By Fazal Amin Beg
This is the second part of the biography of Ali Qurban of Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan Region.it covers the interesting and miserable stories during his students life in the University while remaining part of the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) and later on, how does he return to the Northern Pakistan and gets employment with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) have been discussed thoroughly. While in the university, Ali Qurban discusses about the terrifying situations and conflicts of DSF with Jamiat Islami and how did he survived in result of his extreme level of involvement in the politics. It was the time of Martial Law of Zia-ul Haq in Pakistan. How and why were Ali Qurban and many of his companions as well as other innocent people arrested during a protest and sent to jail are striking. The stories are appealing to be read.
After getting his Master’s degree and his return to Gilgit-Baltistan Region, he becomes part of the teaching staff within the Diamond Jubilee schools of the Aga Khan Education Services, Pakistan (AKESP). How does he continue his teaching for couples of years and why does he join the management of AKESP has also been discussed in this part. Though, there is no doubt that srious discrimination are made with people of disabilities in different institutions and orgniazation in Pakistan, how does some people take it as a license could also be observed in the debates.I trust you will enjoy this part of the biography as well. Please carry on the stories in the words of Ali Qurban from here onward.
Political Activism in the University
In Karachi university, there would come up series of political strangles and clashes among the students forums, particularly between the Jamiat Islam and Students Progressive Movement (SPM). During those days, Jamiat had been highly strengthened because at that time there was also the support of America for them during Zia-ul Haq’s regime. Islam had to be used as a robust tool for the political motives and achievements to counter the communism of the former USSR that had reached in Afghanistan. The war was going on between the two ideological blocs, the socialism and the capitalism. For such reasons, Jamiyat was being supported and had a governmental patronization, particularly in Punjab and Karachi Universities.
The Jamat-e Islami (JI) students had thus their roguish and malefactor role. From the hostels roof, the students of Jamiat and Progressive Students Movement (PSM) would come en face de face in the hostels (opposite each other in the hostel blocs) and open fire on on the opposite factions.The PSM was an alliance of Democratic Students Federation (DSF), People Students Federation (PSF), National Students Federation (NSF) and the like. In contrast, the Jamiyat Students were though apparently alone, they were so strong having governmental patronization and support along with clandestine support of the United States. They were also given trainings and developed them to encounter the progressive elements at the grassroots level in the country so they should not raise to support the former USSR mission who were already fighting in Afghanistan. The Government in Afghanistan was that of the progressive people during those days. These were the underpinned and genuine factors around which both blocs of students fight and open fire on each other.
Once, in theLibrary of Karachi University, perhaps in 1985 or 1986, we were studying, in the meanwhile a person of Jamiat Islami, holding a flag in his hand, came along with a flag.Arguements exchanged in the library between him and I and suddenly a stifle and fighting erupted between us. On the table was lying a thick weight paper stone, I took that in my hand and threw it on his face. His teeth were broken and the blood flowed down. On the table where we were studying, there was a bearded man named Sultan-e Rum, who was my classmate and a devout Muslim but no of the progressive students movement, observing the situation that I was being beaten, he attacked the Jamiyat student, grabbed and hurled him on the table. His bleeding intensified further.Sultan-e Rum supported me for two reasons, what I could understand: first, I was his classmate and second fro being physically disabled.
Well, the Jamiyat student left the library and in the meanwhile he gathered his group members from the Mosque and reached on the spot. I observed that they were ten people. I was told that I should hide myself behind the book somewhere. I said no, there is no point, why should I hide myself. The things that had to come up, will be seen, as I was prepared for the consequences. The grabbed me and started beating me and I have lost my senses laying on the ground. I have been drawn down from the stairs and I came in sense, I noticed for a while that bleeding was going on. Those rogue students have wiped the blood from the stairs so to remove the marks of bleeding to protect themselves legally. When we were down the stairs, I observed that the Jamiyat students wer around one hundred who had come against me. In the meanwhile, one of them took out his Kalashnikov and directed towards me. His name was Usman.
Two of my female classmates, Sajida Naqvi and Ghazala,were trying to shield me on the spot but the rogue man, Usman, was yelling at them to leave me alone so he should open fire. In the meanwhile, one of my classmates, belonging to Jamiat students, appeared among them when he saw it was me. He then caught the blood-thirst Usman through his back and didn’t allow or let him fire on me and dragged him in the crowd (despite the fact he was highly proactive student of jamat Islami).
Ghazala and Sajjida Naqvi tried their level best to take me out of the crowd. I was brought to a meadow where water was available and they washed my face painted in blood, and put me in a minibus (named G-3) to reach immediately in a hospital at NIPA (10-15 minutes drive) from the university. The initial first aid treatment was given to me and I drove further from there onward to Patel Parah (further 30 minutes away in public transport). At that time, Ghulam Amin Beg of Gulmit and others would reside at that place.
After couples of days, I went to attend my classes and learnt that I have been expelled from the university. In other words, my admission has been canceled on the pressure of Jamiat Islami students. However, I moved towards and entered in the cafeteria of the university, those miscreants and criminals of Jamiat were sitting there.I stepped back quickly from the door to avoid further confrontation with them but they followed me, again. Now, they clearly threatened me a lot and the DSF students are unaware of the incidence. I then moved towards the DSF office and found Nasir Arayi and Idris Khatak, two of the proactive members. I updated them with the situation with an anger that how could they be sielent for such critical issues I encountered and my life was at stake and still in danger. “What were you people doing, so far”, I asked .
Both of those comrades immediately mobilized the students of the alliance (including DSF, PSF, NSF and others). In a procession of huge students of PSM, we moved straight towards the office of the Vice Chancellor (VC). It was a coincidence that a joint meeting of all the Vice Chancellors was going on. The officials informed that there was no time because a joint meeting of all Vice Chancellors of Pakistan was going on.Well, these were the studetns and not any routine visitors to meet the VC. They could not see the aftermath reaction.
The students kicked the doors and entered straight in the office of the Vice Chancellor of Karachi University. In the alliance of progressive students were the also the bold and dangerous students of PSF, also including Najeeb who had been killed in Karachi with the course of time. From the NSF, there were Riaz and other courageous students and I was stunned that how did they gathered at once. All those students entered abruptly in the office and the Vice Chancellors and other staff members were so much frightened and stunned.
There were the Vice Chancellors of different universities of Pakistan. The Vice Chancellor was Dr. Jamil Jalibi. He tried to advise us that they were all our teachers and there should be the respect of teachers as well. In the meanwhile, the Jamiat Students group had also reached on the spot and entered in the office. They were on the other side of the office and we to the other side.
The Jamiat students leaders began threatening us in front of the Vice Chancellors . The courageous Najeeb of the PSF categorically responded and threatened him by saying: “Remember, if you killed one comrade of ours, we will kill ten of your Jamiat group. You’ll kill one here in Karachi University, we will kill your group members in Quetta and other places, which you people won’t forget and remember all the time.”
The respected Vice Chancellors stood in the office and trying to request and advise all the students, not to so with each other by giving the references of God and the like so to move towards a reconcelliation. Further, they would also use the techniques that they were in place of our fathers, being our teachers. Finally, all students were calmed.
Najeeb further told the Jamiat student leaders that if they wanted to have reconciliation, they had to move ahead towards the solution. He warned: “Otherwise, for the fighting, we are ready and we will kill you, remember it on this occasion. If you are going to move towards compromise and reconcelliation, you have to take bak the admission cancellation of our comrade.” He then addressed the Vice Chancellor and said: “Mr. Vice Chancellor! This is totally an injustice. The blunder and rules violation is from the side of the Jamiyat students and depriving this poor student of PSM from his admission is never acceptable and we cannot tolerate it further. Whatsoever the situation may be, tomorrow we are going to close down the entire university.”
