By Fazal Amin Beg,
While serving the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) as a development researcher and consultant in 2009, besides other tasks I was also assigned an interesting and important study to explore social and political leadership and governance features at the grassroots level that to what extent a social worker or a person of the civil society could be effective in positively or productively contributing towards political sector in his or her concerned constituency. For this purpose, in-depth interviews of three respondents on their life history was taken from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral Region. The life histories allowed us to know that how the personalities of the respected political representatives evolved from the childhood to the present day and to what extent they could be effective in contributing towards social development by using his or her political makeup.
Three public representatives of their time at union council level were thus within the study loop: one each from Gilgit, Baltistan and Chitral region who shared their impressive and detailed biographies that clearly provide deep insights on the subject matter in addition with their perspectives on socio-political governance and development. I therefore share biography of Ibrahim Khan of Ghizer district and his perceptions and practical experiences on social and political governance and development (based on in-depth interview) in this publication.
I’m pretty sure that the readers will take keen interest to read through the different tides of the respondents and see it cross with their individual, collective and regional contexts as one can learn great lessons out of the life long experiences of the key informants around different themes of overall societal and cultural development.
The study is based on the perceptions and experiences of Ibrahim Khan, a community cum political leader (elected representative), from Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan in order to explore (1) the motivation, plans, practices, achievements and challenges before and after being elected; and (2) perceptions of the constituency about the member, whether the elected member feels accountable to the voters or the V/WOs or whether s/he was caught up in the exploitative network of the system.
Ibrahim Khan,48, is from the Teru village within Union Council (UC) Teru of Ghizer district. By profession, he is basically a farmer. He studied up to his middle education in 1975. Ibrahim Khan initiated his voluntary services in 1978 by serving first as a religious guide and then he was appointed as an assistant religious clergy (kamaria) for his village jamatkhana, the prayer house and community center. Besides, he served and contributed enormously in various other voluntary fields such as a member of the VO Teru in 1983; cluster representative in 1987; president of the Shia Ismaili Local Council in 1986; convener of the Aga Khan Arbitration and Reconciliation Committee (from 1984-87); chairman, Local Education Committee (1988-92); chairman of the Aga Khan Health Committee (1993-98); project Captain of Focus Humanitarian Assistance (from 2000-todate); president of the LSO in 2006 in addition with his services as the village accountant for the 25 VWOs of his areas in 1992.
Ibrahim initially inspired by his grandfather’s social work; but in the later phase, he was particularly motivated and inspired by His Highness, the Aga Khan-IV after getting direct advice from him. Ibrahim successfully mobilized the community for the VWOs formation in 1983; voluntary construction of the Diamond Jubilee (DJ) school building in his village, convinced the parents to send their children to the school. Ibrahim also played his vital role in construction of the first irrigation channel and the aforestation of Teru.
Being a community and political leader, Ibrahim observes that effective community mobilization is the most difficult challenge among others to prepare and sustain people’s minds for and during communal initiatives. But through his honest, polite, fair intent and deeds, Ibrahim successfully managed and overcome the challenges in collaboration of his team. He observes current and envisions series of future challenges for the community such as familial issues (e.g., diverging interests between a father and a son who want to get separated: i.e., nuclear versus extended families), increase in population and pressure on the acquisition of resources (especially huge pressure on the natural forests), increase of intolerance, more educational acquisitions and more competition in employment. Ibrahim Khan describes that in such scenario, the pace of voluntary/social work will decrease significantly. Although Ibrahim himself did not grow up economically due to his fair social and political engagements and projects, he does subsist and run his house as par with other average people and the community do respect him for his voluntary services.
According to Ibrahim, a voluntary/social work where people (volunteers) serve the community without any remuneration, election or vote by sacrificing themselves, their time, and knowledge/experiences and wealth. But in politics, elected reps get vote which is given by the people in trust to them. Within the political governance structures, Ibrahim identifies some weaknesses that effect the efficiency of the political reps.
As chairman UC and in collaboration with the Member Legislative Assembly (MLA), Ibrahim successfully managed to achieve in bringing the following projects for his area: (1) Constructed a wheat store (godown) having 70”x100” of size providing space for 13’000 bags of wheat by bringing a fund from the Legislative Assembly; (2) established a veterinary dispensary in the area; (3) established a government middle school in Teru; (4) established a dispensary for the community of Barsat; (5) supplied electricity for the Barswat community;(6) constructed six channels (from Gulakhmuli to Barsat); and (7)constructed boundary-walls of five schools (as they had none). Besides, being chairman, Ibrahim succeeded in reconciling a conflict between people of the two areas on two local ravines.
Ibrahim outlines the following key characteristics of a good elected representative. (1) s/he should tell the truth and keep his words if promises with the community; (2) s/he should devote his time; (3) s/he should have a good behavior and working relationship with the people and government organizations/departments; (4) s/he should have a good character; (5)s/he should have good coordination and linkages with the government; (6) s/he should use the resources fairly and appropriately; (7) s/he should work interdependently and inclusively taking the opinions of the public and make them aware of the progresses and challenges; and (8) s/he should not encourage or bring the disputes of the local people to the government administration (police or magistracy) or to the courts, but rather should solve those conflicts and disputes locally through reconciliation.
Ibrahim Khan knew a little about the structure of the UC before selected/elected as the member/chairman; but he did not know fully about its governance (project’s identification and formulation, funds’ distribution and authority etcetera).
Ibrahim Khan describes that the objectives of the VWOs, LSOs and UCs are common to work for the community development. They need therefore to work interdependently. With regard to the accountability of the elected representatives, he suggests that it could be made through different community organizations or social institutions such as the VWOs, LSO and the UC.
At the end, he advises and encourages the youths to pursue their education, engage with their professions but also come forward in social and voluntary services for their respective societies and the community would then honor and recognize their services.
This paper is about Ibrahim Khan of Teru Union Council (UC) in Ghizer district, Gilgit-Baltistan. He is a community leader in the social sector and chairman of the UC in the political sector. The story revolves around Ibrahim’s perceptions and vast experiences (deeply enrooted in the society) and shares his motivation, plans, practices, achievements and challenges before and after being elected as a political representative.
The story is mainly divided into three parts. In the background as the first part, the paper provides Ibrahim’s personal and familial information; in the second part, it discusses his contributions in the social sector; and the third part deals with his political pursuance and contributions in the society.
PERSONAL AND FAMILIAL INFORMATION
Ibrahim Khan son of Sa’at Khan belongs the Teru village within Union Council (UC) Teru of Ghizer district in Gilgit-Baltistan. Ibrahim, 48, has two brothers and two sisters. Both of his brothers served Pakistan army. Ibrahim Khan acquired his primary level education from the Diamond Jubilee school of his village, Teru, and his middle education from the DJ school Gulakhmuli in 1975. He is basically a farmer. After passing his middle level education, he became religious guide in 1978.
