Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary












8 December 2000



Section 1
I am Muhammad Amin; I am here to take the interview of bech (uncle) Gonik. It is very nice to sit here in his daulat khana (house of wealth); the house he has built for himself with his own wealth, hard work and his own imagination, so it looks very beautiful, he decorated it very nicely. It is winter in Shimshal; the first snow of this season is falling outside, and it is looking very beautiful - everything covered with a white piece of cloth. As compared to central Shimshal, Amin Abad (part of Shimshal) is warmer, because it is tapop (an area which gets sunlight in winter). The room has been kept hot inside so that it may not create any problem while recording the interview. We are sitting here very comfortably. I think, it is the first house in Shimshal, in which a carpenter has used his skills in a very sophisticated manner. The environment is very peaceful here and I think it is very convenient to record the interview of bech Gonik. We are grateful to those for whom we are recording this interview, because tomorrow it might be the source of blessing for us, because it is ilm (knowledge/education).
So first of all I want bech Gonik to do his introduction, by telling us about his age and about his parents, are they alive or not?
Bismillah Rehman-e-Rahim (In the name of God the magnificent and the most merciful). My house is not as good as you praised, but anyway thank you for your compliments. We are not as wealthy, as skilful, as your forefathers, grandparents, and parents were. But according to the need of the time and because of our own needs we have tried to fulfil not all but less of our needs. You have praised the work of the carpenter, and I would say he is able that we would praise his skills.
While giving an answer to your question I would tell you about my parents. Our mother left us (died) very early when we were so young. She was a great woman, everyone can say that their mother was great and I would like to use the same word for my mother as well. She faced many problems when I was gone down country (refers to the rest of Pakistan) to make some earnings, and at last left us alone. Our father was very kind in nature and was a very cooperative person at the village level. As you know, everyone respected my father, he had no such position like numberdar (government representative in the village) in the village, but instead people respected him at all levels. We are thankful to the villagers and to your (the interviewer’s) forefathers (they were influential at village level during that time) for giving him such respect. But our father also left us when we were able to earn and live a comfortable life by having all the necessities of our daily life.
While talking about my own life, my age is now 55 years. We spent most of our life fighting with difficulties. We were not living as comfortably in the past as you are living today by the grace of God. We were not interested in getting education at all. Your forefathers were wiser in this matter and that is why your grandfather had taken your Uncle Muhammad Nayab, down country for getting education. He got some of his basic education from Khuda Abad, and went to Hunza as well to get some more. Our fathers used to call him munshi (a person able to read and write; a clerk), and later on he opened a school here in Shimshal. Some of our brothers have got their basic education from him, and as you know one of his students (late) Rehman got his basic education from him and went to Karachi for further studies, but he died very early due to a dreadful disease called cancer.
I have spent my life mostly with the difficulties. In the past when our fathers used to separate from their brothers, then it was difficult to get enough food to eat and enough clothing. We are still facing some of the difficulties due to the jeep road, which we are not able to complete yet. When my uncle Momin Shah and my father decided to live separately, I can’t remember the year exactly, I started doing portering from the same year. It was difficult to get this type of work in the past, because tourists were not visiting our village as frequently as they are doing today. And the daily wages which we were getting were very low, that is five or ten rupees per portering. One year I visited Qoroon five times as a porter. Someone might not believe it, but the one who has experienced these sorts of difficulties will believe it.
When the Mir (rulers of Hunza state up to 1974) was ruling, at that time wherever there were army, from that village a person was chosen as a lubi (border security personnel) and the lubigig (responsibilities of lubi) was with our family. Here there was something wrong with that job, so me and Dildar Baig went to Qaroon Ben from Shimshal, from Qaroon Ben to Passu, then to Paryar, and from Paryar we returned back to Shimshal. We both are still alive, at that time we were strong enough to travel to distant places in a day or two. The condition of the route was not like the same as you people are travelling on today. We had to travel through Malongodi, Reche Dour, and to cross Lakhashes on Ostonesar to reach Qoroon Ben.
And your grandfather (late) Ghulam Nasir had constructed this route to travel on; otherwise at the time of our fathers it was very difficult to go downside while crossing the dangerous peaks. The route being built by your grandfather has provided a great opportunity for us to travel comfortably. Our fathers used to say that God would take Ghulam Nasir to heaven with him that he made our travelling easy by building this route, today we are also using the same route to travel around. It is a fact, and I am not going to praise him for this, but it is actually a God given gift to someone that he would be kind to others, and these are with your people. At Qoroon Ben, your grandfather had built a bridge for the people to cross the river, and he never let it die, but he always used his wealth to rebuild that bridge, it has been swept away by the river many times and he constructed that many times.
Section 3
Due to the lubigig, you have spent most of your life travelling around, so could you remember that during your lubigig for how many times the river had swept away the Qoroon Ben Bridge, and secondly who were the other lubi with you?
Lubi at that time were me along with Baig Daulat, Dildar Baig, Rehmo and Bul Faiz. So me and Baig Daulat have been dismissed and Ghulam Rasool and Bashi Poop have been appointed in place of us. This happened in 1974 when the rule of the Mir had finished from Hunza, and this change was brought by Ghazi Johar.
While giving answer to your question that how many times the river had swept away your grandfather’s bridge - that is the Qoroon Ben bridge in your lifetime. So it has been reconstructed for two times during my lifetime, but our fathers were saying that whenever there were chances of avalanches they have drawn back that bridge and made that later on. But the river had swept it away only two times. For constructing that bridge they usually used to eat their own food and take their own close relatives, and other people from the village who were strong to build up that bridge again, because this was the most difficult route to travel on.

