by Ali al-Hakim
Zufliqar Ali, a Pamir Times volunteer community journalist, recently interviewed a Sost woman who had participated in the April 24th protest against corruption in the SDP, and it is posted on the Pamir News Blog website. This brave and wonderful middle-aged woman vividly describes the voluntary efforts of the people of Gojal in constructing the building of the Dry Port. She says that men and women were filled with enthusiasm when the Dry Port project was inaugrated by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. All people were optimistic that this initiative would open up opportunities, not only for flourishing local businesses but also it could have triggered a process of job creation, and profitable return on investment made by individuals, village and women organizations and others in the area.
Nothing of that sort happened for the past one decade. Instead people watched, right in front of their eyes, that Mir and his family systematically and gradually installed themselves as the Lords of the Dry Port.
People’s patience and tolerance for these shameless violations of their just rights finally came to blows on April 24th. This was a popular uprising, though on a small scale, yet it clearly demonstrated the surge in popular opinion against two diseases that have systematically infected our society: corruption and injustice. The intrepid people of Hunza have now blazed a new path which all of us must, now, follow; they have shown us a path that leads to registering our legitimate concerns and raising our voices to be heard: these idealists concerned with upholding our traditional values of justice, trust, honour and fair-play have got to go down as our heroes of our generation.
In a bid to save his interests Ghazanfar wrote this rather carelessly drafted letter to the President of Pakistan, demanding him to interfere in the affairs of the SDP. In that letter he has invoked the idea of Sino-Pak relationship and possible deformities it may suffer as a result of the turmoil in Sost. He suggests that the occupation/takeover of the port by the new management may jeopardize Sino-Pak relations. This is absolutely senseless and, possibly, counter-productive. It is a tactic to mislead the government of Pakistan and create apprehensions in the highest policy-making circles.
It is illogical because the People’s Republic of China is a nation known for patience and also it is also a country known for upholding the idea of supremacy of the public opinion over the whims of oppressing individuals. Chairman Mao is remembered in history for standing against the decadence of the Chaing-Kai Shek regime and his oligarchs. China is founded on a revolutionary sentiment of people. China knows its values and it has always supported and pursued goals of supporting people’s power over those of dictators and powerful and ruthless individuals.
There should be no bewilderment on the part of the people of Hunza and the new management vis-à-vis China, because PRC is not interested in interfering in other’s problems in the first place, and even if it chooses to interfere then China will raise its voice for the sentiment and will of the people.
Secondly Ghazanfar in his letter carelessly uses an ominous word ‘miscreants’ for the women, children and men who have taken over Sost port to register their protest and demand their legitimate rights. The word evokes dangerous memories when it comes to Pakistan’s integrity. When used to describe or characterize popular will of the people living in a sensitive border area, it may create resentment and suspicion. At least, on this world alone Ghazanfar should have been careful. Furthermore, instead of championing the cause of the people who elected him in the last elections, he is trying to secure his own and his son’s crumbling interests. It is time now that people of Hunza should alert themselves to self-serving people like Ghazanfar and his cohorts. While the people of Sost along with others in the wider Hunza region have captured the moral high-ground, however it remains to be seen as to who will be ultimately vindicated: the people or the family of the Mir.
The writer is a student of London School of Economics. He belongs to the Hunza valley.