In 1983, Ibrahim became member of the VO Teru; in 1987, he became cluster representative; then in 1992, he became a Village Account to 25 VWOs; in 2006, he played his key role in the formation of the LSO and the people nominated him as the president. Besides he also served the Shia Ismaili Local Council as present (from 1986-92); and convenor of the Aga Khan Arbitration and Reconciliation Committee (from 1984-87); Chairman, Local Education Committee (1988-92); Chairman, Aga Khan Health Committee (1993-98); and Project Captain, Focus Humanitarian Program (from 2000-todate); and religious guide within ITREB (1979-2005).
CONTRIBUTIONS IN SOCIAL SECTOR
Serving as Assistant Clergy (Kamarria)
In 1978, Ibrahim was appointed as kamaria, assistant clergy of Teru Jamat Khana for two tenures (six years). Honoring this religious position blessed by his Imam of the time, Ibrahim did not go out of the village. He ran both offices as kamaria and religious guide simultaneously besides maintain his domestic/agrarian work.
Promotion of Secular Education
Apart from the religious obligations and performing his duty as religious guide, Ibrahim also contributed in mobilizing the community for the communal work. He played his pivotal role in construction of the Diamond Jubilee (DJ) school in his village. He even went to Chapali in Chitral, raised donations and requested the local philanthropists to contribute poplar trees for the roofs of seven rooms in the self-help school building for girls in the vicinity of the respective jamatkhana. Suggestion for the school building was given and recommended by the notables of the village (such as Mukhi, teachers, headman, or other elderly and sensible people), because previously students were getting education in the jamatkhana with the increase of students’ number. “During our time, the parents were hesitant and refused to send their daughters to the school. But, in the later period, the parents mindsets had changed and were very eager to send their daughters to send school,” Ibrahim narrates.
In such circumstances, the notables engaged in arrangement of the school building and they also convened Ibrahim and some other clever gentlemen, and consulted them on this issue. After hearing the opinions and suggestions, a plan was made that on the basis of self-help, a separate room should be constructed but it needed varying resources such as timbers, skilled labors (carpenters, masons and so on). The notables however chose Ibrahim to represent and lead the project committee. Each household contributed Rs. 200/- besides the community’s share in the local skilled laboring. Ibrahim thus worked very enthusiastically. In the first year, Ibrahim and his team erected the walls; and in the second year, roofs/ceiling were completed and handed the school building over to the construction (having seven rooms).
Inspiration for the Social Work
Ibrahim’s grandfather, Mardana Khan, was also a notable of the area who was termed as counsel, involved in the religious and communal engagements. He used to resolve the conflicts among the people. Mardana Khan’s services in conflict resolution were availed not only in this own village rather in the entire region such as Gupis, Yaseen and Punyal in the royal courts as he his reconciliation approaches and decision were based on honesty, equity and justice, care for the poor. That is why the headmen of the area also wold come to him and take his advice; and no one among the disputants raise any objection that Mardana Khan had given any wrong or unjust decision,” Ibrahim states with a pride. Ibrahim was therefore inspired from his grandfather and followed his footsteps in religious and communal matters.
Community’s Negligence of Plantation
The people of the region, Ibrahim states, never focused on the plantation so that to make the area green. When Ibrahim enquired the reasons, the people responded that in the ravines/valleys, there were more natural resources. “I wondered that why did or ancestors not opt for the plantation which is fundamental in our life, which provides us oxygen; used as timber for construction; used as fodder for the cattle, sheep and goats; and it also contributes towards the beauty of the area,” describes Ibrahim. Within the five years period (before the AKRSP’s intervention), Ibrahim pondered over that how can the people carry out the task of aforestation/plantation? He was serious in his thoughts that if, for instance, the plants finished from the ravines/valleys, where would the people go and what will they do? These ideas were always tickling his mind, and he shared it with and consulted some notables like headman and so on. They commented that in their area, there was a big idolism. The people have left their cattle, sheep and goats free, which ultimately destroy the plants/trees. Second, there was no or lack of coordination from the government. No government officials such as magistrate, deputy commissioner, sectary or other high officials did visit the area even in a year or two. The reason Ibrahim suggests could be either the people did not ask them to go there or there was no skilled person who could write a resolution. Third, the previous ruling class might endeavored to sustain their writ on the people and kept no contact with the government departments. Forth, there was also the transportation problem as there was narrow road on which the vehicles could run only for a five months of the year; and there was no vehicle (road cutoff) from October to April. On the other, the people also did not think to clean the road on self-help basis. Now, we can observe, Ibrahim says, that hardly for a week or five days the road gets blocked and the people themselves take part in its maintenance and restore the road.
Formation of the VWOs and Ibrahim’s Key Role during the AKRSP’s Intervention
Ibrahim gives an interesting historical background and relates that about the AKRSP vis-à-vis VWOs: “When the AKRSP came in Gilgit-Baltistan in 1982, I heard through Hazrat Shah of Punyal, teacher in a middle school, that an organization has come, which forms organizations for the poverty reduction. The needs and issues are written in a shape of resolution and accordingly development programs are carried out. Hazrat Shah advised me to first trace out and get information about that organization and confirm that whether or not such organization has really come in the region.”
In this connection, Ibrahim Khan went to Gilgit and asked from different people. He also met Tawalud Shah of Hunza (the latter had a kinship relation with the former) and Ali Dad working in the agriculture field. They confirmed to Ibrahim that a man has come but he didn’t take that much early the resolution from people. Both the aforesaid gentlemen further advised: “However, you go back to Teru and come back along with a resolution and some members: thus, in one way or the other the resolution would be given to respective gentleman (the head of the organization). They further added that the man explores for different people such as engineers, for recruitment in order to build his team. He is a very talented gentleman and his name is Shuaib Sultan Khan. We don’t know that why His Highness, the Aga Khan has sent him here as he hasn’t much facilities to go village by village and meet the community,” narrates Ibrahim.
Following the advice, Ibrahim goes back to Teru and mobilizes notables and other community members. A resolution is written about water provision as the village was dependent in irrigated on snowmelt water (which is very temporary) and not on river water or from the ravines. In brief, Ibrahim along with two other fellows carries the resolution and reaches Gilgit and hands over it to Shuaib Sultan Khan, the founding General Manager of the AKRSP, in December. Shuaib Sahab accepted it assured him visit Teru after April andadvised Ibrahim to mobilize the community.
Shuaib Sultan Khan visits Teru
There was still the snow on the ground in Teru (on 12 April 1983) and the people saw a helicopter coming to their area that flew around the village four or five times and landed near the Rest House. The villagers gathered around and the media people also witnessed the situation. Standing on the snow, Shuaib asks: “What is your need?” All people unanimously respond: “We need water.” He asks again: “Where the water will be brought from?” The people answer together: “From the Mashulan Nala.” Shuaib further enquires: “Is this the need of all community or mere of a clan or a group of some people?” All the community: “It is the need of all of us.” He asks again: “Would any oppose this project in the aftermath?” The community responds: “No, we need water and nothing (for now) so that we should water our lands and produce crops because we are in trouble in this regard. At night taking lantern in our hands, sometimes we get water in our rotation syand sometimes there is no water. There is no trust on snow. When there is cloudy weather, water could be expected. But when there is dry/pleasant weather, there is no water as the ravines get dried. But from this ravine (Mashulan), there is no problem of water; we can bring it from there.”
