Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary








bank employee




6 July 2002



Section 1
Today is 6th July 2002 I am sitting with Amjad janab (Mr, sir), president Task Force, Shimshal Nature Trust to interview him. You have seen many changes in your life and therefore, to get the first hand knowledge about your experiences of life and changes in the society I am conducting this special interview with you in the house of Mehboob Ali janab member Task Force and also translator of OTP (Oral Testimony Program). I am honoured to have Amjad janab for our interview who in spite of his busy schedule gave us his time which is indeed an honour and the knowledge imparted by him will indeed will go a long way for our future generations as well.

Brother presently what is your age?
Thank you Khaliq janab for coming and taking my interview although you yourself are a busy person and have come to Karachi for studies and getting good knowledge in IED which is a reputed educational Institute. Well I am really not very sure about my age but as per Sir, Daulat Ameen, I was born on March 13, 1952, so you can calculate and know my age from the year 1952.

Brother the second question is about your early age would you like to tell us about it?
I would like to tell you about my early age in detail as I very distinctively remember as to how I spent my early age in the village Shimshal and in the pasture. I remember that at the early age we all boys of the same age used to get together and play. However in 1996 when I went to Ghujerab (a pasture area) this was a very interesting and remunerable time because apart from taking care of our livestock we also used to take care of our mother and sisters and help them like getting vegetables for them etc. In the summer we used to do this small work in the pastures whereas in winter we used to be idle. We used to do petty things and in the summer we used to water the lands and when the crops were ready we used to take care of the crops. The whole day we used to walk around the fields screaming and shouting so that the birds could not eat the grains. In the winter, as per culture and occasions we used to play the respective games such as tuksori (game similar to cricket), local hockey etc. I joined school very late. I was about 12 to 13 years when my bothers allowed me to go to school. Due to being older I was not enjoying my school because there was nobody of my age in my class.

Did you only get to go to school in Shimshal?
Section 2
Who was the teacher?
Our teacher was Sir Daulat Amin but I really don’t remember as to when he had joined there. I only remember that I went to school after two years of his joining. I used to do my homework regularly and that is why I started taking an interest in school. But due to my age, being more than the other children in the class I felt very uncomfortable and that is the time when I realised that I should leave the village and go towards the city to continue my education.

How was the condition of the school?
The school was for the namesake? There was no proper building which is very essential for any school. Sir Amin used to try his best to teach the students and was taking his classes in Ahmed Ullah Baig janab’s house. Then after the construction of the Jamat khana (religious and community centre of Ismaili Muslims) the classes were started in its kitchen. Amin janab tried his best to properly manage his classes in this kitchen and about 85% of the pupil also did their lessons regularly and with interest but the problem was that there were no proper books and copies available for the children.

What were these problems?
The problem was that for five books there was only one copy available which was very insufficient. In fact some of the students did not even have a single copy. We used to divide the pages of our copy for many subjects and in this way we were not able to make complete notes. Secondly the problem was that only a couple of people had proper books while 10-12 people did not have any books and used to share with the one which had causing inconvenience. Seeing this shortage of pencil and paper etc I decided to leave the village and go to a better place than Shimshal where such things were adequately available.

After going from Shimshal which school did you go to?
Uncle Sultan Ali who was the mason of our Jamat khana, I came with him to his native village Gulmit and started staying in his house as he was also our relative and I had come to Gulmit upon his advice. He told me that Gulmit’s weather is warmer than Shimshal and reading materials like books, copies and pencils are easily available and the school is also in a good condition. I requested to my elders for their permission which was given without making any trouble. In April 1966 I left Shimshal.

What kind of differences did you observe between Shimshal and Gulmit?
Shimshal was my birth place while Gulmit was someone else’s village. The differences were obvious, however when I was leaving for Gulmit I had no idea about how difficult it is staying in somebody’s house. This I realised later when I started facing difficulties in my daily life. I thought I would have to continue my studies in Shimshal rather coming to Gulmit. However I overcame several problems.

