By Fazal Amin Beg
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It was back in 1972 the late Mir, Muhammad Jamal Khan, the last ruler of the former Hunza State, has addressed a huge gathering in Gulmit (headquarters of Upper Hunza) during the occasion of an Eid gathering.It proved a landmark speech as after two years, the centuries old Hunza State was eliminated in 1974 and the political supremacy took its last breath as it used to play its pivotal role not only at its respective territorial level but rather also had its intimate influence at the level of its surrounding imperial powers.
Before the speech of Mir Jamal Khan in Burushaski in the audio recording, late master Sultan Ali Samarqand (a guru of teachers) presents the welcome speech in Urdu on behalf of the community of Gojal (upper Hunza). The translation of the welcome speech follows as under.
… what could then be done more that His Excellency has ever opened his door for the requests and submissions of his community.
Your Excellency! We do solicit in your kind honor that when there are projects for the area (Gojal) by the Government, the community should not be deprived of them at all. The community of Gojal should also be given the opportunities to avail them so that the respective people should also develop themselves and prosper economically.
Your Excellency: We do strongly appeal that your honor should submit our request to Imam of the Time (His Highness the Aga Khan) to also visit compassionately once our area (Gojal) so that the respective community should be graced with his holy sighting .
Long live Islam! Long live Pakistan! Long live Mir of Hunza!
, I’d like to note that the quality of the audio recording may not be of high quality as it was recorded in a cassette (48 years ago) by late Colonel Ayash Khan (the then Secretary of the Hunza State). I thus digitized the cassette after getting the recording on my digital voice recorder. Second, there might have been some gaps in the translation of the Burushaski speech, I’d therefore like to apologize in advance (as it’s not my mother tongue)and would appreciate if someone from the native burushaski speakers deemed necessary could help facilitate if there has to be brought any enhancement (as for any academic venture, room for improvement always remains). However, I’m pretty sure and confident that the gist of the whole speech, at least, I’ve tried to present here with the audience. Now, here you can find the translation of the Burushaski speech of Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan as follows under.
My dear folks, my Imam’s spiritual Children:
It’s an immense pleasure for me on the occasion of the great Eid to be with you and address you today. First and foremost, I’d like to wish you the happy Eid. Secondly, I’d like to pray for your progress, prosperity, calmness, peace and tranquility. The blessings of Mawla (the Lord) should always be upon you all.
Perhaps you’d know that for the purpose of traveling from France to Syria along with the corpse of late Prince, Ali Salman Khan, I had been blessed with the opportunity by Imam of the Time. Mawla had directed Prince Amin Muhammad Aga Khan, Prince Sadr Uddin Aga Khan and I myself to travel to Syria. In the aftermath of the ritual celebration and our return, I met with Imam of the Time for four to five times. I should therefore present to you here the kind directives that Mawla had given at that time.
The first point, as you people had wished to communicate to the Imam that in other parts of the world, people have different cultures but we have in our region our own ancient and distinguished customs in practice. On the other, you people also suggested that we need to conform with the constitution so in some areas it should not be something else while different for other places (in the region). In this regard, Imam of the Time (graciously) accepted your request in this context. We thus need to move ahead according to the Ismaili Constitution as Imam of the Time has his kind directives on the subject matter.
Second, Imam of the Time has blessed you all individually with his compassionate prayers. He also described that due to the worldly activities, he could not provide you with his kind directives for a long time. Mawla added that it never ever means that he was forgetting you all. He said: “I always remember you all and always I extend my prayers to you.”
Now, let me express and place some of my viewpoints and reflections before you, as the wrong propagandas that have been put in your minds, I’d try to address them in the context of Mawla’s farman (directives) along with his signature. First, you need to understand that the Constitution is on top of all things for the Ismaili community. I have been hearing some people have been propagating that the Mir of Hunza has formulated the Constitution. I’d like to ask that why did then our Imam of the Time accepted the Constitution that has been made by me? Didn’t Imam of the Time know about it? Doesn’t he know about it?