The PSM was a grand alliance of progressive student forums and that is why the threat was not something usual. Although, the students from Gilgit-Baltistan were also part of these forums, they were not at the forefront regarding this issue. Rather, in the Jamiat forum, there were also studetns of Gilgit such as Lateef and they were in my favor and has scolded his Jamiat fellows for such rogue actions and injustice against me. He and Fareed have warned them: “If you people are going to kill our student of Gilgit-Baltistan Region, we do curse upon your student forum. Then we’ll also see what could be done next.” They have also pressurized the Jamiat Students internally and thus the situations got normalized. The decision of my admission cancellation was finally taken back and restored because of the reconciliation between both the groups. This was possible only due to the pressures from the PSM on the Jamiat students and university Administration on the one hand;and the internal pressure on the Jamiat Islami by our students from Gilgit-Baltistan being their members, on the other. Otherwise, who asks and cares if the above forces were not mobilized. I thus re-started my classes, though I was so much worried because my graduation was not then completed.
Another dangerous story of my university life in political realm follows in this manner. Once, the DSF comrades mobilized when Bushra Zaidi was killed in Karachi (at Golimar Chorengi). Perhaps it was in 1984 or 1985. They said we should go for the condolence in her house. We were seated in the University bus and we left the university. Perhaps after 20 minutes drive, we took a turn at a place called Hassan Square or so and reached at Banaras Chorengi. Suddenly, shooting of bullets started. I observed that the roof of the bus was tearing down and holes emerged.I saw that the police continued with tear gases, the smell made me restless and the emergency siren was loudly ringing. I took a strategy to save my head and put it under the chair. When I came in sense, I observed that the bus was set on fire and I was inside the bus; while all my comrades were disappeared. I immediately came out of the bus and jumped outside and the flame of the fire also burnt my clothes and I noticed that dead bodies were unfortunately lying on the ground.
In the meanwhile, I was walking ahead with a great shock towards an unknown destination, sooner I felt someone hit me harshly and strongly on my back. I then fell into a gutter channel.I was trying to get out and escape but observed that I was being hit harshly with the sticks.I noticed that long black shoes those people had put on. I would lose my sense, on and off.By then, they caught me and threw me in a truck.I again lost my sense. It was such a miserable time I thought I was in dream and not in the real world. When I came in sense, I saw that we were taken inside a police station. But again and again I was losing my sense. By then, I observed I was in the hand of a police. In the meanwhile, they chalked an FIR (First Information Report) on us. Remaining on the sport for a while, they put us inside a dark room.It was so horrible , indeed. I saw that one of the mustached man, merciless indeed, came inside the room by holding a twisted wire in his hand. I learned it was the torture cell of the police.
I look cautiously that we were six people in that dark room but I didn’t recognize anyone of them.That cruel man then closed the door and I was seriously terrified and my body received a serious signal of threat.I lost my hope of survival and thought this was the last moment of my life. He lined up all. There was a table in the room and I was nearby there.He first abused all of us by calling names (unbearable abuses behind our mothers and sisters). He then began hitting the people so wildly with the twisted cable. The poor detainees were screaming so gravely and with high pitches that it was like a day of judgement inside the torture cell. The bloods of those poor people started flowing on the floor of the room. He was striking them fiercely and ruthlessly, turn by turn, with the twisted cables.Now, my turn was coming after all of them.My heart beat had become so high that it seemed I was taking my last breath. I was so shocked and out of my sense that I can’t express it yet.
After the five person, my turn came to be beaten up.Well, what a miracle? Without touching me, he left that place, went towards and laid his legs on the table.I was stunned , though the strong fear existed that he may start hitting me after taking a break.The five poor people were dropping the flood of their tears with blood flowing down on the floor. The merciless and filthy man was abusing them on top of such physical and violent punishment. From there onward, we were shifted to another room and that was the hawalat, the room in police station where the detainees are kep with lesser punishment.
For more than three days, we were not given anything to eat or ddrink.We were so much hungry. One day, one of the detainees requested the man who was guarding our room to provide us some food. He said: “Okay, should I feed you food?” Why, not.” He shut the door and came inside and brutally hit all of us turn by turn.
What had happened about the case for which I was ignorant and didn’t know anything that why was I arrested by the police along with the detainees. I learned later that there has come up shooting by the Pathans on the university students and in exchange our students have also opened fire on them. That’s why we were arrested but I didn’t know any thing about such phenomena.
When the merciless policeman smashed us, a gentleman named Muhsin has learned that his son is in the Korangi police station; and I knew this was so and so place where we are punished. Muhsin and her wife have cooked food and reached at the police station carrying them in tiffin.They met their son and he was weeping enormously. The food was handed over to him and all of us jointly ate the food.
After two days of the food (served by one of the detainees parents, the policemen served us dirty pulse to eat, which was full of the bad smell. It exactly smelled like the shit. We didn’t eat it and committed that we should die out of hunger but must not be killed through such food. We were not sure what sort of thing was it and possibly there could be any poison or otherwise mixed in it.
I think, it had become already one week for us being arrested and in the police station. One night, we listened the voice of the chains and dropped before our door. We were so much terrified, again.One of them ordered the other policemen to draw them out of the room. They came inside, chained our hands and we were drawn out of the police station.
Like the construction materials of sand or stones, we were put in a truck, in which stones or soil are carreid.The sharpened stones were in side the trolley and we were seated on them. Someone among us asked that where were we being taken? The cruel policeman answered: “In order to shoot you all somewhere at a place.” I was so much afraid and I looked towards the sky that the stars were moving around. Rest, we didn’t know where we were going at night? Only the stars we could see in the dark night and nothing more. After a long drive, we reached at a place and the truck was stopped. Suddenly,the trolley of the truck was opened and we were pushed down to the ground like the sand. We noticed that it was a big building and the fans wer also circling on the roof. I was so stunned and asked myself in my heart: “Where it could be?” We learned later that it was the “Martial Law Court.”
Well, turn by turn the detainees were being taken inside the court. That day, our space of waiting was the truck and remained within this radius.We are desparately in the truck. No food, no water, nothing. We were waiting for our turns to go inside the court. It was 2’O clock at night, my turn finally came to be presented before the Martial Law Court.
I was then led inside the Court along with the tied hands in the chain. At that time, we knew the names of the panelists like Brigadier Fareed, Colonel Manzoor and someone else from the Military; while from the civilians there were the Supereintendent Police (SP), Deputy Supereintendent Police (DSP)and others. They started investigation from me and asked: Where are you from? Why had you come to that place? How did you come there?
I replied: I’m from Gilgit, Hunza. The name of my village is Passu. I study in Karachi University .I have an aunty admitted in the Eye hospital at in the Lee Market and I was going to visit her.It was thus a coincidence that I came on the spot. I’m so surprised that Such statements came in my mind spontaneously and I presented it to them confidently. Though, I said so, it was not a lie, at all. My aunty of Ghulkin, my mother’s sister named Roza Begum mother of Fatah Ali and Karimuddin, was admit in the hospital and I had to go to meet her, at least if tnot this time, next at any cost.
Fortunately, I had a token available with me, as I had visited her earlier. I showed to the panelist of the Investigation Team the token and said: You may not trust but look at this. It was so spontaneous and in natural order the ideas I conceived and presented. .
I further elaborated that from the University I took this bus by thinking that it will go towards that route and caught it. When we reached at Banaras Chorengi, I heard the voice of firing. The name of my village and area I clearly mentioned and thought may be out of these military officers, someone would have been to our area.That’s why with an emphasis, I told I was from Passu, Hunza. They got all thse information and investigated further. Why did you travel in that bus?
I said: “We have the shuttle service for the university students and there is no other transportation option for us. That’s why we have to travel in these buses.” A lot of other questions in cross were also asked but I responded them with a confidence.My investigation time then ended. Afterwards, other detainees were taken inside turn by turn before the investigation team.
Well, the investigation report drawn out of me has been sent to colonel Masti Baig (known as Col Masood) of Hunza, who was at that time the colonel Staff of Zone-E during the Martial Law regime of General Zia-ul Haq and he was an empowered man. Col Masti Baig, with the course of time, has shared his role on the subject matter with other people. He has astonished to see the file that someone is from Hunza as a detainee? And that from Passu? How come it’s possible?He was not sure and has returned the file to Brigadier Fareed of the Investigation Team to re-investigate the case of mine and send the updated report to him to pass it on to the seniors.
