By Fazal Amin Beg
There is no doubt as it is universally recognized and famously said: “All humans are born equal.” However, I argue contextually that the genetic makeup, nourishment, care and development after birth of humans can then never be termed equal or similar. Even within one’s immediate family, even if the genetic composition could be considered somehow so closed, significant level of differences are found among parents and their children and among the siblings themselves, and get aside the relationship out of a nuclear family. Although, there are sharp diffrences and inequalities among the humans in terms of their physical characteristics and mental traits, there are yet many similarities among them different contexts. Such qualities of individuals compel us to articulate and present another beautiful wisdom: “No human is perfect.” It is God or the supernatural being that has the quality of perfection. Why is then perfection expected and desired from one another as a human? In other words, these notions ultimately invite us towards series of big debates that why do the inequalities, discriminations and underestimations spread so vividly and sharply in the societies around the imperfect value systems among the individuals, families, communities, nations, and the like.
Though, human beings are different in their nature in many respects, at the same time they have also many similar qualities that bind them around their mutual interests within their families and communities of their concerned societies and cultures. God or the Nature has thus created a bondage of interdependence among the humans.It is not only the similarities then that bind the people but rather also the logical differences that prevail among them, when taken positively. When it is sincerely recognized that the imperfect world as weaknesses, inabilities or disabilities of individuals, groups and societies can be filled or compensated in many respects by the available strengths, abilities and capabilities of different categories of people. For such logical reasons, different families, communities and societies have different categories of people based on the mental and physical strengths and weaknesses of individuals. In brief, we therefore find different types and categories of people around different interest areas, professions and occupations.consequently, all humans accompanying their strengths and weaknesses at different scale are thus interdependent on each other in a natural order like the ecosystem around us.
Across societies, we can evidence that differences in worldviews of individuals or groups against conformism or the conventional standards are not accepted or less accepted. Or in other words, the nonconforming opinions and their expression around the normal order are not or less appreciated so to encourage self-reflection, critical and logical analyses. In such circumstances, we come across series of biasnesses and resistence in both camps of the conformists and nonconformis. For many societies and in many cases, we find productive and healthy debates around the valuable differences among individuals and groups and that helps positive development in different contexts.
Some of the concepts and notions that were discussed above could therefore be witnessed to hold true in many ways for different categories of individuals in the societies. The poets and poetesses in a society and culture are one of the highly sensitive groups of people who look at their respective landscapes in different ways based on their subjective or somehow objective lenses , knowledge, observations and experiences. To what extent their thoughts and worldviews progress or regress on the societal phenomena in terms of conformism and nonconformism thus depend on the individual experiences and observations at various scales.
Ali Qurban of Passu village of Hunza valley in the Northern Pakistan is one of the poets who composes poetries in different genres mostly in his mother tongue called Wakhi, an old eastern Iranian language. He has enormously and wonderfully composed the quatrains and they are highly invaluable. The stanzas of quatrains revolve around innumerable themes and they ar in thousands. He is usually considered as a nonconformist in different contexts. To what extent it could rightly hold true or be well evaluatd is another point to be explored.However, it is right when all or majority of the people conform to or agree on some points, he is expected to show his disagreement or resentment anytime.
It is noteworthy that I have written and compiled more than one thousand sixteen hundred Wakhi quatrains (ruboyot)of Ali Qurban recently in 2022 and brought in a book shape (needs to be published) and most of the quatrains are so magnificent and appealing It was in this connection, I wrote his detailed biography based on in-depth interviews with him. I recorded them in audio form first in 2012, then in 2017 and onward. In this way, I wrote his biography in English but kep the tone and flow in natural order. The interesting stories and journeys of his life thus sounds like an autobiography, which expands over 120 pages.
Although, the detailed biography of Ali Qurban is part of the poetry book of Ruboyot (or even could be published separately as a small book with the updated information), I considered it pertinent to publish the stories of his life in different parts on my website (FAZALAMIN.COM) and make them available to the related audience in digital form where people can get acces to it across the globe unlike the hard copy available to some people. This will enable to get necessary feedback from the audience as well. In the near future, an e-book can be published with the updated version.
It should be noted if the personalities of individuals, also including poets and poetesses, are imperative to undersand, it is then necessary to know the evolution of their life deeply rooted in their personal stories . Without their life stories, the commentaries and reflections on the subject matters may not be termed so deep. The biography of ali Qurban begins with his birth and childhood to his schooling in his village and area. He reveals some grim pictures of his childhood but also presents the strong determination to cope with the disabling situations that had began surrounding him.
Ali Qurban talks about the situations of schooling in his village and areas and highlightes the poor socioeconomic conditions of the region in 1960s and 1970s. How does he cope with the situations during his educational life in Gilgit is so shocking in many ways but he encounters the situations courageously. He leaves for Karachi and gets his college level education. How does he reach Karachi university is so interesting, indeed.
When Ali Qurban gets admission in Karachi University in the 1980s, how does he involves in students politics is another fascinating domain of the stories. How does he survive during various clashes among the students unions and how he gets entrapped in the hands of soldiers during the Martial Law can be seen another interesting domain filled with lots of personal stories.
After he acquires his Masters degree from the university, he returns to his village and joins teaching in the Aga Khan Education Services, Pakistan (AKESSP). He then leaes teaching and beoems part of the AKESP management. What type of challenges he faces there and why does he revert to the schools is another important area where he openly discusses the underlying issues.He then joins other organizations, also including AKPBSP (Aga Khan Planning and Building services, Pakistan) for couples of years. Why does he then leave or is made to leave this organization is another important area of discussion.
When the Attabad Disaster emerge on January 4, 2010, the upper Hunza gets disconnectd from the rest of the region . Various types of politics are evidenced and how does Ali Qurban gets involved in it is again so fascinating. He talks about it at length. He then describes about his poetry in detail and also talks about his voluntary services and contributions to different civil society organizations.
I hope that the concerned readers will enjoy reading the striking stories and enriched experiences of Ali Qurban filled with learning to others that he has earned for more than six decades of his life journey.From here onward, I am opening the first part of his stories in a natural order like an autobiography and invite you to read it in somehow objective manner. The First part of his biography is comprised on his birth and childhood to his educational journey from his village to Gilgit and Karachi.
The Journey of My Life
This biography is a detailed accounts of someparts of my life beginning from my birth and childhood to the detailed discussions of my immediate, joint and wider family plus descent groups of Passu (my hometown and some memories of my earlier life.It then discusses about my educational ventures and experiences at all levels from the school to the university.
Next, the interesting stories and experiences during my employment as well as the voluntary services in different civil society organizations have also been shared.In particular, within the political realm, the readers may find some fascinating but bitter aspects of my life in Karachi university (when it was the Martial Law era of Zia-ul Haq in pakistan). The tragic Attabad and subsequent disasters have also been brought under discussion in detail as along with other fellows, I was also an eye witness and involved in the states of affairs in many ways to mobilize the community. I hope you’d find it interesting and enjoy at varying degrees.
Birth and Childhood
Although, there was no tradition of proper documentation or recording of the dates or years of birth in the earlier time, people would mostly depend on the important events that took place during, after or around them.My late mother would therefore say I was born in the year when Imam Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III, had left this mortal world., This is certainly July 10, 1957 as each year the Shia Isma’ili community across the globe celebrate the Imamat Anniversary Jubilee of the present Imam, Shah Karim al-Hussaini, Aga Khan IV on 11 July taking its base in 1957. My mother would describe that our family members were on the pastureland when I was one month old baby. When our people on the pastureland heard the shocking news of the Imam’s demise, the community of Passu were so much mournful and offered mehmoni and nazrona (offering and sacrifice) out of their livestock, produces and products.
