Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary

Shogoon Muhammad











30 June 2000



Section 1
Samim Shah: A small room, surrounded by lush green fields of wheat and barley with yellow flowers of soyabean blanketing the field, is situated at Chookurt (Khizerabad), some two kilometres east of the village. In front of the door of the house is an apple tree. Some clouds have appeared on the sky. Children have just returned from the fields after making tomusi (giving fertiliser to the potatoes). It’s Shogoon Mohammad’s house, a simple and humble man in his late sixties. We have come here to share the views and personal accounts of Shogoon Mohammad.
Before coming in the room we ate some delicious chilpindok (large chapattis – unleavened bread - spread with qurut – local dried cheese - and butter stacked in piles). Shogoon Mohammad’s daughter with her son was also present at the house. After sometime his son-in-law, some neighbours and children also came in. It was inappropriate to make the interview in the presence of the crowd. Therefore, we had to move to a small square room. I invite my colleague, Abdullah Bai, to start the interview and get some information from Shogoon Mohammad.

Abdullah Bai: Thank you Samim janab (Mr, sir)! First of all I want to know about your place of birth.
Definitely my dear Bai. I was born on this land where we are sitting now.

Abdullah Bai: How old are you?
I can’t say exactly, because there was no system or concept of maintaining a record of date of birth in the early days. I may be in my late sixties.

Abdullah Bai: Would you tell us about your parents - where did they belong to?
My parents were also born in this village. When my father was very young, my grandmother had died. Another grandmother of mine named Punik, who was also living in the same family house had to look after my father. I had two grandfathers – Langardar, my real grandfather and Durman, his younger brother. Both were from the same mother but from separate fathers. Durman’s wife, Punik, had given her milk to my father and taken care of him for one year. My grandfather had become an orphan since his early childhood and spent half of his life with his brother. Punik was the sister of Majnoon from Passu. This is the law of nature, everyone has to undergo various circumstances.
Section 2
Abdullah Bai: How old were you when your father died?
Torgiram (I swirl around you; expression of affection and love)! I might have been in my forties when my father died.

Abdullah Bai: What was his profession?
Like me, he was also a farmer. My grandfather was also the lone son of his father. They had got no skills except tilling. He spent all his life in this trade. My father used to do the same work which his forefathers had done and I have to continue it. I couldn’t get a chance to go outside the village and get an education or learn any skill because my parents were alone. They needed my help to work in the fields. Though it is good to live here, there are hardships too to reckon with. I have been working on this soil.

Abdullah Bai: How many members are in your family?
With the grace of Maula (literally, master; the Aga Khan) we are three brothers. I have three daughters and no son. It is a matter of luck whatever you may call it but it is the will of God. My middle brother has got two daughters and the youngest brother has three sons and a daughter. With the birth of my grandson this year the number of my family has increased to 13.

