By Nazeer Ali Khan
In the past Hunza has been though many elections in which most of the time the same people who were dethroned by the Government from power, got the power to rule. How they manage to do that is yet another story, in itself. But it has made clear to all of us that majority of the people have not been able to accept the political reforms brought forward by the Government in 1974. What is the reason, illiteracy, love for the traditional role, or failure of the reforms to deliver the promised change?
The word election was introduced in Hunza by the Bhutto government, empowering people to choose their leaders and representatives. Here we must see the method of election that is democratic way of voting and selection. Were the people of Hunza, as in other parts, able to grasp the notion of democracy or not?
The 1974 change was a rapid and small change, as it was an effort of few student form Hunza and mostly form Gojal, educated in Karachi the then capital of Pakistan. People applauded, appreciated or accepted the change only because this movement was against the brutal taxation imposed on the people of Gojal and Shinaki, while the people lived in inhuman conditions, due to lack of basic human right, under the misrule of the Mirs.
Why are remnants of that system intact at positions of power, after so many years? It is due to the definition and understanding of the local people limiting the act of politics as by the leader by the leader and for the leader!
Globally politic is taken as the most effective tool to social, cultural and other civic development and human right, very powerful instrument of change for any society. Through electoral politics most reliable and educated one are elected, in pursuit of positive results. It is also considered to be a difficult task, as each politician is accountable, answerable and responsible to the people.
In Hunza, even after 40 years have passed, people still are unable to develop a space for political independence in their minds. It was introduced in the state of Hunza against the previous system, but still the same people are in the system as they were before. It can be said that Hunza shifted from despotism to elected monarchism; or neo-Miri system.
For a common man in Hunza, politic is the game of the elite, and the wealth people’s chance to earn more. Politic is never for the commoner (still the effect of monarchism) as it never effect or benefit any part of their life, life of people with shovel, and shepherd stick. Few of the commoner tried to come in the race of Politics but could not make it all of them lost due to reason ambiguous.
It should not be denied, that democracy has affected the area but only at UC (sub-division of Thesil, few village for one seat) level. But most of the people contested never had political or visionary backup but come form the profession of transportation (drivers) and construction (Govt. contractors).
In conclusion, we have stepped into the 21st century with challenges like poverty, political deprivation, extremism, ethnocentrism and our society stagnates under the burden of these challenges. While these internal threats are ragging on, there are external threats whistling at our doors, including the threats posed by religious extremists in Afghanistan and the Tribal and settled areas of NWFP, the wannabe global emperor’s (USA’s) desire to encircle the “red” republic, the Uighur/Turkmenistan Independences movement in Xingjian China, the Pamir separatist in N-Badakshan of Tajikistan and the independence movement of Kashmiris, to which we have surprisingly been tied by Pakistan and India.
The important questions in this scenario are what our situation is and how much we have prepared our self to face the challenges? Do we have any shield against and effect form any side, do we have any planned strategy to defend our self form any intrusion or invasion. Do we need to have voice to protect our rights against the present and future challenges? Who is our voice or leader? Can an NGO, religion or linguistic power save us.
I will leave you with the last and a very pertinent question. Why an area with almost 60 to 70 percent overall literacy rates has, still, space for uneducated, non-political and ill-relevant leaders? Where are the educated people of the area and why are they not in the area of politics, not interested or lacking the relevant education or is there any other reason hampering the generation form becoming leader?
The writer is an Islamabad based banker, working for FMFB. He belongs to Moorkhoon, Gojal.