It’s interesting that before leaving for the pasture, I had been handed over to my foster (fictive) family named Jomi of the neighboring village called Sisuni (today known as Hussaini). I was breast-fed by my foster mother named Malak (who in relation becomes my first cousin, daughter of my mother’s sister). Moh Bibi daughter of Jomi and wife of Nosiruddin of Gulmit (Kũmars) is my foster sister .she and I as infants were exchanged for breast-feeding. To illustrate, I have been fed by her mother and she has been fed by my mother.Consequently, Moh Bibi spent sixteen years of her initial life with my family and got married.
The reason for such exchange management of infants was the death of babies after birth of my mother. I was so much attracted to Sisuni due to my nurturing in that society, so I’d then run away from Passu and reach Sisuni. My mother would then reach Sisuni and take me back to our house. May be it’s due to the milk of my foster mother and the nurturing in the hands of her for a period of four years and that had attracted me significantly like the gravitational force.
There is another factor for giving me in foster relationship in Sisuni because my parents had closed kinship marriage. In relationship, my mother becomes an aunt of my father at second generation, which is genetically not recommended. To specify, Ali Baqo and Gohar Shoh Baig of Ghulkin (a village in Hunza) are real brothers. My father is son of Ali Baqo’s daughter while my mother is daughter of Gohar Shoh Baig. Due to such genuine reasons in genetic and the social environment, when the babies were born, they would die.However, it needs to be noted that my foster mother was also my maternal family member for being my mother’s sister’s daughter .
In the past, the rate of death was thus higher, though there were also other factors as there were no medical facilities like hospitals or dispensaries in the whole area.Moreover, in the old days, there was a strong belief in the traditional or spiritual healing approaches such as Shamanism and Mullogig̃h or others. My parents were thus advised that when they would get the son, they should hand him over to a foster family. More importantly, when my mother would deliver the baby boy, she must not look at his face and hand him over to a foster mother. For such reasons, I was given to my foster parents in Sisuni for the raising purpose.
However, the journey of my life has begun. It’s said that I had become seriously ill in Hussaini during my early days when I was perhaps two months old and for a month I could not suckle. This might have been the polio that attacked my right leg and paralyzed it, which the people won’t know because there was no doctor or otherwise. Consequently, it led towards a challenge to me and became my permanent partner for the rest of my life.
My mother would describe that once, I was taken to Bobo Ghundi shrine in Chipursan valley when I was too young. She has noticed and observed for the first time that one of my legs was paralyzed. She was so much shocked and has asked my foster mother that where I was fallen while with her? She has replied to my mother that no where such things happened to say if she had skipped me from her arms or otherwise.
However, my mother has not trusted and has reproached my poor fostermother. That’s why my mother would repent that why did she give me for the fostering .She would think: “if you were not given for the fostering purpose, it might have become a good decision.”
My poor foster mother would shockingly and compassionately tell me, after I was grown up and mature, that she had never made me fall somewhere and my mother assumed that I might have done something wrong.This is to be noted that my foster mother didn’t know that there was such a disease like polio. She was thus so gloomy and could not tell my mother that there might have been such a disease.
But, my mother would not believe , though I would tell her about this phenomenon that there was no blunder from my foster mother side rather there has been a disease named polio. Nevertheless, she was so stubborn and won’t accept it I could then understand the unknowing conditions of the time due to lack of knowledge.
It sounds so interesting, and sympethetic at the same time, to know about an aspect of my nurturing in the hands of my kind foster mother but possessing a fear which she shared with me. She said: “When my aunt (i.e. my mother) would visit me in Sisuni and appeared at a far distance, I would become very afraid of her. I would therefore immediately take you to the water channel and wash your face and hands. So quickly, I would dress you up nicely and leave you at home.” If I had not done so, she would ask me: “how How have you cared of my son ? Look at his face, look at his dress, and look at his hand and, the like. I was thus so much afraid of her.”
What does it reflect? My mother has been so sensitive with regard to my nurturing especially in line with my cleanliness and cautious in hygenic terms. At our own home, when I grew up, he would take me to the school herself. When I would not wash my face, she would advise me about it and even wash my face and hands in the cold water.She would thus guide me what type of food to be eaten and avoided. So and so dresses have to be put on and avoided. How to keep the bed clean.
A Glance over Childhood Activities and Memories
I don’t remember if there were some good things I have carried out and got any appreciation from the people. However, with regard to the naughty behavioral expressions, being a child, I would go to the street, play with the children, crumble down the walls and bet with each other. There were bad habits found among the children, too. We need to make a distinction between the children of Gulmit and Ghulkin with those of Passu.
In Passu, as we rmember, there has been intervention of the safarmina, soldiers who had their camps in the Das̃ht area of Jonabad. It has also been the cantonment of the forces like the Northern Scouts and/or NLI.In addition, the barren-land of Passu also remained as the campsite of the Chinese during the construction of the KKH. Besides, this village has also been a transit for the people of Shimshal in addition to its immediate target of flooding of Verzhrav, while meeting the Hunza River. Passu has been so near to its pasturelands. All such factors thus hamper upon the children’s nurturing, activities , naughtiness and behavior.
My age-mates during my childhood were Niyat Faqir, Odob Khon and others. We would go towards the Chinese camp area and pick and dig the garbage area and bring the solid wastes and build up our shops because we were very impressed from our people who had their shops at the KKH and within the village. The wastes of the Chinese we would bring included the batteries, empty boxes of matches, packets of cigarets, and so on. Furthermore, we would also pick the Chinese trashed newspapers and the like.
At this stage of my life, when I look at the children they are within the garbages and other people complain about them, I’d tell them, it’s me.They ask: how come? I would tell them that I had exactly the same habit.However, I then thank God for the accomplishements. Just think for a while. We are born in a pastoral society and remained shepards. The nurturing we have received in that society could not be imagined that we could reach to this stage of development at individual and collective level. The societal development and the positions we have got in such a short period of time, within few decades, are unbelievable.
Let’s think honestly for a while in the present context when we make some standards before us. For instance, we expect the thesis should be written in such a good way. The reports of the organizations should be developed in such manner. The planning of organizations should be made in such proper ways. All these lead me towards series of wonder when I look retrospectively on our conditions of the past that where were we and how was our condition and where are we , now?
I thus pay my gratitude and say honestly: “O Mawla! All these great changes are only and only due to you. It’s because of you we have reached to such positions in our life.” Otherwise, what has been the backgrounds of our parents or ancestors?The societal changes we have been witnessing in a short span of life is something beyond our imaginations. These are, undoubtedly miracles for us, indeed.Otherwise, for instance, my father would try to motivate my mother about me: “ Leave him Feroza! Let’s take him to Habib of Ghulkin and he will mentoring him to become a tailor. What is the need of giving education to him? There is no worth out of education.” Damn on education.
Most of our people had such pessimistic worldviews regarding education during those days of my childhood in the 1960s. I never heard from my father who would tell me “to get education, or take your book and study.” Never, of course.
In contrast, my mother would pursuade me towards getting education. One of the reasons might have been her earlier marrige with late Ghulam Jafar of Murkhun and she spent a considerable amount of time of her life with her father-in-law, Arbob Dolik of Murkhun, who was a literate and renowned person of his time and my mother learned the Persian devotional poetries from him.
My mother had therefore quite different personality as compared to her sisters. My mother and Ghulom Jafar has a daughter named Izat Sultan (my elder sister as we have the same mother) and she is marreid in Spenj with Muhammad Wasi. But when she was married with my father in Passu, she was so regular in her religious practices, would listen the directives of the Imam of the Time.When she would come home from Jamatkhana, she would share with us that Imam of theTime has directed us to give education to your children, your daughters and your sons.
My father would reply: “Leave it aside! You and Mawla.” My fatehr had such remarks. But my mother was a devout follower and determined who would say: “No, ignorant! I would enroll my son and my daughter in the school.I will act upon the directives of my holy Mawla.” My mother had a strong belief in the directives of the Imam of the Time.She therefore took me to and admitted in the DJ school. It was this school where I studied seriously and have reached to such a position of my life today.