Samim Shah: Dear uncle! I want to know about the history of Shimshal. Who was the first person who came and settled here?
My dear Doctor [interviewer is a male nurse /compounder by profession and people call him doctor], there has been no written history but all we have heard from our forefathers is that Harcha Mamu Singh was the first man who came to this village. He first settled in Avgarchi, a pasture land of Morkhoon village at the upper reach of Qaroon peak.
He laid down a trap to catch ibex for hunting. An ibex, after getting trapped, ran towards Qaroon peak. Harcha Mamu Singh followed the line of blood on the snow and arrived at the top of the peak. From the top he saw a wide-open valley and crossed the Qaroon peak and slid down the peak and stayed at the riverbank till the water level decreased and he could cross it to the other side. He approached the settled area of Satanek, a settlement on relatively higher altitude near Reich. It was so vast that one could throw a stone from this side of the river to a settlement on the other side of the river. [But later the Shimshal river eroded this area].
Harcha Mamu Singh came here and liked it. He went back to Avgarchi and brought his wife with him here. He saw that spring water is flowing down from an area near the Reich [a vast plain along Shimshal River opposite Shegdi, now made cultivable after excavating a channel with the philanthropic assistance of Wali Baig janab]. The curiosity led him to Molongudi, a relatively open and green area on the bank of Molongudi glacier. He saw crop fields and jungle (forest) there but no human beings. He might have settled there for one or two years and then moved to Shimshal - a more open and vast valley with fields and houses and water channels - and finally settled here. But his wife stopped talking to him, saying “This shume Singh (evil Singh) never lets me settle in a permanent place and keeps roaming everywhere…what are [you] seeking…there is no human being here. How would we spend our life here?”
He didn’t know where the phenomena of the water channel was and from where to fetch water. In search of water he went to Odver, a nullah (gorge) separating Shula Lakhsh, now called Aminabad, and Shimshal, on the west of the village. He saw the source of the channel; he opened the mouth of the channel and came back to his new house. He did not know where the channel would open. When he had awakened in the next morning he saw water flowing in a field - later named Abdullo Woondr (Abdullo’s field). When he saw the water was running down the field he ran towards the nullah to close the head of the channel. In the meantime, when his wife was alone a saint had entered the house and said: “O my sister! Where is your husband?” She replied: “He has gone to the fields.” “Are you nobof (angry) with your husband? Why are you doing so? Call him now”, the saint had asked her. She ran outside the house and called: “O Mamu Singh! Come here.” “She never calls me with by real name. What has happened today that she is calling me by my name,” Mamu Singh was astonished and came home. The couple had only one sheep and a broken bowl. When Mamu Singh came, his wife told him “When I entered the house after milking the sheep and poured the milk into the bowl, in the meantime, the saint entered the house and asked about you and ordered me to call you back. I ran outside the house, called you and when I entered the house again the saint had put his stick into the bowl and it had become new and full of milk and the saint had vanished”. They sacrificed the sheep.
After the incident they had given birth to their second son, Sher [the first son was Madik, born at Avgarchi, who had been taken to Kashghar by raiders]. At that time there was no education; Sher was also hum (illiterate). Nobody knows his wife’s name or place of birth. When had he gone to Pamir (Shimshal’s mountain pastures) he is not known to anyone. When he arrived at the lakeside at Showurt, he had seen some people gathered at Goi Gar. Probably they were from Sriqol in Sinkiang , China. They had asked him: “Who are you and where have you come from?” He said: “I have come here from Singshall [Harcha Mamu Singh’s abode] because this is my land.” They asked how can you prove your claim on this area. They had challenged him to play a polo match. “If we are able to put the ball on Gulchin Washk [the highest point 16000 ft from seaside in Shimshal] side, then you will have to quit the area and we will be the owner of the area. If you succeeded in pushing the ball towards Warao then you will be the owner of the area and we will retreat to our area”. The opposite party were more in number and had horses to play polo while our ancestor was alone with his three-year-old yak. He (Sher) accepted the challenge and threw the ball towards Warao of China and crossed the borderline and the other party then left the area. Sher had four sons, but it is not known from where they had married and got wives.
Section 3
Abdullah Bai: What were the names of his sons?
Bakhti, Wali and Hawaz who had no child. They had a cousin Madik, your forefather. His son’s name was Lola Parpek. It is said that when the raiders from Dafdor, a town in Sinkiang, raided Avgarchi village, the residents fled to safer places and Madik’s mother (Mamu Singh’s wife) had hidden him inside a goov (storage place for flour). During the search a raider had found the boy and took him to his gang leader and sought permission to take the boy along with him to Dafdor as he had no issue. They had allowed him. The raider had fostered him and got him married. A son was born to Madik and his name was Lola Parpek. The name of the place was also Parpek, he was also married there. In the meantime, Madik’s foster father sniffed a conspiracy that some people had planned to kill his adopted son and grandson. He did not know what to do. The foster-father had asked Madik to flee the area and go to his native village, Avgarchi.
Madik and his son with two horses left for Avgarchi leaving behind their family. When they arrived at Misgar the Mir (rulers of Hunza state up to 1974) of Hunza’s guards had informed him of the two strangers. The Mir had sent his guards and brought Madik and his son Parpek to Hunza. There was no horse in Hunza at that time, when the local people saw the strange animals, they had gathered around them. When the other sons of Harcha Mamu Singh had come to know about Madik and his son Perperk, they went to Hunza and brought them here. The Mir had handed over one horse to the two men and kept the other for himself.1
On arrival here one of our forefathers, Bakhti Bai, had welcomed them and took them to the vantage point where now Syed Mohammad’s house is, and shown them the field, which is called Abdullo’s field, to cultivate. There was no settlement beyond this point. The main settlement was at Shnap.
Section 4
Abdullah Bai: How was the land distributed in the village?
The land was actually distributed among the sons of Sher’s sons - Boqi, Bakhti, Wali, and Hawaz - who subsequently redistributed their lands among their heirs, which continued on till today. For a long time the settlement reached up to the house of Khalifa Rehman Baig.

