[Opinion] Shattered Shangri-La- Lessons For Hunza!

Ghulam Amin Beg

If James Hilton, the British Author of the best seller, Lost Horizon published in 1933, had visited Hunza valley on Thursday, 11th August, 2011, it would have shattered his dream of a Shangri-la, the fictional land of harmony, peace and tranquillity.

On that day, paradise was turned into hell; it was like paradise on fire, and seemed like the Ultar mountain demon, the evil spirit had come down the valley, and entered the evil body of the police officers, who sprayed bullets indiscriminately at innocent, unarmed and peaceful protestors, who’s homes, land and everything they lost on January 4, 2010, in the Attabad landslide lake. The shooting, killed a father and a son and injuring dozens of others.

As one speaker, addressing the spontaneous crowd of over 8,000 people who gathered the other day in Aliabad, at the crime scene, to condemn state terrorism and demanded arrest of the killers, said, ‘yesterday the sky was also weeping, you saw the sudden black clouds up above the valley and the heavy rain shower for almost one hour’, he said while crying. ‘Never before in the history of Hunza, such barbaric act of violence has ever happened, those buried in their graves for centuries, might have shaken as to what happened in Hunza, the land of peace and heaven on earth’, said another speaker.

Termed as a worldly paradise and a permanent happy land between the Himalayas and the western end of the Kunlun mountains, bordered with western Xinjiang Province of China, Hunza remained fiercely independent state for over 1000 years, and has close historic ties with China, before it was attacked and occupied by the British colonialists in 1892, and later, the British installed rulers joined and lead the other occupied neighbouring states to annex the whole Gilgit-Baltistan region with newly carved state of Pakistan in 1948.

The overt reason cited for the brutal killing was, the police force on forward security protocol duty along with the entourage of the Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan, who was visiting to distribute cheques to the same unfortunate victims of Attaabad lake who were protesting, wanted the road to be clear of any protest to pass the caravan smoothly.

In a similar pattern of incident, five days earlier, on August 5, 2011, over hundred armed mafia group linked to border trade with China, entered Hunza from south, passed quietly through all the police check posts, with no hindrance and boarded boats at Attabad spillway and reached Hussaini lake harbour upstream, attacked the small village of around 60 households, terrorized women and children, broken into houses, torched shops, tents and motor bikes, and inured dozens in a clash with local wage-labourers and local people. The police on site remained aloof and as spectator.

The reason for this act of terrorism and barbarism at Hussaini was that the local wage labourers and youth who are internally displaced and unemployed due to submerging in the lake of their houses and land and the only highway linking the valley down with Hunza. While the mafia and trade groups want a total business control at both ends of the Attabad Lake, which was unacceptable to the local people.

Later a peace delegation from the neighbouring valley visited Hussaini, and condemned the acts of the mafia, and apologized to the people and promised that such incidents will not happen again.

“We are born soldiers. We know how to fight and die for our land and our people. Look at the list of martyrs of 1948, 1965, 1971 and the Siachen and Kargil wars’, said an ex military officer from Hunza, ‘but we will never be such a coward to shoot at unarmed, civilians, terrorize women and children. Don’t be mistaken by our patience and love for peace, we know how to defend ourselves, and protect our people and our peace of mind, he added.

Other speakers at the gathering in Aliabad also draw a pattern in what happened on 5th August and what happened on 11th August. Obviously there is merit in many of the points raised. Who is for example interested in containing China, by delaying the widening of Karakoram highway (KKH), and draining of the lake that has blocked the KKH; who is interested to control the newly established Hunza-Nagar district, which is an important trade corridor with China; what is the interest of the vested interest groups in gaining petty shares in the existing booty from the illegal sale of relief goods including fuel oil at the spillway; What happened as a mob response damaging public property and buildings, was it pre-planned by the same vested interests who attacked Hussaini and killed IDPs or was it just a spontaneous reaction of teen-aged boys frustrated for many other reasons? who actually ordered the DSP to shoot and kill? Who armed the people and provided boats to transport to Hussaini?

There is a need to look back at what happened, and what is being planned to happen as a result of these two recent events, and may be other twists that are coming.

Who is watching these and the early signs?, who will take pre-emptive measures, and issue early warnings? Who is responsible for preparedness and response in the event of such man-made disasters?

The youth, nationalist and democratic leaders and activist need to call an all parties MARAKA to address these issues, draw lessons and chart a plan of action to defend the people and protect the Shangri-La from the evil spirits.

Rise up again, before our Shangri-La is shattered, and we are LOST in the Horizon!!

Originally posted at:

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    1. sir ii, thank you.
      I may not be in a position to suggest that.

      This could be initiated either by HDF or any organized forum or youth group or political party, sending invitations to all parties and stakeholders.

      I am ready to participate in my personal capacity.

  1. This is terrible & very sad. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

    I visited Hunza in 1997–truly Shangri-la, the most beautiful place on earth. Everyone we met was hospitable & kind.

    What is happening to our world?

    1. Pleased to know you visited Hunza long time ago and still remember that!

      While we now live in an interdependent and interconnected world, it seems
      the satellite waves are also becoming a carrier for transporting violence, terror and shock waves!

      We wish for a better and safer world

  2. We are just stunned and frustrated for what happened in Hunza during the last two weeks. I am personally searching for answers to the questions raised by Amin Sb from the day the incidents took place, but nothing other than earning frustration. We hope we can find all the answers and will be able to protect our land of peace and peace of mind from the depraved minds in accordance with the circumstances.

  3. Thanks for such a wonderful article with profound analysis!

    As far as the 8/11 incident is concerned, i wonder why didn’t our political parties whether the nationalists or the federalists even bothered to enlighten the people about the real perpetrators of the orchestrated drama on the dear land. The only achievement to them was ‘Political mileage’ they gained against the fragile government.
    Meanwhile It is a matter of great threat that how fundamentalist elements in the national intelligentsia are pulling their muscles hard for reaching their global agendas in our area. The need of the time is understand the larger picture of the story and how to dealt with them.

  4. Salaam amin baig bhai
    Thanks for yor great effort to raise awareness regarding the need of time. This was the question always in my mind from the day of ataabad disaster that who will take lead and save the people of gojal.. thanks you took the initiative .. this is the time we can do something … we are always with the good leaders of gojal to save from evils eye…thanks again n stilp we are expecting the same from our well educated people.
    Farzana azizz

  5. The evils are ruling our country and the evil sprit came all the way from Islamabad and entered in the soul of monster politician and police.
    The youth really need to think debate and unite and need to safeguard our peaceful area from this kind of acts in future.

  6. Excelent article by Amin Beg. It is very much clear that the trade mafia are fully involved in the recent terrorist attack on Gojal fully supported by the elected members at GBLA and using the slogan of GB Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The same mafia has taken loan amounting to Rs.1.5 Billion from National Bank of Pakistan Soust Branch and want to write off the debt and need grounds to justify the Attabad disaster and law and order issue at border area to convince federal govt, CBR and the court where they have already submitted petition to write off the said loan. These mafia has already recheduled the loan for further many years and has got sufficiant remissions on the markup. It is time to wake up and realize th senstivity of this serious issue and consolidate our efferts to join hands to save our motherland before it is oo late.

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