After hearing the standpoints of the community, Shuaib Sultan Khan left the area; and sent the engineers in the aftermath of the dialogue. The engineers surveyed the site for two days as Ibrahim was accompanying hem. The engineers then left for Gilgit. The community formed a project committee and left along with the engineers for the project site and it was surveyed in two days . After this survey, the total project cost estimated was Rs. 272’930.
In June 1983, Shuaib Sultan Khan visited Teru again and directed us to form a village organization (VO) either of the whole Teru or separate, depends on the people’s feasibility and will. After a long discussion/meeting, the community decided that there must not be separate VO keeping in view the unity of Teru as this village has been very united from the beginning. Therefore, only one VO was formed by consensus. Master Bilawal Khan was nominated as Manager and another person was nominated as president. I was asked for the presidentship but I denied by making excuses that I was also serving as religious guide and a kamaria, although, the reality was the fear as I didn’t trust myself in working in the VO will be difficult and I had no capacity/talent,” Ibrahim relates very innocently.
In the beginning, there were 250 members of the VO representing 250 households of Teru, formed in June 1983. Sooner after inception of the VO, the project was started and in December it was completed; while in June 1984,the water was run in the channel afer a visit of Shuaib Sultan Khan and the engineer(s). Ibrahim had his frequent presence in construction of the channel and whatever he was telling to the community, the latter was heard and acted upon.
The VO run efficiently in 1984, as at this time, the VO’s saving reached to Rs. 30,000/-.. But 1985, it witnessed weakness because motivation of 250 members became difficult and not in the capacity of Master Bilawal Jan, adds Ibrahim. The then social organizer of the AKRSP, named Shakiri, belonging to Chitral, visited the VO and advised the members to form a separate VO as it was becoming difficult to continue due to large membership. Accordingly, the main VO divided into four VOs: Upper Teru, Teru Karimabad, Teru Center and Bahj. The members welcomed me to their respective VOs such as VOs of Upper Teru, Teru Karimabad, Teru Center and Bahj. Ibrahim was given options that wherever he wanted, he could join any of the four village organizations. VO Teru Center offered and nominated him as Manager as there were 55 members this VO. Ibrahim joined this VO (center) and run the office as Manager up to the end of 1985. In 1986, Ibrahim along with his fellows went to Gilgit to attend a meeting wherein Shuaib Sultan Khan and Sultan Wali advised us that the projects of irrigation channel given to different parts in the region also should ensure that, besides the old and settled lands, new lands (barren) should be brought under plantation.
After returning from the meeting in Gilgit, Ibrahim Khan communicated the message to all the four VOs of Teru as the land under construction of the channel was common to all community. “You know better that from the old days, the ravines/valleys belonged to some specific clans, and it was also an issue and that need to be solved,” explains Ibrahim. In this regard, a majority of people under the notables of the four VOs supported Ibrahim’s positive views on the issue; but there were also some people to whom the lands/ravines belonged, they discouraged him . “I requested the people that we want to construct a channel for so and so land. When we initiated the work, some people stood against me,” Ibrahim narrates. The issue actually was raised on this point that those people to whom the land did not belong, they emphasized they wanted to debar the owners for having any plot; and Ibrahim was insistent to also give pieces of land to them (the old/traditional owners). The issue hanged up for 15 days; and in the aftermath Ibrahim was given an option to make a team and come towards a decision. He thus formed a reconciliatory team composed of the four VOs of Teure such as president of Upper Teru, the headman, some notables from Karimabad and Bahaj. These reconciliatory team members asked Ibrahim’s opinion and he established that the land should be distributed equally among the members (not excluding some one). The reconciliatory team thus divided the land mainly in four parts for the four VOs (named above). Ibrahim took aforestation initiative from his VO (Teru Center) and planted totally 12,000 plants (6,000 in 1986 and 6,000 in 19887). Imitating the VO Center’s plantation movement, other VOs of Teru also began their plantation projects.
In October 1987, the VOs of Teru were communicated about His Highness, Prince Karim Aga Khan’s visit to Teru to see the plantation 18 November. According to the schedule, His Highness visited Teru thoroughly and also examined the irrigation channel and the plantation site. In the aftermath, getting a high appreciation from His Highness, Ibrahim provided more than 5,000 plants to the people of Teru to plant them on their respective VO sites; and according to a survey of 2003,there were 3.5 million plants planted therein . It is noteworthy that during plantation period, through Shuaib Sultan, the reps of VOs Teru also visited Laspur Chitral and brought almost 12’000 new and wild plants. At present, there are between 500 to 5’000 plants with each poor families. This also provides fodder for the domesticated animals, firewood and their leaves fall down. For the next phase, the people cut the shoots of their plants and replant them for themselves.
Construction of the DJ School
There is a key role of Ibrahim in the construction of the prototype school in the area, who mobilized the community and the VOs participated in the project. Presently, the school is at middle level, in the next phase, it will be at secondary level and in then will be at college level. Ibrahim thinks when the DJ school building was constructed before the AKRSP’s intervention, there was 10% community trust on him as the social work at a bigger level started from that project; and then, of course, comes the stage of irrigation channel and plantation.
Benefits of Voluntary/Social Work
Ibrahim terms himself a fortunate man by getting opportunity in leading the projects of irrigation channel and the plantation. “The planted plants will be ever giving fruits and will continue. In the future, the people will remember me. It is also possible that some other people will try to take the credit, but in reality when the people will begin counting the rendered services, our names will come up that who planned the projects, who was leading them and who were involved in,” Ibrahim expresses with confidence.
Apparently, there may not be any benefit for a person from the social work, as s/he leaves aside his or her own vested interests and goes to work for the community (members) by spending his or her money or facing anger from one’s own family for spending the resources out: thus, this shows a loss for a person. “But in reality as a social worker, when you go out, the people salute you that this gentleman has served us provided that the evidence comes before you, means people can realizet the tangible tasks. For instance, I used to ask my father or grandfather that why didn’t they planted trees? They said that there was idolism as people do not control their cattle, sheep and goats that eat the plants. In this connection, Ibrahim says he did control this issue by giving rewards and punishment to the people. Those who got punishment, they are unhappy but others are happy and do pray because they got thousands of plants. For instance, if our fathers or grandfathers had planted the trees, there won’t had come scanty of wood/timber. Ibrahim terms those persons fortunate who are engaged with social/voluntary work, as he himself is enthusiastically engaged with it for more than three decades. When no guest comes in his house, Ibrahim feels uncomfortable. He says that he has not given money to anyone, rather positively spared time for the people; and proved some tangible achievements and Ibrahim pays his humble gratitude to all those involved in the ventures of social development.