All in sudden, I was drawn out of the police station. A wild policeman asked me to come out of the dark room and asked his subordinate to enchain me.With a highest level of fear, I thought may be I’m being killed.Why I was in particular isolated and taken out. Interestingly, I didn’t know the other detainees who were with me in the police station. They were some Pathans and did not belong to Karachi University.I was put in a mobile vehicle of the police and we reached again in the Martial law court.
They asked me and confirmed my name and identity, once again, if I was Ali Qurban. I testified it. They asked if I was from Hunza. I responded in affirmation. Then asked if I was from Passu. I replied: “Yes, of course.” What had happened when you were on the spot , why and how was I on the spot? I testified and reiterated my earlier statement I had given to them and also showed them the token of visit of my aunty in the Eye Hospital. I was going to visit her and I don’t have any concern with this political and conflicting case and turmoil. I’m ignorant about it.
I further added: “I’m grateful to you people that I’m saved. Otherwise, I would have been killed without any justification.
They asked: “Who arrested you?” I told: “The police when I came in sense. Someone hit me and I fell in the gutter. Then I noticed that there were policemen.”
In the meanwhile, they directed the officials to call the related policeman who had arrested me. Well, the policeman was presented before them, who was a havaldar in rank. He appeard and said: “Yes, Sir.”
The officer said something in codeword and said: “Did you arrested him from Sector-6? He said: Yes, sir.”
They tried to confirm it from me if he was the person who had arrested me on the spot. I replied honestly: “I don’t know because I was not exactly in my sense that whether he or someone else has arrested me.” I further told them: I’ve my University Card and a Citizen Company watch, PKR three hundred rupees, and the like, which I’ve lost during that turmoil. The investigator asked the policeman: “Yes, carry on and say, where are those stuffs?”
The policeman said: “No, Sir, he was telling a lie.”
The panelists aske: “was he so poor that he had nothing with him?”
I reiterated with further confidence and honesty: “Sir, with a full faith I would like to declare that I’ve lost five things during that chaos: my University Card, my watch of Citizen company (which was an expensive watch presented to my father-in-law Ali Gohar by late Colonel Ayash Khan, the Secretary of Hunza State), three hundred Pakistani rupees and so on.”
The policeman refused emphatically and said that I was telling a lie. The military investigator yelled at the policeman and said: “Oh bloody man! You need to tell the truth.” He further re-confirmed his statement and aske: “Had you arrested him?” He reconfirmed and said: “Yes, of course.”
The military investigator then strongly warned him and said: “If so, you are responsible to provide those five things of him that has lost been lost there.”
I was so much shocked to hear that earlier than the above statement, the policeman accused me by saying that I was going to knife someone there on the spot .I was so much traumatized and distressed on his dishonest and baseless accusation when I said five things I lost on the spot during the termoil.”
In reply to the policeman’s allegation, the military investigator asked: “Okay, I accept, he has done a crime but, first, you must produce the five things he has lost during his arrest.”
The policeman, again, said that I was telling a lie. Listening his statement and military investigator yelled at him and said: “Get lost and go out.” He asked the guards to draw the wicked policemen out of the office.
I thus addressed the military investigator and said: “Sir, I cannot compromise on my conscience and better kill me. But, I won’t tell a lie, never because I’m not part of this turmoil and I don’t know what were the curse upon me that I got entrapped in this situation. I have become a victim of this turmoil for no reason. And I don’t know yet where from was the shooting and who fired. When I heard about the firing on the bus and the roof was going to rip and tear down, I tried to hide my head under the chair and after sometimes I noticed that there was no one in the bus and it was set on fir, I tried to escape the aflame bus as was alone in it. When I was out of the bus and found outside the dead bodies outside on the ground.”
In brief, he listened me carefully and has made the investigation report and has dispatched it to Col Masti Baig. The latter has gone through and studied the report on me meticulously and has directed the investigating team to look into the matter of my release keeping in view and analyzing my statements I had made in addition to varifications about me from his end. This was his kindness, not only for being a Hunzai but rather a compassionate and justice-based senior military officer.The other detainees were reinvestigated completely and they reached to the final decision as in military they don’t take much time and go smartly to the judgement in the Martial Law Court. Well, all of us were presented in the Martial Law Court and we were lined up. A member of the military investigation team now declared the punishment decision.
He would announce the names of the accused detainees, name of their fathers and and the like and would say: “So and so will be given this much whipping strikes,severe imprisonment for so and so period of time.“ So and so is given punishment of, say, thirty whipping strikes and life long imprisonment. So and so will be given this much whipping strikes and death sentences. Those, declared criminals, would begin weeping loudly in front of all.
I was so seriously listening the judgements and was so much frightened of the judgement about me. My heart beats intensified and my body had become like an ice body and I was so much in an agony. When my turn came, he announced my name and said:
“Ali Qurban son of Spicherhas been released by the court of Brigadier Fareed. If next time, you were found involved in such type of turmoil, you would never be forgiven.”
Sooner listening the judgement of good tiding based on justice, my heated body immediately cooled down and I thanked the Almighty God for the extended blessings. There was another detainee or accused, who was also released as he was reportedly a relative of Col Manzoor. Later on, I heard that the declared criminals were eliminated permantly.
We were thus taken out of the Court and those who had gotten the legal punishment were mourning so loudly and I was very much disheartened to witness their miserable conditions. And the parents who had brought food for us in the police station, their son also left them forever in the face of the court decision.
Well, the senior police officer asked his subordinate to unlock me out the hand chain. The cruel Station House Officer (SHO) came and during unlocking me said: “If you were in my court, I would have hanged you straight.”
Sooner, he opened me, I burst on him and said: “You the bastard, who the hell are you to speak so? You the shamless and cruel man. You the wild man! What were my sins or crimes and you are talking about your corrupt court?”
When there came up a nose of my voice, the SP heard it and asked: “What happened and what do you say?”
I told him: “Sir, this mean person is saying so and so to me while unlocking me.” He looked at and abused him and said: “Hey bastard! What do you say to him? Open him silently and with care. Be careful of saying anything to him.
Interestingly and fortunately the Colonel heard it and asked: “What has happened?” I informed him that he was harassing me in such manner. He asked his subordinates to arrest and bring the that policeman to him . What kind of statement that bastard has given to him. We have given the decision and who the hhell was this vulture?” There was going something and I think against him some action was taken.
After I was unlocked, I abused that cruel policeman and said: “Who the hell was he? The great military officers released me after I was farily investigated as I had no guilt or crime. In the meanwhile, Col Manzoor came towards me and asked where I had to go? I told him: “Sir, I have to go to the Karachi University. He told me that he himself was living in Gulshan-e Iqbal. “Don’t worry, I will drop you to the university.”
Though, I couldn’t get back my University Card, my watch , money and other stuffs, the policeman was found guilty in front of the court.it was the blessings of God. There came up source for the sources in the form of those gentlemen. Otherwise, who was my source at the strange and wild place. Everything was settled so positively and fairly.
One of the reasons may be my fair statements presented to the court and second late Col Masood Baig (Masti Baig). It was him who has shared the story with in his circle that how the case had reached him and how he had played his role in a professional and fair manner. Unfortunately, I could not see or meet him in his lifetime and he passed away. May God bless his soul with eternal rest and peace.
Well, I was freed, finally. I thus got released from the detention in the hands of the beastly policemen. Col Manzoor compassionately dropped me in the University Hostel at 3:00 in the morning and I proceeded towards my room, I laid down myself with a peace. When I got up at 10:00 in the morning, I thought I was in the police station, when I looked around, no it was my hostel room and the fan was running. At this time, I had a cubicle room and no roommate. My room number was 35 in bloc 4 of Quaid Azam Hostel. After I took bath, I became so fresh.
