Researchers and historians say culture that is the sum total of inherited ideas, beliefs, ethics and understanding, which constitute the mutual bases of social actions.
History and culture of Gilgit Baltistan can be summed into two words, i.e. Baltiyul and Burushal. DNA findings, architecture , archaeological evidence and folklores establish that people of different ethnicity lived in the region in the form of tribes, and princely states for over two millennia. Not a single state could claim to be of a single ethnicity. Even present day sub-clans are of different origin.
The main religion of Tibetans was Buddhism which spread in the 8th century AD in this region. When we talk about the culture of Baltistan, like, architecture, writing script, history, heritage, ethics and moral values show us a picture called little Tibet.
The valleys of Hunza, Nager,Yasin, Gupis, Chitral , Daral and Tangeer were parts of greater Brushal. The clans in the area of Burushal trace their ancestry to varying ethnics groups such as East Europeans , Persians, Turkic and Indus region of the sub-continent. Afghan and Chitral communities have been settled in the Pamir region of the Wakhan/Afghan corridor. Burusho are said to have migrated from East Europe and Shina ethnic groups mostly migrated from Indus region of the sub-continent. Therefore GB has has a diverse culture, and numerous languages. The languages, Brushaski, Balti, Shina, Wakhi, Khuwar, Gujjari, have different origins, like the people of Gilgit Baltistan.
The history we know about the region tells us that they lived with respect for each other’s faiths, languages and races. The conflicts were mostly related to economics, and not religious or racial.
However, the geopolitics of late 20th century and twenty first century ruined our norms and traditions of respect for cultural and ethnic diversity. Most recently imported values in the name of religious purity is dominating our old traditions. The right and wrong, culture and tradition, is being viewed in a prism designed by regional powers.
Culture is not a static thing. It is dynamic, and evolves with time. Stagnation cannot be called a culture, even if it exists for longer periods.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan need to think about which values to adopt or adhere to. What do we want? A society which believes in superiority of one group and expects others to follow or accepts the difference in opinion and choices people make? A society where men are considered superior to women, or accepts the same status for women and men? Or, do we want a society which has different moral values for men and women?
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