Recognition of the Social/Voluntary Work
Ibrahim Khan is very obliged that he got a recognition and blessing from His Highness, the Aga Khan-IV who advised Ibrahim to continue his social work, and the difficulties he faced would be eased and there would be success on his path. Ibrahim pledges that up-till his last breath, he won’t forget these words. “When I don’t go to any gathering, the kind words of His Highness comes in my mind as he himself has given me a recognition letter that I have to continue my work,” describes Ibrahim. He is our Imam and he better know when he advises to work for the community. Who am I to disobey,” Ibrahim adds.
Acknowledging Ibrahim Khan’s voluntary work, the Government of Pakistan also conferred him the Sitara-e Quaid-e Azam (Quaid-e Azam Award) and a certificate. Third, when Ibrahim goes to any government or any other organization and the officials appreciate and recognize Ibrahim’s communal services, being a social worker of Teru. Ibrahim says: “If I had been an employed person/professional, few persons would had known me; but when I go to any gathering, enormous people know me being a social worker. Shuaib Sultan asked me, once: “The donor agencies ask us that why a president or manager of the VWOs work for so long time for 10 or 15 years? So, I ask you (Shaiab asks Ibrahim) that why do you work in this line?” In response, Ibrahim says: “Shuaib Sahab! I have learnt only 36 letters of Urdu language, So by having knowledge of the 36 Urdu letters (alphabet) , if I don’t serve my family, my parents, my village, my community, my homeland and my poor and rich people, my daughters and sons, then who will do it? Those, who have acquired masters’ degree or other degrees, they cannot do so: neither they have such service capacity, and nor they have time to spare. If I have a little capacity and service that should be utilized. If for instance, the educated people could contribute 10% of their services, why shouldn’t I contribute 15%? So, I am convinced that the services ought to be shared?,” Ibrahim explains.
Motivation for carrying out Social/Voluntary Work
Following are the motivating factors for Ibrahim Khan as he relates: (1) inspiration from his grandfather, Mardana Khan who served the community voluntarily;and (2) later on, he got a recognition from His Highness, the Aga Khan.
Initiation of Social Work
In his childhood, Ibrahim has been very enthusiastic to attend the public gathering such as religious ceremonials of orators, or other community gatherings. The speakers would advise to enable the environment for the children so that they should become a leader for their community and nation; and encourage them in intellectuality so that their work should be long lasting. The notable, for instance, would say that in Teru, there is scanty of water and they would suggest to make a dam out of the spring water so that to store water and lift the burden of night irrigation rotation and anxiety and there should not be conflict over water.
The first social work Ibrahim started his voluntary work from teaching religious education in the Jamat Khana. The institution then provided him training and interactions with high level people increased who said that there should be a balance between religion and the world. Ibrahim had applied for the government job, but his services were denied, but he does subsist and does feed his family. Although, he has little or no money (in cash), but abundance of experiences; and very interestingly, Ibrahim is satisfied from his work having trust on his Allah, Almighty. He believes that the prayers of the poor will be accepted and his children will get the fruits of his good deeds and philanthropic services.
Team Work in Voluntarism
Ibrahim performed his voluntary activities in mostly in team as the community projects involve people for different segments. When there were the community meetings, the educated people and notable were also invited who encouraged Ibrahim to speak saying: “Youngman! You carry on and speak!” When I would speak, they would endorse: “this is valid. But when they disagreed, I would stop,” In the present context, Ibrahim states: “I fee uncomfortable to sit like a contractor, notable or headman while with the community members at the channel. I feel happy to take a shovel or other tools and work. When I carry shovel and work, the community members, in respect, do not allow me,” Ibrahim narrates.
Challenges in Social Work
Challenges already faced: The public or community are like an ocean, so there are a certain number of people who will dishearten the social workers and create obstructions on the way, but the social workers/volunteers need to be determined towards their destinations.
Ibrahim faced challenges during his social work. Giving example of the WASEP’s project (Water and Extension Program of the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services), he says: “The people were becoming unhappy during the digging of 4½ feet pipe course. For example, if in a house, there were children or old persons or widow (and no young-men), Ibrahim stuck in a great jumble with regard to inclusion of the weak or vulnerable segments (such as widows, old people and children) of the society for the communal laboring. If he include them, the community gets annoyed that what she could do being woman? Are we servants of their families, some community members would argue (as they had to assist the widow and cannot allow her to work as per cultural norms? If they are not included, again there was a burden on her pay the penalty as mostly were poor. “It became hectic and disastrous, and I have be answerable to the God.,
Ibrahim and his team needed to convince the people using logical and ethical tools of motivation that they had either no husbands or no male members in their houses. “If we cannot provide or give pipe/clean drinking water to a widow, an orphan or a needy person then there is no justice. We need to give sacrifice, now,” says Ibrahim. He would then know the audience’s view and some of them raise their hands in favor of Ibrahim.
There were also some old people who could not dig four feet deep pipe course; then Ibrahim had to go towards the youth and request them that the project might return as there is the policy of the organization to dig the courses according to its directives. In 1 ½ year’s period, Ibrahim and his team involved the community and succeeded in digging 45 sq miles of area and water was made accessible to all.
Another challenge Ibrahim faced was during the time of controlling free-grazing. He encountered people at different fronts and even stones were pelted on him that he was doing wrong. Ibrahim formed a committee and the violators were given penalty. Even in some incidences, Ibrahim even slapped some aggressive violators. But those people did not go to the courts, because they deliberated time and gain and knew that 95% of the people were right and the 5% minority were wrong: so the man (Ibrahim) with the majority is right. Now, if someone violates the rules against free-grazing, the people approach Ibrahim, despite the fact he is neither a headman nor any other high level person, “but when I say something, that comes to its positive end and this is a pleasure for me,” adds Ibrahim.
Furthermore, there was a big challenge with regard to distribution of lands among 250 households (as cited above) and Ibrahim successfully addressed the communal matter. There is no case in Teru, even today, lying with the court or police station—which could be deemed as humiliation for the community.
Current challenges: Ibrahim observes that currently, patience and tolerance lacks among the people. When the public mob comes which is like an ocean, one has to tolerate it and leave a space for it to go. When a flood comes, thre is no remedy for it, but people need to offer prayer and should loose their hearts and the live people should deal with it.
Another issue is the increase in population and lack of resources. For instance, in the valleys/ravines, the natural forests are towards extinction. If the people would not opt for plantation, how would they dealt with firewood for nine months of the year. If the people were not motivated, the area and the villages will be in trouble. If the people won’t sacrifice 10 minutes to attend the gatherings and see others’ faces, there won’t be unity among the people. Neither from the public sector nor from other organizations the people would be able to get something; and even it will be impossible to get anything from the self-help basis. It is therefore important that in order to organize the villages and the world, people should spare some time for each other and try to understand each other’s opinions and talk together.
Challenges in future: Population will increase; father-son relationship in working together seems difficult as they want to get separated that would lead to familial problems. In addition, unlike the previous period, this is the time of education and people need to be focused on the challenges and issues. Previously, when the notables either they spoke or worked but had an importance, and still there is an importance, and it will remain in or the next 10-15 years.