What were the main problems for the students of those times, who were used to come from Shimshal to other villages for studies, could you tell us about their problems living in other’s village and house?
There were several types of problem - like adjusting themselves in a strange environment, and society was a difficult task if a person is immature. Second we had to compete with other students so that one should not think that, I am weak or dull. Proper care would have to pay towards arranging books, copies and pencils to avoid discrimination - because discrimination damages a child’s life. So my suggestion for those parents is to provide all basic facilities to their children who are studying in other villages and living in other’s houses. When I think about my student life I suggest that the parents should send their children to those places where they could get good facilities and an educational environment is available to the students. They should avoid sending their children to such places where they may suffer instead of getting benefit. The education institutes like Shah Karim Hostel and Aga Khan Academy are the right places where the student can improve their knowledge and intelligence.
Section 3
How many years did you spend in Gulmit?
I spent two years in Gulmit and then decided to come to Karachi. Late Ali Rehman from our family was the first person who was studying in Karachi. He had come to Shimshal on vacation and on the way to Shimshal I told him that, I also wanted to go to Karachi with him.

Would you please tell us about late Rehman that how did he manage to study in Karachi?
Haji Qurban Thai janab his elder brother was very energetic and clever in his youth. He wanted to see every thing in a different way. What they both decided in taking such a step, that I don’t know. But Haji wanted his brother to get higher education. At the first step he sent Rehman janab to Hunza for study, when he completed his early education then he was brought to Karachi. At that time possessing such kind of thinking was not common. He took a great decision and after that this caused a milestone for others in our family.

What did Rehman tell you, that made you agree to come to Karachi?
He didn’t tell me about the facilities that could be available in Karachi. He didn’t praise the city life at all. He told me about the real life that I shall be spending in Karachi, like washing my own clothes, cooking food etc. [He said] “If you are agree to do such things then you can come to Karachi otherwise Gulmit is good enough for you to live in and keep continue your studies.”

What was the weather like and in which year [did you leave for Karachi]?
It was the year December 1972. When Rehman came back from Shimshal, he sent me a message saying that if I wanted to come to Karachi then I should get ready tomorrow. The next day Uncle Roshan Ali took us all in his jeep and we were on our way to Gilgit. In those days it was considered to be big to travel in a jeep.
Section 4
What were your feelings?
Since it was a new type of journey I was feeling very different than usual. It was fine until we reached Gilgit. Although I had been once to Gilgit, the journey from this point onwards was very interesting and exhausting. We reached Bisham via truck after three days. In those days the driving used to be done only at daytime due to bad and uneven roads. But now we cover the same distance in about 6 to 7 hours. However, in those days reaching this distance within 3 days was considered a big thing. Anyways from Bisham we were taken for Rawalpindi via Swat. When we reached Noshera our truck broke down and we had to travel in an old bus and finally we managed to reach Rawalpindi.

How was the condition of the bus? Was it comfortable?
Well it was not a brand new bus it was a Bedford truck and the body was converted into a bus. The bus broke down a couple of times before we reached Rawalpindi in about 8 to 9 hours.

How did you like Rawalpindi?
I found Rawalpindi very odd, seeing people selling fruits such as oranges etc on the cart and for the first time seeing people wearing burkha (gown covering whole body worn in public by some Muslim women). I also learnt that there were people of all walks of life living here with various cultures tradition and such attires were a part of these traditions as well.

Were you scared or afraid of anything?
No there was no way that I felt scared or insecure as I was big enough and matured enough at that time and did not get scared or afraid of anything.

How did you continue your journey from Rawalpindi to Karachi?
After staying at Rawalpindi for a day we were told to get ready to go to Karachi. This time we were told to make ticket arrangements etc for a train to go to Karachi. I was very excited and anxious to travel in the train, since we had already travelled in a jeep, bus and truck etc I was very much wanting to experience the travel in a train and thinking as to how the journey would be travelling by the train.

How was your journey in the train?
When we reached the station in the morning we saw a queue of huge iron boxes standing on two strips of iron rods. We sat in one of the rooms (carriages) and after quite some time when I looked outside I saw the trees shaking and the roads moving. When I inquired from Rehman whether we were still standing our moving, he told me that it has been quite some time that the train was running but I could not feel it. Anyway we reached Karachi in 48 hours it was very long as there was a single track system and the train used to stop for around ½ hour or so on crossings etc.

You have spent half of your life in Karachi. Since how long have you been here?
I am here from the past 32 years.