Though, my late mother had a strong belief in the directives of our Imam of the Time, the important point to note here is the Imam’s clear and emphatic guidance to his followers regarding importance of education to the children, particuarly their daughters on preferential basis. This is something unimaginable and highly extraordinary in such a society where there was no importance given to male education and get aside the female education. At this stage of my life, when I compare my self with my childhood companions and friends, I see a sharp diffence among us in line with our educational accomplishments, professional experiences and social upstanding.
During my childhood, I witnessed Verzhrav flooding devastation in the 1960s.The flooding would start perhaps in the month of June and destroy the lower parts of the villages situated along Hunza River. It would flow with a huge volume and the z̃ey, the violent rampage,produced in the middle of the river.This flooding ruined our land a lot.As a case, I’d like to describe a bit here.
One day, in the morning, my mother accompanied me to the school.The path towards the school area from our house follows the unstable hilly part of the Hunza River. When we reached at an area, where existed a pen, I witnessed the flow of water was so ferocious due to the Verzhrav flooding.Despite the fact the normal river course remained so low from the village height but it sounded that the flooding water was mounting onto the village.Believe me, I was so much scared, rather terrified as the weather condition was also cloudy.I thought the river flood was going to wipe out the whole settlement.How was the GLOF being formed, we didn’t know. The people of Shimshahl would narrate that the Tang area (the Narrow valley corridor) at the entrance from Passu towards Shimshal, would narrate that the hard and high rocks and cliffs would shake on both sides of the gorges due to the power of the flood.
During those days, the Mir of Hunza would send his levies to Shimshal in order to get the latest updates on the Verzhrav flood situation. Once, my father and uncle Salman Ali (both the levies) had gone to bring the update on flooding. They have taken the pathway of Avdegar (above Khuramabod) to Lupg̃har and from there onward they have got down at D̃ũt̃.It’s interesting to note that when they have reached on the top of Avdegar, the flood had already crossed the Shimshal valley.
It’s said that during those days, on top of the mountain of Verzhrav, the people were warned and updated by making fire on top of the Verzhrav mountain (which was visible to Shimshal people). For this purpose, people on duty on the spot would watch the outburst situations very carefully and when the lake would get outburst, they would make fire at night by burning a huge quantity of juniper as firewood. Some people would remain on duty at Shimshal Wiyin (Pass) and make the fire at night that was visible to the people on duty on the mountain of Avdegar, which was visible to the people of Passu and Sisuni, then the same lighting as early warning signal was made on the Pũlpũl of Gulmit (visible to Gulmit and S̃his̃hkat̃). Following the same strategy, fire was made on Ghawũs̃h mountain (visible to the people of lowr gojal and people of some villages of Central Hunza), which would continue down to the mountain top of Dong Das and the like. In this manner, the flooding risks of destruction of the settlements, particularly the human and animal losses were reduced at night time while all people would sleep.
This was so effective strategy that before arrival of the Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF) at diffrent places, the people would leave out the dangerous areas of the disaster along the Hunza River. The peak season of the flooding was noted as the month of June and people from different localities would remain on duty at night on the specified fire signaling venues on the top of the mountains and burn the juniper and other wild firewood that would sustain for the whole night.
When I was ten years old, I don’t recall exactly the natural environment around us in line with snowfall and forests because I was socially divided between two villages, Sisuni and Passu. Sometimes, I would live in Passu and sometimes in Sisuni. However, when we look at the state of snowfall in the old days, it would fall heavily. If my calculation is accurate,two to four feet of snowfall would remain on the ground. Being children, we would go out and play together by making snowballs, igloos and the like. On them, we would draw humans and other objects and get rejoiced. In addition, we would also fight with the snowballs by throwing them on each other. .
We would go to hunt the patridges called as C̃heker in Wakhi. We would go to the morains (gungri)of the Passu glacier, Yashvandan and Khuramabod in search of patridges.We would hunt them with the help of slinshots and throwing stones on them.There was no gymnasium to go and play or do any physical excercise there.Our task was thus to play with the stones, sand, snow, garbages and so on.
The position of glaciers was near the KKH but at present they could not be seen around. They have receded significantly for a couple of kilometers.
The state of wind was so stormy in winter.Along with our house were the apricot trees and when the wind would blow, the frightening voices whirled around our roof and we would become so much helpless.In the later time, we cut the tree for fueling purpose and the noises ended. In addition, the powerful blow would cause the garden trees to crumble down. It’s worth mentioning that once the wind blew so strongly that the iron sheet of the barracks blew up and flew them to the distant areas. Consequently, it killed a soldier (safarmina), too.
I recall another memory of my childhood. My mother would take me to the Oston (shrine).She had a firm belief in the shrines and would think they are the absolute. She took me to Bobo Ghundi Oston twice. During those days, our travel was via the Battura glacier.Once we would start our journey from Passu, it would take six days for us to arrive at the Oston. The first stage was from Passu to Khayber, from there onward to Gircha, from there onward to Kirmin, then to Spenj, from Spenj to Istiman (the place where the shrine is situated).
During our childhood in the 1960s, the Karakoram Highway (KKH) was not constructed, though the small jeep road had been built in the first half of 1960s. A very small jeep of 1950 model would rarely run over it. In the aftermath, the Chinese came and constructed the KKH.
For the first time, I experienced sitting in a jeep when the Passu cantonment of the forces was being constructed. Our primary school teacher, Master Yusuf Khan son of Tilo Khon of Aliabad, had a jeep.We had gone to the Passu Das̃ht (barren-land, and on the way back, he seated us in his jeep . When the jeep would take its speed on the road, it seemed the land and mountains were running behind so fastily that my head was spinning and I felt nausea. I still remember this interesting happening of my childhood.
An important point of my life to share yet. I got married when I was in my teenage and studying in 4th Grade in the school.There was grave issue at home as no one was there to help my parents. My sister Khadija (who is elder than me) had also been married in her early age. My wife and I are almost of the same age.Those days, there was no choice in mate selection by the expected conjugal partners themselves.It was the will of the parents to look for the daughters-in-law , propose and engage them for their sons.They won’t ask and take the consent of their sons or daughters.All in sudden, the marriages would take place. It was thus in my case, too. At that time, we would become happy that our parents have taken care of us and we are married. Who knows what would happen in the aftermath of the marriage that what kind of ups and downs come during the journey of life partnerships. When I was eighteen year old, I got my first son.
Family, Kinship Relationship and Descent Groups
My father’s name was Spicher, who was a name of one of our ancestors. He had two brothers named Ali Baqo and Ali Shafo. Uncle Ali Baqo has passsed away earlier and my uncle Ali Shafo died in his youth when he was working on the irrigation channel and the landsliding unfortunately killed him. My father thus became the only surviving son of his father.He had two sisters named Bibi Nabot, married to Murod Khon of ghulkin (mother of Arab Khon, Ramzon and Ahmad Jan). His second sister was Bibi Nasrin, married with Rustam Baig of Passu and she had a daughter named Nazar Bakht and my aunt then passed away.Though, my cousin Nazar bakht also passed away, her line of descendants continue as her children.
My mother’s name was Feroza Begum and she was daughter of Gohar Shoh Baig of Ghulkin. My mother would thus term him as “my envoy father” (Ilchi Tat in Wakhi)because grandpa Ghoar Shoh Baig has been an envoy of the Mir of Hunza to Xinjiang( China).My mother had two brothers and three sisters. Her brothers were Muhabat Shoh and Anor Shoh; while her sisters were Lola Begum (has died earlier), So’at Begum (mother of Ali Gohar of Sisuni), Bibi Najaf (mother of Bai Nazar of Gulmit) and Roza Begum (mother of Fatah Ali of Ghulkin). It needs to be noted that my mother possessed the name of her paternal grandmother (that is, mother of Gohar Shoh Baig) and the old Feroza Begum was daughter of Bibi Anjir daughter of Sirang Muhammad of Passu and married in th family of Khuram Shoh and Bahadur Shoh of Ghulkin. family My mother was therefore termed as Mumi or Mumik (means name of a grandma).