In the next phase, the people will not appreciate each other’s voluntary work and will not adequately measure it: there would be then very little people. If the people will not work considerately and with tolerance, the social work will then be in risk. So far, Ibrahim thinks, there is no such issue of quarrel or tussle, if we say something in the public, they are accepted or honored.
In short, in the next 15 years, the people would improve further in education. In case, in terms of the climate and environment, transportation and interactions or other issue, the situation may worsen. It is the time of unrest.
The most Significant Achievements (in Priority for the last 15 Years)
Ibrahim claims that since 1982 when the VWOs were formed in Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar and Punyal, no motivated VWO could be found. If in case, they exist, they could be only 5% or 6%. “While I motivated the VWOs from Matutipur to Chumarkhanpur in Ward-5, including 1 Union Council, 1 Ismaili Council, 36 VWOs. When they need something, they come to me and even I myself also go and request them to run the organizations,” Ibrahim states. Ibrahim gives directives to community members that they have their government; the VWOs are their guardians; and they have their value in the VWOs; and that why not to sit in the VWOs and function it to remove their difficulties.
The students get education in the DJ schools and not in the madrasas. There was a big issue that the parents did not send their children to school. In this regard, Ibrahim raised funds of Rs. 12’000/- and paid the fees of the poor children. Consequently, the parents and children were pleased on the one hand; and the organization, on the other. Now, every child from each house do attend the school.
Coming across Frustration during the Social Work
Ibrahim thinks that the time anger did not come whereby he could say he was fed up from the community and sue against them in the court. “My anger might have remained for 10 minutes and then I ended it up even I beg pardon from the people as I had very distinctive and nice people; and those who were elders encouraged me by saying: it happens so, doesn’t matter. Ibrahim argues that little things could happen, but he ignored them and did not burdened them on his mind. Sometimes, even if ignorant people stoned me, I did ignor it and did not go against them in the court,” says Ibrahim.
The State of Social Work in the next 10-15 Years Period
People would get everything, but the voluntary service would be available to few people because the modern age is the age of anxiety as everyone thinks for his or her profession/employment. Everyone thinks to become executive officer, but this will be available to some people. Few people will think towards their area, life, and towards their community. Spending one’s life, one’s resources and time for their community seems difficult and very few people would be engaged with the social or voluntary tasks. Keeping in view the current situations of people, Ibrahim envisions that the voluntary work will decrease. He advises the youth and coming generations to realize that the social work is a sacred field
Effect of the Social Work on the Personal, Domestic and Social Life
In line with his domestic life, Ibrahim didn’t opt for any kind of business/enterprise and didn’t employ anywhere, but got food and clothing and life. He hopes that because of his fair voluntary contributions to the society, God, the Almighty, and the community (poor and well-off) will be pleased. “We didn’t come across any disaster or trouble. Therefore, “in the domestic context, we have food, clothes and everything. Till today, we haven’t come across any bankruptcy rather we do subsist,” Ibrahim describes. When Ibrahim needs something and goes to someone, no one refuses to address his needs by honoring and upholding his voluntarism. “This is a great happiness for me; and I get a source in one way or the other. There has not been any negative effect of the social work in the economic context for me,” Ibrahim reiterates.
Another evidence for Ibrahim’s social precedence could be found in this manner that keeping in view his voluntarism of the last three decades, the local community chose him first as representative and then the chairman of his union council (in political domain). At least 90% of the community like Ibrahim for his social voluntarism. Although, educationally and financially low, but Ibrahim is yet strongly determined to effectively strategize the communal affairs and address the needs and challenges.
Ibrahim thinks that he got benefit politically, as the community chose him as the chairman of the union council. He has been keeping his interactions with the high level government officials; and the latter appreciate the former that they had been observing his social services. For instance, the Assistant Commissioner Gilgit said: “We know, while in Teru, the community like Ibrahim because of his social voluntarism and services; and we are happy that he has become the chairman of the UC, now.”
Ibrahim also earns respect in the religious realm as he has also been serving this field for a long time being a religious guide. Wherever Ibrahim goes, the community (whether women or men or children) pay respect to him by saying that previously Ibrahim has served the community when there was a tough period. Good foods are presented first to him in any house or gathering and placed at high level.
Effects of Social Work on the Family Matters
Ibrahim expresses his indebtedness to his parents, wife and children who never complained or created any hurdle for him in not carrying on the social/voluntary work. He has also been giving directives to his family in running his domestic affairs besides his own participation in farming, or construction and so on. Ibrahim gives the main credit to his father, who is not old. His father appreciates, gives honor, opportunity and time for Ibrahim to serve voluntarily.
Positive Influence on the Local Government for Development
In 2003, when Ibrahim was president of the cluster, there was the issue of electricity supply to Teru for a long time, despite the fact that members of the union council and the chairman from Gulakhmuli were also present and they tried their level best but in vain. The respective heads of departments responded to address the case not sooner but later (in a year or two).
The community members therefore requested Ibrahim if he could go to the related government offices and carry the electricity issue. Ibrahim honored their viewpoint. He along with three members proceeded to meet the local government authorities in Gilgit after a consultation with his political reps in the UC. He met the Chief Secretary, the Chief Engineer besides meeting AC Ghizer and Executive Engineer in Gahkuch. Ibrahim along with his three member team stayed out of Teru and in eight days, the electricity issue was resolved after influencing Pir KaramAli Shah, Political rep of the then Northern Areas Legislative Council from Ghizer, who ultimately influenced the high government officials in the headquarters in Gilgit.
Good Qualities of a Social Worker
Ibrahim thinks that a social worker the following characteristics: (1) s/he should take into confidence his or her family members so that to avoid risks of any conflict; (2) s/he should spare and manage time for the community/social voluntarism; (3) s/he should have the spirit of tolerance; (4) s/he should work inclusively by taking into accounts opinions of at least 90% to 95% of the people; (5) s/he should not advertise his/her contributions repeatedly; (6) s/he should be honest—tell the truth even if one’s life in threat, must not cheat the people; (7) s/he should have good behavior, character and use proper/descent words; (8) s/he should listen everyone; and (9) s/he should have the capacity of materializing the views/opinions inclusively.
Completed Development Projects in Social Sector
In the social sector, Ibrahim Khan completed six projects of water channel construction with the collaboration of the AKRSP which are mentioned as follow: in Teru, the project was at the cost of PAK Rs. 1’141’000/- (length was 26’000 ft) and another channel @Rs. 272’930/- (length 9’000 ft); in Shirat @Rs. 200’000/-; in Barswat @Rs 80’000/-; in Gulakhmuli @Rs.252’000/-; and in Gulakhtuli @Rs. 252’000/-. Besides, for Hadarap, a link-road (@Rs. 250’000/-) and a protective bund (@Rs. 280’000/-) was constructed.
