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[Opinion] Politics, democracy and leadership in Hunza

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.

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  1. Nice to see Nazeer’s write up on election in Hunza it is worth to read, I just say well done.

  2. Dear All

    Thanks Nazir u highlighted some very relevent present time matters in a very cristal clear language. What ever u have writtn in the last paragraphs are heart tuching and a food of thought for all of us who claims to be a SHINA, HUNZO and GOJALEE.

    If I puts all ur question in two prspects one on all the world level and the second on the political based only in Gilgit-Baltistan. My responce be in this way:

    On the world level we have a such a strong leader- in my openion non of the humanity on this world have. So, no need to worry.
    The second point I do agree all the questions u raised, we all have to think and pave the pace for the comming election. This is now the responsibility from MAYUN TO ZUDKHUN to bring such a leader in election. Whom have the ability to set the kerb stone in its actual place. The cause is so noble and if any one set the mile stone. Reaching and tuching then will be easy for the comming one’s. If we again thought of the old memory snd KUTZ and falan KUTZ we ll slip again in some one;s hand and they will crush us.

    For that, in my openion we have to above all of these i.e. caste creed, language old afilations and self benefits and gains.

    Once again thanks for highlighting the issues of the vally in a very precise way.

  3. A very good effort to describe the politics of Hunza, I think this is the right time to discuss politics as we are going to elect our representatives for the next term, hopefully in October, this year.

    As for the last 4 decades, no substantial progress has been made which can be attributed to our politicians while they have divided us further on ethnic, economic and linguistic lines. The regional political environment has further polluted the political scene of Hunza as people with money earned from smuggling, drugs and corruption have entered politics to safeguard their special interests

    Hunza, being the most educated population of Gilgit-Baltistan is very unfortunate in leadership. In the ancient past people chose the “Ayasho” as their ruler and the result is obvious. People had to struggle for a whole decade to throw them out while his remains are still their as our world night-mares.

    The Party system is failed as it has in the whole country. They do not have any vision for the people and the area for even the next term, but they definitely have a very much worked- out plan for their personal gains.

    The question is do we (the people of Hunza) have a vision of our own for the future of our next generation????????

  4. 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?

    Ans In my opinion, there are several matters which cases us lacking of these abalities.
    1) We in gojal dont update our selves with currents affairs and news. Our drawback is we dont read news paper daily or at least weekly.
    2)We till haven’t think as a leader or leadership thinking.

  5. My counter arguments may not favor your honorable last “crystal-clear Para” regarding the literacy of our political leaders. I hardly remember any illiterate leader in the political history of hunza. People have long miseries of being ruled by Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan. I bet those people who claim rebelling him a lot are the people actually bringing him time and again. NOT THE LEAST HE IS NOT ILLETRATE (HE IS HOLDING AN HONARABLE MASTERS DEGREE). Nazir Sabir (I don’t need to mention if he too is illiterate: P) and for your recall Wazir Baig wasn’t any illiterate politician.

    Your honorable question please!

    Question: “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?”

    Answer: Our educated people are nowhere and one of them is a writer and is an Islamabad based banker, working for FMFB. He belongs to Moorkhoon, Gojal

  6. Nazeer Ali Khan has expessed thought provoking views. I am sure this type of communication will in due course of time usher in a mature approach towards development (both physical as well as intellectual0 for the proud people of Hunza. I also consider myself an idealist and visionary. In order to develop a truly democratic (and meritocratic) approach, a strong soceity and a suitable future system, a definite course of action has been placed on the net. I would invite the readers of Pamir times to visit this page ( and give feed back.

    The page is to be updated with “code of practice’ whic has been reproduced as follows:

    (Every organization should have a Code of Practice for Board members which is available to all stakeholders – AKDN Guideline Booklet No. 4)
    All such organisations involve people who have committed themselves to improving the society in which they live by what they do and how they behave. Commitment and voluntarism may, however, not be enough for an effective organization – specific organizational skills are needed as well. And these skills can be learnt.
    This document will ultimately contain following Sections:
    1. A Code of Conduct for the Governance (now)
    2. Terms of Reference for all Members (now)
    3. Terms of Reference for all Committees and sub-committees (on required basis)

    1. MEMBERSHIP: Basic to each member is the understanding that Governance (Boards or similar structures) are a part of the management function of any non-profit and non-government organization (also known as civil society organisations or CSOs). At its most basic, management can be defined as: “ensuring that an organization has clear objectives, and makes the most effective and efficient use of resources in order to achieve those objectives”. Each or all the members have at least some or all of five separate roots:
     Philanthropy and the desire to help people who are considered less fortunate
     The desire to improve local communities through mutual aid and self-help
     The desire to improve conditions through political and economic action
     The desire to take on services provided by the public or private sectors, and
     The simple reality of shared interests.

    The term “governance” is increasingly used for the big picture, long term and legal aspects of ensuring that an organization is properly run, and “management” for ensuring that the work gets done within this framework. Governing body which is legally and financially responsible for the organization and responsible for setting and monitoring long and medium term objectives, and developing policies.

    HDF members (Governance) are drawn from wide array of organizations that have a presence in public life (specifically elected representatives), including faith-based and charitable organisations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour unions, professional associations and foundations, village and women’s groups, neighbourhood self-help groups, social movements, business associations, microcredit organizations, coalitions, advocacy groups and above all the government. Presently this body consists of 22 members as listed in the attachment. But at the same time it is flexible and welcomes any additions with a background listed in the foregoing lines. The members are appointed or elected for a term coinciding with that of the Elections to Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALA and DISTRICT COUNCIL).