From my parents, I’m the only son and I’ve one sister named Khadija Begum who is married with Fatah Ali of Ghulkin.My second sister’s name is Zinat (whose mother is separate) and was married with Muhammad Shoh (shortly known as Masho, who was brother of Sarwar and Juma Baig . She is the mother of Amonuddin and Sag ali of Ghulkin. My sister Zinat’s mother was sister of Rahmat Shoh and aunt of Laili Shoh and Tohir Shoh of Gulmit.
My wife’s name is nisoh and she is daughter of ali Gohar of Sisuni village. In relationship, she becomes a niece of mine (her father as my maternal first cousin). We have four sons and no daughter. Their names are Rahman Karim, Muhammad Qasim, Ali Shafo and Ali Hassan. The first two sons have got married and they have children, too. The name of my mother-in-law was Sulton and she was sister of Mujowir of Hussaini (belonging to the qũli Kũtor).
From my father’s line, I belong to the qũli Kũtor of Passu, which is the majority clan of the village.We ar identified behind our apical ancestor named Qũl whose son was Sirang Muhammad and his son was Spicher. The name Spicher is seen repeated for times in different generations and has reached down to my late father. Within the Qũli clan, I belong to the Magh Kũtor. Magh and Mahmud were real brothers.
The name of my father’s father was Khudo Nigahbon and his father’s name was Din Ali but he was popularly termed as Bai Din Ali. Bai Din Ali’s father was Muhammad Qasim. Qasim and Mirzo Murod were real brothers. The descendants of Mirzo Murod are today Habib Rahmon, Jafar , Shahid Akhtar and others living in Yash Vandan. The offspring of Ali Dod is Hunar Baig while the offspring of Ali Murod is Ali Murod himself and he had no male offspring. On his land is now zakir son of Maz’har as his son-in-law.
Magh had four sons: Muhammad Rizo Muhammad Rũzi, Shambi and Spicher. The descendants of Spicher I have explained above and from the line of Shambi are today Ghulam Muhammad and Rahmat Ali.From Muhammad Rũzi are Bahrom Baig, Rahim Baig, Tolib, Zib Shoh, Abdul Rashid and the like.From our older grandpa Muhammad Rizo (brother of Spicher II) are Shoh Muhammad, Muhammad Ghulom, Muhammad Islom and so on.
Mahmud Kũtor includes Din Ali Kũtor, Sakhi Kũtor (earlier known as Muhammad Makhi), Madun Shoh Kũtor (descendants are Hassan Khon, Salom and Armon Ali). It’s noteworthy that the descendants of Adob Khon are linked with us through female line with Madun Shoh, while from their male line, they descend from Abdulloh Khon son of Mir Silum Khon.
Grandpa Din Ali’s descendents coming down from Majnun are Arbob Khalil, Arbob Jalil and the like. The second branch of Din Ali descends from Muhammad Razo and they are Banda Ali and Salohuddin.The name Muhammad Razo of our family has also got exchanged with them. It should be noted that Sobir guru are also within Din Ali Kũtor found at Khaybar (such as Khalifa Din Ali and siblings) and also in Chipursan valley. Maskin boy of Zudkhun and his offspring are also Sobir guru.Late Ali Razo and Bahrom Baig of Res̃hit are also connected with Muhammad Razo and Banda Ali. The offspring of Rustam Baig are in Spenj having Ijobat Shoh and Dawlat Shoh. Ijobat Shoh’s sons included Willoyat Shoh, Aziz and others. Dawlat Shoh had no male offspring. While Ghadir Shoh’s offspring are Aziz Muhammad and others in Passu.
Sirang Muhammad had three sons Muhammad makhi (now termed as Sakhi, Sirang Muhammad and Fatah Ali Khon.The offspring of Fatah Ali Khon are settled in Sisuni (Hussaini) as one of his descendants is termed as Khono . Fatah Ali Khon thus settled in Sisuni, Makhi remained in Passu and his offsprings could be found with the name of Zohir, Amir, Kalb and the like. Makhi’s descendants are more in number and spread over different places such as Khaybar, Res̃hit, Sharisavz and Spenj.
Another son of Mahmud is grandpa Madun Shoh and his offspring includes Muhammad Nazar Baig and his descendants are grandpa Hassan Khan and Salman Ali. On the other, grandpa Sikandar Shoh had no male offspring. However, from the female line of Sikandar Shoh are grandpa Hassan Khon and family, grandpa Adob Khon and Majunun who are settled on his land.
It’s interesting to note in a cientific manner that Spicher, father of Magh and Mahmud, has settled Khuramabod after construction of the irrigation channel. Both brothers had four sons each.The evidence could be seen in the land distribution pattern at Khuramabod that are equal in size. Four large tracts of land are of ggrandpa Magh and in the same manner grandpa Mahmud has four in equal size.Keeping in view the fact on the ground, the other clan members recognized it, too, and said the land distribution pattern and size are evidence of your ancestors being brothers and there was no denial at all. In other words, our history is live in Khuramabod even today.
The oral narratives inform us that our apical ancestor, Qũl Muhammad’s father, Khoja Ilyos, had reportedly come from Allai in Central Asia, perhaps from Qara Qũl Poq (Allai being the center). Let’s suppose and take into accounts the described narratives as true, my lineage would then follow in this manner if I take a single line starting from my older son: Rahman Karim son of Ali Qurban son of Spicher son of Khudo Nigahbon son of Muhammad Qasim son of Spicher son of Magh son of Spicher son of Sirang Muhammad son of Qũli son of Khoja Ilyos.
Now, let’s move towards other descent groups of Passu. There is no proper information to the descendants of Qũba kũtor about their ancestral arrival in the village. It was discovered that Qũba Kũtor and Muhammad Jon have come in alliance together and do not belong to the same ancestor. We could see the same situation with Chũwei (Alvey Kũtor) and Hassan Kũtor in Passu. Grandpas Muhammad Jon and family have couples of households (three to four); while grandpa Qũba has at present oveer eight households.
We are not sure to maintain either grandpa Qũba has come earlieer or later than Grandpa Qũli. However, it’s fascinating to note that Spicher has settled Khuramabod (as mentioned above); while Bũt̃ũr could be evidenced more of the Qũba Kũtor. One of the logics we could find in terms of Odina Kes̃hk, Qũba Kũk,Fũtma Hel and the like that are related to Grandpa Qũba’s descendants.
Such phenomena indicate that Bũt̃ũr pastureland has mostly remained under possession of Qũba while Khuramabod remained mostly under possession of our (Qũli Kũtor’s).They have sustained in mutual conflict and later they have initiated and maintained inter-clan marraiges together. They have established their kinship relationship, then have properly settled in the village of Passu. Another evidenced we could get today is the land distribution pattern again that from the kip G̃har area on the Hunza River and lower fortress area to the mountain sides, the lands of both Qũli Kũtor and Qũba Kũtor could be found together in a parallel manner.
The actual settlement of Passu has remained down to the Hunza River. Unfortunately, the flooding of Verzhrav of Shimshal have time and again wiped out the settlement. The site/place on which today Passu is settled has remained historically a forest of targ; and people would openly graze their horses at this place.
Well, Chuwey Kũtor (termed now alvey Kũtor) and Hassan Kũtor and others have immigrated in the village recently. When Chũwey Kũtor and later Hassan Kũtor have come to Passu, our grandparents have granted some of the upper part of the land to them. Although, these people have settled on the granted land, the lower part of our land wiped out in the face of the river flooding . Today, the people of the old days are not with us, the land distribution patterns inform us effectively and provide us ample information on the subject matter.