Apart from the AKRSP, Ibrahim also carried out three educational projects in the area during his chairmanship of the Education Committee. For instance, 1 prototype middle school; another prototype school in Gulakhmuli; and yet another prototype school in Teru. In collaboration with Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan (AKHSP), Ibrahim supported establishing a health center in the entire constituency. The community initiated this project in the beginning; and later on the AKHSP provided Rs. 1.9 million and the health project was expanded. Ibrahim mobilized the community and with the technical and financial support of Water and Sanitation Extension Program (WASEP) provided clean drinking water for the 350 households of Teru; 200 households of Gulakhmuli, Kunandeh, Therch (upper & lower); and 250 households of Handarap. In addition, with the AKRSP’s financial support of Rs. 180’000/-, clean drinking water supply was provided to Baswat.
Formation of the LSO
After formation of the LSO, it acquired Rs. 1.95 million from different sources such as Rs. 300’000/- and Rs. 150’000/-) from Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF); Rs. 22’000 obtained from the school’s fees. The money is circulated in credit among the poor in line with sewing machines and so on. Initially, 5% profits were taken from the borrowers and at present it is 12%. In addition, Ibrahim (being chairman of the LSO) and his team succeeded in providing a road project of Rs. 752’000/- to Biyandan with the support of PPAF. Besides, through the LSO, 3 computer centers (having 100 trainees) are run by bringing 12 computers from the government. Further, from the platform of the LSO, a wool-machine @Rs. 65’000/- was brought to area to make quilts and mattresses. In collaboration with the agriculture department, 10-15 kg of wheat seeds were provided to different community members. The government’s forest department provided 9’000 plants to LSO. At the cost of Rs. 260’000/-, WWF is establishing a tourist center in the area through the LSO in addition with a fish pond in Gulakhmuli @Rs. 75’000/- and eight sewing machines for the vocational centers. In addition, a proposal has been given to the MLA for construction of the LSO office, and a budget of Rs. 100’000/ has been approved (the money not yet received).
CONTRIBUTIONS IN THE POLITICAL SECTOR
Inception of Political Activities
Ibrahim Khan had not that much desire to join the political field; but, when there was the local body election in 2005, the people unanimously brought him in politics. The story follows in this manner. The local body election was coming up within three days and the village community thought to select a member for this purpose from the center. The community members therefore convened a meeting and Ibrahim was also invited therein in order to take his opinions regarding the foresaid issue. Ibrahim agreed with the people’s views that there should be member from the center (as it has 75 households) and when the government officials visit the area, they come to the center. Therefore, they need to be offered light refreshment, too besides calling people of different categories. By taking Ibrahim’s viewpoints, the community members turned towards him and desired him to be their representative. But Ibrahim refused and said: “I won’t contest the election as he had served the community for 32 years in different organizations and has also observed the faces of the government officials as well as of the NGOs. I prefer to go and see them in the social capacity, but I won’t contest the election, rather instead if you people choose me without any election contest then I accept.”
Election has a drawback that, for instance, if a candidate could not win only with one vote, there comes up resentment, he added. That is why Ibrahim suggested for selection and was chosen as their representative at UC level (without any election contest). “I was afraid if in the election, I could not win (if for instance, some voters come in greed offered by the dishonest candidates), some people will comment that in the organizations, Ibrahim is preferred much, but at the union level election, he was defeated,” he reveals. In this way, Ibrahim came in political power. After the second phase, the UC members then unanimously chose Ibrahim as an unopposed chairman of the UC; while in other UCs such as Phandaer, Chashi, Gupis conflict emerged and there was re-voting.
Motivation for coming in the Political Field
During his period of his social voluntarism, when Ibrahim Khan used to pursue the communal assignments in the governmental or other offices, the respective officers valued a political leader more and then accordingly the communal tasks/projects were expedited. Ibrahim exemplifies, if one wants to choose the medical field, s/he should have the relevant certificates/degrees; or in teaching, for instance, s/he hasn’t the required degrees/certificates, s/he may not qualify. This also holds true for those people coming or choosing politics. The aforesaid points were however a force of motivation for Ibrahim to join the political field.
In 1973, ZA Bhutto gave the people the constitution whereby people have the right and authority to honestly choose their reps. “If I will remain responsible and go ahead in life, my words would get weightage. When a person is a public rep, s/he can better advocate for the peoples’ right. “When I became a public rep, I became empowered that I have 13,500 population of the community; and11,000 households in the UC.
Distinction between the Voluntary and Political Work
There is a distinction between the voluntary and political work, says Ibrahim. A voluntary or social work has its high value before the community for which people (volunteers) want to serve without any remuneration, election or vote. The volunteers sacrifice themselves for the causes of their society. They sacrifice their time, they sacrifice their thoughts (knowledge), they sacrifice their money and work. But in politics, people give their votes and that is a trust with the elected representative; and if someone negatively plays with the trust, s/he is out of one’s conscience; and it is a pity. It is therefore incumbent upon me, Ibrahim adds, to carry the trust and pursue the community needs from Teru to Gilgit. Here lies the distinction.
In the political field, there are many drawbacks within the governance structure of the government and thus a political representative also becomes effected. For example, when a person goes to the government departments, there we find lack of justice and equity; we cannot find 100% truth (in their work); we have to tell a lie before the community. To illustrate, in the bureaucracy, there is hierarchy of from the Chief Secretary down to the Deputy and Assistant Commissioner; and on other, the political setup has the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). “When we leave from Teru to meet the respective organizations’ heads, they may not be there in their respective offices: many of us think to tell a lie otherwise how to face the community if they do not convince when the truth is placed before them . For many weeks or several days we cannot stay in Gilgit because of our financial constrains,” describes Ibrahim. But when the reps could meet the respective heads in the public sector organizations, then it is nice. One can push up the cases in one way or other.
In the voluntary/social work, a person works dedicatedly and s/he may not opt for cheating or otherwise: if a work is done, it is done; if it is not done, it is not. In the government sector, something could be accepted for the time being, but it could be rejected in the aftermath. Mostly, 10% work is the public sector organizations are carried out positively and 90% could be rejected or not done, particularly in our area, as for nine months the people are under snow. From Teru to Gupis, there are 90 km and up to Gakuch, it is 140 km. So travelling for 280 km (both ways) become really a troublesome. Sometimes, the reps entrap in financial constraints, sometimes other challenges surround him. Ultimately, communicating the communal issues in time to the government becomes a genuine issue.
Affiliation with the Political Party
Ibrahim Khan belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party from the beginning. He was once offered a position of president at tehsil level, but he did not accept it by arguing that living in Teru and heading the party at the entire magistracy level will be difficult for him. Justifying his affiliation with he PPP, Ibrahim describes that there is no special reason before for joining PPP, but because most of the people liked and favored this party in the beginning and staged processions. He clarifies further that there is no such reasons also that he personally benefited financially from PPP and nor anyone cheated him to join it, but rather he liked this party and that is all.