How many changes have come since that time?
There have been many positive and negative changes.
Section 5
Would you like to discuss the positive changes?
Well, through all these years the communication system has improved. Due to good universities and colleges the education standard has gone up. The transportation standard has improved and the volume of traffic has increased and fastened. There is lots of progress and competition due to which the standard of living has improved. However, the sad part is that the local people in the vicinity have misused these facilities due to political interference and other personal favours, due to which many righteous [people] have been declined of their opportunities causing a mixed concept of safety and security. Many of industrialists have shifted their business to that area from where they had come and thus a sense of insecurity disheartened the people, while the opportunists started using shortcuts to earn wealth. Many people say that the development ratio is 140% and some are of the view that it is only 60%. But what I have seen in these years is so many new residential and industrial areas have been established due to the rapid increase in population, which is a sign of development.

At that time, how many people from Gojal were living in Karachi and what was their life style?
In 1973 we were about 70 people and along with guests it used to be around 80 in all. At that time we used to live with unity and love, helping and taking care of each others’ needs. We never used to think that anybody was from any different village or town etc. It was always our intention to live near our work place - the reason was to make our travelling to the work place convenient. In Karachi we used to live in three groups. One of the groups used to live in Naizamabad and two others in Shershah. One of the places was called Bara Compound (big compound). In this place about 25 people used to stay together. The reason was that it used to be cheaper, anyhow within the span of time as the people started progressing economically they started living independently but all of us did meet together.
The most interesting and enjoyable memories of that time was that the people of Karachi were very hospitable towards their friends. We used to have a royal feast with friends and good entertainment. Whenever any friend used to come from Gulmit, Shimshal or Passu or from any other village we always used to go and click a photograph in “Flux” a famous studio at Nazimabad. The interesting part of his studio was that there were always ties, check shirts and coats made readily available and we used to put them on in turns to have our pictures taken. With this situation you will realise our shortage of clothes in those days. I think about 101% of us had pictures taken wearing the same red tie, check shirt and black coat and even I, (late) Rehman and Nadir clicked a picture which I still have with me but unfortunately this snap is in black and white.
Secondly we’d show friends and Nazimabad and enjoyed very much. In Shershah we did not have any electricity. There was one room with a small ventilator under which we used to keep a small bed for the guest to receive some breeze. However, in the case of the arrival of a new guest, the previous guest used to be shifted to the floor and the new guest used to get the opportunity to sleep on the bed. At that time due to the rush [of people], the guest used to get only two to three days to sleep on this bed. After the season we used to keep the bed safe along with a pillow and bed sheet so that it could be utilised in future as we did not have any good arrangement of bedding etc.
Section 6
How was Karachi for the students of our previous years?
Well, the previous students in spite of lack of facilities really struggled and did a lot of hard work and succeeded in their aims and objectives. They utilised what was available to the best of their capabilities and gained good results. Like Qurban Jan who is the General Manager Audit in NHA, Mutabayat Shah janab, Manager AKRSP and Zafar Iqbal janab, MD. Northern Areas Transport Corporation. After these people there were many who became engineers and doctors out of which one of our lads is Johar Ali. In this era I feel the results were 100%.

What sort of life did these students pass?
In spite of no facilities the students did a lot of hard work and succeeded. We had just heard the name of University and seeing one would sound like a dream come true. In those days MQurban Jan janab was the only one who was studying in University and a bus used to come and collect him from Lucky Chowk Shershah. In the same days Mutabayat Shah janab and Zafer Iqbal were studying in college. In this way one by one many of our brothers received good education and then Shaukat janab bhai (brother) who was a very social sort of person, formed a Students Welfare Association and organised the same.

I once again would like to come back to your personal life and would like to ask why did you shift your family from Shimshal to Karachi?
It was never in my planning to get my family here but it was an incident that I got a government job and when I got married it was decided that I should live together with my family as I could not leave my job and live in the village. Right from the start it is my belief that wherever you are or you may be one will have to struggle. It is always that anyone who wants to improve their family standards and wants to do something, has to sacrifice so that their future generation benefits and [one must] leave all the luxuries and face hardships so that their children get the benefit.

What is your opinion about your children and what have you thought about their future?
It is my wish that they should serve their own area, which I am not sure whether they will do or not. But it is my aim to bring up my children in such a way that they become independent. They should utilise the benefits of living in a city and realise that their parents have done something for them. If my children or any children of Pakistan should be skilled with some trade or another… as a skilled person they will never sleep hungry and never be a loser. Actually my thinking is that along with my children I should also help my people in my surroundings and provide them with some facilities. But sometimes the conditions are favourable and sometimes not.