The ancestor of Qũba Kũtor is also reported to have come from Central Asia, perhaps from Ghoron/Badakhshon. The same holds true in the case of Chuwei Kũtor. Qũba Kutor could be observed as pure Kirghiz. They look like the Mongolians. For example, look at their facial structures, the pattern of growing beard (limited to their chin), short physical height, round face and nose , and the like. They look like the Mongolian.You will be surprised to look at and observe the picture of grandpa Jamo’at, uncle Nazar Muhammad and the like. Only, uncle Ibodat seeemed like a Russian. They have over eight households. Ibodat and Jamo’at are brothers (a couple of houses); couples of houses of Muhammad Jon and Marhamat Shoh; Jamo’at has the same number of houses.
Between the Chũwey and Hassan Kũtor, Chũwey has come earlier. They were helpless with regard to the desired agricultural activities, human resources and labor forces. They needed fraternity (vũrũtdorig̃h)and socio-political alliance. For such reasons, a person from chuwẽy Kũtor has reached to the court of the Mir and has requested him to provide a Person regarding the corporate socio-economic work.
It’s narrated that when Chuwei or someone of his offspring has reached Baltit, he has put on his traditional mantel of sheep hyde (Krest in Wakhi) in a reverse order and has spent a time in the trough of a horse of the then Mir (ruler before his visit).When the Mir has gone to see his horse in the morning, he has found a person. The Mir has ordered one of his servants to bring the person in the trough to his court.
The man with the reverse Krest was brought before the Mir. The man has apealed to provide him a person to be as his brother to help him with regard to maintaining his land; otherwise, his land will be ruined due to absence of wider family members.furthermore, he showed his fear lest someone in the village from other clans occupy his land. The Mir has accepted his apeal and look for a person who agrees to settle at Passu on his land as a brother.Thus, a man named Hassan (Burushaski speaker) agreed to be a brother with Chuwei as his allied family. This is the story behind Hassan’s immigration in Passu village. Interestingly, today, the descendants of Hassan claim their ancestery with the Wazir family of Baltit. Though, the wazir’s family members of Baltit politically agree, in consanguinity (blood-wise), they do not accept them as their family members.
A Description about Sirang Muhammad and Sirang Qũmũt̃
It’s also interesting to note that within Qũli Kũtor, there is a big gap to recognize whether or not Sirang Muhammad and Sirang Qũmũt̃ were real brothers. According to our elders of Quli Kũtor of Passu, boht were two sons of Qũli. Sirang Qũmũt̃ has settled at Baltit and his son was laskiri. On the other, Sirang Muhammad has settled at Passu as it’s so famous who has said: “Danat̃um Passu.” Sirang Muhammad has thus maintained Passu as his home when he was offered land at Khomor in Gilgit. He has thus replied: “Why should I abandon my Passu and settle in Gilgit and has said: Danat̃um Passu dũr g̃hidim.” On the other, when we hear the Quli Kũtor of Central Hunza, they have a different narrative and both of the narratives do not match together. I’m thus confused to understand the actual story. However,it’s not clearly understood that how are the descendants of Qũli Qũmũt̃ ours, or belonging to our clan?However, Sultan Madad, Abdullah and others have been deliberating and exploring the states of affairs. At least, in my case, I’m not clear and convinced that how are they related to us within our descent group. Their narratives of their ancestor is so strange to me, believe me. The names are also very strange in the lineage like Birgush, Qot̃u and so on. Abdullah confused me significantly, indeed as I’ve been exploring the lineage for more than a decade (up to 2017).
There is no appropriate description of the lineage in the native writers books such as those of Fida Ali Esar and others. Although, the narratives of quli Kuts of Central Hunza link themselves with Gojal, especially Passu, there are a lot of questions and confusions. May be at the end of the research it’s revealed that we were Burushaski speakers basically instead of our narrativs being from Central Asia.We can’t say anything at such stages because all such narratives are orally transmited or made up. There is no written evidence of the genealogy.
Sultan Madad has made a FaceBook group in the name of Qũli and they ask. I don’t go onto it as I’m so much confused. If someone ask my personal view, I’m of the opinion that the Burushaski speaking Qũli Kuts do not belong to our lineage or clan group. I’m very much confused despite the fact the knowledge that I’ve with regard to our clan or wider family,there may not be someone to know this much.In contrast, I’m ignorant about the pedigree of the Qũli Kuts of Central Hunza.
Educational Pursuence and Learning
When I was 11 years old and spending my time at Passu, my mother enrolled me in the school.She was so much regular in her prayers and meditation. She would regularly attend the jamatkhana. She was so sound in religious affairs and would describe that Imam of the Time directs us to send our daughters and sons to the schools.My father would argue: “Come on! Get aside such farman (directives) of the Imam and leave him free.” My mother would respond: “No, you the ignorant, don’t say so.” My mother belonged to a respectable family of Ghulkin and she knew the states of affairs very well. Let me reiterate and emphasize that she was initially married in Murkhun village and was the daughter-in-law of Arbob Dolik. His company had great influence upon my mother with regard to knowledge seeking. She was consequently not lesser than Arbob Dolik with regard to remembering and reciting the devotional Persian poetries.She was therefore so sound and strong in religious understanding.
I remember the day She made a sachel for me having a woolen belt in it and cooked a traditional food termed as Rukhn Pũtũk (milk and butter plus chapattis considered to be a good omen) and led me towards the school along the hillside of the Hunza River and by carrying the satchel herself.This was thus the beginning of my school life. Earlier than this, there was no teaching at home or in the surrounding. There was a big mosque in Passu, there might not have been a mosque of this size in the entire Gojal, which was used as the Diamond Jubilee (DJ) school. Yusuf of Aliabad was teacher there. My mother paid her respect to him and said: “Our honorable teacher, kindly teach my son as he is the only wealth and asset of our family.Please, take care of my son regarding his education because our Imam has the clear directive to provide formal education to our sons and daughters.” I’d thus go to attend my classes daily. She would take care of me in all respects and leading me cross over the dangerous hill site along the river.
I was mature enough age-wise while attending the classes. I was so intelligent and consequently, I stood first from Grade 1 to Grade-5. When I look retrospectively, it becomes clear to me that at such age when a child is enrolled in school, he or she becomes serious in understanding the subjects as compared to the young kids enrolled at ECD level (Early Childhood Development).I thus was serious in my education, particularly due to the strict behavior of my mother.When a mother is sound and strict in education, the family condition cannot worsen. My mother was thus so mature and considerate with respect to our nurturing.
My classmates were Niyat Faqir, Hassan Faqir, Muhammad adob,Aziz Baig, Salahuddin, and the like. When we came up to Grade-5th, some of these classmates then left for Karachi and they wer too young at that time. Well, I was alone at home, the only son of my parents and I was not taken far from the area.
I studied even my grade-6th in Passu as a private student. Late Master Haqiqat Ali would come and teach us voluntarily whenever he got time.The classes were run in the Mir’s residential quarters in Passu. When the time of examination came, we then went to Gulmit and appeared in the exam. Consequently, I qualified Grade 6th examination and got admission in Grade 7th. I thus studied up to Grade 8th from the Government Boys High School, Gulmit, from 1975 to 1977.
Initially, I spent six months in uncle Haqiqat Ali’s house (husband of my maternal aunt Roza Begum) at Ghulkin, a neighboring village of Gulmit. I’d walk for couples of hours from the hilly slopes of Ghulkin to Gulmit and back on daily basis and it was so painful for persons like me for being disabled from one leg.
One day, luckily my maternal first cousin, brother Bai Nazar encountered me on the way. He asked where was I staying while coming to school in Gulmit? I told him that I stayed in the house of my uncle Haqiqat Ali at Ghulkin. He then so compassionately offered me to stay with his family in Gulmit and not at Ghulkin. So to reduce the painful travel for couples of hours on daily basis.
Brother Bai Nazar at home had strictly directed the family members to take fully care of me. He said to them: “Ali Qurban is the only son of my aunt Feroza Begum and no one would take any kind of work from him. To the extent he has he study here in Gulmit, he would stay with us and never take any type of domestic laboring from him.” Well, this was not only a great support to me at home but rather I would use it sometimes as a license and even I seldom abused the family members, there was the kind favor of my respected brother.