Samim Shah: Why did our forefather, Harcha Mamu Singh, migrate from Avgarchi? What was the reason of his migration to Shimshal?
God knows. Perhaps, the pir (saint) Shams might have diverted his attention towards this area and he followed the footsteps of markhor (ibex) to enter this valley.

Abdullah Bai: Uncle, as you told us earlier - that some people had raided Avgarchi and plundered the residents of the valley due to which Harcha Mamu Singh fled to this valley - could you please tell us who those raiders were?
Yes, my dear Babai (nickname for those whose name contains Bai), it is being narrated that they were from Kashghar, the capital city of Xinjiang or Sinkiang, an autonomous region of China. They used to raid these border areas and loot the people of their livestock and other belongings.

Abdullah Bai: Is there any remnants or evidence of Mamu Singh at Avgarchi? Any tree he had planted or any hut?
At that time there were some vonuk (willow trees) and a majit (mosque) where Mamu Singh used to live in at Avgarchi. It may be recalled that there was no settlement at Morkhoon, a village near Sost check post on the Karakoram Highway near Khunjerab top. Avgarchi was the first settlement. After the raids Mamu Singh left his abode and proceeded to Shimshal. Some 80 years back, arbob (Mir’s main representative in the village) Ghulam Nasir constructed a bridge at Qoroon Ben (base of Qoroon peak) across the Shimshal river. Then Nazim Khan Mir sent arbob Dolik the chief of Morkhoon village there to ensure the construction of a good bridge. Arbob Dolik, in a lighter vein, had told arbob Ghulam Nasir “It is good now, after the construction of this bridge I will go kooch (seasonal migration with cattle to and from pasture) to Loopgar as this area falls in my territory.” Upon this arbob Ghulam Nasir had replied: “I’m intending even to go to Avgarchi to claim the land of my ancestor, Madik. How can you dare to go to Loopgar?”
Section 5
Abdullah Bai: A very logical and good answer.
Yes, at that time such wise people were there who could give this kind of answer and outwit their opponents. After this argumentative answer arbob Dolik never dared to make any assertion about or claim on our land. “You cut off all options and ways for me to lay claim on Loopgar”, Dolik said.

Abdullah Bai: As you told us earlier, before Mamu Singh’s arrival there were houses and a channel here. Who do you think were the earlier settlers of the village?
We can guess there were a large number of people here, that’s why they had excavated such a long channel from Odver to this field which was totally covered. There may have been many more people than our current population who would have been settled here and made fields and channels.

Abdullah Bai: Did you see the main channel in a covered position?
No but it was uncovered maybe for de-silting, or any other purpose by our forefathers.

Abdullah Bai: When my ancestor Madik and his son Parpek arrived in Satanek and then to Molongudi from Avgarchi, were there fields already there or not?
Yes, there were fields in Molongudi but not in Satanek. They prepared new fields there for cultivation which were later expanded by their sons. It is stated that Bakhti’s grave was in Molongudi; there were a number of other graves there but nobody knows about the grave of Mamu Singh.

Samim Shah: Was there a Jamat khana (religious and community centre of Ismaili Muslims) when our forefather arrived here?
No, there was no concept of such things at that time because nobody knew religion properly. People came to know about religion and other religious things when Agha Sahib (Agha Abdus Samad the emissary of Aga Khan-1) came from Kashghar on his way to Bombay in 1920s and met his followers here. He then asked the people to build Jamat khanas and offer prayers there. Following that, the people built the first Jamat khana. At that time there were few people but [they were] very sincere. They worked dedicatedly and with devotion and brought logs and planks from the high altitude rugged mountains. There was a positive competition between them; everybody wanted to contribute to this noble cause and completed it. Following which, the people started offering prayers there.2
Section 6
Abdullah Bai: What was the religion of our forefather, Mamu Singh and his wife?
Harcha Mamu Singh and most of our forefathers were practicing Sunnis (sect of Islam). It is believed that Arif Shah pir (saint) had come here and tried to convert people into Islam and taught them the traditions according to the Sunni school of thought. But the people would not accept the traditions. The pir had punished them calling them Gharmasoq [meaning unknown].3

Abdullah Bai: How would the people offer prayers when there was no Jamat khana here some 100 years ago?
As I remember, most of the prayers offered were in Persian. After some time it was replaced with Gujarati language.4 This was again modified, and the current prayers now practiced by all Ismailis throughout the world were introduced.