You should know that along with God Almighty, there are angels also (in his domain) along with the Holy Prophet, there were his companions. Along with Imam of the Time, there are also people in his circle. Therefore, accepting, knowing, not knowing, all such things are within the authority of Imam of the Time. If the written directives (farman) that is signed unknowingly by Imam of the Time, he may not then be termed as the Imam. How could we then regard him as the Imam? Let me say here again that on each page of the directives, Imam has his signature. Well, if he has associated my name in connection with the Constitution, it’s his blessing and his graciousness, if he has taken my name and has sent the letter or the Constitution. The Constitution has thus been issued by Imam of the Time and never by me.in this context, if you’ve any doubt, first in the name of God, the Almighty, and his Prophet and then in the name of Imam of the Time, I firmly swear that it’s Imam’s own developed Constitution and never made by someone else.
Moreover, I’d like to tell you that couples of youth here chant the hatred slogan of “Death to Mir of Hunza.” Through such slogans, I won’t be dead. Just witness here the description of Imam of the Time along with his signature as he writes: “Long Live Mir of Hunza, Long Live the Community of Central Asia.” Therefore, with your such slogans, I won’t be dead.
Besides, I must also refer here that if we didn’t follow the Constitution today, if we didn’t embrace and support the Constitution, then I need to be dead first and then you need to be dead. Following the constitution is an obligation upon all of us.to acting upon the constitution is our duty. We need to understand that every aspects of life is within the Constitution. There is also politics in the constitution. There is also religion in the Constitution. There is also worldly success in the Constitution and there is also success in life hereafter in the Constitution. If someone argues that it’s not Imam’s constitution, he should challenge me and stand firmly in front of me on his standpoint. This constitution is not something that’s hidden from someone. Rather, this has also been shared with and accepted by the Government (of Pakistan).
Second, you need to know and understand that different governments would come and go. Different political leaders will come and will be removed. I’d also be removed. But keep in mind that the Imam and his Constitution would never cease. I’m so surprised that what was the need (felt by you) to go with one political leader or with the other, even including me. If you astray from the leadership of Shah Karim Al-Hussaini and going out of his flag, what may be the need (rationale) of going under the flag of someone else? Do you think the Imam had to end? Do you think the Imam had to fall down? Do you think the (Light) of the Imam is not ever continuing?
Well, let me accept my weakness around my responsibilities for not complying and conforming with the constitution till today. It’s first my mistake and then of those who have the responsibilities around us. Today, I’d like to appeal to you that today we should submit to the Imam of the Time and take an undertaking from the constitution paper that as he has termed me to be alive and same to the community, so you need to have an undertaking with me that we should support and back this Constitution. Do you all agree with me in this regard? [the audience respond positively here].
Second, in the context of Hunza State I’d like to mention that if the State sustains and stands, it’d not refer to me personally or to my family but rather an Isma’ili State would endure in the world for the long run. Therefore, you need to get a pride that many governments have changed but till today the Isma’ili State sustains and its flag is elevated. The constitution is clearly defined. What type of happiness and development then you people would think more desiring? Why yet the Ismaili State of Hunza is yet alive? It’s because of the blessings of Imam of the Time.no matter if my government ends up, no matter if all things of mine ends, but my love with my Imam of the Time is so crucial for me. I should not be deprived of his affection. And no one could snatch him from me. If you are happy to hoist other flags in place of Imam of the Time, I’d also be with you in that respect. I’d also permit you in this regard. But you need to understand and be afraid of the Imam’s curse and disapproval. You need to get the sanctification and approval of the Imam.
Till today, it’s being argued repeatedly by some people that there’s coercion, there’s coercion, there’s coercion. I did end up the domination and subjugation as I used to draw the revenues and taxes from you people. What has remained by now then? Just to greet and say: Salam-un Alikum and wa-alaikum slam (peace be upon you) in reciprocity.