    2. EXECUTIVE STRUCTURE Should have the Understanding and regularly review the ethos and values that underpin the organization’s work, and ensuring that Board members, volunteers and others involved with the organization understand these values and how they apply to their work. They are also expected to:
     Maintain a long term overview of the organization and all its work
     Making strategic and major decisions about the organization’s objectives, policies and procedures
     Ensuring decision-making procedures are transparent people know who makes decisions and how they are made, and accountable (decisions are reported to the people who have a right to know about them)
     Ensuring that the needs and interests of relevant people and bodies are considered when making decisions
     Ensuring that adequate resources (especially people and money) are available to carry out activities, and making decisions about how to proceed when resources turn out not to be available
     Monitoring the work of the organization, especially progress towards objectives
     Ensuring appropriate action is taken when work is not being done, or is not being done properly
     Taking legal responsibility for the organisations and all its actions

    The body (All honorary workers) will consist of:

     A chairman:
     A Vice-Chair
     A Board Secretary
     A Treasurer

    The Chairperson’s/Vice Chairperson’s role has two parts, one practical, and the other institutional:

    • Planning and running meetings of the body, ensuring that everything is covered and decisions are made when required, keeping order, helping the group deal with differences of opinion and conflicts, being sure that everyone who wants has a chance to speak.
    • Ensuring that the organization as a whole sets and sticks to its policies and priorities, then serving as a spokesperson for the organization, making essential or emergency decisions between committee meetings, working closely with the manager to ensure work is being done properly and to help staff with difficulties.

    3. MEETINGS It should meet every quarter. The venue/timing and Agenda will be disseminated by the Secretary at least 15-Days in advance. Preferably a yearly schedule for regular meetings (Every three months) of the members for the entire year should be announced by Mid November each year along with the schedule for “Once a year grand Meeting”, which is to be held for all concerned “Hunzukutz” anywhere and also the committees constituted from time to time. Emergent meetings may be held on required basis with the consent of chairman.
    4. MINUTES AND ACTION PLANS the format for Agenda as well as recording of ‘Minutes’ /’Action plan’ is attached. Any concerned “Hunzukutz” may initiate a proposed item for inclusion in the Agenda any time through all available means, such as E-Mail, telephone, written paper etc. on this or similar format The decisions on each item of agenda will be on the basis of ‘majority vote’ if a clear ‘consensus’ does not emerge in the meeting.
    5. TENURE AND ELECTIONS The tenure of ‘Executive Body’ will commence and end in consonance with the Government schedule for election to District Councils and Northern Area Legislative council. The candidates proposed by members/General public will be chosen on the basis of at least 50% secret votes of the “Governance” to coincide with the “Once a Year Grand Meeting”.

    1. Names of volunteers whether willing to head the committees or participate as members received will be shared with all and placed on the web site. We expect the names of volunteers to be communicated to addresses on the website.
    2. All these committees are expected to participate physically in the ‘Once a year grand meeting’, while rest of the time they will use modern means of communication for their contributions from their existing work stations.
    3. Readers are requested to visit HDF website hosted by KADO (www. and help HDF through ideas and participation in collective effort.
    4. Sometimes HDF will set up Sub-Committees and Working Groups. All such Committees and Groups need clear Terms of Reference. Ideally every entity should have a Code of Practice for members which are available to all stakeholders. Through this the members should police themselves, but others involved in the effort can also monitor the performance of HDF.

  7. Well Mr. Nazeer

    Nice written, what ales should I say, but will it effect the people form the land or traditional ignorance, who does even have time for themselves.
    And you must have noticed the response form the educated, who measure right and vision by the conventional scale of Deegree as mentioned by the Naked Ape Hunzai, Mir as educated with a marvelous history , and Nazir sabir as educated man. What to say? And what more to expect .
    Empty words filling empty feeling, not visible to even self.
    And as to you has been expected, that what are you doing in Islamabad, I know you if you desire to work in politics, you will find yourself in wilderness or of the dark where everyone is with a white stick because not allowed to open eyes, as it is been part of the culture and act taught, by all spheres.

  8. Honarabl Mr. Rusth

    what other definitions of education you are giving about? you seems denying the the literacy of aforementioned political leaders of hunza.!

    “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” Plato

  9. Api or Apa Hunza,

    Just this it will take a while for you to understand the words of Plato, you have read and understood the writing of Plato, not the words. And this is not my writing but still Mr. Nazeer cannot make you understand what you already have sink in your

  10. Dear Readers , thanks for the comments, I just have expressed what I have experiences, what is my definition what are my thoughts, and what is expressed on the surface and hidden its is for the reader to find.
    It’s just a way to get the information out their not understanding, it’s the readers perception to get his own thought to light it on.
    I just respect all,

  11. @Rusth

    you are criticizing me not my comments…! that’s where you position yourself and your approach.

    Thanks for being judgement to level my understanding and yeah i will come to you and ask how much time do i need to understand the words not reading..!

    if you would have understood a single word, even the writing you would merely criticize someone.!

    Or you haven’t understood what i have tried to write..!
    Every single one is having deep concerns for hunza. just writing and expressing wishes in words ain’t take us higher. for your simplicity i meant to comment on nazeer’s post saying he too is an educated man. having said this he expresses his greif over non participation of educated people in politics. that’s called a simple theory of self negation.

  12. Nazeer this is a gr8 piece of work! I am impressed how you have formed your thought processes, your analysis and how you found the words and medium to express it.

    Seems you are finding ground and having good mentors and good company. Nice keep it up.

  13. A brief but precise expression of thoughts and of course a good piece of writing.It seems that it will take a long way to reach our destiny and bring change in this established political system. It is a harsh truth that we are facing multitude of challenges like poverty, social and cultural challenges,economic instability, political crises and terrorism, a product of self-interested people.


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