Sometimes, my mother would visit us in Gulmit. Most of the kinspersons were afraid of my mother as she had a dominant personality. He would tell the family members: hey my nephews and nieces! Take care of my son, please.” That’s why all family members would extraordinarily extend care for me. I was thus around my will and decision. After a week, I may go to Passu and then return. However, I must say, I didn’t feel much as I was observing other students, who would go to Passu on daily-basis. But, in my case, it was totally different. Brother Bai Nazar and my family had a strong kinship bondage through Qurbon Shoh and Gohar Shoh Baig of Ghulkin. Those classmates of mine, who stayed in Gulmit, would suffer a lot. Sometimes, they were engaged with carrying the manure, sometimes they would serve the livestock in terms of spreading sand under the cattle, sometimes they would do some other work.
One of the valid points I’d like to describe here to those parents if they send their children for the pursuence of education to the houses of their kinspersons out of their own villages.For instance,when I was at Ghulkin staying with my maternal aunt’s house, she would slightly but politely indicate a bit if there comes up some financial support from my family . But, why? Is it something strange to be asked for? No, not at all. It was a justifiable point by keeping in view the nurturing context and providing an enabling environment to the children in the house.I was the only son of my parents and my family was not poor economically to be fully supported by the families of the siblings. I can fully understand such situations at this stage of my life that why is it important. I must acknowledge here today that it was the real compassion of my respected aunt and family for their kind support and care.On the other, when I was in the house of brother Bai Nazar in Gulmit, there was no indication for any financial support from my family. It certainly evidences it was because of my brother Bai Nazar’s directives who was a well-off, generous, himself an employee (having cash income in rupees) and more particuarly the patron and decision-maker of the house for being a man.
What we could observe even today in our society on such important matters is noteworthy. The parents take a pride on their kinship relations that why shouldn’t our child be taken care , fed and accomodated by our siblings or cousins. The parents need to look this aspect seriously and contribute a bit to the host families of their children. The limited contributions could have been in the past in line with grains, flour, butter and the like. In today context, apart from monetary contribution, it may vary in kind like a bit of home-made butter,potatoes, fruits or dried fruits and so on and so forth, as our people are not that much poor. When I reflect back in my families context,my late mother would take a pride and think that why shouldn’t her siblings or cousins take care of her son? They must host and support me as they were her sisters and family members. On the other, my father was careless about such matters pertaining to my education.
Let me describe a bit my school life. My teachers in the beginning were Master Sarwar, Master Imam Dad and Master Tahir (from Shishkat), Master Ibadat Shah, my brother Bai Nazar himself (as the physical instructor), Master Ajayib, Master Ali Panah (all these from Gulmit) and Master Sultan Ali Samarqand (from Sartiz. Besides, Master Muhammad Rahbar, Master Ghulam Baig and Master Amir Hayat (from Gulmit) had also joined the school during those days. Yes, I rmember one of the teachers, again, named perhaps Muhammad Khan or so and he was from Sarat (Central Hunza). All of them taught us within their capacity in the school.
Academically, it seemed I had significantly lost my performance comparatively as in Passu I would get first position up to Grade-5h. Though, I was among a big number of students from different villages, I suffered significantly. Another reason may be because I couldn’t get much opportunity at home as had become disturbed and thinking to go to Passu to meet my family and I couldn’t focus on my education. In Passu, I was focused on study because my late mother would always monitor me. She would check whether or not I had completed my homework.In addition, she would also visit the school and ask about my progress. There was thus a big care and monitoring on my study.But, in Gulmit, I was free and that led towards issues on my educational performance.
There were unfortunately some teachers who had the corporal punishment approach in teaching and/or at school. Such teachers included Master Sultan Ali, though he won’t punish me much and there would always remain an intense fear from hi. Master Ajayib was a good teacher of Mathmatics but I had a strong aversion from Algebra. I’d ask myself that who may be the disgusting person for laying the foundation of algebra.My IQ (Intellegence Quotient) in mathematics was so weak that I could not grasp it properly . However, in literature, my interest was relatively deep. Well, I must say that in my case, no teacher has mistreated me at school, though some teachers were so insensitive and cruel that they won’t spare the students and beat them.
Well, I personally would become emotional or get irritated and annoyed in the school when the teachers would honk or hoot in the class by calling or terming the students with mocking or ridiculing names, or would insult the students that they were not of that caliber or they could not achieve their life targets.In addition, some students in the school and classes were so unfriendly that I would not like them. But there were some sttudents who were so friendly with me. My classmates were Rauf Ali of Gulmit, Haji Hussain and Ramzan of Ghulkin,and many more. The students won’t tease me in the school and instead take care of me due to my physical disability.
However, I would like to mention a very important point here. I would get annoyed from the small children. When I would reach at the pologround and would get fear and shock that they would imitate me limping while looking at my disability condition. I would get so much vexed and maddened.Even today when someone asks me that from whom you fear? I reply that from the children. Such question was also asked from me in a television show and and responded the same. They were thus shocked, too.
What I want to illustrate here that I suffered enormously, especially walking on one leg physically.From Passu (as I had weekly or fortnightly visit to meet my family) we would start our travel on foot before the dawn of the day and after an hour’s travel, we would reach on the top of the Qunghust (a small mountain pass between Passu and Sisuni) then the light of the day would appear.whether or not the audience would believe it, we would reach in Gulmit in the early morning. In case, we had become a bit late, the teachers would punish us physically (standing in a prostrating position, our hips up , our heads under our legs and holding tightly our ears behind but through our legs (called in Urdu as Kanpakdi (means punishment of holding ones ears through the back side of one’s legs).Not only this much, rather on top of such punishment, strong hits of the sticks we would receive on our hips and backs.It was like a day of judgement for us being the school students.
People like me experienced a lot of harships in life. When I think such kind of suffering on the one hand and listening the killing and negative remarks of the people on the when they say: “What you have done, you are indolent or not capable of doing anything.” Or when they pass on other enraging remarks, I become so much shocked and reactive and sometimes wish to get suicide and free myself out of such misbehaviors of them.
Higher Secondary Education
After qualifying my Grade-8th, I left for Gilgit in 1975. I got admission in the Government Boys High School, Gilgit and my residence was in the Shah Karim Hostel, Konodas. From the hostel, we would start again on daily basis and walk through the barren-land of the area and reach at the school in more than one hour for disabled person like me. The normal students would go in a line but I’d walk alone. The same practice was back to the hostel, again.I encountered enormous hardship.The teachers in the school were like the beasts. One among them was Shazada Ibrahim and another one was Samad who was an English teacher. There were thus also the Punjabi teachers.Anyhow, some of them were sluggish, indeed.They would punish the students physically.
The worst teaching among them was Shazada Ibrahim’s. He would not teach or clarify the concepts of the differences between the simple present and present perfect or other tenses.He would order us to translate so and so text from the top to the bottom.It was a hell for us and how to translate them without knowing the concepts and differences of the tenses.At least, should have told us the differences that what are the indicator of those tenses in Urdu and then should have asked to translate them. It was a pity that without proper guidance, he would give the assignments and then punish us if the students had not carried out those assignments.
Reaching at school in the morning, our backs would get bruises and swelling due to the corporal punishment of the teachers with the sticks.In the same manner, our palms would hurt and pain due to the hard strikes of the sticks . At such juncture of our life, when I ponder over back, I think if we were sent to the prisons with hardship, there may not have been such types of physical punishment. We have been brutally beaten by our teachers in the school, which may be unbelieveable to the readers or audience.Nonetheless, it was our courage that we did qualify our matriculation from this school.