You have talked about lubigig, in the past there were no jobs at all, people of Shimshal had no means of earnings like lubigig, no ideas to get such opportunities, so could you please tell me that how they spent their lives without any source of income at all, and how they fulfilled their needs?
Why not? It is very important to talk about [this]. There were only five lubis in our village, and they were getting five rupees a month, imagine. You have asked how people spent their lives without any source of earning. In the past people were wholly dependent on livestock, but there were no such means of selling livestock like today, because there was a system of paying yeelban (taxes) to the Mir of Hunza, and people were paying that tax five times. The livestock kept by people were only enough to pay those taxes and not for selling purpose to fulfil their other needs.

You have talked about the yeelbans, so I want to know that how people were paying those taxes, they were paying them together, or there were specific times to pay?
During autumn, people were supposed to pay two taxes together. People were supposed to give one male and one female goat which were much stronger than their other livestock. The lubis were suppose to give a female as well as a male goat as an yeelban and a male sheep as wotokh (special tax paid in lieu of a privilege - like a job or position - granted by the Mir) to the Mir, they were doing so because they had to protect their jobs. Two of the yeelbans had to be given in summer in the month of July, and we had to take them to Baltit (now Karimabad) while passing Qoroon, when the river was in its peak. In the month of November we were suppose to go to greet the Mir in Hunza every year.
Section 4
There were representatives of Mir like numberdars, yarpas (Mir’s representative responsible for livestock production and supervision of central grain store), lihazdars (favourites), or some were the borwars (literally, one who carries the load; less wealthy villagers who carried the Mir’s taxes) of Mir, so they were all giving their yeelbans to protect their designations or for other different means. Excluding all the above mentioned representatives, tell me about the total population and the yeelban from the general population?
As far as I remember there were twenty houses who used to give the real yeelban to the Mir. You have asked to leave behind the above-mentioned representatives, so I would like to clarify that arbob was the only person who was not giving yeelban, otherwise all other representatives or workers were giving it. The Mir or his family mostly used to stay at the arbob’s home when they were in Shimshal, and the arbob was supposed to take special care of them while they were at his place. That is why arbob was not giving the yeelban. There was also a system that one person from the village must give his yeelban to the arbob, rather than giving it to the Mir. The villagers were supposed to take the yeelban of the Mir to Baltit turn by turn at the month of November every year. But most of the time due to heavy snow falling on Qoroon if the people whose turn it was to go to the Mir’s place were weaker or not able to cross Qoroon due to snowfall then the villagers used to decide who should go along with the yeelban of the Mir. Mostly those people have been chosen who were strong enough to cross Qoroon peak with the heavy snowfall. If people were asked to do so, they never refused to go, because in the past people were respecting each other, and were caring for the weaker ones who were not able to do something; they were sincerer and cooperative with each other.
At that time people had no such type of warm clothes to wear during their travelling to protect themselves from cold, even they didn’t have bett (long woollen overcoat) to wear, no sandal (long shoes made of animal skin), and they had no thamboon (trousers made of sheep’s wool) to wear. So they used to borrow these things from others while going downside through Qoroon on others turn. I would say that Qoroon is not a usual place to cross easily, and the same condition is still there when you go through Qoroon.

