Articles / Essays, Lament

The Tenth Death Anniversary of the Accidental Disaster of the Wedding Party in Hunza, Northern Pakistan: A Poetic Visualization and Tribute to the 10 Deceased in Wakhi with English Translation

August 21, 2022

By Fazal Amin Beg

This small contribution is focused on the tenth anniversary of the ten deceased people of a wedding party in Hunza valley, Gilgit-Baltistan Region in the Northern Pakistan who encountered a tragic accident on August 22, 2012.The contribution is based on three parts including a conceptual or philosophical frame,the background behind the accident and the aftermath impacts . Finally, the lyrics that I had composed in December 2012 is followed by the Wakhi transcription and English translation.
We need to understand that birth and death are the realities of life and no sensible human can deny them at all. When a child comes in this world, he or she has to leave this temporal world sooner or later depending on the conditionalities around him or her. Some people leave this world in their old age after spending a maximum time in this world, some may leave this world even in their mother’s wombs, some amy die after their birth or during their childhood, some may depart in their youth and still some may pass away in their middle age.Whatever the age bracket may be, the only thing which is true is the death after birth and spending life in this mortal world. The conditionalities or factors of death may vary from individual to individual.The factors may involve natural death, cases related with murder, suicide, disease, accidents, natural and human-led disasters and so on.
In Wakhi, there is an interesting proverb, which says: “Chũvaki dẽ nobat, margi binobat” ( a birth is in turn but death is without any turn.”(. It means, a person’s birth is anticipated when the seed conceives in her mother’s womb. It is time bound and the concept of old and young are so concrete and transparent among the individuals. But, for the death, no one knows who will die first in a natural oder.
To reiterate and reemphasize, individuals in this world are for a short period of time like a travller in a Sarai or hotel and one day he or she has to leave it and merge with the spiritual world.As Jalaluddin Rumi the Great describes in his beautiful Persian poetry (Nasnawi):
Kaz nayiston to maro bibarideh-and
Az nafiram mard u zan nolideh-and
When I was disconnected from the spiritual world,
Men and women decry out of my isolation.