Abdullah Bai: Uncle would you please tell us about Sho-i-Shams?
There were three brothers: one namely Sho Tolib, who had stayed at Sisooni, now called Hussaini, a small village along the Karakoram Highway about 60 kilometres from Karimabad Hunza near Passu glacier; the second was Bobo Ghundi, who had gone to Chuporsan, a cluster of settlements situated on the border of the Wakhan corridor, Afghanistan; and the third, Sho-i-Shams, who had come to Shimshal and settled here.5 The legend goes that Sho-i-Shams was famous for his kindness. Bobo Ghundi was also kind, but Shah Tolib was unkind and famous for his anger. It is due to the kindness and prayers of Shams that we have settled in such a safe and vast place.

Abdullah Bai: Respected uncle, you talked about the Mir, what was the system? Could you tell us about that?
Yes, as you know, a country has a president who rules that country. Likewise there were Mirs and kings in those days. There were Mirs in Hunza and Nagar, Gilgit, Yasin and Punial etc. There were nine rulers in Baltistan. They were bestowed with the power to rule not by man, but by Imam (hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, currently Prince Karim Aga Khan). It was the order of Imam for the Mirs to rule the people. Who abolished their rules? Nobody else except the Imam.

Abdullah Bai: What was the Miri system (Mir’s regime)- how was the state functioning?
An arbob would be the representative of the Mir, who gets all the works of the Mir done and enforces his order. Nobody could dare to disobey his orders or retort to him. What he would order nobody would disobey him. He would collect yeelban (taxes) from the subjects for the Mir. It was a tradition.6

Abdullah Bai: What is the difference between the old and new social and political systems?
The difference is obviously due to the blessings of Imam, who has provided all basic facilities to us and himself becoming easily accessible to common men. Secondly, the Chinese people have made great contributions and liberated the people of this area from the clutches of economic backwardness and isolation by constructing the eighth wonder of the world, the Karakoram Highway (KKH). Life has become very easy, even for the animals, due to mechanisation of the agriculture sector.
Section 7
Abdullah Bai: Would you please tell us about our culture and traditions? How were people living in old days?
My dear Babai, our forefathers were very honest and sincere to each other. They helped each other and made sacrifices for the village, especially the well-off people like you would make roads, bridges and other development works for the community. They discovered new routes to explore their areas, valleys and made trek routes from Zartgur Ben to Shapodin. They were very intelligent and hard working, crossing the terrain and snow-clad passes like the 16000ft high Viyeensar and reached Miter Keshk. There were no shortcuts or easy treks to reach Pamir. Then the current trek was made gradually easier over a period of time, by the people travelling to and from Pamir, and then from Miter Keshk to Paryen from where they proceeded to Norisho Kook (Spring of Norisho). Then they proceeded to Paryen Sar and descended to Paryen. From there they proceeded to Targeen Dur, Furzeen Dur and to Vayeen Sar.7

Abdullah Bai: Would you please tell us about Chipits (term for Chinese raiders)?
It is being narrated that before the 1940s and 50s, the Chinese authorities would come from Sriqol to Pamir and herded everything, including the people, back to their area and made them prisoners. Once upon a time, the people with livestock were in Shujerab when Chipits attacked, killing many people and taken away with them everything. Nobody could resist because the attackers were armed.8

Samim Shah: As Abdullah Bai asked you about our culture, would you please tell us more about the differences between the cultural tradition of yester years and today?
Yes, there were not many facilities available in those days, people would work hard and feed their children according to their tradition. People were leading a very simple life.

Abdullah Bai: What crops were produced in the old days?
Three crops which are being cultivated now used to be produced in those days. The new additions in our crops are vegetables and potatoes. In those days, people were dependent only on pastoral and agriculture activities. One family would take three or four families’ livestock and go to the meadows and pastures. They would take care of their livestock, make products not only for themselves but also for the others. In those days there were not so many yaks. The majority of the people had either not a single yak or only one or two. There were only a few families who had more than three or four yaks, including my in-laws and Aziz Baig. Now the population has increased as well as the number of yaks. Now almost everyone has at least two or three yaks. When Maula came to Hunza and the Jamaat (community) from Shimshal presented a yak to Imam, he put his hand on the animal and gave his blessings. Since then we have yaks and other things in abundance.
Section 8
Abdullah Bai: What kind of life were the people living in the old days? How would you compare the life and basic facilities of those days with today’s?
In those days there was no source of income - very few opportunities were available; the expenditure and cost of living were also nominal. People were satisfied with the situation and not that busy. They had a lot of time for leisure, entertainment and other activities. But today, with the increase in population, people are working very hard, everybody has to work. But in early days, very few people would work and feed others; the majority of the people would not bother. But today, although the people have more opportunities and sources of income and are earning a lot, there are no savings. We are spending more on our clothes and food. If people restrain from lavish spending and confine themselves within the limits of their income, then I am sure that people like you would become millionaires within three or four years. But regrettably, we are not in the habit of saving. Our expenditure is more than our savings. Another difference is that now the number of livestock has increased and the inflow of money has also increased. It is a symbol of development. People have got jobs and they are earning more. People like me who have no jobs and no source of income have to depend on agriculture.