It looks like a dream, if we look at it while travelling through a jeep.
Of course, it is a dream. If we take our food down the Qoroon peak then we never get food anywhere till reaching Paryar. We were not taking patock (thick bread) like we are taking today during our travelling, our patocks were enough to show off our poverty. Most of the people used to take baqla patock made of barley flour, only people like you were taking gidim patock (thick bread of wheat flour) during their travelling. People used to divide their patocks among each other and they did respect each other.
Section 5
You have talked about respect and value, today everything is available, but in the past there was scarcity of everything, but instead people used to respect each other and everything had some value for them. So could you tell me that what is the reason that respect has vanished from society and that the availability of things had lost its value?
It is more important to talk about mukhi sahib, but your knowledge is very vast in this regard as compared to me. [Mukhi means local religious leader; the interviewer must have served this position at some time]

But I want your views?
In my opinion the availability of things has made us so proud that we all are in search of living liberally, and that is why we are not caring for others. But in the past all the people faced difficulties and they felt it in the same way. But I can say that they loved each other as compared to us. Today we are more mobile and open to travel around the world, but in the past people had no access to the outside world, they were only able to go to Hunza, and not even to Gilgit, even the people of Hunza had no access to Gilgit except a few. Today life is so comfortable and that is why we are not taking care of others who are in distress, who are having problems. In the past people had the same way of living, same food to eat, same dress to wear, and more time to spend together to share their problems. While, today people have different way of earnings, different problems to face, more access to the outside world, and less time to care for others.
During the rule of the Mir, his representatives like arbob, yarpa…but you can say that no yarpa was in Shimshal, because yarapgi (responsibilities of the yarpa) and thrangpagig (responsibilities of the thrangpa - representative of the Mir who visited Shimshal once a year to monitor tax collection) were the jobs of the people living in down villages. thrangpagig was the zhang (position/status granted by the Mir) of Kunjuti (people of Hunza), while yarapgi was the zhang of people of Gulmit, Gulkin (villages in upper Hunza) people of Garkid (upper Hunza) and the people of Shimshal never did these jobs. But sometimes these titles depended upon the source of relation with the Mir. My uncle Momin Shah was the first yarpa of Shimshal, because his mother’s sister had [breast] fed Mir Nazeem Khan’s son. So on the basis of this relation my uncle got the yarapgi for the first time.
We faced difficulties and to some extent a comfortable life during the rule of the Mir in Hunza, because the Mir of Hunza never did any sort of cruelty to the people of Shimshal. And the main reason behind that was the people of Shimshal were taking too much care of the Mir by providing him with everything for his daily use like butter, cheese, meat, and other necessities like bett, and palos (local woven carpet made from yak or goat hair) - because the Mir had no such access to the outside world to buy carpets from outside Hunza. The Mirs were using our Shimshali palos as a carpet in their palace, I think our palos would be still there at the Gazanfar (present Mir’s) palace. The people of Shimshal were very famous and experts for making beautiful palos. The expertise came from your grandfather, who got the training from Raskam (name of a place) from a person called Ablaz, and then he transferred his expertise to your Uncle Allathi, a very expert hand to make beautiful palos. I think there would be some of his palos still present in your home.
Section 6
Oh yes, yes we had a tabaq (large wooden platter used to eat different dishes together) called Ablaz’s tabaq at home.
Your grandfather used to make taghar (sack made from goat hair to store wheat), and your uncle used to spin it with his expert hands, your grandfather was also a very intelligent person. People still praise your grandfather due to his abilities, but in fact his photograph might not be available.