Har Kasi ku dur mond az asl-e khish
Boz juyad ruzgor wasl-e khish
Any body (soul) that gets away from his/her origin,
Tries his or her best to connect himself or herself with it.
To those, who are naturalist, should deliberate in evolutionary context in human life such as the stages from the seeds to phoetus and infant, from the child to the young age, from the youth to the adult and the old ages, where finally the life ends up when the energy or anti-matter leaves the body and the natural deformation appears resultantly.
However, it is imperative to note that while living in this mortal world within a specific timeframe, a person goes through series of tests and trials. Somewhere an individual succeeds in the tests or trials and somewhere he or she fails. But, one thing is so clear that a sensible person gets effective lessons out of his or her achievements and failures. He or she never remains happy all the time and in the same manner, he or she never remains unhappy or in misery.For instance, when we look at and observe the Nature itself (as we are part of it), there doesn’t always remain sunlight but rather has diverse conditionalities such as the rain, storm, snowfall, wind, cloudiness and the like. Humankinds thus has diverse conditionalties and situations before him or her.sometimes, a human thinks about something and it interestingly occurs spontaneously as oe of the English proverb says: “If there is a will, there is a way.” In contrast, when a human thinks about something, the opposite results come on the surface as another English proverb rightly says: “Man proposes, God disposes.”
When we keep in view such realities and conditionalities, many aspects of life could be termed wonderful and amazing, indeed. Did any human knew that the jubilance of wedding in Summer 2012 would entail an abrupt familial disaster and death? The answer coming from the common people may be termed as “no,” although, some religious clergies discourage to avoid wedding on Wednesday as it is considered not a good omen. However, in the current context and modern time, people have lots of professional engagements and time constraints before them, for which each one has to be time conscious in many ways in addition to the old cliche. Many among people like me would thus argue that each day is of the day of God or elevated celebrities and there is no harm with the day per se. .
Before moving ahead, we need to keep in mind that more than five and a half year, January 4,2010 to September 2015) remained a worst period in the history of Gojal (Upper Hunza) as it was a continued disaster behind Attabad disaster. No road link was there and people would travel in the boats on the Attabad lake of more than 25 kilometers until thetunnel was constructed by theChinese and re-linked the Karakoram Highway (KKH). .
In brief, on Wednesday , August 22, 2012, with lots of jubilance and paying all the related formalities of the wedding in the morning, in addition to the initial music and dance at Kũmars in Gulmit, the groom (Inayatullah Baig( and his wedding party left for Khayber (more or less 30 kilometers away from Gulmit). The wedding party had two HIACE vans (mini-buses) while the bride and groom were in a car. Altogether, probably more than 40 people were driving in the wedding caravan of vehicles.
The accident occurred when the bride named Benazir Ayub was being brought from Khyber (Upper Gojal). The reasons of accident varied: either technical issue with the van, or less/no sleep of the driver (as he was a host himself), or any other genuine reason. The wedding party of the groom was riding the unfortunate van, while the bride’s party was riding another van. Well, the van of the groom’s party reportedly was in high speed on the newly asphalted KKH on the wide space and at a plain site on the mountainous terrain. The van left the road at Shig̃hardig̃h (a place between Passu and Sisuni). The van flew in the air and went down the steep terrain for over 200 feet or so. Resultantly, 10 persons of my extended and wider family (paternal and maternal) serving at different voluntary and professional positions of leadership) lost their precious lives; while six other people injured and luckily survived after medical treatment.The accident site is thus termed as “Tuychi Platk” (Accidental Site of the Wedding Party).
Two of the deceased, late Bakhtullah Beg (my first cousin and Manager Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER of the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, Pakistan)and late Aqil Shah (Deputy Director of the Government’s Food Department), passed away on the spot, while others seriously injured. The courageous youth of Hussaini (Sisuni), Gulmit and other villages tried their level best to efficiently shift them to the Gojal magistracy hospital in Gulmit.
As mentioned earlier, there was no road link between Hussaini and Gulmit, too, due to the already prevailing Attabad lake disaster situation since January 2010. The two corpses and all injured people were shifted in the tormented boats to the hospital in Gulmit, but there was no doctor available after the Attabad disaster. It was really a pity that The doctors did not want to stay in the area hospital for longer time due to their own priority of comfort zones instead of remaining in the literally cut-off valley of disaster. However, it was so ironic to note that in the pre-disaster period, when the KKH linked Gulmit and Gojal with Central Hunza, there always remained a medical doctor in the hospital; but in the post-disaster situation, doctors avoided to stay or visit the hospital to serve more than 20,000 population on rotation basis for two weeks in a month. On the other, the political representatives and civil society leaders also sounded helpless in different context.
Nonetheless, Dr. Khadija Ali (an MBBS equal to Government’s Medical Officer and the only doctor with true dedication) along with her nursing staff (from the Aga Khan Health Center, Gulmit) and Sahib Jan (a compounder of the Government Hospital) along with his junior staff tried their level best to provide initial medication to the serious patients; but proved unproductive to deal with series of serious patients as they had never experienced such unpredictable accidents in a huge number in a nominal hospital.
Three serious patients including late Nasir Uddin (a Lambardar), Irfan and Shahidin (both proactive scouts) thus had their last breath in the inequipped and poor hospital of Gulmit. In compulsion, all injured patients were then shifted by boat to the hospitals in Aliabad (Central Hunza). Although, the distance from Gulmit to Aliabad is over 40 kilometers, the Attabad disaster and the huge lake would impede in the middle and it would involve than three hours to shift the people on boat across the lake and then by jeep to central Hunza.
Unfortunately, one of the serious patients, late Shokat Aziz (a scout leader) passed away in the boat neaer the so-called Attabad spillway; while two more, late Nasir Iqbal (a lambardar and community leader)and late Dad Ali Shah(a retired JCO and Captain of the Aga Khan Volunteer Corps), left this mortal world forever in Aliabad hospital.
Another serious patient, a young gentleman and talented musician named Mujahid Qurban of Ghulkin, departed this world on the way to Gilgit Hospital from Aliabad. Late Muhammad Wassi, the driver and a volunteer who was unconscious, was shifted to Islamabad from Gilgit but after ten days, he died in the hospital.Consequently, altogether, ten people lost their lives in the face of this tragic accident during the disaster time that left behind dozens of immediate families helpless and with hue and cry for a long time.
It is significant to note that for ten months after the tragedy, there was no jubilance as per se in the entire area. Though, it became ten years for the accident, the unfortunate day of accident was still remembered by all the families in particular and all community in general.An attempt was made by the siblings and other family members of late Lambardar Nasiruddin to break the ice. In this regard, a joint wedding ceremony was celebrated in ten month’s period after the death of their deceased. Music and dance session was organized but the people of the area were yet unconfortable. Keeping in view such deadlock, the Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association (WTCA) arranged an indoor cultural event at entire Gojal level in Gulmit, in which devotional and romantic songs were sung along with music and dance. The ice was effectively broken and people then began celebrating their wedding with jubilance, music and dance after ten months.
However, we need to understand that accidents occur and will occur everywhere due to different reasons but how the medical facilities are given to the patients in the targeted hospitals is important to be kep on high priority. The government hospital of Gulmit has been equipped to a certain level, there was no doctor available. This is the area (International borders valley ) that generates billions of revenues to Pakistan; but how much in percentage is being spent on the people’s basic needs and development is a big and serious question mark.
After Attabad disaster on January 4, 2010, the then Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Region, declared Gojal valley (Upper Hunza) as the calamity hit area but nothing came up in reality by the insensitive and ignorant government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Instead, the corrupt leaders and representatives as well as their agents and party members immersed themselves fully in the disaster politics by politicizing and leading the disaster towards further deterioration instead of countering it robustly and effectively.
It was so shocking to witness that this unprecedented disaster upon the human-led Attabad disaster didn’t positively affect or develop a humane and obligatory feeling and realization on the wild authorities and political representatives. More or less 80 dependents got deprived of their immediate support, especially children suffered not only in paternal affection but also their educational support sustenance ceased. Old parents and immediate kinspersons (between 70-95) of all of these young deceased (below 60 years coming down to 22 years old, except for two siblings who were under 67) experienced a day of resurrection to them. Community leaderships at different levels in civil society organizations suspended and a big gap emerged. This high scale of death could have been averted/reduced provided at least the related public sector organizations were equipped by the doctors and required equipment.
Although, ten years are evidenced to have passed after the tragic accident and the sacrifice of the ten deceased in August 2012 as well as other genuine death cases of the community of upper Hunza due to health issues, the day invites all stakeholders today to be critical and open enough within themselves that to what extent, at least, the hospitals in Gulmit and other parts of Gojal have been facilitated and deservingly equipped to effectively address the health emergencies and avoid death of different natures?

Coming to the conclusion, let me describe here that the following important and historic elegy I had composed on the above elaborated but tragic, mournful and disastrous accident of August 22, 2012 that took ten precious lives of the wedding party. It was so interesting, in a sense, that for four months after the accident in august 2012, the deceased people would constantly appear in my dream, more particularly, my first cousin, late Bakhtullah Beg would accompany me all the time in my dream for over four months. This also held true in the case of late Aqil Shah and late Nasir Iqbal. Interestingly, one night, all of the deceased appeared in my dream, visiting our home in Gulmit and I conducted a focus group discussion with all of them that how did they get accident. They thus shared some information with me in my dream. It was thus in December 2012 when I composed the detailed poetry on them, and especially after bringing the elegy on the limelight in the beautiful voice of Riaz Khan Sahar and with the inspirational music of Ulfat Rahim and his team in June 2013, all of the deceased ceased their appearance in my dream, though occasionally I could see some of them. I hope the listeners, viewers and readers would seriously ponder over the lyrics and will enjoy the music. Before ending up here, I must share that earlier than 2015, my nom de plume was Mũsofir (meaning “traveler” in this world). However, after February 2015, I replaced it with my official name as Fazal Amin by announcing it in a poetic session held in Gulmit organized by the Shia Ismaili Council.

Cẽ Nogũmonen Sav Nost: (We Lost you Incredibly)

Cẽ Fazal Amin Beg en

Ye z̃hũ spreg̃hi ra’no, ce nogũmonen sav nost
Dũnyo vit saver kũto, dẽ tobistonen sav nost
Oh my elegant flower, we lost you incredibly,
The world shrank for you, we lost you in the summer.

Khũsh tobiston dẽr nola, sav-e nowakht ajal en
Gham-e so’at’ri gila, ce dẽ giryonen sav nost
The happy summer is mournful for your untimely death,
The complaint is to the miserable moment, we lost you with hue and cry.

Ghelchev khas̃ht khálg’ve, ne tu jũr so’at-e tuy
Ya khũshig̃h g̃hirde z̃iruy, ce sargardonen sav nost
People became skeptic of the day that it was not favorable for the wedding,
The jubilance turned upside down, we lost you with a huge shock.

Tapinev vit tẽr hawo, boz et shohin-e jẽnaw
Hacem shet dest en bũlo, ce tẽr osmonen sav nost
You flew in the air just like a falcon and a hawk,
The disaster (like the lava) came out of the land, we lost you in the space.

K̃Han’nes̃h tu z̃ereng yem marg, albat nivishetk KHũdhoy en
Ney, yem vit zũlm gũdoy’ven, ce notawonen sav nost
People think that the death perhaps came from the God,
Or, did it emerge due to the devils as we lost you in our weakeness?