Yes brother you were talking about Karachi, I would like to know how did Karachi fare for Shimshalis; advantageous or otherwise?
Over here two points are considerable. Like few people come to Karachi with a proper plan and some have come without any proper planning etc. A few parents have planned the careers of their children and have sent them with a well planned assignment to accomplish. But some have just sent their children listening to the talks of other people. If you ask our elders about this situation they will be actually able tell more specifically. In my opinion 75% of our children suffered a loss in terms of their careers.
Section 7
That is in this way that if out of the 25 only 5 remained unsuccessful we would have considered it as a good success. But this was an emotional decision of our children and they came to Karachi by following the footsteps of the others rather than rather than properly planning and evaluating the economic situation of their respective households. I would like to tell you an incident which I faced myself. In 1979 I went to the village, it was ploughing season. I with respect to my work went to the elders where I was asked by them to highlight a little on the living condition, working condition and other general activities of Karachi. I told them that apart from doing our jobs we also do the general house chores such as cooking, cleaning, washing and even fill water from the taps like the same as our women do at our village and that also in hot summers etc. Not only for myself but also for the people living with me, as mostly over here the things are divided among all who are living together and mostly we are supposed to do them in turns. The elders replied “very tough life”. . .
But my intention to come to Karachi was that I did not want to become a liability on any of my relatives or friends. I wanted to earn my own living, be dependent and study. But why the other youngsters came to Karachi, I have no idea. But so much I would like to mention that around 10% of our youngsters were successful and the 90% who were unsuccessful, I don’t consider them to be held responsible for their failure nor their parents - because this was due to various reasons such as lack of information and proper knowledge about the city. There is one factor that I know i.e. if you come here with your mind prepared for struggle and if you work with full courage then there is no way that you will not succeed. But it is hard to evaluate and mention whether all these people had come with a prepared mind to work hard or came just of leisure. And this thing if you ask them personally then they will be in a better position to answer you. Your own example is in front of you. You had come to change your life and learn something and you definitely achieved a lot of things. In the same we also tried our best to perform our work diligently and honestly and keep our honour maintained at the same time. We did not perform any work in any manner which brought a bad name to our people and our village. Till today our efforts are the same and we ensure that any harm is not caused by us to others and we progress forward with high character.

To tackle such a situation what suggestion would you like to give?
Every step that we take should be done with proper planning. We should know how and where about to go we should have full information about the place where we are going to live and how we are going to meet and overcome other factors of our day to day lives. With this proper planning one will be able to be successful. If the parents or guardians do not have the information then they should up-date themselves with their other brother’s already living at this place. They can even consult institutions etc to get first hand knowledge of the affairs. A student etc should be well equipped with knowledge and should make up his mind first of all as to what he will do before moving to any other place.
Section 8
We have seen one tendency that every person moving from the village prefers and goes directly to Karachi than any other city, why?
Actually in their mind it that Karachi is the only city in Pakistan where life can be lived easily. In fact this was right in the initial stages but it is not the same today. First to live easily in Karachi was possible but nowadays life has become very fast and due to excess population and economic situation etc life has become very tough and not the same as it was previously.

