Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

Structural violence in Hunza 

Saleem Sher Ullah

Hunza was formerly a princely state bordering Xinxiang an autonomous region of China to the northeast and Pamir to the northwest, which survived until 1974.It was finally dissolved by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with the beginning of local election in Hunza. The elite class of Hunza used elections for selfish purposes, filling their own pockets, disrupting the peace in Hunza. People of Hunza (Hunzukuz), since then face the structural violence initiated and perpetrated by government for its selfish heinous motives.

The Hunzukuz are well-educated people. Literacy rate of the Hunza valley is believed to be more than 97 percent among people below the age of 35. The local languages spoken include Burushaski, Wakhi, Shina and Domakhi. Hunzukuz follow the Shia Ismaili sect of Islam. The Ismailis are proponents of peace. They are not involved in even a single crime. Men and women work hand in hand. Basically, Hunzukuz up until recently have not taken interest in politics. The locals have remained absent from the political scenario of the region since long. During all these years, they have become bizarre of local government actions which generally includes killing of father and son during sit in for their rights and post-Attaabad land slide. Government has not taken any concrete action against police until now. Many tourists come to Hunza during summers, the dilemma of dry port, nbp loans and shortage of electricity qualifies among the big problems faced by locals and also tourists.

Structural violence denies important rights such as economic opportunities, social and political equality, a sense of fulfillment and self-worth to the people. People would starve to death; even go hungry when the floods strike the region resulting in shortage of flour in the Hunza valley. The violence against people perpetrates when human beings suffer from diseases. When they are denied a decent education, an opportunity to grow and work, express themselves freely, to organize peacefully, or to participate in their own governance. Such is the kind of violence Hunza has been encountering since generations and is in its tight grip until now.

Particularly, the current major concern for Hunzukuz is cpec. The Chinese Pakistan economic corridor often referred by the acronym CPEC, is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion, intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure, as well as deepen and broaden the economic links between Pakistan and China. Pakistani officials predict that the project will result in the creation of 700,000 direct jobs during 2015-30, and increase the country’s annual economic growth by 2.5 percent approximately. In future, cpec will help Islamabad to develop its economy but on the other hand the major route of cpec goes through Hunza. No concern is being paid to the environmental hazards Hunza is deem to encounter as a result of this project, no discussion is being held to discuss the damage to natural beauty of Hunza. A lot of Sino-Pak heavy trucks go through Hunza. Heavy trucks are the back bone of today’s transportation system. These vehicles consume million gallons of diesel fuel. The nitrous and sulfuric dioxide is produced by fuel. These heavy trucks pose two fold problems for natural beauty of Hunza. Initially they contribute to ground level ozone accumulation, which causes damage similar to mold, pests or chemicals in plant life as well as these gases reach the earth atmosphere and fall back to the ground in the form of acid rain. The acid rain can eat away plants, flowers, decimate forests and reduce crop yield. Acid rain also increases soil acidity. This can create inhospitable soil conditions that prevent crops and plants from growing in the future. The resources of Hunza are being stolen from Hunzukuz as a consequence of the structural violence Hunza and Hunzukuz confronts.

Amidst all the chaos, the charismatic leader of Awami Workers Party (AWP)Chegvarian style personality known as Baba Jan emerged as a hope ray of hope for the Hunzukuz. He fights individually against the local government for the basic rights of Hunzukuz and also for Gilgit Baltistan. He has spent his half of his life behind the bars because he speaks the truth. He highlights the ignorance of local government and federal government against Hunza and its people .Adding to it, the previous year local government has done very little for Hunzukz. Baba Jan fight for the fundamental rights of Hunzukuz. He presently is behind the bars because he faces groundless charges. The youth of Hunza ardently supports Baba Jan.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is also playing a very important role in Hunza especially for education, health and other basic needs of Huzukuz. Mostly NGOs give aid to Hunza for further spreading the structural violence in Hunza. PPP and PMLN have become obsolete in Hunza.Since the independence of Pakistan very few individuals have fought against structural violence in Pakistan like Asma Jahangir,Amina Masood Janjua andSabeen Mahmood. Islamabad needs to think very seriously about Hunza because of it’s a conspicuous and important location between China and Pakistan. Its geo politics is very important factor for Pakistan government. With the help of local government Islamabad needs to work for basic rights of Hunzukuz and promote peace in Hunza. Lastly, the government of Pakistan needs to take some substantial action for the rights of Gilgit Baltistan and against the environmental damage Hunza is prone to, as a consequence of the cpec route.

Baba Jan is the only person who can bring an end to the constant structural violence faced by Hunza. He is behind the bars because authorities want to continue the oppressive regime in Hunza until the region and its people are deprived of all the resources, which legally belong to the Hunzukuz. Under such circumstances, it becomes all the more important to support Baba Jan, participate in local politics, and bring him out of the bars so that he can do what others have miserably failed to do.

1 thought on “Structural violence in Hunza 

  1. good article but the statement “Mostly NGOs give aid to Hunza for further spreading the structural violence in Hunza” goes unfit with your context. Rather it would be better to replace ‘NGOs’ with ‘Agencies (internal and external) which are somehow indulged in structural violence in Hunza.

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