Dynamics of complexes in Chitrali society –1

 .. by Prof Rahmat Karim Baig                        

The present generation with its knowledge of theology, natural sciences and social sciences has a very different view of the current culture around them. They have taken it for granted that Chitral has had the same features, resources, connectivity, educational profile, social values, skills etc. but it had  other aspects of life and social structure based on many negative points of view. The old structure was very different compared to the present trends but at the same time many of the side affects of the bitterness of the past do exist in our culture.

The inhabitants of Chitral, then lived, in the gloom of uncertainty due to rift among  the members of the ruling family. The extended ruling family had become unmanageable for each of the rulers because of the ambitions of the dissident scions of the family. Each male who was born in the palace but fostered in some distant valley in a family with specific values, got different habits, mannerism, merits and demerits. Thus the princes brought back to the palace differing or contradictory approach to promote their interests along with a number of sketches for conspiracies, and sought chances to ascend the throne by hook or by crook. The fostering family and hence the whole tribe had envisaged a bright future for their foster son and supported his cause and opposed similar endeavours of the other princes. Thus all the fostering families and the tribes as a whole were at logger heads throughout the life time of the princes concerned. The tribes thus entered into a type of network of continued conspiracies and the bulk of the principal tribes became involved in one or another. The smaller tribes i.e. with their smaller population did not enter that tug-of-war and did not want to be embroiled in high profile cases that boiled underground  but erupted from time to time. Thus a state of unrest once started continued to take turns in different phases of history or did bring upheavals unexpectedly. The game was captained by the princes and the fostering tribes were their constituencies.

The tug-of-war between the tribes for promoting their cause went on and a state of unrest continued to loom over the political arena. They kept secret agents for gleaning info about the designs of the other tribes and also aimed at spreading rumours in the ranks of a rival tribe. Their struggle for gains and favours of the ruling prince or the one who was to succeed took time, but the prospects of succession were not clear and the throne could fall into the lap of any candidate e.g. Amirul Mulk, whom nobody expected to ascend the throne. The revenges by each next ruler were beyond description and the state of uncertainty was a main cause of malice and prejudice among the principal tribes. The one’s success meant the rival’s defeat, leading to loss of lands and royal favours. The bitter experiences of the past are felt even to date that surface up during election campaigns. The stories of the bitterness  of rivalry of one tribe against another is still related in the close circles of the major families and thus the toxicity of the bygone days, is transmitted to the new generation so the idea of bringing people closer to each other does not materialize, the distance is thus kept as it was centuries ago,  and this negative side of the complex is not subsiding noticeably.  Certain fake stories of the past of one tribe is overstated and in reaction the others reveal many of the dark aspects of that particular tribe is disclosed. So in a small area like Chitral nothing could be kept concealed for long. This is not fair for the future generation. .. Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig, Chitral 27 May 2022

One thought on “Dynamics of complexes in Chitrali society –1

  1. Prof, another very interesting write-up on Chitrali society. I think as a student of Sociology Chitrali society is a simple one. The reason for that is that we are among the equals – no one is powerful. In a tribal society like ours, power comes by large land ownership but in Chitral every one has a small piece. Now I would call it ‘khargher’as human population growing its more shrinking, even ex rulers have no such large land holdings. As a tribal society, there are tribes with different social positions and social stratification but their affiliation only works during election times or when their offsprings are married off. Small land holding and sectarian divides make the tribes and clans just a source of ascribed status, nothing more. Yes, during the princely state, the social positions of these tribes were different as the society was at a different stage. Mehter could take some one’s piece of land easily like a white man lynching a black man in America or a feudal lord in France putting a tenent in prison. We should discuss the social situation of the Mehter time but shouldn’t blame any one at this time as the societies changes and so do the people comprising the society.

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