Amjad bhai though you live very far from the village you are still quite up-dated on the day-to-day village affairs. You also have good information about the changes that take place in the village, and you also make a point to visit the village every year. Based on these factors what changes do you think have taken place at the village from the time you have migrated to Karachi?
In my opinion there are revolutionary changes in the village since the construction of the Jamat khana. Although I do not know about the previous years but the improvement actually started after the construction of the Jamat khana. A lot of revolutionary steps have been taken and acted upon. And if we go to list these things people will be amazed. Since 1976 the road of Shimshal was constructed several times making it possible for all the people to travel easily at all seasons up to Passu. Then with the collaboration of AKRSP the construction of the jeep road began which is still going on. Due to lack of time there was a little delay in the work. But still from 1984 till today people are sacrificing. The development plan which started from 1976 is completely fascinating and the work done in this span of time is so much that we have not been able to do as much work in the last two centuries.
As far as my yearly visit to Shimshal is concerned , once when the road was made up to Shaskh it was the pupil’s saying that if the road reached till Dute then consider we have reached home. Now you are saying that our people go from Farmanabad to the village using transport, and in between a small part of the road has been left unfinished. This is all due to the blessings of Maula (literally, master; the Aga Khan) that he viewed this site and with the continuous hard work of all our brothers that work was completed, where it stands today. If I go to take each person’s names individually i.e. as to who has performed this work then it would be impossible and we are sure to miss certain names, but what I can say is that people from every walk of life participated in building this road. They were volunteers, scouts, carpenters, masons, old, young, military men and even children who took part in this cause, and it was only their sincerity and will to work that made it possible. Further, if the work is continuously performed with this zeal and valour then there is no reason that it will be completed within three years.
We will definitely progress in the field of agriculture and farming.
Section 9
How will we progress in agriculture?
After the completion of the road we will have lots of time to develop this area. And the two institutions (scouts and volunteers) we have will surely be a great help to us and we will fully utilise them and we are very much hopeful of fruitful results from them.

You have talked about the development of the village will you please guide us as to how we should plan these things?
It is our tradition to seek advice from our elders. Any work to be started should be done with the blessings of our elders. When they pray whole heatedly and any work given to the youngsters with their recommendation, and blessings then till today it has been seen that any such work wasn’t left uncompleted and this is why I solemnly believe that even today the younger generation starts any project with the consultation and recommendation of their elders then they will not only accomplish but also flourish and prosper. There are actually two factors to this point. Firstly by taking approval from our elders the younger generation will keep the tradition of respect for their elders alive and secondly due to this recommendation the youngsters will be blessed with prayers which will be the major influence of their progress and prosperity.

What should be our strategy to complete our projects and plans?
Firstly to complete such projects we should have unity and should be well equipped with human resources. With us we have institutions such as “Volunteer Corps” and “Scouts”. All we have to do is just prepare a plan and give it to them and till today it has been practically seen that they have never been unsuccessful ie in winter, summer or any season they work hard to meet their goals.

Now we would like to change the topic? As your good self is also the president of “Task Force” of the Shimshal Nature Trust, would you like to highlight as to why the need was felt to form SNT?
The process of SNT has also started from our ancestors, later Johar janab and you people gave it a modern shape. Previously the government officials came to include the area as a National Park, our elders did not agree with the plan. They said that they are with the government and would work for the government for the protection of wildlife etc. But we would not be able to bear the direct influence of the government however since the people of Shimshal are totally depending on that area which the government wants to occupy for the Park. Their resistance was so strong that’s why the government didn’t take any step for a long time. But it was the story of that time, and it was not the proper solution to make the government satisfied from our verbal comments. It was needed for a proper idea to be formulated in the shape of a plan mentioning the needs including the safeguarding our social, civic and cultural values as well the importance of wild species. So Johar janab and you all thought that we, with the help of all modern thinking and approaches would get together and run this institution. Previously though there were even a few disputes with the government but it was good of you people to organise this institution in the latest pattern and resolve issues on a broader scale in a better way. And with this establishment even the people at the village got some satisfaction due to which they started supporting and praising this institution. Because you people gave a written plan and strategy to the government which was masterly prepared and presented in various seminars and meetings which the government for the first time really understood. This was the reason the people not only supported you but also backed you on this cause. Till today there have not been any problems or issue that may tend to cause any disturbance in our surroundings.
Section 10
Presently you have very nicely defined the theme of SNT? We all know how we have designed and formed SNT? However, we would like you to highlight to our readers and listeners about the initial formulation of SNT and how its management plan was presented to the government?
It is by nature that God creates people where the problem exists and gives them the understanding and courage not only to face and tackle but also to resolve the problem of the area where they are staying. In the same way by the blessing of God we had a bunch of you educated people who masterly studied and in spite of lack of resources and unlike the other plans - which were made by other consultants utilising huge funds of the government to make a management plan - you people made a better plan than the government consultant made in spite of hardships and troubles. When it was presented to the government on behalf of SNT, it impressed the government officials. It was the solid proof of your intelligence and hard work. There were two reasons for this. Firstly the internal situation was favourable for you. Secondly, few outside friends also gave a helping hand. They groomed you and in particular if I do not take the name of Hideki janab then I think it would be unfair. If he would not have started such educational programs then I think such tasks would have not been possible by you. I personally have very much regard for his work done where he changed the thinking of our younger generation and gave them a new awareness. Since there was no concept of research in Pakistan, however, since 1989 you people have successfully worked on various such projects and this was made possible due to the efforts of Hideki janab. And his program gave a hint to formulate SNT.