No, we never got his snaps. So I would like to go further, you have talked about the living condition and also about the economic status of our village, mostly people used to spend their lives doing agricultural works, and we were supposed to give yeelbans to the Mir. So now I want to know about yourself that while leaving lubigig what sort of work you have adopted to do, or have you joined the lubigig again?
I had very good relations with the Mir’s family from a very young age. Ayash Khan (late) was having a strict nature, and everyone knows it. When I was lubi, he used to give half of my salary to me while keeping half with himself. So one day I became angry with him and said that it is very good to join the army rather than doing lubigig, he replied that “I will see you join the army.” I laughed and told him that “yes, Ayash Khan sahib it is very difficult to do some sort of job without your kind permission.” But then I went to Gilgit and joined the army without resigning from the lubibgig, during that period they were paying my salary to my brother Mehruban Shah.1
When I joined the army, I was not able to speak even a few words of Urdu, because I was not educated. I joined the Pakistan Army in 1972 on the 7th of June. When my relatives heard about my appointment, they were very surprised, because they never heard about these sorts of jobs in their lives. When I joined the army at that time the salary of the Gilgit Scouts were very low, it was only fifteen rupees per month. While joining the army I [found] the way of living and the environment different to our forefathers’ lives; I found it better then ours. At that time there was a shopkeeper named Habib from Ghulkin village, who had a shop of cloths. I bought a dress for me from his shop, which costs only ten rupees. At that time everything was so cheap, four cups of tea were only one rupee. I observed that my life was becoming systematic day by day.
In the month of January, we went for a parade to Naltar (name of a place), that parade was for qasam (promise/undertaking), it was a promise that we would be loyal to the Government of Pakistan at any cost, respect our seniors and obey their commands. After doing Qasam Parade, we got leave from our unit. Our villagers had heard about that news and they very warmly welcomed us from Oston, when we reached Shimshal, they started firing bullets to express their happiness. It was very cold here, we were with our uniforms of the Gilgit Scouts. We were the first fauji (soldiers) from Shimshal; the villagers have respected us too much, and have treated us like we are someone very special. So we thought that we had done a good job by recruiting ourselves in the army. During my job in Gilgit my mother faced many difficulties here in Shimshal, and she couldn’t bear my absence and left us forever. Our villagers treated us very warmly during our stay in Shimshal, everyone invited us to their places for food or tea. They entertained us very well; we will never forget their hospitality.
When we reached Gilgit after spending our vacations in Shimshal, I discussed with my other friends that the hospitality of our villagers was unforgettable so what we can give them in return? We decided to buy a shamiyana (cloth canopy) for the jamat (Ismaili community) on sharing basis. The jamat is still using that shamiyana which we gave them in 1972 on a very low contribution. When we were in Gilgit, we never hid ourselves from our villagers, we always preferred to meet our villagers to entertain them through some light refreshment or through some other way. But we never bought some clothes or other necessities of life for someone from our village, because we were getting low salaries.
Section 7
Aafreen (very nice)
We never remained in the fauji forever, but our villagers are having the same love for us in their hearts. I am not able to say thanks to our villagers for the respect that they gave us.

If we do look at your services like entertaining our villagers in Gilgit and by gifting the shamiyana for the Jamat khana (religious and community centre of Ismaili Muslims) then we can say that all these things are a great contribution. I want further explanation by saying that it is not possible for everyone to spend one day in a place like Siachen2, where you have lived for a long time while serving the nation, and I think it is a great honour to be successful at places like this. I think these successes are all due to the sacrifices, which you have done for your villagers and as well as for our nation. By the grace of Allah, in return, you are now spending a very comfortable and respectable life, and this I think is due to your deeds which you have done in the past. Now you are here and the jamat is getting benefit of your ideas and services. So continue on? Alright mukhi sahib, if a person remains thankful to Allah and is kind with his fellows then Allah is so merciful to bless him in return. In fact being kind to others or loving others is a very important thing, and our children must also adopt this habit. As I told you about our past, so it doesn’t need to be repeated again, today that life is like a dream for us.

You are talking about the respect which people were having for each other or you mean their courage?
I am talking about their courage as well as about their hospitality. While talking about their courage, I would give you an example that we used to reach Passu through a river from Sroturt. While crossing the river we used to carry the weaker ones on our shoulders. You can imagine the courage and sincerity of people of the past for each other. Today some of the people from then are still alive, like Bul Faiz.
Section 8
Numayindar (village representative to the local government) sahib, as you said that you were in the army too, you talked about our village that it was closed like a ganz (store), but slowly with the passage of time the route started opening and you decided to go downside in search of a job, so I want to know about your feelings about the down area’s condition?
In fact I would like to tell you about the life of all the Shimshali people. For the first time when I went downside, the main problem with us was that we were not able to talk with other people, because we didn’t know their languages. No one in Shimshal was able to speak in Persian except your grandfather. Our mother tongue was not in use anywhere, we never sat with the Varchik (Brushaski speakers, the language of Hunza). When I joined the army I couldn’t speak with my colleagues, because of language problems, and I felt it very much. I would say that I was lucky that I got recruitment in the army, because I joined it after passing the age limitation needed for the recruitment. Now I am able to sit with a foreigner and talk to him in his language. If I couldn’t have joined the army then I would be the same person as the people of my age are in our village, as you know them very well. Today I think of myself in a better position than our other brothers living here.
While going downside I became aware and more conscious about spending my life in a better way. But one thing which is more important, in order to spend your life in an organised manner is education that was not in my luck, and God has written in your people’s luck according to the need of the present time. But anyway I felt myself lucky that whatever I thought it is enough for me at the present stage of my life, because I can talk to different people, I have seen the downside world and have became aware about different people living in different societies. So in fact I think of myself as a lucky person, because without education I am able to spend my life like the educated ones today.