Although, the environment in Shah Karim Hostel was good, the same cruel teacher (Shazada Ibrahim) was the Superintendent of this hostel. However, after this man, a Burushaski speaking gentleman , a Junior Commissioned Officer named Johar, took charge of the hostel as Superintendent and he was not brutal, rather a good person.
I had and have a revulsion from such harsh teachers as one of them was Shazada Ibrahim of Ghizer district. Even, today, I don’t talk to him. He may term himself as a teacher but before me he is a beast. It was so shocking as is said for such kind of people that he or she has the evil or animal spirit. There was no difference between him and an animal. He would boaster himself or brag a lot. For instance, teaching is such a noble profession that you should have such an impression upon the students that later the child should not abhor or loathe you or run away from you in the later phases.This man, Shazada Ibrahim, would insult me due to my disability. When I see him even today,I detest him. Let me share two occasions where I avoided to meet him physically.
There was the marriage of Rasheed Ali son of Sultan Ali Samarqand and Ali Ahmad (Rasheed’s brother) invited and took me in the weding. Rasheed Ali’s wife is Shazada Ibrahim’s daughter. When in the compound of the wedding house people were lined up to welcome the guests and I was also in the queue. When I saw Shazada Ibrahim was oalso coming and shaking hands with the people, I quitted the line so to avoid shaking hand with him.He observed the situation and realized it what I feel.
Another encounter between him and me goes on in this way.I think he was the Director of education at that when he visited our office in Aga Khan Education Service. He had some assignments in our office and was in trouble, I guess. Suddenly, he entered in my office when I was a coordinator of training or so.I didn’t shake hand with him and asked him to take his seat. He then said: “Mr. Qurban! You have been one of my students. I replied: “May be I’ve been but I don’t remember.” He thus realized from such remarks of mine that there is something fishy in the mind of this man.
At this point, I’d like to acknowledge and pay my sincere gratitude to Subedar Saffiullah Baig and his family who have taken a great initiative for the Shah Karim Hostel in Gilgit. If this hostel was not constructed, our people would have never progressed in education. Due to this hostel, we got encouragement and continued our studies. This hostel proved to be like a mother and protected us fully. Otherwise, what we the poor people had.
This great Hostel was so prominent and poor-friendly. I thus studied for two years in Gilgit and passed my matriculation.
To reiterate, we thus suffered in the High School No. 1 of Gilgit but the hostel in comparison was an outstanding place. My roomates were from different places like Punyal. In one room, for the senior classes, there were two students, in some rooms there were three students. There were also the dormitories in which ten to fifteen student would reside per dormatory. The dormitories were the big halls for the boarders . The food was satisfactory in the hostel. Mostly, the lentil or pulse (termed as balay, having black color), chapatti and rice were being cooked. Besides, weekly there used to be meat as well. We would eat the chapatis with the lentils or pulse with a great joy and an excitement as we would get so much hungry.
In such conditions, we would feel a great homesickness, more particuarly with regard to the clean water. There was no water availability and when we would become thirsty, we used to go to the Ghizer River (down to the hostel) and take out the water and drink it despite the fact the river water was so much polluted and not safe hygenically. The filthy stuffs of the feeces would come on the surface and we would aside them and get water for the drinking purpose. These were the situations pertaining to our hostel life.
When I compare these days hostel facilities with those of the past, there is a hell of differnce. In our time, we would pay Pakistani rupees twenty five only per month on account of hostel fee.In 1977, we thus came out of the hostel after doing our matriculation. I was in the arts or general group and acquired second division and I thank God for that much despite the fact I was so weak in mathmatics. For the students like me, the teaching methodology employed by the related teacher in mathmatics was so much painful and exhaustive.
In Shah Karim Hostel, there was no expensive financial involvement. For example, if I would ask my father that there was twenty five Pakistani rupees hotel fee per month, he won’t hesitate to pay it was by thinking that it was something high. Rather, pleasingly he would pay the fees as it was nothing for people like him.On the other, when we look in the present context and see when the hostel owners ask for thousands of rupees per month, there comes up a serious consideration for the parents towards meeting those expenses. The reasons may be the high value of Pakistani rupees in the past and people could afford the money. In case of my father , he was a levy and would get his salry in hundreds per month. There might not have remained serious concern to him to pay the amount of money as it was nothing to him. Moreover, in our time, the children’s fee would not remain outstanding but these days fees are witnessed as unpaid. One of the reasons, besides other, is the house needs have risen up everywhere.
Previously, there was a dark uniform, a chapal and the like. In the entire week, in the hostel menue, we would had pulses for six days and one day there was the meal including meats and rices.The Supeerintendent was a military man named Johar. We had no option to buy somethign from the bazaar. These days, we could see that the life requirements have increased and the money is spent accordingly. Previously, the life requirements were so less and the money had a value and stuffs were found cheap in the bazaarIn brief, twenty five rupees only was our monthly expenses that included food, accomodation and so on.
The result of Grade-8th to 10th was not attractive may be due to the lack of interest in study or the harship and/or teaching methods employed.After my matriculation in 1977, on the directives of late Ghulamuddin and my own interest to earn some money, I taught in the DJ school for a couple of year along with late Master haqiqat Ali, Amanullah and the like. Near the mosque in Passu, a new building was constructed and the school was run there. The monthly sarly I don’t remember exactly, perhaps it was between two to three hundred Pakistani rupees.
Travel to and Life in Karachi
I was not satisfied with my teaching in the DJ School Passu and left for Karachi in pursuance of the higher secondary level education. It was Master Ghulam Baig of Gulmit with whom we travelled to Karachi in 1980.We were five persons including Late Ghulam Baig, Amanullah, Barakot and I myself. There was someone else whom I’ve forgotton. From Gilgit, we got a Foker flight of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) and flew for Islamabad in 1980.
Reaching Karachi, I went to a place called Sher Shah and spent two years here with a hardship. I would live with Hayder of Passu who was a gentleman but another one called Muhammad Baig of Murkhun was a problematic and unfriendly man.He would not permit us to stay in the house. When we used to study at night, he would put off the light, though the electricity was there in contrast to the earlier time. We were thus so frightened from him.It was so hard time to us for a long time and we suffered gravely.On the other, the place itself was unhygienic and filthy. The toilet system and structure was so much suffocating and dirty.
. During those days, I got admission in the Islamia college, Gurumandir, Karachi. Rahmatullah Baig of Gulmit was also in that college doing his bachelors degree while I was studying my Intermediate level education. Spending our lives in a grave situations in Sher Shah , fortunately I did qualify my F.A (intermediate level education). In 1982 With second division.
One day, I came across Ibrahim Khan Khalil of Gulmit whose wife is from our wider family (sister of Hunar Baig of Passu). He invited me for tea in a restaurant and asked me what I was doing? I informed him honestly that I have done my F.A. with second division (C Grade). He guided me, as he was a student of Karachi University (Urdu department), to reach at Guru Mandir and wait for a red bus of KTC (Karachi Transport company) that would come there by so and so time in the morning. “You just catch it and reach Karachi University”, he guided me positively. He further emphasized if I couldn’t go on my own, he would accompany me. I assured him that I could go myself. He further emphasized me to assure it. I wonder myself that how could I acted upon his advice is incredible for me then.
Karachi University: An Important Turning Point of My Life
I must admit that I had not known of the university that what is it and what are being done there. Honestly speaking, after qualifying my F.A., I had planned to go back to Hunza and start again teaching in the school. Well, embracing Ibrahim Khalil’s guidance, I reached guru Mandir and caught the KTC bus. He had told me not to get down anywhere in the middle rather when the last stop will reach that will be the University and I should get down there along with all other students. Well, we reached Karachi University finally after a long drive, which was a very wonderful place, indeed. The first sight of the university fully impressed and attracted me. It was a terrific world within Karachi itself when a person comes from a polluted and dirty site like Sher Shah (in the slum area of Karachi). I observed the beautiful greeneries, the girls and boys around, particularly the pretty fairies of the heaven on Earth.