When did the documentation start at SNT?
The documentation of SNT started since 1994 when you people seriously started to work on it, discussed matters with each other directly and indirectly. But the final shape was given in Lahore at Johar janab’s residence in which you will remember that, you people had come from Shimshal and we had come from Karachi to Lahore. I think this sort of a meeting in which a community-based matter was brought up and actually discussed, the credit in the whole of Gojal region goes to the people of Shimshal. It was in this continuous session of three days that you people presented various ideas and proposals in which the idea was developed and shaped as to how SNT would function. I feel that this was an historic meeting where the actual functioning plan of SNT was formulated.

And it was from here that a management plan was developed which was called the SNT Management Plan for Conservation etc. Further, making this plan as a base, the SNT invited the representatives of the local Administration along with the representatives of WWF (World Wildlife Federation) explaining to them the plan during a seminar. It was a big encouragement that the chairman of Pakistan’s WWF Gani-ur-Rahman janab, and the writer and consultant of Khunjerab National Park’s Management were also present and praised our plan and this was indeed an honour for us as it was beyond our expectations.
Section 11
What did the writer and consultant of the Khunjerab National Park, Ashiq Ahmed janab say?
He said that it was a very good plan considering that it was made by the thinking of the local people and it was quite familiar to the plan that they has prepared. This plan was made on a quite modern pattern and the government should review the same and act accordingly as it belonged to the suitability of the local inhabitants and environment. His saying was that the plan made by him was a bit old but the new plan definitely had some plus points and was more practical but to implement the same he suggested that a joint committee be made so that any government issues etc arising could be resolved properly.

You have told us that the local administration’s feeling was good about SNT. Would you like to tell us as what was the idea of international NGO’s and what was their reaction?
The foreign consultants who were hired by the local government to work on wildlife conservation understood that the local people have more knowledge and credibility than the government officials. However, the local people “practically” know about their environment whilst the government officials’ knowledge is theoretical. Realising this, the foreign consultants started backing SNT’s motive in all seminars and symposiums and convinced the international organisations to support locals’ ideas in the field of conservation. Because the local people have a vast knowledge compared to the government. The reason is local people work hard however for their social interest.
Among these consultants Dr. Davit Butz from Canada and Dr. John Mock from America did a great job for Shimshalis supporting our ideas not only locally but also internationally. Dr. David Butz rendered his service for the compilation of SNT’s management plan while Dr. John Mock provided an opportunity for SNT to send a member of the task force to attend an international seminar and training session about eco-tourism training in Thailand last year. That these opportunities were made possible to avail in the right time is the sincere effort of you people. If you people were not active and motivated, the outsiders would not have had helped you people. You people worked practically and whole heartedly and these people saw your patriotic approach and struggle, then they gave a big hand enabling us to proceed to the right direction.

What are the targets and future plans of SNT?
Well there is lots of work on the calendar for SNT to perform. Firstly all the six sub-organisations of SNT should work in a unified manner and they should on a yearly basis complete at least one project. First of all they should encourage the growth of wild species and encourage trophy hunting in the region; it should also initiate educational projects and develop in research etc. However, it is necessary that reporting on all research-related work should be done for information and records, which is very necessary. Village development is to take place on a priority base and in this regard Dut canal is an important project in our plan. If this canal was constructed then a vast area would be given for the Women in Development program. They will grow their agricultural products and the fund will be used for Women’s welfare only.
We have many talented young climbers. To develop and furnish their skills we need a well equipped mountaineering school which is part of our future plan. Shimshal has a rich culture which it is important to preserve in a proper manner. For that the cultural committee should be made active to attend cultural shows and events in down country (refers to the rest of Pakistan). We have to renovate our museum and Farman Khana (the old room where religious ceremonies were celebrated when there was no Jamat khana, now where religious documents are stored). The women’s organisation has to be made active so that the women should not feel behind from the men in the development works in the village. I mean each organisation should perform an active role in the development of our community. And every organisation should have a strong and sound financial position.