by Asghar Khan
Gilgit, May 21: The Ismailis have been playing a very prominent role in the development of Gilgit – Baltistan. Be it the field of education, health, economics, culture, agriculture, sports, trade or business the Ismailis have been the trend setters. They are not behind anyone when it comes to defending the frontiers of Gilgit – Baltistan and their country, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Be it the war of independence fought in 1948 against Indian and Kashmiri forces or be it the Kargil War, fought very recently, hundreds of martyrs have laid their lives by performing unforgettable acts of gallantry with supreme martial spirit.
The Monument of Freedom, standing tall in Chinar Bagh – Gilgit city, is a testomony of the fact. In the 1948’s war of independence the highest number of martys belonged to Hunza Valley and the Ghizar Valley, both predominently Ismaili regions. Shaheed Havaldar Lalak Jan (Nishan-e-Haider), an Ismaili, is the modern icon of patriotism and martial commitment. He was awarded Pakistan’s highest military award, Nishan-e-Haider (named after Hazrat Ali), by the government of Pakistan in recognition of his unrivaled bravery, comradship, sacrifice and military leadership.
The steps of Inspiration, organized by Ismaili Regional Council for Gilgit, appreciated, remembered and paid tribute to the gallantary of the martyrs belonging to Ghizar valley by visiting their final resting places and offering prayers. Around eighty eight martyrs belonging to Ghizar Valley laid their lives for Pakistan during the Kargil War, alone. It is for this reason that Ghizar District is also known as “Waadi-e-Shuhada” or the “Valley of Martyrs”.
The walk began from Chinar Bagh, the monument of Indpendence, on 15th May, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Prayers were offered and floral wraths placed at the tombs of Martyrs of Gilgit – Baltistan’s War of Liberation. The formal opening ceremony was held at Singul, Puniyal, on May 15th 2008, the same day.
A total of 170 trekkers participated in this event belonging to Gojal, Hunza, Gilgit, Punial, Ishkoman, Gupis and Yasin, and from Gakuch, Sumall, Gupis and Yasin senior citizens also joined this trek to Hundur, thus increasing the number of trekkers to 300. Aga Khan Health Service provided the medical facilities. The Aga Khan Social Welfare Board cooperated for the arranging facilities at different villages.
The major objective of arranging the walk was to pay homage to the martyrs by offering prayers for them and remembering their acts of bravery. The walk, to some, was also an exhibition of patriotic sentiments. It further attempted to bridge the gaps between Ismailis and other sister communities of the region by enhancing understanding of the institution of Ismaili Imamat, in the broader context of Islam and humanity.
Another important objective was to to consolidate the Imamat’s institutional capacity, and enhance a wider awareness of its impact in transforming the outlook and lives of the Jamat and Society at large and impact in transforming the outlook and lives of the Jamat and society at large.
Besides, the walk also created a social space where people from different regions, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds came together and reinforced their faith based commonalities and, thus, appreciated the diversity within the Jammat.
The closing ceremony was held at the Govt. Boys School Hundur Yasin. Certificates were awarded to the trekkers, medical, transport, and media team. A cultural show was arranged for the trekkers by the Jammat.