Abdullah Bai: How were development works being executed in those days? Were there any institutions for this purpose?
There weren’t. In those days, the Mir would give orders to the arbob who would call a meeting of the villagers and discuss issues relating to village development and we would work together.

Abdullah Bai: How were these roads constructed?
These were constructed on the directives of pirs (saints). These religious leaders guided the people to solve their problems like construction of treks and channels, collectively. Those who can afford must contribute to the community in the name of Maula and would construct huts for travellers, bridges, channels along the roots from Doot to Sherlik.

Samim Shah: You gave us a lot of information about your experiences about our village. Now I would like to know about nomus (system of donating resources for a community project in the name of a relative)? Did you make any nomus in your life?
I am a humble person; I am not capable of giving nomus or philanthropic work. However, I contributed some commodity and expenses towards constructing a portion of the trek at Kor Band. The community helped me cut the rock and made it “trekable”. When I announced to get this trek constructed, people arrived at the site but they opposed it, saying it was not feasible and they came back. Then it became a matter of ego for me and I decided to construct this trek at any cost. In the next summer, with some youth of my room (main lineage groups), I went there again and we cut the vertical rock with dynamite and made it possible to pass the trek to the other side of the rock.

Samim Shah: How has this philanthropic work affected you and the villagers?
I had contributed two gharbal (1 gharbal = approx 13 kg) and some other material. People are now benefiting from that trek. At the lower nullah, my Uncle had constructed a bridge named after his mother so the people go straight up the shortcut. When the level of river increases in the summer people use that bridge; when it decreases people then use the trek.
Section 9
Abdullah Bai: What kinds of clothes did people wear in those days?
In those days, people used to wear woollen clothes. Our mothers and wives would clean and spin the wool of sheep and the expert weavers would weave these woollen pattos (coarse woollen cloths) and we made cloth from these pattos. For shoes and pullovers (over coat), we would prepare skins of goat, sheep, ibex, yak and cows. The skins of goat were prepared, dyed and made into long boots. Now people have become independent of these labours and life has become very easy. Most of the young people have not gone through these hardships. I have been through these things most of my life. [Showed me his clothes.] My daughter has made these clothes for me. No, this is the blessing of God. Day by day our life is becoming very easy.

Abdullah Bai: What was the difference between clothes from those days and nowadays?
The old clothes were beneficial.

Abdullah Bai: How?
We would make those clothes with our own hands without spending money. We would not waste the raw material. We would only buy new clothes for brides and bridegrooms and that was only a single shirt. The pullover was even made indigenously with sheep wool. Trousers were also made from wool. Only the shirts were made of cotton cloth brought from the bazaar. People started wearing coats when we were young. Even inside the overcoat or pullover, people would wear woollen clothes. We would give these woollen clothes to our children during marriage /weddings. Now if you have more than 40,000 rupees you can get your children married.

Abdullah Bai: How were the marriages held in those days? Could you please tell us about your marriage?
In those days first of all the engagements would be made. During that ceremony, molida (local dish; bread mixed with qurut and butter) would be made in a deg (cast iron cooking pot; 100 litre capacity) and close relatives were invited. The next stage was Pergvendak (necklace tying ceremony). In this ceremony all the villagers would be invited. In those days there were few people in the village. That’s why all the villagers would attend the ceremony. Nowadays, with the increase of the population, it is impossible to invite all to this ceremony.

Samin Shah: Your marriage was arranged or a love marriage?
No, it was an arranged marriage. In those days there was no concept of love marriages. It would be done only with the consent of the parents. They were the final authority. No one could dare to disagree with the parents or disobey them.
Section 10
Abdullah Bai; Are you happy with your marriage?
My dear Babai, in our early days there was no concept of happiness or sadness. Now the young couples meet each other and decide about their future life; thanks to the enlightened age.