Reflecting on and comparing the prototype and the current PPP, Ibrahim Khan has serious concerns. He makes a clear distinction between the previous and current party. It is not that party which was during the period of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his team. “Looking at and observing the present PPP, I hate from the party as there is no fair work; and there are no good people in the party,” he explains. ZA Bhutto had written that there was no facility to the people of the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan), except for the subsidized wheat. Currently, a bag of wheat cost is for Rs. 800/- in Teru; while in Chitral its price is for Rs. 3,000/-. “For this, we are indebted to ZA Bhutto for his given incentive. In contrast, Zardari wanted to lift it but he was compelled when the written record of Bhutto was produced before him.
The PPP therefore needs to strengthen and consult the constitution, which ZA Bhutto had made. Bhutto served the poor people and currently this party does not entirely adhere to it. Even Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) was distributed in the region but Ibrahim has strong reservations. The money was given to many unnecessarily favored ones. The list of the poor people which we had sent was kept aside. If the PPP would work under the communities’ supervision, it won’t loose its right direction. In addition, a single poor person from Teru was selected for the BISP’s tractor scheme, it won’t had become a sin. No single tractor was given to the poor in the entire Gupis tehsil. It sounds clearly that the BISP is for the unnecessary and prejudiced favors as the party also exists here in this area, adds Ibrahim.
Political Arena of Ibrahim for Five Years
In the last five years, Ibrahim came across some genuine problems; but according to his capacity, he tried his level best to serve his constituency. Ibrahim comments that it is not necessary that 100% of the people do favor him. “Before and after the election, the weight of expectation is somehow equal. No one has complained against him, Ibrahim says. People however asked Ibrahim that after coming into political power, he could not perform like the previous period while serving enormously in the social sector development, as the people had 100% expectations from him. But all community members don’t know that what kinds of issues come across when an elected rep goes before the government offices/departments, s/he gets confused with regard to the ambiguous mechanisms. While collaboration of NGOs with the community was based on fair approach and there were no implicit promises, but such approaches are not in the government organization. “If the public, for instance, demand for a degree college, that is not in my capacity. I need to go to the Legislative Assembly, first. The members approve it and allocate fund in the ADP, then there will come up Project Cycle-4 (PC-IV) of the project, which would involve or elapse five years and my tenure gets terminated in the meanwhile and I’ll become a liar before the public,” says Ibrahim. If the PC-IV is lying with the KANA Division, it becomes incumbent up on the respective MLA to pursue and approve it and that is not my capacity, he adds. The local people cannot comprehend such issues and hierarchy, although Ibrahim explains such stories and limitation of the UC to the people who expect very high from the a union councilor regarding the mega level projects. On the other, Ibrahim, has not that much financial capacity to pursue the matters up to Islamabad and make the facilities to his people, although he has awareness and experience.
Despite the aforesaid views, Ibrahim is confident that if he wants to come again in the political field, he can compete the opponents by at least 90% as he took part in the election once for the UC and sooner in the aftermath for the chairmanship of the UC. He however doesn’t intend to contest the next election, rather wants to devote his time for his domestic matters as his children are studying in the school.
A Perspective on the Social Worker, Political Worker or Elected Representative
Ibrahim is of the opinion that the people need a competent political leader in the field of politics who should have resources and could spare time instead of having a showoff in politics, which is dangerous. In choosing a person, the voters need to be cautious in taking into consideration the following matters in or with the candidate: s/he should be educated, influential, economically sound and should have a vehicle (for a candidate of distant areas like Teru) so that the people and the government officials should recognize him/her. Consequently, s/he could then create resources, develop the area in the field of health, education, livestock and could address other community needs. The representative needs to keep good relationship with all departments and organizations then the state of affairs will advance smoothly. Even in the social sector, people of such characteristics need to come or be brought in the front who could understand the contemporary period and situations, and according to the community’s need and aspirations. “You know that in this period, there are also varying nature of conflicts and violence such as religious tug-of-wars and others,” elaborates Ibrahim. It is therefore imperative to choose our representatives and volunteers very considerately and thoughtfully who have talent, skill and experiences.
Taking into accounts the modern time, Ibrahim recommends a good political governance to the people for swift development because the world is run with its resources. It is therefore important that best leaders should be in politics and social/volunteer sector. “If we put all responsibilities on the government, then who will perform the social and voluntary services which is an integral part of the societal development. Ibrahim thinks that in order to motivate the community, it is necessary to have voluntary and social services to avoid any conflict and violence among the community. In order to get benefits from the government, political service is important. “These facets are however interlinked and not separate,” Ibrahim explains the relationships. If groups of the community are not united, they are then failed in the political field and cannot do anything of their own. Voluntary service is the arm of political service. In the social service, there are peoples from different background such as religious and ethnical. If there are conflicts or tug-of-war among the religious communities, then people/reps of the political and voluntary fields are failed. If reps of these three fields sit together and work, the community will be organized, the areas will be developed and they can go ahead. It would be very ideal if these characters are found in one person, being a leader.
Challenges faced during the last Five Years as an elected Representative/Chairman UC
Ibrahim feels strongly that his community and area is very far from the center/headquarters of the government (Gahkuch and Gilgit) and he could not reach in time there to pursue his objectives and faced challenges, as in Teru there are snowfall and transportation issues for months. He thinks that if he had reached the centers behind the communal needs and issues, he could have done more services to them. The second challenge Ibrahim feels was lack of education in him, which is very important. “Being a chairman of the UC, I should had command over English language, writing good proposals and resolution as a chairman needs to pursue the issues upto the Legislative Assembly, the Chief Secretary and other high officials. Third challenge Ibrahim faced in his political capacity was his personal financial constraints, which is important to contribute to the community (when in encircled by the communal services). Identifying his weaknesses against the set challenges, Ibrahim describes: “Due to impediment of these three hurdles, I could not fulfill my political responsibilities very effectively.”. However, in the last five years, Ibrahim struggled consistently to overcome the challenges by meeting his financial constraints in such a manner that he walked on foot from Teru to Gupis; even sometimes when the Gahkuch road was blocked, he walked for 280 km, and served his community with his level best.
Financial Benefits from the Political Services to the Representative
Ibrahim Khan describes that he did not get any financial benefits in the political field rather he lost. “For instance, if we are given Rs. 70’000/- for a project (that also includes the community’s share), definitely, if I acquired Rs. 5’000/- (five thousand only) out of it, how come it meet my or my house’s annual expenditures,” narrates Ibrahim. Conversely, sometimes the project involved Rs. 500’000/-. There are instances that sometimes, I had to borrow even Rs. 100/- or 200/- from my relatives to travel to Gahkuch and back. The funds Ibrahim obtained for the development projects such as school, or school’s wall and others were spent on the completion of the projects. Third, the government did not approve any special grant for the UC from which Ibrahim or his other colleagues could get any benefit. In short, neither Ibrahim personally nor his family benefited financially from his political activities and development projects. Apart from the financial benefits, Ibrahim weighs the political benefits in terms of his interaction with different categories of people who know Ibrahim as the chairman of the UC. The practical services Ibrahim rendered to the community in social sector was brought into exercises for the political services of the people. For example, there was no school wall, when he became political representative, he managed to construct it through his political services. Likewise, he managed to construct a link-road, a bridge for the pasturelands and so on.