What I could deduce out of such misconducts that you’ve enmity with me personally and with my family. Okay, no matter at all. Even if you like to take my life, I could also sacrifice it to you people if you are happy). But, today, I’d like to clearly communicate to you a point that my government would finish; my statehood/kingdom would end up; but the honor of the Imam, the Kingdom of the Imam, and the flag of the Imam would sustain and live. No power of the world could snatch them from me.
I’ve not stolen anything. I’ve discussed with the Imam of the Time. I’ve discussed the matter and I’d like to pronounce it to each one of you that no one would be more loyal than me in the world to the Government (of Pakistan). Thanks to the Almighty God and second my beloved Imam has also trust in me. Moreover, the Government has also trust in me and likewise my public has trust in me. I’ve no worry at all. Nonetheless, if you have any doubt that I’ve become President of the Supreme Council on my own, or that I myself have become the representative of the Imam, you could observe the phenomenon yourself after I read a bit of the letter (by Imam of the Time to me). You could then take it individually and read it yourselves.
As Imam of the Time gives advice to me and says:
“I’d like you to continue as my personal representative for all my spiritual children of Hunza and Central Asia.” He then blesses my family and the Ismaili community of Hunza and Central Asia with his love and blessings.
Second, I then submit to Imam of the Time about the thoughts of the present time and possibly by the Government and some individuals that there may be wrong propaganda against me to him. In reply, Imam of the Time replies: “You really must not have worry of the possible propaganda about yourself. The late Imam had great confidence in you and we have similar sentiment to you. … … and not for your enemy. I’ve a great love for you.”
In short, let me tell you that the more you come in animosity with me, the more you come up with hostility with me, the more you do propaganda about me, you could not pull-off my Imam from me. Till today, if I’ve done any blunder, or if I have carried on any unlawful subjugation, the gate of imam of the Time is open to you all. You should report it to the Imam directly. The Government could not do anything in this regard. the facilities that you see today in front of you has been carried out by me.
what kind of taxes we had levied upon you? A goat, a baby goat, a female sheep and a male sheep. In addition, the grains, two goats and sheep, a small quantity of butter, wood, and the like. Has anyone pressurized me to end up all these taxes? I relieved you from such taxes. What type of coercions sustain now? What kind of pains exist now? All such compulsions I lifted. But, finally in whose favor? They were done so only in favor of Imam of the Time.
About me, it’s maintained that I was with the Awami League (Peoples League).Why should I go to such parties by getting aside the party of the Imam? If the kingdom of Hunza ends up and if you guess I’d be disgraced, make sure I won’t be dishonored at all. But you need to keep in mind about yourselves. What would happen to you and your faith/religion? What would happen to your honor? What would happen to your women? Where would be the honor of your State/country? Are you determined to humiliate your country? If a person has to be taken to and present him in the Magistracy (behind the litigations) , I myself should then go first for the purpose. why? As the care and support Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto has extended towards me may not be found in that greater degree with others. Yet, keep in mind I’m not obedient to any party. I’m not a slave of any party. I don’t belong to any party. And if I’ve any affiliation, I belong to the Imam’s party.
I do trust today that you people would also be within the party of the Imam. You would uplift your religion. You’d uplift your flag and you won’t join any party. You’d keep aside from any party. Whenever Imam of the Time would advise/direct us, I’d then be ahead of you to join any party and you’d follow me. Otherwise, I must say: I’m a servant of the Imam, I’m a slave of the Imam, I’m a helper of the Imam. In the same manner, after me, you are the slave of the Imam, you are the servant of the Imam, you are obedient followers of the Imam.
Moreover, you are well aware that there has not been any external military in our region and in the same manner no police or other officials. I’ve been saying to each one of you as it’s not something to be kept secret more. Today, the people of Nagar disgraced themselves due to the brutalities they brought and imposed upon themselves. Today, Nagar received a dishonor. Nothing remained there.