With an enthusiasm and new energism, I left for the university campus. My comrades and the related students warmly welcomed me and were so much pleased to see me. They garlanded me with a high spirit. What has happened, as I learned and was updated, that when there was the firing going on the spot of turmoil and the bust was set on fire, all those students had run away except for two of our great comrades who have unfortunately been killed during that chaos. I was the only who remained inside the bus and had to face such disastrous situation in the aftermath. I shared all the sorrow and suffering with them and they were so much shocked. Well, in such manner, I came out of the disaster that came over me and finally I got rid of it.
I thus encountered and went through many such tides of the political activities.One day, there was again a clash with the Jamiat students in the university. We thus went up to our hostel roof along with the Russian guns and opened fire on the Jamiat students who were on the roofs of Aiwan-e Iqbal Hostels. Similarly, those opposite students opened fire on us and the bullets will hit the walls of the room with ferocious noises. After a time, I raised my head above the wall with a fearlessness and madness to monitor them. Lateef of the Jamiat Students from Gilgit shared with me a real story by taking an oath and said:
“O my friend! The student named Adalat, who was from Swat and we lived together there in Karachi University Hostel, was literally going to kill you at that time when you raised your head from the hostel roof. Adalat with a great joy told me that an excellent prey had appeared on the screen of the gun to be hunted. He thus fixed you in the telescope of his gun. I didn’t believe him said to him he was telling a lie and held his arms. Adalat had a swear and showed me it. When I looked at it, it were you and I caught his arm and not to fire. I told him that the students parties and disagreements on the one hand, whether Jamiat or DSF or anything else, but there is also the question of Gilgit-Baltistan Region. Whatsoever, he is from our region and you cannot shoot him.”
Hearing our friend Lateef, I didn’t trust him. He swore with an utterance and said: “I keep God Almighty Allah before me and tell you honestly that such stage had come when Adalat had fixed you in the gun to shoot you but I intervened and held his arm and reverted the situation. Otherwise, you were killed and nore more in this world.”
now, when I reflect back on that age and stage of my life, I don’t trust myself that I have been so courageous or mad, whatever you term it. I get scared of that situation at present at this stage of my age.
Another interesting story goes on. Once, Dildar of Chipursan, Willayat and I were sitting together in the hostel room and I was so much in the target of the opposite students of Jamiat-e Islam. I had also friendship with the Punjabi Students. The Jamiat students had thus fixed the gun target on the window of the room thinking that if I was by the window that will kill me straight. Suddenly, the firing noise we heard so near to us. The bullets crossed the window into the wall of the room and fell down on the floor it got a rupture. Dildar quickly entered inside the bed and didn’t come out of it. We saw his shoes only from outside.
Stay tuned. There is yet another interesting but amazing story of 1980s regarding police raid on my house in Passu.The local intellegence officials in Hunza have reported against me for being the Russian Agent on the basis of the socialist novels and books I had, which I would study.FIR had also been chalked against me. I was in Karachi University and it was not possible to arrest me for investigation and they had waited for my visit to Hunza.
Well, when I was travelling towards Gilgit-Baltistan from Karachi, the information has been communicated to the secret agency and local administration officials.I reachd Gilgit and was accessing mintika Hotel Gilgit, in the meanwhile Dawlat Jon of Gulmit followed me who himself had also went through some harsh experiences of jail but at that time was driving public transport from Gilgit to Rawalpindi and back. He was so compassionate and shared with me a secrecy that intellegence officials of the police were searching me so I should be cautious and hide myself. He further suggest: “Better not to stay in Mintaka or other hotels.”
I wondered and asked, why? What could be the reasons? He said: “I don’t know. There was a discussion going on somewhere that they knew you’ve reached Gilgit and that’s why they are looking for you to arrest you.”
I therefore did not stay in the hotel and chos to spend the night with late Nadir Amon of Passu living at that time in Kashrot. I shared the news with him that the police officials are behind me to arrest me.He consoled me not to worry. He said: “They would search for you but nothing bad will happen. Never be afraid.”
In the morning, I went to a barbarshop to do shaving. In my pocket, there was one thousand three hundred Pakistani rupees. After shaving , I put on my coat, which I had kept on the bench, and was going to pay the barbar. I noticed that the money was gone, someone had stolen it. I was stunned but no money was in my pocket. I then reminded the situation before shaving that there was a man sitting on the bench inside the barbarshop, sounded like a thief who had covered up himself in a blanket. But after shaving, the man had disappeared. I excused from the barbar and told him about it. Who was that man apparently like a thief was a question in my mind.
Well, I had to travel towards Hunza and reach Passu. I anyhow rode a bus going towards Sost. In the meanwhile, the intellegence officials, having survellence of me, have informed the police officials in Aliabad (Central Hunza) that I was traveling towards Hunza in bus number so and so.When I reached Aliabad, the police arrested me and I was in the police station. I asked them about the case and crime for which they arrested me. They told me that there were some reports against me.”You are a Russian agent. You were disappeared for a long time”, they added.
I told them: “If so, did I do any theft?” Some exhange of arguements continued.
In the meanwhile, someone came in the police station and called Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan. At that time, there was no party or so as of PPP but rather the period of Martial Law. Mir Ghazanfar Ali was in politics .
It’s really ridiculous to note when there has been the police raid on my house in Passu under Badrul Islam, the then Deputy Commissioner of Gilgit, there was no such kind of Russian literatures found for which they had their great concern to testify for being a Russian Agent. Interestingly, after my house, they have then raided on the Passu library and found literatures of the Chinese Socialism related to Mao Ze Dung. They haven’t bothered themselves to take them away. What a skepticism they had from socialism? What kind of worldview it reflects?
Well, two days I spent in the police station in Aliabad but thanks to those who were in between as mediators or so to pacify the situation and the policemen did not harass or torture me. At last, I got released and I reached home.
When I reflect back for a while, I myself have been a mad in a sense, as in one’s youth and student life, one becomes so emotional after going through study of variety of literatures.At home, the family members were so much annoyed and they were displeased with me. They scolded me a lot. They told me to stay home. My parents told: “Don’t go anywhere and no need of studying in the University.”
In such situations, I could feel the sentiments and compulsion of my family during that period of time. On the other, I could also understand the extent of and rationales behind my educational and political activities. However, In order to plese and heal them, I assured my family members to lessen my political activities but the university study I should complete as I was in the last stage of my educational accomplishment at Master’s level. After taking them in confidence, I returned to Karachi University.
Our teachers in the Department of History in Karachi University possessed diverse backgrounds and ideologies, both progressive and conservative. The Chairman of our department at that time was Professor Dr. Aziz Rahman, who was a great gentleman. My subsidiary subjects at honors level were International Relations an Mass communication and the teachers were so nice and competent. In the Mass Communication Department, there was also a teacher named Dr. Mahmood Ghaznavi, who was then the President of Jamiat-e Islami and his dealing with me was so nice and professional. Well, In the university, I had to counter and encounter such types of ups and downs of my life and a great deal of learning came up from all angles, academic and political.
Along with such political activism, I worked hard in my study and did not compromise it. I thus qualified my Master degree in 1988 with first division and I passed out from there. Though, the subjects studied were European History, we also studied the related history of Europeans with Islam and the Indian sub-continant. Well, prior to my masters degree in European History, I did my Bachelor of Arts Honors (B.A. Hons) in December 1986 from this great university and the subjects studied were within Mass Communication, Political Science and International Relations. .
I’d like to mention an important point here, otherwise it may be an injustice. It was really the compassion of my great teachers of the university that they won’t tell me anything despite the fact I was so much active in political activism and would do wall chalking, political speeches and the like.
In the university, a lot of friends I got and the expenses were not that much. Per month, maximum three to four hundred Pakistani rupees was more than enough , which my late father would send. The hostel fee, I should say, was also nominal. Unlike many people, I never labored in Karachi because my father had the support to me.
When I look at various aspects and periods of the travel of my life by now, the time I spent in Karachi University is so much fascinating and impressive to me. I met various outstanding people and got friendship with them. One of the reasons may be the Russian novals I studied during my school life had the strong influence on my thought.The novals included of Gorky, Tolstoy, Sadat Khosh and so on. These novelists showed me a significantly separate path. I loved those novels.When I reached Karachi University, I met with and remained with that lobby which I had ideally studied in the novels during my school life.