Achievements as Elected Representative
In collaboration with the Member Legislative Assembly (MLA), Ibrahim successfully managed to achieve in bringing the following projects for his area: (1) Constructed a wheat store (godown) having 70”x100” of size providing space for 13’000 bags of wheat by bringing a fund from the Legislative Assembly; (2) established a veterinary dispensary in the area; (3) established a government middle school in Teru; (4) established a dispensary for the community of Barsat; (5) supplied electricity for the Barswat community; constructed six channels (from Gulakhmuli to Barsat); and constructed boundary-walls of five schools (as they had none). Besides, being chairman, Ibrahim succeeded in reconciling a conflict between people of the two areas on two loal ravines.
Key Characteristics of an elected Representative
Ibrahim delineates the following key characteristics of a good elected representative. (1) s/he should tell the truth and keep his words if promises with the community; (2) s/he should devote his time; (3) s/he should have a good behavior and working relationship with the people and government organizations/departments; (4) s/he should have a good character; (5) should have good coordination and linkages with the government; (6) s/he should use the resources fairly and appropriately; (7) s/he should work interdependently and inclusively taking the opinions of the public and make them aware of the progresses and challenges; and (8) s/he should not encourage or bring the disputes of the local people to the government administration (police or magistracy) or to the courts, but rather should solve those conflicts and disputes localy through reconciliation.
Frustration in the last Five Years
Ibrahim feels that his area from Gupis to the Shandur border (at magistracy level) needs a separate MLA as the Gupis magistracy is populace among others in the district. When there is no leader in time, the tasks and development projects remain behind.
Ibrahim Khan has therefore experienced moments of frustration during pursuance of an objective when he used to travel to Gahkuch and the road is blocked, especially by the avalanches, and he could not reach his targeted destination and stuck in the middle. In such circumstances, Ibrahim would repent and get frustrated. But he was not disappointed from the community of his constituency; although, he was teased and uneasy sometimes by the government officials’ behavior when the latter would began making excuses regarding the development projects (PC-4) or otherwise. Solution for such issues is to tolerate them otherwise, one has to come in conflict with others.
Projects Accomplished as Chairman UC
Ibrahim Khan has also contributed in the societal development being chairman/elected representative of his UC. Some of them are being highlighted as follow: (1) constructed the boundary walls of the community middle school, Terur; (2) expanded and maintained a channel from upper Teru to the center; (3) expanded a water channel @Rs. 65’000/; (4) constructed a bridge for the Mashulan Nala; (5) constructed a new irrigation channel for a 50 households settlement; and (6) constructed a protective bund for Bahaj from the presidential package.
Besides the aforesaid accomplished projects, Ibrahim also approved the ten (8 male and 2 female) members’ identified project funds for their respective localities in the UC on accounts of water channels, protective bunds (eroding preventives/obstructions), bridges and the like at the total cost of Rs. 3.2 million in five years’ period.
Orientation with the Structure of the UC before becoming the Chairman
Ibrahim Khan was somehow aware of the structure of the UC before selected/elected as the member/chairman; but he did not know fully about its governance (projects identification and formulation, funds’ distribution and authority etcetera). When he involved in the system, Ibrahim learnt about the powers and functions by consulting the byelaws of the UC. He also learnt that being chairman of the UC, Ibrahim could allocate an additional project for his locality, but he did not opt for it rather distributed also that specific fund among all UC members on the basis of equality and equity: for instance, distributed Rs. 50’000/ or 60’000/ among them; while previously there was no such practice, Ibrahim describes.
Converging Point(s) for Social and Political Institutions for the Project Identification at the Grassroots Level
There was no practice of the projects’ follow up and maintenance, approved by the Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD). “I brought the manuals and distributed among the people by saying that the projects of LG&RD are of both the community and the government. Therefore, it is the duty of the community to maintain it. Don’t ignore it by saying that this is of the government.
In carrying out the AKRSP projects, Ibrahim thinks himself 100% successful. For instance, he gives a road project to and its maintenance to the community. Ibrahim insists, time and again, to the members in the LSO about the role of community in the road maintenance. The LG&RD stood successful this year and I doubt that when I’ll be out from the UC, there may be the status quo. The success story follows this way the road was maintained to up to its last end. Water was not allowed to enter on the road; the supporting stones of the road were not illegally lifted and carried away in result of awareness given to the community; and they held themselves responsible to take care of the project. On the other, the AKRSP projects are already in good conditions as the community take responsibility for their maintenance.
Unifying Force for VWOs, LSOs, LG&RD and the Public Sector Organizations
According to Ibrahim, the UC, LSO, and VWOs must not consider themselves isolated. Because of the VWOs, the UC and LSO come into being. The VWOs are plants of the first level and its has it branches spread over around in the locality. The UCs and LSOs are dependent on the good relationships with VWOs whereby the projects could be accomplished successfully; and the needs of the VWOs are also addressed. The only factor is lack of coordination. For instance, “I am the chairman of the UC as well as the LSO. I can’t distinguish the issues of UC or LSO are separate,” describes Ibrahim. Approaches in getting the fund could be different, but their objective is the same to work for the same community. The resources which these organizations get that need to be communicated to the community and stakeholders whether in the LSO, UC or in the VWOs. This gap could be filled only if the intentions of the leaderships in the organizations and at different levels are clean who can then implement their plans by holding meetings with the notables of the villages and area. For instance, if there is a meeting of the LSO, the social workers, religious people and the political reps should also be there. When the LSO’s emergency meeting is there, Ibrahim invites all stakeholders in it. And fourth, when a project is conceived or intended for the community, there needs to be at least opinions of 90% people; and there should not be any interest based on specific group or area or clan and so on, otherwise the project would fail.
After a deliberation, Ibrahim feels that accountability of the elected representatives could be made through different community organizations or social institutions such as the VWOs, LSO and the UC.
Conclusion and Message to the Youth
Conveying his message to the youth, Ibrahim Khan says: “If the youth wants to become famous, they can advance by rendering voluntary services. It is a reality that people engaged and confined only with their remunerated-professions cannot win hearts or minds of the community at large in a sharp contrast to those serving the people in a voluntary capacity.
The political representatives need to work according to the constitutions, laws and the policy. If a political rep lacks or has no education, the leadership won’t develop. People speak English and we speak Urdu. Therefore, merit-based people should come up in the leaderships. If someone comes with such qualities, s/he should realize his responsibilities by accepting the public as his public, the area as his area, and work hard day and night and serve the community. S/he would then be successful.
Thanks to the informant for sharing his invaluable life experiences and perspectives on governance and development. my gratefulness goes to AKRSP (especially Dr. Nazir Ahmad, Manager, Policy Dialogue and Partnership) for contracting this interesting assignmen to me in consultancy.