Until I’m alive and if I brought the police in the area, or invited the military forces, or established the Magistracy, I then deserve to be dead and the life is unlawful for me in such situations. So, have you desired for such kind of interventions in Hunza State? If so, it’s good (if you’re happy). Carry on then happily. But, what I could understand you’ve hatred and hostility with my family. You’ve animosity with the crown that I possess. Well, happily I should get aside then. Imam of the Time then would bless it to someone else.
In conclusion, I’d like to request you (though, first it’s my duty and then yours) to hoist the flag of Imam of the Time. Establish the Constitution of the Imam. Act upon the directives of the Imam. Till today, if I’ve repressed you by any means, and it’s possible there may have been any blunder or mistake from me, but from today onward, I liberated you and invite you to do everything in accordance with the Constitution. If you think you are an educated person, if you deem you’ve seen different places and the world, come and join hands with me to support the Constitution that we have with us. ….. If I do create any obstacle to the constitution, we then need to redress it. once again, I’d like to have a solemn undertaking and repeat that the Constitution has not been devised by me but rather it’s by our Imam of the time.
To explore further, I’d like to ask that what kind of cruelty could you witness at present by your Government? Have I carried out my imperialism? What type of wealth I’ve generated from you people and spent them on my lavish life? could you prove them openly if I’ve expended the things taken from you for my personal life or interests? If there are no such situations, then why we have come to spoil our country? Why have we come forward to spoil our religion? What are the rationales behind?
Let me tell you again, o people: I’d like to take an oath once again in the name of the divine Light of the Earth and Sky, the Vicegerent of the Prophet and the Imam of the Time that without his flag, I’d not go under any other flag or Government or party. This is not acceptable for me. I cannot sacrifice the Constitution for such causes. Well, under the flag of the Imam and under his leadership and under this constitution, whatsoever you like to do for its protection, for its accomplishment, first I and then you would be ahead? Are you prepared for such mission? If you pledge, would you raise your voices together and raise your hands? [all affirm together in one voice and raise their hands].
Well, it’s great! It’s done. I’d like to state that whosoever has done any blunder or mistake, he should come on the right path. Patch up their steps behind the Imam’s directives. Support the constitution. I’ve no personal enmity with those people at all who have lost their paths but rather they are still my brothers and they are my children. But if they are determined to spoil the religion, they are determined to spoil the constitution and if they are firm to bring unrest in the homeland, to divide the people in parties, then I believe that first you people will get finished and finally I’d get finished.
At the end, I’d like to request you on this auspicious day of Eid that Imam of the Time bless you with the good thoughts or power, strengthen you on the right path, uplift the honor of your country and the Imam, support the constitution. If there is any issue or injustice from my side, I’m ready to end them all. My aspiration is to uplift the name of the Imam, sustain the flag of the Imam, Imam’s constitution should sustain. You and I should live our lives like brothers with dignity.
If such considerations are not acceptable to you people, please raise your voices, my people and the spiritual children of Imam of the Time. If you have any animosity with me personally or with my family, express it openly. To whosoever the leadership is given by the Imam, I’d be then with him and I won’t be a mean and cruel person if I didn’t support him. Till that time, there is the affectionate blessings and kindness of the Imam upon me, no one could do anything to me.
Once again, I would like to tell you openly that I’m not against the Government. But keeping aside the party of the Imam and joining any other party is not acceptable to me. Keep in mind that I’m on the forefront to be devoted to the Government of Pakistan.
The special gratitude goes to late Colonel Ayash Khan son of Mir Ghazan Khan (who was the Secretary of the Hunza State) for the audio recording of this historic speech of the last ruler of Hunza, Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan. Without this voice recording, it would have never been possible to get access to the speech of 1972 on the subject matter. Thanks to Mukhi Amir Hayat of Gulmit for preserving the cassette and sharing this unique speech with me. My special gratitude also goes to Prince Abbas khan son of Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan for sharing with me his late father’s pictures. Finally, my thanks goes to Mazdak Jibran Beg for his technical and overall help.