In such a situation with full of wonders, I look around and found many stalls of the students forums such as those of Jami’at-e Islami (JI), Democratic Students Federation (DSF), and the like. It’s noteworthy that when I was in Grade-9th in the school, I used to study the Russian novels. Thus, I found those signs of sickles, hammers and the like that I had read in the novels. When I reached at the stall of DSF, they asked me: “Well, comrade! Where are you from?” I I noticed that on a poster there was also a portrait of Comrade Lenin. I was astonished to observe them. I answered: “I’m from Gilgit.” They showed their surprise by saying that no Gilgit had gone to them by then. They inquired: How could I visited them? I told them that I saw the picture of Lenin and that’s why got attracted . One of them said something to the other. Then they replied, you are wonderful and asked again to reconfirm that how did I noticed the picture and reverted to them. They asked me if I liked the picture? I replied positively.They asked again, why did I like it? I told him that the man was so revolutionary and that’s why I like him.He then asked the other boy to take care of me. They then inquired that which departments I had the interest to get admission?I told them in any department, if I could qualify and get admission. Internally, I was so much regretful and repenting to get rid of the dirty environment of Sher Shah where I lived, if God wished.
In the meanwhile, they brought the admission forms and the gentleman named Bajwa started filling it himself. There was also a girl with him named Afshan. He told me that he has filled the forms for three departents. He then asked if I had the National Identity Card (NIC)with me. I replied that I had none. He asserted to manage the NIC and he himself would do all things for me. I had no NIC with me and I then called on the landline phone talked to my cousin Muhammad Hassanat, who was working in Pakistan International Airways (PIA), to kindly manage and convey my message to late Jamil of Hussaini to immediately make my NIC and send that to me on top priority. He was so compassionate and conveyed my message to late Jamil. The reason to ask late Jamil was so that he was working in the same Government department and second I had helped and supported him in two of his papers, English and Persian, during matriculation examination. Consequently, both the papers got qualified. This was a solid reason I requested my cousin Muhammad Hassanat to convey my message to him .
Sooner late Jamil has got my message, he reciprocated positively and made my NIC and within four days I received it in Karachi. This was, of course, his wonderful and unforgettable help. A proverb reminded me and held true in my case as is said: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” I thus reaped the crop of my help to him in the form of his help to me. I thus carried the NIC and filled the number on the forms and the DSF students submitted them to the departments as there were the due dates yet not reached.
For such reasons, Ibrahim Khalil advised me to go to the university and fill the admission forms. It was really his kind favor and unforgettable compassion he has in my life. If he had not guided me properly, I would have reached Passu. An English proverb holds true in such situation of my life: “Man proposes and God disposes.” It was thus a coincidence when he and I met in Karachi. He thus became a source of connectivity with regard to my university life.
When the applicants list of the qualified students were displayed, I got admission in three Departments: Urdu Literature, History (General), and the third one in Social Work, if I remember correctly. I thus got admission in Karachi University and preferred the General History Department because it entailed the European History. The subsidiary subject was Mass Communication. I didn’t know for what purpose was the subsidiary subject and it was chosen by the comrades. But, it was interesting that I moved straight to them unknowingly and they did help facilitate me wonderfully. It was perhaps the soul of Lenin that took me towards them. As in Persian it is rightly said: Sabab-ul Asbob (source of the reasons), such great peoples became source of admission for me in the university.
However, I sent message to my father to send me money for the admission and I submitted my fees to the university. My life and world changed totally from that day onward and I thanked God for such incredible accomplishment.I then also got admission in the beautiful hostel of the university.It was Room No 20 or 22 on the top floor (I think) and Hostel-3 of Aiwan-e Quaid-e Azam where Rahmatullah Baig of Passu was residing and at that time he was passing out from the Pharmacy Department of the university . He thus guided me to live in his room. He was going to sell his so old beds to me but I purchased new beds and stuffs for myself). I thus asked Rahmat to sell his beds to anybody he wanted.
One day, I went to Sher Shah and collected all my stuffs there and carried them with me to the university. I didn’t tell them that where I was going exactly. I didn’t tell them the truth and pretended that I was leaving for Hunza. Thus, the vehicle I took straight to Karachi University. Well, I was so much impressed and astonished to see the mirror-like hostels that had the tile and the like. More particularly, coming from the filthy Sher Shah to Karachi University was like a palace or heaven for me having green gardens surrounding them. I was so pleased and thanked God, the Almighty. I was happy with Ibrahim Khan Khalil for his compassionate and rightful guidance. His insistence and warning that if I didn’t go to the university, he himself would take me to the university but I assured him that I’d go on my own.
My university classes started and I would go to the department early in the morning and return to my room in the hostel in the evening. When I entered in my classes, I found them as big halls and the departmetns were so attractive both in terms of their buildings and the diverse glamour around them.I thus took keen interest in my classes and studies.I made a commitment to myself to work hard and do my Masters. Though, I had got admission in BA Honors, the excitement and passon for studies intensified due to the enabling and beautiful environment.
Imagine the rubbish environment of Sher Shah from where I was coming to this place? I was in reality in the paradise on the Earththe .Even, the environment of Islamia College was not attractive and that was nothing before Karachi University, or in other words, there was no comparison at all of the college with this great university.
By now, I was also a member of DSF(Democratic Students Federation) and would also attend its meetings. Close and friendly relationship developed with Azhar Abbas, Mazhar Abbas and others who were senior to me.In the beginning, on the admission stalls, there was a Punjabi named Bajwa and someone other who had facilitated and managed my admission.After providing admission to many other comrades, they organized a meeting of ours and our brains were nurtured towards them as they were the superb ideologists and intellectuals.Now, those people serve the media.Such engagements continued, both the study and political activism.
Nasir Karim of Hussaini was then my roommate. Let me relate an interesting event here. Once, I had closed the door of our room from inside. Muhammad Muzaffar of Gulmit would stay in Room No 18 of the same hostel and would then come to us for discussion. Late Mirza Hassan of Murkhun had also come to the university at that time and Baig Ali (also from Murkhun) would sometimes visit us from the Mehran University as he was studying engineering.Nasir Karim had broken a lot of wind in the room and there was a lot of bad smell and we didn’t feel or smell it.Suddenly, Muzaffar came and opened the door and said: “Well, it’s quite understandable, I know?” Miza Hassan asked: What did you know?” Muzaffar addressed us and said: “You both have eaten apples.” He said so because he smelled the broken wind and came up with such remarks All of us were laughing a lot that we couldn’t talk for minutes because the bad smell of the broken wind he felt like good smell of the apple. We would make such types of fun once together.We would enjoy the time in the university.
My classmates in the General History Department were Attaullah Baig of Hunza who works with AKRSP Sajjida Naqvi (a good friend), Amin-ul Haq (who later became an MNA representing MQM),and many more. However, I liked very much my DSF comrades. The situation before me of that time is yet Unbelievable to me. Look! Everywhere were the stalls of the student forums but I moved straight to DSF stall and met with those people while seeing the picture of Lenin after getting down from the KTC bus. It sounds like a miracle for me, now.I had gone to Karachi University without any destination following the guidance of Ibrahim Khalil who advised me like a guru. It was the intial period of his marriage and he would visit his in-laws and we will meet. With the course of time after marriage, the situations then gets deteriorated and relationships do not sustain properly. May be it was for such reason he guided me appropriately. My luck thus changed after entering in the university.
Continues Ahead: Part 2 of the biography of Ali Qurban’s can be accessed and read on the following link of FAZALAMIN.COM:
Note: I owe my sincere appreciation and indebtedness to Mr. Niyyat Karim and Mr. Ghulam Amin Beg of Gulmit, Hunza, for their productive reflections and feedback after review of the whole draft of biography.
Second, I had conducted a detailed video interview with Ali Qurban around his biography and other topics in English, Urdu and Wakhi for my YouTube Channel named EaglesWorl. Those interested can access and watch them on the folloing link: