Diamer District is bounded by Astore District in the east, by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the southwest Neelum District of Azad Kashmir in the south, the Ghizer District in the north and northwest, and the Gilgit District in the north and northeast. Before the Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978, the only road reaching Gilgit town from the south was a rough track north from Balakot to Babusar Pass and further north through Babusar Gah to Chilas. The district of Diamer has a population of more than 150,000 people and includes the subdivisions of Tangir/Darel, and Chilas.
The literacy rate in Diamer district is 10 per cent and of females never above 0.02 per cent.
Chilas is approximately 130 km from Gilgit and is the headquarters of the Diamer District.
I came across the print and social media where I saw a person write about Diamer, “why I hate Chilas”, while another wrote “we shall cherish Chilas” and some write love Chilas. The whole Gilgit-Baltistan is my region and it is my moral duty to shed light on my region, especially Diamer, and present its power points and weak points to cherish the region. All the concerned people expressed their views and I think they are right about some extent but one thing is proven that we are anxious about Chilas. Why we are anxious about Chilas? Because something is going wrong .I will describe some facts that lead the current worst situation in Diamer.
Sheen and Yashkun divide prevails more or less in whole Gilgit-Baltistan but it is at the peak in Chilas,Diamer and claims dozens of lives . I clearly remember an incident when passenger buses crossing over the Gohar Abad Chilas in the morning. I saw the road was blocked by people and were throwing stones over other party which was lesser in numbers. My bus has been stopped near a police station. I conceal my ID card and left the bus while fearing to be killed. I was quit assured that it is a sectarian clash, somehow I decided I would ask from an old man possessing a gun and was lagging the rally a little bit but he did not bothered to just listen to me. It was quit risky because the whole rally was equipped with weapons and they were throwing stones.
I came to know from a spectator that the clash is between The Sheen and Yashkun tribes. On hearing this, first I took a deep breath and started seeing the whole scene. The two parties were throwing stones toward each other. I saw the a man with beard open fire on the other party and injured two people but I also noted their clapping after it. The injured people were in serious condition. God knows better what happened with them. I fled the scene.
2. Tribal Feuds
Situation is worst especially in Tangir/Darel valleys, followed by Chilas where Gun is a good companion of locals in their day and nights. People do not dare to go into streets in dark and usually they carry a pistol or a revolver on day time as well. They have culture of revenge. There are many reasons to start the blood feud among the people being land, water rights but Women stands the centre point of blood enmity. The highest murder rate is in Tangir/Darel, with Chilas having the second highest. The population of Chilas is approximately 60,000 which includes a number of valleys, such as Gohar Abad, Thagi, Gichi, Thor, Hodur, Thalpan, Gesh, and some others. But by an authentic source, the murder rate of this area is 20 to 25 people per year.
Historically, the diverse communities of Gilgit-Baltistan have lived together in relative harmony. Ethnic and tribal identities and social ties developed over centuries were valued more than sectarian affiliations and Diamer was second to none in their hospitality with all their mentioned weak points but in 80s the Gen Zia ul Haq injected sectarian poison in Gilgit-Baltistan, especially in Diamer where all the elements combined to produce an invasion against Shia community in Gilgit which claims hundreds of lives and damaged huge infrastructure.
This was the incident that dragged the region towards sectarianism .Later the list goes long and long as on February 28, 2012,eighteen Shia pilgrims were openly killed on the Karakoram Highway in Kohistan district while returning from Rawalpindi another attack killed twenty people at Chilas on April and terrorists again targeted Shia but also four Sunni who protested this brutal act ,killed twenty-two near Babusar Pass on August 16.After three major attacks the Government failed to hang the culprits. The brutality and impunity with which these crimes were committed have triggered wider sectarian tensions and hardened attitudes in Gilgit-Baltistan. The situation is tense,especially in Diamer.
Diamer is now literally “no-go” areas for Govt. As a result on June 22, 2013, about 16 militants, reportedly dressed in GB scouts killed 10 climbers and one guide. The incident has cornered the Pakistan internationally and made a worse image about Pakistan. The security agencies were quite active after incident but local Jirga helped terrorists to escape from Region. The Team which was investigating that case has been gunned down in Chilas including SSP a Colonel and a Captain.
Some people defend that the terrorists are not locals but local religious elements have played a pivotal role in establishing this linkage. The local volunteers go for training in Meran shah and Waziristan to help the Taliban jihad in GB otherwise operations in far-flung areas are not possible without the logistical support of sectarian elements within such societies. And the Mastermind of Nanga Parbat has been identified as named Majeed who is a local, not outsider. Gilgit-Baltistan is our home land we know about it ,about its nature and also know what is the solution.
Let’s be anxious about Chilas to find the roots of terrorism, do not let it to grow again and finally cherish the Chilas in a new way to make a civilized society.