It was so wonderful to be with those great people, as is often talked about the PSF, NSF, MQM but the DSF was the forum of the intellectuals.In the PSF and other forums, there were the poor type of people who don’t know what was the world around. But the forum of DSF was incredibly the forum of the intellectuals. For example, there were people like Zafar Abbas, Azhar Abbas,Mazhar Abbass, Sajjad Hayder, Afshan Naqvi (daughter of Jamal Naqvi) Nasir Arhayi, Idris Khatak and many more who were of high intellectual calibre. These were the personalities from whom I was so much impressed because they were embedded in real knowledge. Though, they were Marxist, they were highly intellectuals.
I thus remained a proactive member of DSF and got good friendship with them. There also came up a private friendship along with comradship of common political interests.This period of my life I value and term on top. I could say that the avenues of my mind got opened in Karachi University.To what extent, I’m in line with the people today is a separate debate and matter but I must say this specific period of my life influenced me incredibly.
Employment and Professional Life
After passing out from the university in 1988, I returned to Hunza and spendt couples of months with my family in Passu. I then had to join the teaching profession in the Diamond Jubilee (DJ) School of the Aga Khan Education Services, Pakistan (AKESP). Teaching was not something with my utmost interest but I was asked to appear in a written test and Muhammadullah of Chipursan valley and his colleagues had come for the purpose of getting the teaching test. I served initially the DJ school of Passu and the head teacher was Raza Muhammad. With the course of time, I also served the Ghulkin and Murkhun DJ schools. In addition to the teaching, I also got responsibilities of administration and management of the school. Resultantly, a significant level of experience I acquired in my professional field from June 1989 to August 1993.
I was then transferred from the teaching profession in school to the management office in Gilgit, where I worked as its Resourceperson and coordinator of Self Help School Construction Program. For instance, my job description included “meeting with communities and regional and local representatives to identify needs of school buildings as well as liaison with visitors included donors in the field and project sites. In addition, coordination with Aga Khan Housing Board (AKHB), which was then termed later as the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, Pakistan (AKPBSP) was also within my job description.
While in this office, it was an excitement and opportunity to learn computer as well, because it had a great attraction. On the other, without computer, one had to see the negative consequences in the near future for not adjusting oneself to the emerging needs of the time. Besides office environment, I also got admission in an institute named National College of Science (NCCs) based in Gilgit. I then completed the basic certificate course from here. With the passage of time, I developed my skill an efficient manner in line with the Ms Office, Internet applications and the like.
Within Environmental Education Section, we did publish some important materials as well.we were rsponsible to prepare education modules and learning materials on Environmental Education focused on Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. I’d then impart trainings on the subject areas, facilitate learning sessions on environmental education and assess the teachers on environmental learning/ teaching approaches, celebrating international day of environment and many more.
Being responsible for the training and assessement of teachers, once, we were travelling in the Ghizer district on an official duty to visit the schools and distribute the papers in 1996.At this point of time, there was no metal road . Well, on my will and desire to drive ahead towards the field, the driver (officially deployed on duty with me) handed over the car to me .I was driving ahead for a certain distance from Gupis to Janrot and unfortunately the accident occurred. The car quitted the road and fell down the hill. It was our good luck that we could not go in the river. Besides my colleagues, we had also lifted some people on the way who waited for the public transport and waved their hands to pik them up to their villages. There were thus some children with us. It was our misfortune that one person was died in this accident, though all of us got injuries at various scale.
However, strange cases emerged against me and I had to face them, as a Persian proverb says: “Khud kardan ro darmon nist”, means there is no treatment for something brought by a person himself or herself. The case was filed by the family members that I was responsible for the driving and their children got injuries.
I myself had got injury as my left leg got fractured, and I suffered a lot for a long time in physical, legal, economic, social and professional domains.
The senior management officers of AKESP were so heated that why did I drove the car when there was the official driver with me. I had to pay the damage and repair of the car (forty eight thousand Pakistani rupees). Furthermore, I was suspended from my employment for many months because the cases were going against me in the police station, too.
Keeping in view the vulnerabilities, I pursued some political strategies and forces to calm down the overall situation in different contexts. Later on, the senior management team of AKESP then realized that it was not justice with me. Though, they reinstated my employment and I escaped termination, as a punishment they didn’t place me in the office on the same position with a condition to send me teach in the schools. I was stunned that those who commit crimes are sent to teach in the schools.This dicision of the Management was so critical to be noted.
Well, while sitting together, the senior officers of the management asked my consent which school I was preferring to go for teaching in punishment? It was a pity , rather a high level of ridiculous decision, to send me on such a sacred profession of teaching in result of my offence and as a sentence for my blunder to destroy the generations.They said that they were going to displace me from the central management office. I then realized critically that what an absurd decision they had made.
I was then asked that where and in which school I wanted to teach? I preferred the high schools so to teach the senior level students. I therefore chose and joined Aga Khan High School Sost and taught there for a period of two years .
Such professional arrangement of the management reminded me of the political punishment of the socialist regime of the former USSR where the criminals or violators were sent as far as Siberia to spend the time out of their families or kinspersons. Second, it also reminded me the decisions of the Mirs of Hunza who would send the offenders or criminals to Shimshal valley to give them a punishment for being far from their families. But, in my case, I was so near to my family when I told them to accommodate me in the DJ High School, Sost (half an hour drive from my village).
I thus joined the high school Sost in August 1997 and my duty continued here up to September 2000. Nasir Ahmad Jan of Hyderabad (Central Hunza) was the Principal of this school during those days. With the passage of time, I was also given task to perform as the Head Teacher of the Secondary level. I thus served as a member of the administrative team to develop and implement the total school program, Supervised staff assigned by the principle, assists to implement student orientation and registration activities as well as to develop the planning of the school, and the like.
I enjoyed teaching in this school and the community members were so compassionate and sincere. We were residing in Zangun’s house in Upper Sost. There was no valley or dale that we had not hiked or trekked in weekends or during holidays or vacations. We did go to the dales and vales of Avgarch, Piryar, Khunzhrav, S̃himizhrav,Kilik, Mintaka and the like.In the school, we were engaged with the students, who were so sharp, the people so honest. It was a highly beautiful time of my life spent at this place.
Spending a couple of years in the DJ School Sost, I was posted in Gulmit and perhaps spent two years in the Girls High School with Muhammad Rahbar in 1998. For a short period of four months, I also taught in the Shishkat DJ School and then I was brought back to the AKESP Office at Gilgit because my punishment period was over. I must mention here, frankly and honestly speaking, I enjoyed a lot the teaching at that stage of my life. Even today, when I come across my students, I become so happy and take a real pride of them.
In October 2000, I thus resumed AKESP office to serve the academic Assessment Section as its coordinator and was responsible for providing strategic and technical direction to the assessment included design of annual examination papers, teacher’s appraisals ; ensuring timely progress of assessment in close coordination with AKESP regional and local offices as well as with school management;. Ensuring the appropriate distribution of human resources and training especially teachers training; Liaising with the Community Based Education Committees at the grass-roots level on a regular basis; and many more.
In 2003, I resigned from the permant employment system of DJ schools of the Imamat Funded program as it had less salry. Instead, I thus preferred the Donor Funded Program of the AKESP as it had high remuneration but based on contract. This employment therefore continued up to 2008.
Well, if allowed, here I would like to describe a particular story and let me to be a little critical and analytical with regard to an apparently strategic shift within AKESP. A stage came in the history of AKKESP where the senior management officers and policy makers claimed to bring a radical reform and the merit should be complied with.What could have happened de facto with the reformation within human resource section, I would like to share a shocking story based on an empirical experience, which is important to note that is pertaining to a corrupt and dishonest Human Resource Manager, named Hashim belonging to Karachi).
In result of meetings and discussions, an understanding and consensus has come between AKESP and Human Resource Development Institute in Islamabad that the latter would screen and recruit the human resources for AKESP purely based on merit basis.
In this connection, the positions were announced in 2003/2004 and against various positions, the applicants submitted their applications, curriculum vitaes (CVs) and their testimonials.After proper screening, the written test were taken and the qualified applicants were interviewed. The results were being prepared.By then the HR Manager of AKESP has reached Islamabad from Gilgit, as he himself told me by saying not to share it with anyone. He has persuaded few of them in HRD and negatively influenced them who to pass and who to fail in the written test. At the end, he himself has finalized the test result and made the list according to his will.
When I noticed in the aftermath of the results that there was not my name against any position I had applied for and attempted the written tests. I was surprised for a moment. However, I was pretty sure, at least, in one of the papers that there was no chance of being dropped.
I thus travelled straight to Islamabad from Gilgit and met with the related HRD officials. I asked them to share with me the number in so and so code number. He shared the result that I’d got so and so numbers. When I compared the score of the test of HRD, Islamabad with that of the AKESP’s HR Manager’s provided number, the there was a hell of difference. The latter’s shared score was at the bottom while HRD’s was on top.
I returned to Gilgit in the office and met the dishonest Manager of HR. I inquired that why this paper has got dropped? He so confidently said that it has got dropped, of course, because I couldn’t qualify it. I said: I’m 100% sure that it must not get failed and how come it’s possible for such result? Nonetheless, He robustly and with a more confidence defended his stance that he was right.
Now, I unveiled the reality that how much score I had got in that specific paper, which has been abrogated. He refuted it, again.Now, I disclosed that I had got the score from so and so person in HRD, Islambad and how could he refute? He was till insistent on his position and in the meanwhile he called him and I talked to him. I told that responsible HRD official of Islamabad to tell the truth that he had provided to me. He agreed and talked to the HR Manager of AKESP and told him the exact score I had obtained in my paper.
The HR Manager was so much scared and turned pale. His tone changed, lost his confidence and said: I had a misunderstanding and blunder. Kindly, never share it with anyone and I’m surprised that such blunders are made in our section.”
What I want to describe here, again, that look at such dishonesty within the HR Section of AKESP where the Manager himself was guilty and criminal but he was charging his colleagues for the wrongdoing, despite the fact he himself was the professional criminal. This is a proof of dishonesty. In this esteemed organization, such mal-practices are in vogue and granted if someone has their linkages and sources of various kinds ranging from the kinship to friendship and other relationships.
Where does lye the merit and competence and where is the claim of reformation in this context? Whether they are the so-called professionals or someone in voluntary capacity but practice professional dishonesty. Such type of blacksheep in any organization should be exposed who in the name of professionalism and meritocracy usurp the rights of those who actually compete the merit in real terms but are deprived of their just rights.
Persons like me have observe the dishonest professionals a lot, at least within AKESP. Such people who do lip services and refer to the people the name of Imam of the Time , they are the actual dishonest professionals and criminals. They are the greedy people usurping the rights of the deserving and needy people.However, have become so much disappointed. Those who have grown up in professionalism in a true manner could also be witnessed clearly and they are before us serving at various levels with dedication and sincerity. And those, promoted on the basis of their sources and links are also seen and observed, even at present. I would therefore like to give a clear message to the youth here that don’t be like those people who enter in an organization and when their bosses lay shit on the floor, they are lauded by their subordinates. Never opt for such kind of hypocrisy.
I’ve noted it down that those who apparently portray themselves something so much religious are the actual dishonest people. Therefore, never believe in those wearing religious robes. Just see, it was before all people, when the maintenance of Karakoram Highway (KKH) was made, those religious people in the form of contractors deceived in trillions and the KKH was destroyed in the name of repair or maintenance. On the contrary were those who were the communists, who built the KKH and it sustained like the mirror for more than thirty years.Now, look at the apparently professionals in the garb of religion performing dishonestly and with high levels of corruption and the walls of KKH are evidenced crumbled down. During Mao Ze Dhung’s period, the KKH’s construction was taken in contract for few billions of rupees and it was marvelously built that proved to be the eigth wonder of the world. At present, just imagine, the tunnel project was taken in contract for 27 billion alone.
. If someone says he is a Mukhi or Mulla, he needs to foster honesty within himself. If someone says he is the President of the Ismaili Council, he needs to be honest himself, first. If someone claims he is a Wa’iz or Sheikh, he needs to act on the path of honesty. Does he pays his duty against the payment he is receiving? Is he committed to his duty with sincerity?What I would like to say is so, if someone is dishonest and claims that God lives in him, then I don’t need such people. Even, I don’t need such type of God, too. I don’t need the Prophet or Imam then. If someone does dishonesty and then claims or advocates for the Imam of the Time, or the holy prophet, I don’t need them.
To cut short here, what I would like to say that I have never become satisfied from the performance of such dishonest people in such organizations, though I myself have worked and have been part of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The due rights of the deserving people are not given to them . Conversely, their rights are being usurped in the hands of professionals as the latter take into accounts their kinship and friendship relations in professionalism and employment. First, such organizations should not exist in the region but if they need to be present, they should then prove themselves in the real promotion of meritocracy. It would then be an example for other organizations, whether governmental or non-governmental, functional in the region. When such mal-practices prevail within AKDN, how could we expect for transparency in the public sector organizations, which are already embedded in various types of corruptions at various levels.
Well, I worked with AKDN, particularly with AKESP, and a lot of ups and downs came in my life. Just imagine, when the car got accident in my hand, they targeted that who told you to drive the car?They didn’t realize that I needed driving it because I deserved to learn it as I’m disabled by one leg.I needed so to reduce the dependency on the other in this connection.Has it been written there in their names by the angels that you could drive the car and you cannot? Has it been written from the above that you could become a manager and you cannot? Has it been directed from the top that you have been blessed with such kind of incentives and you are being deprived? These are not the directives from the Imam of the Time but rather they have been created or forged by the notorious professionals themselves.Those who are powerful or get the power, they begin transgressing their limits and usurps the rights of the weakers. As it is rightly said in English: “Might is right.” The poer abuse thus begins.
Although, there is no denial and thanklessness that I have served in AKDN, more particularly AKESP, and have been remunerated by this esteemed organization, I have never taken my pays dishonestly and illicitly like many who do so. It’s never ever a good thing and people like me have never opted for any kind of theft in the organizations.
In October 2005, I signed a contract with AKESP as the Coordinator of the Non-Formal Education Section,which was a project of AKESP and National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) in partnership on Adult Literacy in Gilgit-Baltistan region. My task was to get Liaison and coordinate with community development program; Supervise the post and adult literacy centres in Gilgit-Baltistan; Visit the centers and collect information on good practices, gaps and challenges; Assist and deliver material and working pay to tutors and local area supervisors; Coordinate with NCHD as partner on literacy program; and so on. The nature of work in this project provided a different flavour of experiences in partnership with NCHD as was led by Attaullah Baig of Hunza, an old friend of Karachi University belonging to central Hunza. Finally, my contract with this organization thus ended in December 2008.
In September 2009, I joined the Education Department of Karakoram International University (KIU) as its visiting faculty member and taught educational psychology to the students for a semester as one of the faculty members was out and I had to teach there until she returns. My contract therefore ended after she came back.
For one year ahead in 2010, I was without any employment. This was the Attabad disaster year where the Hunza River lake emerged and we were entrapped in the disaster politics. It was good, too. We acquired ample experiences out it and we enjoyed it. We formed a disaster Committee named as Rabita Commitee (Coordination Committee) and through it we sensitized the people on the one hand, and pressured the Government on the other.
During those days, I had also applied for a job position in aga Khan Planning and Building Services, Pakistan (AKPBSP) termed now as Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) more specifically within Water and Sanitation Extension Program (WASEP ). I was thus hired on the position of Training Coordinator in 2011.
My induction in AKPBSP was interesting and noteworthy again and I think I should share the story. Though, I had applied for the aforesaid position in this great organization, it was fascinating that there was also a political pressure on the Senior Management of AKPBSP to hire me because I was proactive in the disaster politics and we had made the Government and bureaucracy very upset and restless for the sake of our community interests and human rights.The opposite political forces might have thought that if I’m hired in AKPBSP, I’d get away from the Disaster Coordination Committee , the Committee would either become weak or break up spontaneously.