Numayindar sahib, thank you for such a nice talk, you have told me about your life experiences, and said that you have got a lot of experiences from the outside world, and that is why our villagers used to ask you to share your ideas for any type of help needed at the village level. Our village is separate from the down areas like Gilgit, Rwalpindi and other areas, so I would like you to explain the advantages and disadvantages of both of these areas?
The outside world is the world of science, the way of communication is stronger than our village, mobilisation is more frequent and easy as compared to our village, and people are learning each and everything from each other, people have to cheat others for doing something, changes are taking place everywhere. But in our village people have one direction to go in, here people remain on one side, here changes are not taking place as frequently as compared to the down areas. Changes are taking place within a day in the down areas. But we should be thankful to Allah for his gratitude that many changes have taken place here also, but still we are far away from the people who are living in down areas, and the reason is we are totally separate from the outside world due to the road which we don’t yet have.
Due to the metallic road everywhere in the down areas, peoples easily travel from one area to the other without any difficulty. Due to the road they are getting all the facilities at their door step needed for their daily routine. If they wear a dress to go somewhere, due to the vehicle they reach their destination in the same condition, but here the situation is different, we have to walk a day or two on foot, and it changes our whole outlook. But in the down areas there is no need to walk to go somewhere, it is the vehicle which takes you from one place to the other even [if] you have to travel two days. So I say that there is too much difference with and facilities in the down areas. So for our village I would say that we would not be able to get all those facilities available in the down areas, and will have to face the difficulties here until we are able to construct our road. But I hope God will help us and it will be completed soon, it will take days to be completed and not years.
Section 9
What do you think about these two types of lifestyles, which one is interesting, I mean village life or life in down areas?
A very interesting question. The life in our village is more interesting then the down areas life. In fact in the down areas people are not struggling that much or working hard to spend their lives, and this struggle makes life more interesting to spend in Shimshal as compared to downsiders (lowlanders). Downsiders are all the time living in a state of confusion. Their environment is different, if they get something (meaning money) today, they finish it on the same day by spending it on food and clothing and tomorrow they have nothing to wear or eat. They always remain under stress because they are having hatred for others. But we are not having that type of lifestyle; we struggle only for doing our jobs, if good today then try to do it in a better way tomorrow. In my opinion, the people of Shimshal are struggling very hard to progress compared to the people living down areas in spite of the difficult condition which we have due to the non-availability of the road. But in spite of all the difficulties we are spending a liberal life as compare to down areas, these are my opinions, I don’t know what you think about downside.

Could you also tell me whether we are happy with our lives or whether people living in down areas are happy with their lives?
Of course. I think that we people are happier as compared to them, as I told you they are always remaining under confusion. You can say that wherever there is liberalism, there are of course problems along with it. We are happy here, because there are so many problems in the down areas, but we are not part of those problems, we are separate from all those problems, living in a peaceful manner. In the down areas people have different types of cases to deal with, and to get rid of those cases they have to go to the courts or police stations. But we have never met such sort of situations in our lives, and the reason is that we are having cooperation with each other. We try to resolve our problems within our own community rather than pushing them forward to the courts or police stations. But people living in Passu or Gulmit or people living in upper villages have a different environment to deal with their problems. And I think the environment prevailing here in our village is not available to the people living down areas, I don’t know what will happen further; whether it will change or remain the same.
Section 10
What do you think about our lives, are we spending happy lives or our forefathers were happy with their lives?
I can’t say that they were not happy with their lives, they were also living peaceful lives along with all the difficulties they were facing. But compared to them we are having many types of worries in our mind, while people in the past were living a very simple life. The system of our culture and tradition, which we are having today, was celebrated by them in a very exciting way, which we are not able to do today. On different occasions, we used to go to each other’s homes and we keep standing as a gesture of respect. When I remember those things, then I think our old generations were living happier lives then us. On the occasion of marriage people used to cook food for three or four days and everyone participated to celebrate the occasion collectively. On marriage ceremonies people keep standing in each others yorch (place for dancing in Wakhi/Tajik houses), they used to bring fuel wood from far off places for the occasion, they lit fires to cook food, and females used to participate in preparing food for the occasion. While remembering all these things I would say they were loving each other.