Abdullah Bai: What was your age when you got married?
I don’t know exactly I might have been 15, 17 or 18 years old.

Samim Shah: Would you please tell us about your life? What was the most memorable thing in your life?
My dear doctor, this world is very beautiful. There are lots of things that could never be forgotten and there are many things which could not be remembered. The only regret in my life is that I could not get an education, to know and understand the world. When you leave this world, nothing goes with you, everything is left behind. Only God helps you in this and that world. One should try to be a good and honest man. Maula always advises us to be steadfast in our faith. If we would go astray then there is darkness in this world as well as in that world. I pray to God to guide our new generation and give them courage to follow the right path. This is our strong pillar.

Abdullah Bai: Are you happy with your life here in this small village between these high mountains?
Yes, I am happy with my life. The only reason is that I don’t understand any other language to talk to strangers and other people. You understand many languages that’s why you don’t want to stay here. You are an educated person and you like to stay out of the village. You talk to different people and enjoy this. When I see other people (foreigners) but I can’t talk to them, I just stare at them. What to say? There is great calm and peace in this village although due to the non-availability of a jeep road, there are some problems being faced by the people but due to the natural peace, people feel at ease here. Now this, where we are sitting, has been made according to modern day requirements, otherwise I don’t have that much wealth to construct more of these kind of rooms. I have made this room for my peace and to relax. If I couldn’t get peace in this room I couldn’t sleep in this room. We are very safe and in peace in this village, there is no danger for our life. If there had been any such danger or fear I would not have been in peace.

Abdullah Bai: If there were any kind of tension in those days, what kind of fears and dangers were in there?
There were no fears or apprehensions in the early days and not now so far. But if the road opens, then there might be some new problems and fears.

Abdullah Bai: What kind of fears would you foresee if the roads open?
If the road opens, all kinds of people will come here… that will create a problem for the villagers. We are in isolation now but in the future… We don’t know how to cooperate and deal with foreigners. That concerns me. This may be my lack of knowledge that I am worried about the future.
Section 11
Abdullah Bai: Have you ever gone outside Shimshal?
Yes My dear, I have gone to Gilgit.

Abdullah Bai: How did you feel?
When I went to Gilgit the first time it was a different world. When I went the second time after some years, I found a new world. There were lots of changes. I don’t remember when I had gone to Gilgit. I was ill and I had gone in a helicopter and I was astonished to see the changes occurred during a few years. There is no barren land in Gilgit, everything has been developed and occupied. What to say of other development? I saw a lot of shops sprung up and was amazed. For, the first time when I had gone to Hunza, even there, there weren’t shops in such a good number at that time. At Altit there was a man called Mama Yor who had a house at the road side where he had kept some merchandise, except that there was no shop in Altit. There was a shop in Baltit, its owner’s name was Ustad Sharif. We used to go there and buy things especially clothes for our children’s wedding.

Abdullah Bai: Would you like to tell us about the people of your early age?
There has been a lot of change. The people in early days were very simple, they would wear simple clothes, eat simple food. Now everything has changed. The day our Imam came to Hunza and stepped on the land of Hunza, everything changed. All the development and prosperity was by virtue of Imam’s visit.

Samim Shah: When AKRSP came to Gilgit, how did it benefit the people?
We have failed to follow the guidelines of Imam because our faith is weak. When Maula showered his blessings, we failed to properly utilise it. We started the road from Passu due to which now everything is changed and it has assisted us and provided a tremendous relief to our life. Otherwise, I recall that some 40 or 50 years back, when we travelled to and from Passu, we would cross the freezing river 30 times - even in weather below minus 10c. When we would enter the river, the ice would cut our legs and when we reached the other side of the river, we put on our sandals (long shoes made of animal skin) and put our trousers round our necks and walked in the freezing weather until we reached home in that condition. When the road started and reached Shaskin we felt a lot of relief. When we would reach Totop Dan and see vehicles plying on the KKH at Passu we would dream, “Alas! Had the road been up to here we would have been able to easily reach Passu.” It would seem quite impossible to travel in a jeep. It has now become a reality and the road has reached near our village. It is because of the AKRSP and the blessing of Maula. He gave us tools, machinery and funds. Due to that, it became possible to cut the vertical hard rock at Past Zart and reach Naghar Mushk. Half of the people were very sincere but a large number of people were not honest and sincere with their cause and forced the others to stop the work on the road. They argued that the AKRSP had not benefited us. We will not work freely if the AKRSP does not give us money. The government will take over the project and start the work with wages to the labourer. But the pace of work is very slow.
Section 12
Abdullah Bai: Thank you very much uncle for sparing time for us. Would you like to have your name mentioned in the interview or not.
Yes, it should be. Thank you very much.