Interestingly, the Senior Management of AKPBSP called me in a meeting and told that they were going to hire me but there were some conditions that I needed to accept. The conditions were in such manner.
Ppolitically, I won’t appear in the media like TV, radio, newspapers and the social media to give any political statements. They clearly described that if the specified conditions were acceptable to me, I could sign the contract with them.Otherwise, it was difficult for them to hire me on the position.
I assessed the situations and came to a conclusion that during those days, it was not possible for me to stay in Gilgit without any income as I had packed my residence and was jobless. Now, with whom should I stay? There was no house of my own. However, I deliberated further and was compelled and accepted the contract conditions. I had to resign from the disaster Coordination Committee as its convener. In February 2011, I thus joined AKPBSP as its Training Coordinator of the Project for GBC . The employment thus continued by the end of December 2013.
My responsibilities with WASEP (AKPBSP) included to coordinate and oversee the WASH Technical Training and capacity building Portfolio and assume full responsibility for planning, budgeting and course delivery; manage the proper execution of those activities within a planned budget, which includes all costs and income both direct and indirect; oversee the recruitment, coordination, contracting and support of Associate Trainers; deliver specific events such as seminars and/or senior level workshops both within AKPBSP (WASEP) and externally; contribute to strategic and Community planning for the Learning and Development team; set the annual schedule of activities and their budgets Together with the Project Managers, and plan the allocation of tasks and activity specific budgets to other members of the team or Associate Trainers; ensure the efficient administration and financial management of the events convened working with the Technical Training Support Officer; so on and so forth.
Though, I worked with the NGOs like AKDN such as AKESP, AKPBSP or others having buildings of marbles, I didn’t like the stifling environment in them of dictation that you’ve to do this, you’ve to do that, and the like. I spent a big part of my life in AKESP,the expectation I had to bring or see in them. I observed and witnessed the traditional approaches in AKESP.
AKPBSP is a thousand fold better than AKESP in terms of its working environment and approaches. In AKPBSP, at least, there are the practical approaches carried out to address the issues effectively. In AKESP, more hypothesized adn imaginative things are going on.We would stay in the office and wait for the tea to be brought in break times, would spend our time on the Internet, then to wait for the lunch time.
In contrast, in AKPBSP, the employees are busy with their work and careless of their lunches or otherwise.Different meetings to be attended, so and so things have to be accomplished in time. Whether or not the pipes have been properly fitted, whether or not the water is appropriately supplied, whether or not on the health and hygene effective tassks are carried out,whether or not door to door survey is made, whether or not proper assessement of the tasks have been assigned, why so and so reports come in such manner, what are the weaknesses in so and so management and delivery, and many more quries are made to confirm if the tasks are appropriately careid out.
What I want to describe that in AKPBSP, there are much complicated and adventurous tasks that one may not expect. More and more practical work and real world issues are addressed. If further active roles are played, there are more and more chances of success stories pertaining to the poor societies of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC).
Now, let me take up few aspects of the teachings and education of DSF, while with them in Karachi University. There is no denial that political activities open the human minds because through this a person enters in the spheres of public or community . A question arises that what type of strategy should be tkane to penetrate among the public.For instance, we had been mentored that it’s important to sit with the public, eat with them, drink with them, and the like. One has to avoid to be status conscious or make something an issue of one’s ego. All these teachings I had learned, to its optimum level, I came across those realities while going to the field during AKDN era.
When I looked at my colleagues and myself in a comparison, they would feel a kind of hesitation and fear, ask traditional and stereotype questions from the community members, and the like; while on the other hand, I’d no such issues and I would deal with them as a normal person without any fear or hesitation.
To illustrate, for instance, we were in Baltistan and a participant of the training, within a set format of the post-training evaluation , which remains confidential from each participants,expressed himself in this manner:
“As far as Ali Qurban is concerned, his way of talking, his expression, his poetry are outstanding. May Mawla bless him further life. Even, if it’d become possible, I give some part of my life to him because out of my life there is not much benefit to the people. Mawla prolong his life. If such type of messages and education he continues, there would be smooth change in our societies.”
He was a Balti gentleman and I didn’t know him at all as we had never met or seen each other in our life. When I showed the post-evaluation report to the respective manager, I told him:
“I don’t need billions of rupees. The remarks the gentelman has given about the conducted training and myself is something more expensive than billions of rupees awarded to me.”
In response, what did the manager said, just imagine:
“Come on man! If I am being abused but if in return I’m being granted fifty thousand rupees, I’m prepared to receive it on priority.”
Although, he took it something normal or expressed himself in a jocking manner, he actually insulted himself. What I want to say is a strange person, who didn’t share the same faith or language as I had, or didn’t belong to my kinship circle but his remarks about me became a source of more confidence and boosted me so high. Never, I’ve received such type of feelings or realization from anyone who are so near me. That statement is on record with me and preserved. It’s a high honor for persons like me.
Well, it will be a bragging or boastering myself, to note here if I state furtehr. This much I would like to describe that wherever I go in any event or program, I impress or influence a significant number of the people in one way or the other.They do accept me and come closer to me.
Keeping in view the pulse and majority of the audience, I speak accordingly.If there are, for example, the Shia Ithna’atheria audience, I quoat related messages of Ayatullah Rullah of Iran in addition to his contributions to politics. How could people like them have brought effective and positive change in the societies of Iran and Pakistan.Such messages lead the audience to think over positively and look around their concerned societies for effective actions.
Though, we eat unhygenic food or otherwise, we don’t die out of it. Just think for a while. A person from the corporate sector, for instance, comes to our area, meets the rural and simple community members and goes to their houses. The hospitable families extend their hospitality to them, slaughters sheep or goat in honor of them and finally receives such bad remarks that their houses were dirty, unhygenic and so on. Take the example of “Three Cups of Tea” written by Greg Mortensen of United States. Though, he appreciate the hospitality of the host, he has mocked on the living condition of them by saying that their children were untidy, their house was dirty, nasty smell was coming out of it.For this purpose, I would give an example of Greg Mortensen of the United States who has written negatively about our peoples in his book in the training workshops on Health and Hygene.
I would thus tell the training participants that think about such kind of remarks that the host extended his kindness and hospitality, slaughtered a sheep or goat for him, cooked the food for him, showed the sincerity and finally the remarks from the guest comes in such negative manner that the house was so dirty and smelly, the host and the children of the family were so untidy. Deliberate for a while, what an insult is it in this world? Unfortunately, you people make it part of your ego and also veil your women so they should not show herself out. Isn’t there any bigger insult than this? The training participants would deliberate seriously and look in surprize towards each other for a while.
I would tell them that such people coming from abroad make fun of you and us. Now, those people teach us the health and hygene.I won’t like to opt for those jargons taht what are teh health and hygene. You know it better than us. But, please, tell us that shouldn’t we use teh modern ways of toilets and washrooms?Even that American has written that there was a putrid house from which teh nasty smell was coming out. They eat and crab at the same area. Here is a point of serious deliberation. Those people became so sentimenta while listening such remarks.
I then asked them, is it so difficult to do and you avoid? These things have to be carried out. We are not here to teach you that if not done so, the germs would bring hazards onto you. Get the germs aside . You know it far better than us. But, one thing you need to tell us. For instance, those who have no washrooms, no modern toilets, what would be their conditions? Have you thought over it?
Taking into accounts such realities, I would suggest my colleagues of AKPBSP to be careful of giving references of KFW of Germany in line with Health and Hygene. Though, there was no denial that the project has been generously funded by KFW, it could bring doubts in the minds of the innocent people who would think why did these people ask us to be careful of the cleanliness and hygene. Their representatives and/or leaders would certainly ask, at lest from themselves, is it something that we are so much ignorant ? They may make it part of their ego and strife internally and express externally.
