By Fazal Amin Beg
It’s July 9, 2013 and we are in the district headquarters of Ishkoshim in Tajikistan. We are sitting in the house of Mr. Muhammad Nur (shortly named as Mamnũr), a very important personality of Tajikistan and a former Governor of Gorno-Badakshan Region. He is originally from the Zung village of Tajik Wakhan and is settled in Ishkoshim. Mr. Mammũr is 68 years old. He studied agriculture and livestock in Tajikistan for five years and got the degree in 1966. In the later phases of his life during his employment, he also got a golden opportunity to avail and did his advanced study in political science for two years in Uzbekistan and got his specialization degree in the respective discipline. The degrees are termed as Diplum. He got Diplum in both, agriculture and political science.
Mr. Mamnũr has also been come in close contact to my maternal uncle, late Rai Ghulam Uddin Khan of Gulmit, Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan Region in the Northern Pakistan, when he had visited Badakhshan in 1993, Mr. Mamnũr facilitated his visit and accompanied him up to Langar (Kik̃hn), the second last village of Tajik Wakhan.
I wish to sit with him, not only for some hours but rather for many days, so to explore, understand, know and record the diverse aspects of his enriched life filled with knowledge and experiences but I’m compelled due to the time constraints as we have to return to Khorugh this evening then to Dushambe tomorrow. I’m therefore confined to conduct a brief interview on very few aspects of his life. This interview would thus revolve around Mr. Mamnũr’s brief biography (educational pursuance, professional and other experiences and possessed knowledge) and his perspectives on community development of the region he served. For the sake of lively reading, I’m leaving the textual narration in his own words as the first person.
Thanks very much. I’m so happy that the Wakhis from Pakistan have visited me and I’m so happy to meet them here in my house. Particularly with reference to late Ghulomuddin with whom I got acquainted in 1993, when the Government of Tajikistan had organized an international Tajik Conference in Dushambe and he was one of the of this grand international event as a prominent guest. He was representing the Wakhi Tajik community of Pakistan as they had formed the Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association (WTCA) in Pakistan. We had spent time together with reach other for one and a half day. I’m thus very happy to meet his nephew today. He conveyed the greetings and good wishes of the family members, relatives of late Ghulomuddin and all Wakhi community of Pakistan. An in reciprocity, my thanks and sincere greetings to all of them, too. Late Ghulomuddin we will miss always and may Mawla bless his soul with eternal rest and peace in the heaven.
I’m originally from the Zung village of Wakhan. I grew up in and completed my higher secondary education from Zung.Afterwards I joined the university, pursued my university education for five years.
I then went to Kazakhistan and worked there in the Savkhoz (Soha-e Chorwodori or the livestock department ). Afterwards, I went to Bar-e Orom and served there, too. After these services, I returned to my homeland, and I was the assistant and head of the Kalkhoz for nine years. Afterwards, I was transferred to the district of Ishkoshim; and served for three and a half year as the head of the district (that is Rayyis-e Rayon in Tajikistan, Rayyis-e Nohia among the Tajiks of China, Deputy Commissioner in Pakistan, and Wuluswol in Afghanistan). . ,
In the subsequent years, I then left for Tashkant (Uzbekistan) for advanced study in political science. After I returned from Uzbekistan, I was nominated as the First Secretary of the communist party in Rus̃hon and served here for three and a half year. In the aftermath, for four years, I as the First Secretary of the distric of Ishkoshim. From Ishkoshim, I was transferred to Sughd (formerly known as Leninabod ); and served in a district as the First Secretary of the Communist Party.
I then returned to Gorno-Badakhshon and served the communist party at provincial level. I also served as the head of agriculture department as well as planning department. I then became Governor of the Province in 1993 when there was the civil war in Tajikistan.
Afterwards, I was again head of the Ishkoshim district. In 1998, after serving for three years and eight months, I then joined the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). Since then, I serve AKF as it becomes 15 years for me here.
When there was the Soviet ear, every thing was within proper planning and then development would take place in line with education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, livestock and so on. The main purpose behind was to improve the quality of life of the people. I must reinterate, the struggle would always remain on improving the lives of the people after one’s development initiatives and interventions so that each individual should contribute towards their betterment. All such activities were thus planned and implemented. Every person would work at their own place and were not supposed to go to other places because the employment was available at their doorsteps. In result of such approaches, the districts and provinces were enriched.
But when there erupted the civil war within Tajikistan in 1993, some people destroyed the system. There were two main groups among the people. One was in the opposition and another within the Government. However, the Tajiks are so shrewd that they used their intellectual power; and proved their great upstanding that they are an old but invaluable civilization (continuing their dynamic traditions in their blood). Now, at present, the republic is moving towards prosperity, whih you could observe yourselves.
Well, we do accept the situations of unrest when sometimes such issues occur, particularly when meddled by external forces or republics to divide the communities and cause them towards conflicts. At such points, there then appears politics.However, the people analyzed and realized the factors and now they are struggling towards prosperity.
Although, comparison of both the Soviet and post-Soviet eras (entailing the socialist and capitalist values) is somehow difficult, I must mention that the lives of the people were so good. For instance, the belongings a leader had, the common people had the same, too. For instance, if there were schools, they were of the equal standard for all people within the respective societies. One sort of dresses for the male and female students and people could recognize they were literate. Acquiring education was thus free. When we come towards health and hospitals, the treatment was free. For example, if a person was scik in emergency and there was no possibility of car’s arrival in time, helicopters would come and take the patients to the bigger hospitals; and these were free and born by the State.
In the current context, a lot of facilitations could be witnessed but there is also involvement of external funding resources in the development of the country. For instance, we could see in the field of construction of the road infrastructure, educational buildings, and many other important aspects. These aspects cannot be compared beause for the earlier era, those types of development were good; and for the current time, such kind of interventions in development are good.
In all the states of the modern day, governance is of high priority. If a senior orders something, thorugh oral or written communication ,the juniors do comply and carry out the respective assignments within diferent organizations and insitutions. During the Soviet era, it was so strong. But in the current context, I’ve been observing that there is no compliance in many cases.the official orders appear but submission or agreement by the junior staff members is an issue at various scales.
When Ghulomuddin had planned to visit Badakhshan, I was working in Khorugh. I was contacted by my colleagues that a Wakhi (of Pakistan) has come here; and they didn’t know the language. At that time, I was working in the provincial Planning Department. I met him and he desired to go to Wakhan up to Zung and Langar. He added that the next day, he has to reach Dushambe as his colleagues and friends have already left Tajikistan. we thus left for Wakhan and discussed on various themes and understood each other very well on the way.
After Ghulom Uddin observed the Wakhan valley and the boundaries for almost half an hour, we then returned from the last village. He also compared the lives of the wakhis of Tajik Wakhis with Pakistani, Chinese and Afghan wakhis that how was our progress and how was yours. What did we have and what did you’ve? He said that the lives of Wakhi community of Tajikistan were far ahead of the Wakhi communities of other countries they live.
Late Ghulom Uddin came up with a striking remark and said: you people of Tajikistan are relatively thankless because the Socialism has contributed a lot of things for you but you people did not acknowledge it and conversely vilify and disparage the socialist system . Ghulom Uddin then concluded that though the socialist system we had earlier has changed and to become accustomed to the new system will take time for we people; and then the quality of our lives will be improved significantly. “But in the beginning, you people will face some genuine hurdle to get conversant with the system”, he added.
Within Ishkoshim, we have more than eight people who have done their doctorates in academic fields. For instance, Dr. Rustambek Yusufbekov, Dr. Gulruz, Dr. Khush Qadam, Dr. Habibov, and so on. In addition, the students pursuing their baccalaureate in diferent fields leading to doctorate degrees are enormous and could be between 30-40 from Ishkoshim district. From Wakhan specific, the PhD degree-holders are Dr. Boghsho Lashkarbekov (from Zẽgwend), Dr. Ayd Muhammad (from Kik̃hn), Dr. Jorub (from Vrang),Dr. Dorob Shoh (from Namadgũt), late Dr. Abdulloh Rahim, Dr. Aziz Mir Boboev, Dr. Saodat Shoh (from Dars̃hay), and the like.
In the field of performing arts, the high ranking artists are Abdul Shaheed from Ishkoshim, Tawakal (recently appeared on national television), Qurbon Shoh, Mir Ali (from Zẽgwend), Nawruz, an ensemble of musicians called as La’l-e Badakhshon, and so on.
In the field of Administration, aftr me, the Wakhi senior officials who served or are serving the government are Bibi Gulshod who was the First Secretary of the Communist Party. at present, she’s retired and gets pension. Others are Murod Ali, Akram Khon, late Fozil, and others.
With regard to writing Wakhi, we people use Tajiki Cyrillic script. Although, a scholar named Pakhalina has contributed to Wakhi language in Latinized scripte, for the scholars it’s good as Dr. Bokhshoh also writes on this script. But for the common literacy, it’s not used in the schools. Instead, Tajiki Cyrillic is brought for the purpose of literacy. But I must mention that keeping in view the importance of English language at global scale, as our Imomjon emphasizes and directs, our unwritten languages should be written on Anglicized orthography. We need to go out of the Pamirs and spread ourselves globally and for this purpose, we need to look at the importance of English language.
When we will be leaving the boundaries of our regions, we need to learn the language like English. If you need to be specialized, you should learn the workable language like English. If you know the language, you’ll know the civilization. You’ll be able to have grip on the related technologies. You’ll be able to learn and acquire the related knowledge. Since 1995, Imam of the Time has been directing us towards English language. Event in the current context, our President of Tajikistan, Imom ali Rahmon, also emphasizes us to learn English and Russian along with Tajiki language.In this connection, our youth is so keen, strong and shrewd to learn English language and they do opt for self-study of the language as well as in the English language learning centers and in the University of Central Asia (UCA).
Thanks once again for your visit. At the end, kindly convey my greetings to Ghulom Karim, Mahbub Aziz, Dr. Aziz Ullah Baig, Aziz Ahmad, Darjot, Farmon and all others. Let’s hope for the best that we’ll meet each other again in the future.