Please explain that why people were more happy in the past, even though we are living a more comfortable life? As compared to them, we have more facilities than those people.
In my opinion, the reasons behind our worries are the apprehension of various diseases in the form of different problems from the outside world. The present age is bringing many changes and problems, which is affecting the people’s way of life, which in return creates worries in the minds of the people.
The world is becoming open and closer, and that is why the flow of people is increasing day by day. This includes foreigners as well as our own countrymen. These people have different traditions, cultures, way of living and talking, different values and norms. So all these things are affecting our own cultural values, norms and traditions. These things would create problems for us. Our old generations were living peacefully, because they hadn’t seen such things happening in our village. They never saw outsiders coming frequently to our village. That is why they were living happily together with their own villagers. Their travelling was only limited to Hunza and back to the village. But today we have to meet different peoples like Japanese, Americans etc in our own village. And this will definitely create many problems for us.
The flow of foreigners has both positive and negative aspects, today we are getting benefits in the form of economic stability, but on the other hand tomorrow it will affect our cultural values. The development of tourism is bringing many worries with it, because in the past we were living safely in our area, but now we are worried about our safety, because these foreigners might harm us in one way or another. There would be some objective behind their visiting; they are coming here to get their goals here. And I think the benefit we are getting today will create some problems in the future.
Section 11
Thank you numayindar sahib, you have talked very nicely about our own life and the life in down areas, now I would like to know that you are our leader for the last many years, you were our numayindar, but now you are the convener of our Masalihati Committee (Arbitration Committee) which is the most difficult job to perform. Could you explain for how many years you are working with this committee and the main decision you have been given during your tenure? I am not asking you to tell the confidential things, but I want to know whether you are working happily or if you have some problems in performing your job.
You have asked me about the Arbitration Committee, you can say that it is a “Court of our Imam”. We are unable to act on the command of our Imam (providing justice according to Imam’s instructions is difficult for people like the narrator – ie uneducated people), but anyway I am working with this committee for the last three years. First by the grace of God, and secondly by the cooperation of all our intellectual brothers like you who helped us in running this committee successfully. As you know it is very difficult to deal with a case in a place like Shimshal, and that is why we used to give the decision on a participatory basis. As you are aware about the down villages that they couldn’t give the decision through this committee and their cases have reached the courts. But we are thankful to Allah that by the opening of the Arbitration Committee in Shimshal, no cases have gone to the court yet from Shimshal and I am happy mukhi sahib that that our jamat is fortunate in this regard.
In every village there would be a case of land, families or some other problems, because it is the system of the world. But as compared to the down villages of Hunza our population is more than these villages, and definitely there would be more problems. I am so lucky that wherever there have been some problems, our brothers have always listened to us carefully, and both parties have cooperated to resolve the problem within our own set up, and I am really thankful to Allah that he helped me in resolving the cases which come to us.
You asked me whether I am happy with my services or not. God is helping me everywhere in resolving issues and I am really thankful to him, otherwise I am not able to perform such roles, because it is the job of people like you. Our Imam had established this committee for the jamat, and the people like you are supposed to work in such institutions that you may work according to the expectation of the jamat. The main objective behind this institution is that the jamat may not be worried, and not a single penny should go to the lawyer from the jamat side. I am fortunate to run this committee very successfully for the last three years, first I am thankful to Allah for all his gratitude, and secondly to the parties for all their cooperation who made me able to keep peace in our village, God knows better what will happen in the future.