1 Translator: please refer to the interview of Qurban Karim for the actual story.
2 Translator: first of all, a learned man, Khalifa Firoghat from Kamaris, Gulmit, had come to Shimshal and taught the people religious rituals and prayers in a small room at the late Sultan Baig’s garden, called “Farmon Khona”, and kept all religious instructions, scripts, and books there. This historic building has been abandoned and is now in a dilapidated condition.
3 Translator: Gujarati is spoken in the southern port city of Karachi and in the Indian Gujarat state. Prayers were offered at open places and later a Jamaat Khana was built adjacent to Wali Baig’s house.
4 Translator: It is believed that Sho-i-shams or Shams Tabrizi had settled at a place called Oston across the Shimshal river at about 20 kilometres downward Shimshal and died there.
5 Translator: the lowest character in this hierarchy was a chorbu who would make announcements with a loud voice and make public the orders of the Mir. Or the arbob would ask the people to gather at a certain point, order the daily menu and schedule of breakfast, lunch and dinner for the representatives of Mir who would usually come from Hunza with a group of people to collect taxes and levies from the people in the month of October or November and transport them to Hunza. There were about 27 kinds of taxes which would be collected from each and every household. These taxes and other baggage comprised about 30 goat and yak hair rugs, sheep hair patto, 1000kg ghee, about 500kg butter, 3000kg qurut, about 200 goat and sheep 10 male yaks, 100kg of yak and ibex meat, wool, ropes, 40kg pure mineral salt and other products made by local people. About 30 people would go from Shimshal to Quchin, about 150km away from Shimshal, to dig out hard rocks of raw salt from the Kofir Siyo mountains near the China border. They would bring wood from far away hills for heating up the raw salt rocks, put them in huge stone-slab made pots and pour in water fetched in goat or ibex horns from the nearby river so that the salt could precipitate and separate from the rocks. And after three or four weeks of cooling, the extracted pure salt would be collected from all the pots, brought to Shimshal and then transported onward to Hunza on the back of all the villagers by force.
Yarpa was the second in command in the village who would implement the orders of the arbob, arrange female and male labourers to take care of the livestock of Mir at the pastures, prepare ghee, butter, and other milk products for him. In case of other areas, women and men would be taken to the palace of the Mir to work in the field, garden and other areas. And sometimes the Mir and his cohorts humiliated, and molested the women working in the pastures and in the palace. Everyday a herdswoman would take care of the Mir’s livestock and prepare their products.
Arbob used to be the chief of the village as well as the all powerful representative of the Mir. He would enforce the orders of the Mir, supervise the works of yarpa and chorbu, punish any person who would disobey his orders. Any well off person who could please the Mir, his Wazir and other court men, and pay a heavy price like the yarpa could become arbob.
For getting these designations the candidates would present a substantial amount of bribe in the form of goat and yak rugs, ghee and sheep wool patto to the Mir and also grease the palm of his cohorts.].
6Translator: the treks and bridges along the Passu-Pamir route were constructed over a period of time by the philanthropists and well-off people after the name of their relatives with the help of the community without any tools.
7 Translator: According to narrations and evidences, the people from Sriqol were the first settlers of Shimshal. But due to unknown reasons, most probably due to unfavourable weather conditions and raids from the Nagar and Baltistan sides, they abandoned this area and retreated to Sriqol and Raskum, a relatively fertile land with hot weather. But their claim on the area remained until 1963, when the Pakistan and Chinese governments signed a friendship agreement and according to that agreement, the Chinese government handed over about 3000km area to Pakistan.
Renowned anthropologist and historian Prof Ahmad Hassan Dani in his book “History of Northern Areas of Pakistan” quotes Captain A.H. Mac Mahon, political agent in Gilgit, who in his letter of May 10, 1898 to Resident in Kashmir, wrote: “The actual boundary of this region starts from the northern watershed of Toghdumbosh to Pamir, from the Wakhjir Pass crossing through the Payik peak to Ilijilga, about a mile above Dafdor, through Zankan nullah, Mazar, Urok -- a point on the Yarkand River -- and along the northern watershed of the Raskum valley to the junction of the Bazaar Dara River and the Yarkand River to the Mustagh River, leaving Aghil Dawan and Aghil Pass within the Hunza limits...