Well coming out of the theme of such discussions, I’d like to say that while within the community or common people, we need to be like them at their level and discuss the things so friendly and honestly with them , which ultimately touches their hearts and minds and prepares them for the positive change.The training and mentorship I had received in Karachi University from my comrades and also within our social environment helped me to use the techniques effectively in the field during the trainings conducted for AKPBSP and I enjoyed it frankly and learned from the field enormously. To what extent, the public or community got real benefits out of such trainings imparted in diffrent districts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral would depend of them to respond.
It’s important to understand that when we are behind our professional commitments in the field with the community, or even in a real an practical politics, we have to be with the common people. We thus learn and experience a lot from them and get the information from the grassroots level. This provides us golden opportunities to share our knowledge and experiences with them as well. The actions then get forceful with a mutual consensus and with an informed manner. The community consequently gets mobilized for their common causes. In brief, implementing organizational programs in the field or taking part in politics positively for the sake of the public and common people thus turns out to be a blessing for all in many ways.
When my contract ended with AKPBSP, I was jobless for couples of months but my life activities did not end rather continued in political realm as the prolonged Attabad disaster was on the way yet waiting for me (the detail discussion will come up under the Story of Attabad and Subsequent Disasters). However, for a certain period of time, I joined High Flyers School and College based in Gilgit .
Teaching in the DJ schools of AKESP in Upper Hunza provided me an opportunity to interact with enormous international tourists, particularly from the West as Passu is popular for its beautiful landscape and it offers varius scenic sites such as Batura and Passu glaciers, Khuramabod, Avdegar, Yũnz̃ and so on. Though the Batura glacier itself is considered among the longest glaciers of Gilgit-Baltistan and out of the polar region, the scenic sites are hidden behind and out of the glaciers to many ordinary tourists who haven’t gone on the charmfful pasturelands, pasturages, medows, lakes and peaks.
While within my youth filled with enormous energism to explore and learn on the one hand and serving the DJ schools, on the other, had a plus point for persons like me because after school, I would get time and go to the local hotels and come across lots of foreign tourists in the second half of 1980s and in the 1990s.Among those tourists were also the Western researchers who would come to conduct their studies around different topics and themes and we would discuss the subject matters pertaining to their studies.
In this way, I met with some researchers with whom I worked and assisted them in their fieldwork. They included the following.
Workdd with a German scholar named Elca Rap of Hamburg University in 1989 around the Forest trees in Gilgit-Baltistan. The next year in 1990, she came again for her second fieldwork to carry out the study on Women activities in Gilgit-Baltistan and I assisted her in this study.
In 1991, I got an opportunity again to work with another German scholar named Marya whose study focus was on the Shrines in Hunza as part of the Culture Area Karokaram (CAK), which was a project of Pakistani and German scholars.
Likewise, I got a great opportunity to work with yet another German scholar, Beate Reinhold, of hamburg University in her study on the Wakhi language in 1991-1992 as part of her doctoral dissertation.
In 1996, I worked with Dr. John Mock of University of California (Santa Cruze) pertaining to his doctoral dissertation fieldwork entitled Discursive Construction of Reality among the Wakhi Community of Gojal. It was an interesting and extensive field study Mock had conducted. While assisting and facilitating him, we would go and focus on the Wakhi community members, particularly the side valleys of Avgarch, Chipursan and Shimshal. It was, of course, a great learning opportunity while in the field together around the qualitative data collection.
Acquired and Conducted Trainings and Workshops
During my career with AKDN, I got numerous opportunities to get trainings and workshops around the positions I possessed in different cities of Pakistan that were imparted by both Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan (AKESP), Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBSP) and Ali Institute Lahore (AIL). The training courses included series of thematic areas such as Environmental Education (AKESP 1994, Gilgit), Advance English Training (AKESP 1995, Gilgit), School Management Course for Head Teachers(AIL 1997, Lahore), School Leadership Program (AKESP 1998, Gilgit), qualitative research methods (AKESP, Jan & Oct 2002, Gilgit), Assessment Tools and Evaluation of students (AKESP 2004, Murree/Islamabad), two times Training of Trainers(AKPBSP 2012, Islamabad and Gilgit.
In the same manner, based on my acquired learning and knowledge, longstanding employment with and ample experiences in AKDN, I was fortunate to be in the field and conducted workshops and sessions with my team around various themes. Some of them I think are significant to mention hereunder.
1. Workshops on Assessment and Item Writing for the Primary, Middle and High School teachers each year from 2001 to 2003. In addition, it was also a great learning and experience for our team to conduct data base survey on Item Writing Impact on teaching and learning in the sampled schools during these years.
2. Workshops about Students Assessment for the Government School Teachers in Baltistan in 2004.
3. Under a CIDA funded Project of AKESP, (CIDA), conducted Training courses for the Government District Disbursing Officers (DDOs)and Head teachers in partnership with Directorate of Education Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
4. Organized 45 training workshops (Regular/Refreshers) for Water and Senitation Committees (WSCs), Water and sanitation Implementers (WSIs)and Line Agencies staff.
However, before conducting the above trainings and workshops, we had to develop the training modules on Environmental Education and Training workshops of WSCs of WASEP, Health Hygiene, Engineering and Water Quality and the like.
Languages in my Life
The role of a language in the life of humans is not hidden from anyone as everyone knows how it is important to him or her whereby he or she could sharply be distinguished from other animals .Wherever humans are found, they live within their respective societies and the respective languages are integral parts of the cultural environment.
Hunza is diverse with regard to linguistic landscape and four native languages are spoken here including Wakhi, Burushaski, S̃hina and D̃umaaki (these days termed as Dawoodi, too).With an exception to S̃hina, the three languages (pridominantly Wakhi) are spoken in the upper part of Hunza, which is popularly known as Gojal.
Like many other villages in the area, Passu is also a Wakhi populated settlement and certainly my first language is Wakhi, an old eastern Iranian language, which is spoken the respective community in the Northern Pakistan, Badakshan province of Afghanistan, Xinjiang Autonomous region of China, Badakshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan and Russia. I thus acquired my mother tongue in my early ages.
When I began attending the school, the education was in Urdu and English. With the course of time, I acquired a proficiency in both of these languages as well.Though, Persian was also taught to us a bit in the school as an optional subject, it was and is so closed to my heart because my mother tongue itself is an Iranian language and a high level of similarity is found between both these languages.
Apart from the aforesaid considerations, my mother would recite and sing the Persian devotional poetries and it intensified my interest in and respect for this great language. I therefore learned Persian within my capacity and can understand it well, though my spoken fluency may vary to a considerable extent. Besides,Burushaski and S̃hina I learned from the respective language environment, my colleagues and friends. I thus have a functional skill in both of these indiginous languages of Gilgit-Baltistan Region. .
Awards and Appreciations
IN RECOGNITION OF SOME CONTRIBUTIONS AND FACILITATION TO AND COLLABORATION WITH SOME ORGANIZATIONS AND RESEARCHERS/SCHOLARS IN DIFFERENT REALMS, I GOT AWARS AND APPRECIATIONS FROM THEIR BEHALFWOULD LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT THEM AS UNDER. .
• Recognition Certificate from the Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association (WTCA) in 2002 for my voluntary services from 1991-1998.
• Recognition Certificate from the Culture Area Karakoram, Pak German Research Project, in 2002.
• Recognition Letter from Dr. John Mock, University of California (Santa Cruze) for Research collaboration on Wakhi Culture and Tradition in 2001.
• Award and Certificate from the Aga Khan Education Services, Pakistan for the Best School Management in 1990.
A Highlight of Publications
During my professional life , also being a poet and my interests in culture and politics, I would write some articles or papers in the print media, whenever got time.Consequently, I contributed numerous article on topics like education, politics, social and so on in the national and regional level print media included daily DAWN, Herald, monthly Baloristan and the like. Within the cultural domain, I translated some Wakhi folktales in English for the school children . Besides, I also wrote a paper on “Teachers Appraisal: Whose Reality Counts.”
Continues Ahead: Part 3 of the biography of Ali Qurban’s can be accessed and read on the following link of FAZALAMIN.COM:
Those who hav missed the First Part of the biography can read it on the following link:
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: