and I will take guidance from AKRSP here. To my imagination, like Hazir Imam says, “Institutions are human”; humans make them. It is like [a process of] birth, youth, aging and death and maybe again rebirth. So, how we understand this organisational cycle is to try to make it well suited to time and to changes. This all depends on the persons who are working for it and the systems which have been developed. When these organisations’ values come in to real life practices they become institutions. We need to think of that thing, how we can institutionalise the practices of this organisation. That will be a major challenge for us. If we succeeded in doing that, SNT will be able to play an important role in the village and outside.
How it will work in the future will always be the same, to bridge indigenous wisdom with modern practices. That will be the major role we will be playing, that will be both inside and outside. So we will have to advocate, practice, innovate to make them part of practicing of life. We dream to be part of a pluralistic world society with an identity of our own. That, I think is important, if we can understand how we can attain that being a small society…

How different (in its approach) do you think SNT is from other organisations?
Well, to me, you know, I think most organisations are inspired in their approaches by urban and bigger societies, like Moscow, Brazil, Iran or Europe. They keep these outside things as a perimeter for change. We have these things even here; some youth try to influence local society being influenced by outside ideals. What SNT wants is that we should have a local parameter for choosing what suits the local society or what we need, and we should use a social approach to attain it. We should give more importance to people’s point of views, their participation and to people owning things. People have their own pace and that should be respected. We don’t oppose outside ideas, but what we try to say is that it should be the people who prioritise our needs and decide what we need, and we should respond to them timely.
About the management of SNT, I hope for SNT that we should have more space here. Many new options and ideas should be debated; there should be both capacity and space. Then we can manage it conceptually. Rather than bringing every controversial things and trying to adopt them, the community should be more rational in its approach.
The second thing is that opposition or criticism for the sake of improvement will be a blessing but opposition for its own sake will be trouble. I hope that whoever works for SNT should have open hearts (be ready for such opposition); they should not take it personally.
Third, I think it is important that we should involve the youth; their opinions should be respected. Inside the village people own SNT because it is closer to their life; the youth who are outside are far from their own origin and are influenced by outside ideals. They need to be given a chance to understand their own society and keep their attachment to their Shimshal.
Section 12
Muzaffer, my question is about what SNT wants to do to improve people’s lives in the village?
As you know, it is just three days ago that the village got connected to the outside and you are the first person to come out of the village riding a car. When we are opening up, we will get the outside problems too. Problems like income gap etc, where the concept of poverty comes in. So, new opportunities of earnings are very important locally. We categorise it poverty in various aspect of life, it could be in income, health, education, justice and gender. All that needs to be addressed equally, because they collectively contribute to the general poverty; they are more interrelated. So what I think is that the rational behind forming these programmes is to provide opportunities in every area of social life. That is to ensure sustainability in resource utilisation.
There is one more thing I witnessed in Chilas - deforestation; it is that when one generation aggressively exploits the resources, the next generations are in poverty. Therefore we should employ ways to sustainably use the resources.
In our programme for SNT, we have adopted an integrated approach covering every aspect of social life here. We shortly will be working on areas like tourism development to the area, development of new cultivable areas to supplement the agriculture productivities, and the utilisation of natural resources such as wild animals for generating income.
The education program has established a fund where we will have contributions to improve the education condition of the community. But for the long term, we want to create an environment where all these income issues could be addressed.
One more thing that is part of the new changing world is spiritual poverty. It is something which our societies are not yet familiar with; the emotional problems are a very connected part of the modern life. We will workout ways to address that issue too in the community. That is the way we would address poverty in the future.

You talked about many problems including you mentioned gender issues. Do you think there is any gender problem in Shimshal? If there is, how are you trying to work it out?
Traditionally we don’t have discrimination towards women. We have an open society where both men and women work together to run the daily life. Today, also with the changes, we are trying to give them equal opportunities, as you can see in education. We provide education to both girls and boys equally. But there are certain limitations in the local societies. We don’t have institutions of higher education here and the other regions are not that open. Therefore, some natural restrictions fall on our women also because of the bigger picture. Every parent wants to send their children to Gilgit or Karachi to get an education; but the environment there is not that good for children to make it there on their own.
Discrimination sometimes develops when with the changing economic and social parameters, the roles are not adjusted. For example, agriculture is basically a male responsibility in our society. Now with tourism opportunities men are working to earn money in the summer, and hence most of the agriculture responsibilities fall on the women in the village. These are issues we need to look deeply into and work out fairly. But overall, we have a culture of trust, and have the space for women too in every aspect of our social life. And that is important I think.
Section 13
What will be your message to younger generation?
My message to the youth is that the base of the ladder of success is in your roots. If you forget your roots the ladder will collapse. They should never forget their origin, their village, and always work for its development.

1 Muzaffer and Khaliq (the interviewer) went to Japan together. Muzaffer met Hideki for first time some where on the way to Gilgit.