Vitkev gar sasht ozod, ca k̃hũ jon-e qafas en
Kũs̃hũy’t yem suz dẽ faryod, demk̃hũkhondonen sav nost
Though, you are free from the prison of your soul,
Listen the continuing hue and cry, we lost you here in our family.

Zẽmanver nas̃hte shafqat ki yav nũsetk k̃hũkhuz̃hg tat
Tatnanver wezd qiyomat, dem k̃hũ zindonen sav nost
The children lost their paternal love as there is no more their father (in this world),
The parents face the day of resurrection, as we lost you in this prisonhouse.

Zodbũd’ve nost k̃hũ hamsar, thete k̃hũyvrũt’v-e jigar
Vitkev dustyorisht bipar, dem k̃hu makonen sav nost
The wives lost their husbands, the liver of siblings are burnt,
The friends and companions have become wingless, we lost you in our house.

Tuwev k̃hũ diyor-e moya, k̃hũ idora’v-e sardor
K̃Hũ wataner madadgor, ce ghafch gironen sav nost
You were the assets of your village, heads of the organizations,
You were the supporters of your homeland, so preciously we lost you.

Chũvaki marg-e dẽstan, hechkuyi nast dem inkor
Ghelchijin marg dẽr qẽtor, biposbonen sav nost
Birth is for death, no body denies it,
But so tragic your death in sequence was witnessed, we lost you without any defender.

Avoljin vit sav nẽs̃hak, spo zindagig̃h dar thẽwak
Ne dorũwdarmon gũtak, ce bidarmonen sav nost
So miserable/ shocking was your death, our lives are constantly on the fire,
No medicine was found (in hospitals),we lost you without medication.

Odamisht vite giryon, ozores̃h wocita bachat
Jobirver chiz yem towon, ki dem tũfonen sav nost
The true humans were mournful, praying if you all would survive,
But how could there be the concern to the wild beings that we lost you in the storm.

Weztes̃h da z̃hũ yinot k̃he, woc’mes̃h wuz ca’n be pilpich
Z̃hũ dũnyo ca’n be tirich, ki dem korwonen sav nost
You all come in my dream and I become further restless,
My world becomes further dark that we lost you in the caravan.

Nastev wudhg dem jahon, sav baf yarkishtev payom
G̃hat-a saver spo salom, ce bi-armonen sav nost
You are not in this world today but your good deeds are filled with messages,
Our salute to you all, we lost you incredibly.

Ceyev zavovd sav marka, vite drem lup yi darbor
Neyev wintu z̃e’ng ror, dem Kuhistonen sav nost
The death ritual of you all was fantastically graced as it was an elevated ceremony,
Never such day was witnessed earlier, though we lost you in this mountain land.

Nikbakht sav ruhisht tiwetk, saver Mawlo rat du’o
K̃Hũ paristonev g̃hẽtetk, gar dem jahonen sav nost
Your souls tested to be so elevated that Imam of the Time blessed you with special prayers,
You’ve got your heavens, though we lost you in this world.

Mũsofir!dish yem dũnyo, yemi Mũsofiriston
Margi nast drmer pinhon, magam arzonen sav nost
Hey Mũsofir (Fazal Amin)! Know this world, it’s a place of travelers,
Though, the death is never hidden, we lost you all amply.

Thanks to all those who are so kind towards me and sincerely appreciate my creativities, especially the poetry composition I’ve made in Wakhi, Persian, Urdu and English. I’m so grateful to the singer of this lyrics Riaz Khan Sahar of Kiel, Chipursan valley, Hunza, and Ulfat Rahim and his team for their wonderful music composition. Special gratitude to my friends Aziz Ahmad of Murkhan (a political leader and a creative artist) and Niyatullah of Ghulkin, for their kind contribution to convert the audio into pictorial video and also collecting the necessary pictures of the deceased people from diferent sources with due acknowledgement. Thanks

Note: Those who understand the Wakhi language can get access to the EaglesWorld and watch the lyrics in video on the following link:

Production, presentation and Copyright@2022
Music recording: Silk Route Sound Center, Gilgit
Poetry composition: Fazal Amin Beg in December 2012
Vocal: Riaz Khan Sahar of Kiel, Chipursan Valley, Hunza
Special collaboration: Aziz Ahmad of Murkhun and Niyatullah of Ghulkin
Wedding video: Inayatullah Baig of Gulmit on August 22, 2012
Video and pictures: Ali Ahmad of Gulmit and others related
Concluding voices in Ads: Aziz Ahmad of Murkhun and Sultan Ahmad of Reshit
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#WakhiWedding #Gulmit #deceasedpeopleoftheaccidentingulmit

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