I want to know that during these three years of your tenure, what sort of cases have come to you, cases of land, family conflicts or bigger issues at the village level?
Most of the cases are related to land, cases related to family matters are very rare. The lands which have been divided in the past were not very accurate according to the present time, which is creating problems for many of our brothers. Some of our brothers were having extra land as compared to others, and there was another problem that the land of the village was mixed up with the land of our brothers. So you can say that during these two years, we have dealt with cases mostly related to lands.
Section 12
As a human being while giving decisions, have you ever thought that you have not given a fair decision to one of the parties or did you never think this at all?
I can’t say that this happened somewhere.

Which case was most difficult to decide?
While giving a decision you have to give example of the cases, which have happened in the past. We are human beings, one day we have to go to Allah, if we give an unfair decision then it would be unfair to us when we go back to Allah. But I would clear one thing here that the case of “Ya Mulk” (the other village ????) had come to us, but we are still not successful in solving that case, because it is a very old case. Except this case we resolved all the cases which came to us.

Due to your previous services, ideas and your policies, the jamat have chosen you as Convener for the Arbitration Board. According to our Imam those who serve the jamat are actually serving him. The Arbitration Board is actually a court, where you have to remain on the “teeghe ruy” (knife edge), if you couldn’t do it then it would be difficult for you to climb on the ruy again, so God has given you power to run such institutions otherwise it is very difficult. Now I would go to the government side, you were our numayindar, so I want to know what services you have given to the village during your numayindagi (responsibilities as numayindar), also explain the present Government policy for our area?
It is very important to express yourself in your lifetime, if you had seen or done something in your life. When I got retirement from the army, I indulged myself in politics, you can say numayindagi is politics. Elections were at their peak everywhere, but I came through selection and not through election, our villagers selected me without any past experiences in this field. I had no idea about how to do numayindagi, and what methods would be needed to fulfil my duties.
During my numayindagi, one thing I would like to explain is regarding to our road construction. Many years ago, some engineers from the Government department came to our village for surveying the road, and those engineers supposed it impossible to construct the metallic road to Shimshal. But during my numayindagi I was lucky enough to meet Qurban Jan janab (Mr, sir; a person from Gulmit, working on a higher position at the Government Department in Gilgit). During our discussion he asked me about what I am doing for my village as a numayindar. I told him that I was selected as a numayindar by the villagers but unfortunately I am in a state of confusion about what I should do for them. I also told him that the “main problem of our village is the construction of a road, so I want your suggestions and guidance in this regard, how can we solve our problem?” He asked me whether we would be able to do such things? And I clearly told him that “I alone can not do anything, I will need the help of people like you for this purpose. If you can’t help me then it is not possible to complete it.” He suggested writing an application, and he said that on the basis of that application we would be able to send Engineers from the Government Department to survey that road and estimate the actual amount needed to construct that road.
I went out and came back with an application, when seeing the application he laughed and said it is not according to the expectation of the Department. So I told him clearly that I couldn’t write a good one according to the need. So he called a person and he wrote that application again and Qurban has sent it to Executive Engineer Darwaish janab in another department. He never promised to sign it/approve it but promised to help in getting it approved. I went out from his office and directly went to meet Darwaish janab, he said that I will make the estimate for your village road, but it depends on them (Qurban janab and his colleagues) who would approve the estimated amount for you or not. I asked what would be the estimated cost, he said that I can’t make my estimation more than two crores (1 crore = ten million).
Section 13
You became a numayindar when AKRSP had given a grant to us for constructing our road or not?
I became numayindar when AKRSP had already given us a grant, but it was for a short period of time. While the government had agreed to give us grant and till its completion there would be some people from the government side who would monitor it during its construction. During my tenure the road construction ran very smoothly, but I don’t know whether our villagers are happy with it or not. Whatever I could I have done it for the village. My first priority was the building of this road rather then doing small projects at the village level.

Thank you so much for having an interview with us.
1 Translator’s note: when the narrator was employed as a lubi, Ayash Khan (brother of the Mir) would only pay him half of his salary. Owing to his rude attitude and personality no one would dare demand their full salary from him. The narrator, however, was on good terms with him and one day he dared to tell him that he would rather join the army then serving as a lubi on half pay. In response Ayash Khan had told him that he would never join the army without his permission. But, regardless, the narrator left for Gilgit and joined the army without resigning from his post as lubi. In his absence Ayesh Khan paid his salary to his brother Mehrban Shah.
2 Glacial area in Kashmir where soldiers are stationed to fight the Indian army.