“…The first dealing of the people of Hunza with China dates from the time of Mir Silum Khan-I, son of Ayesho, who defeated the Kirghiz of Toghdumbosh and pursued them as far as Toshkurghan. To celebrate this victory, Shah Silum Khan erected a stone cairn at Dafdor and sent a trophy of Kirghiz’s head to the Chinese with a message that the Hunza territory henceforth extended to Dafdor. The Chinese in return also sent presents which Hunza acknowledged by a small gift of gold dust, and from this originated the custom of an annual inter-change of presents and gifts which continues up to the present time. From that time onwards the Mirs of Kanjut have levied revenue in kind annually from the Kirghiz of Toghdumbosh Pamir and Raskum - with the exception of the years between 1865 and 1878 when Yaqub Beg ruled in Turkistan. (The people from Shimshal would go to Raskum in Toshkurghan, headed by Gulbadan, a representative of the Mir who would supervise the Sriqoli people to grow wheat there, and after threshing bring the commodity to Shimshal and then transport it onward to Hunza for the Mir.) … In the time of Mir Ghazan Khan, probably in 1885, the Sriqolis of Toshkurghan declined to pay revenue to Hunza, contending that the area was outside Kanjut limits. Khan Dotai, the then Taotai of Kashghar, settled this dispute in person at Toshkurghan and laid down that Hunza rights extended over the Toghdumbosh and the Khunjerab Pamir to Dafdor, and an agreement to that effect was signed by him and the Sriqoli headman. In this document the northern limits of Hunza territory is said to have been recorded as Sirightash, a nullah close by Ilijilga, and this and other boundaries were duly recorded.”
In another letter - No 1025 of April 10, 1914 - Maj A.D. Macpherson, a political agent, wrote to Resident in Kashmir stating “The Chinese (i.e, the Taotai of Kashghar and the Amban of Yarkand) had after several years negotiations with Mir eventually recognized Hunza occupancy rights in Rashum (correct name Raskum). A formal agreement was drawn up by the Amban of Yarkand, leaving to the Mir certain specified places in Raskum on conditions which were stated in the agreement, the most important of which was the payment of an annual tribute in silver to the Chinese by the Mir, and the latter’s recognition of Chinese jurisdiction over his subjects in Raskum. The Kanjutis (people of Hunza) were forbidden to construct fortifications or defensive positions of any kind. The places leased to the Mir were specified in the agreement as follows: “On the west bank of Raskum River, Oitughrak, Kuktash, Ophrang (correct Obrang), Uruklok, Iliksue, and on the east bank Azghar and Ursur.” This position continued to hold even after the British colonial forces assailed Hunza in 1891. The British resented the exchange of presents between Hunza and China. They offered to give land as a substitute to the people of Hunza. In response, Mir Mohammad Nazim Khan in his letter dated 5th April 1937 wrote to the British political agent in Gilgit.
“I have great pleasure in promising that I will stop exchanging the annual presents with the Chinese, will give up all rights such as the right to graze livestock beyond Kilik and Mintika, the right to collect grazing dues in Toghdumbosh and the right to cultivate lands in Raskum… I am very grateful for the increase of Rs3000/- per annum in my subsidy as Mir of Hunza, and for the grant of a jagir (land) in Bugrot Nullah so long as the agreement in respect of the Gilgit sub-division between the government of India and His Highness the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir remains in force”.
It was after this decision that the Chinese authorities again put their claim on the Pamir. And whenever the people of Shimshal took their livestock for grazing in the area, they were captured, the herdsmen made prisoners and taken to Sriqol and then to Kashghar from where after a long time they were freed and brought back to Shimshal through Kilik pass. The herdsmen were maltreated and sometimes tortured. The strong man from Shimshal who represented the Mir at Raskum was tortured and made insane, and never became normal and died after some time in Shimshal.
This whole relationship between Hunza and China has been thoroughly investigated by Dr I. Muller Stellrecht. She calls it a “ tribute relationship” which continued till 1946. Chinese suzerainty claims on Hunza were finally renounced only on March 2, 1963 with the signing of treaty between Pakistan and China. China gave up all claims on Hunza territory and Pakistan did the same with respect to territorial demands of Chinese border areas, which it had inherited from the British.