Assuming it’s the exact transliteration or nothing else are in between the lines, it seems the Mir is desperately trying to address the long drawn cruelty, suppression and inhuman subjugation with the soft ointment application of the community’s spiritual leader’s directives. He is trying hard to protect his fledgling and fragile rule by alluding to his constitution to be kept at in highest esteem, with integrity and regard, implemented in true letter and spirit. Though it has nothing to do with PPP or any other political party to whichever they vote or go by. After all politics and religion by default in currency are separate entities (unfortunately as Allama Iqbal termed it). The preamble to his address by Master Sahib sets out the angst and anguish when they have been deprived of their due rights of at least the meager doled out funds by the governments for projects and overly taxed by Mirs. I think he unduly over used the Imam’s directives to gain political mileage. I wish I should be wrong in saying so. But the big question is; why the system got derailed in 1974 if Bhutto had complete trust and vested confidence in him? Why the people of Upper Hunza had remained poverty-stricken and backward in all walks of life?
Good to hear you , Abdul Ali. Thanks for your critical remarks on the subject matter.
Another great effort by Fazal Amin; however, I am unable to understand what is historical in this speech? Apologies for my ignorance, if I don’t understand the world ‘historical’. However, from my standpoint, the Mir being aware of his downfall is trying hard to protect the shaking state by using religious card. Using repeatedly the words Ismaili State, flag of Imam and Imam’s party; he is trying to portray himself as the custodian of Imam’s constitution and party – Was there really an Imam’s party, he was leading? Warning people that if the state is lost; people will be dishonored because of democracy, police and magistrate system, but he forgets the brutality of the Mirdom and the inhuman treatment of those opposed to the Miri system. The Zandan (prison cell) in the Baltit fort speaks thousand words of inhuman treatment of Mir’s rivals. Talking about the taxation is another joke – goat, baby goat, sheep, wood and butter, was all this affordable for the poor people 48 years ago? What the state did in return to the tax collected – built schools, clinics, created jobs, living conditions improved? I have heard from many old folks that even people required permission traveling out of the state, so what freedom was given to people, when he is warning against police system?. In nutshell, the speech is nothing but futile attempt of using religion, tradition and honor to protect a state nearly to collapse!
Thanks Karim Bhai for your critical remarks and comments. I respect your radical sentiments. Disagreeing with the speech is your democratic right. But if you like to see the phenomena from an intellectual and historical context, you may find positive aspects as well. At this point, I’m not supposed to defend the former Hunza State. Whatsoever has been in the past, they are part of the history (whether gloomy or shining). It never happens in any culture or society across the world that all people are happy with the respective model of governance in result of being beneficiaries and losers. To the beneficiaries, there could be attraction and for the losers, there can be hatred. No society or model of governance is ideal in this world. Has there been any state in the past, or could we find in the present that there is no prison in them? Why people are sent to the prisons? On what ground? To what extent, justice prevailed in the states? In the same manner, could we find any example in the past or in present context, they have been , or do they exist, without taxes? Yes, against the taxes, what have been given to the people is quite an important and a logical question if they are connected with the security, socioeconomic and other development areas. To what extent, taxes were collected in Hunza State from the three social classes of the time including upper class (Usham/zharzhon), middle class (Darqaney) and lower class (borwar/baldakuyn).. Does one know about it from the written records? The more the wealth, the more the taxes and it’s quite logical as is prevalent today and will sustain in the future, too, across the world.
As for using the religion as tool for power or state’s retention by the Mir, it’s not a new phenomenon, by the way, in the case of rulers. What did Zulfiwar Ali Bhutto do? Didn’t he Islamized socialism? Or look contextually with different rulers across the globe even in the contemporary context? Thanks, once again, for your comment. It’s your kindness, indeed.