The stranger things of Gilgit-Baltistan

Published on: 07/10/2019 | Comments: No comments 

..? by Shabbir Mir

GILGIT BALTISTAN: It was about 10 pm when Nadeem Asif realised he had not trimmed his nails yet. A day earlier his teacher had strictly warned him not to come to class with uncut nails.

The seventh-grader got hold of a nail-cutter, sat in a corner of his room and started trimming his nails indoors as he feared going outside in the dark. While he tried to evade the attention of others, his younger brother spotted him doing what is considered an ?inauspicious? or ?sinister? thing to do while indoors. Nadeem was immediately reprimanded by almost every member of his family.

Trimming nails indoors is one of the many superstitions people in the landlocked region of Gilgit-Baltistan believe in. According to ancient beliefs that still prevail, the act brings miseries and misfortune to a family.

?I call it a belief which everyone should adhere to for a peaceful and prosper life,? says an old woman who has lived by the superstition strictly all her life. ?We got it from our ancestors and will pass it on to our new generation.?

Just like trimming nails, women avoid combing after sunset because it ?pleases the evil eye? which ultimately affects them. And throwing or burning fallen hair is also considered something bad that affects the woman?s and her siblings? health and wellbeing. Travel after sunset is discouraged especially for women to avoid the ?shadows of malevolent forces?.

stranger things Gb for web

According to another superstition, a rooster that crows at around midnight are believed to invite troubles upon its owners unless it is slaughtered the next day. It is also widely believed that crossing a bridge after sunset makes a woman?s delivery easier.

Most enigmatic, perhaps, is the decades-old myth in Baltistan that glaciers can be grafted by mixing snow from two opposite glaciers presuming one is male and another female. The practice has, however, greatly decreased over the years after environmentalists stepped in the field conducting surveys of glaciers.

?The idea about male and female glaciers existed also in the Gilgit region, not only in Baltistan,? explained Munich-based anthropologist Dr Martin S?kefeld, who has conducted extensive research on the region. ?And yes, people actually ?planted? new glaciers by mixing ice from male and female glaciers.?

?John Staley wrote about this in his book ?Words for my brother: Travels between the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas?. According to him male glaciers have clear ice and female glaciers have cloudy ice,? explained Dr S?kefeld. ?He describes how a glacier above the village Minawar was planted in this way.? If I remember correctly, Uzma Aslam Khan refers to this in her novel ?Thinner than skin? as well.?

The list of superstitions seems endless and varies from valley to valley. Even though the origin of these beliefs goes back hundreds or thousands of years, some people still get freaked out by them even in this age of science.

In a shocking event last month, five women of a family drowned in the Jaglot area ? about 50 kilometres from Gilgit. According to the police?s initial investigation, the women were washing clothes on the bank of a river when one of them was swept away by water currents. The rest followed as they jumped to rescue her. All the women were uneducated and belonged to a poor family.

But back in the village, relatives blamed supernatural forces for the tragedy. ?One of them had been possessed by a djinn for a long time,? a relative claimed following the tragedy. ?And it is quite possible the rest of the women too fell prey to some malevolent entity.?

In yet another case that made headlines a couple of years back, a pre-schooler was allegedly abducted and murdered by ?djinns? in Diamer, a backward valley of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Four-year-old Ahmad had gone missing from home. Two weeks later, his mutilated body pockmarked with wounds was found dumped in a nearby forest.

Instead of registering a case with police, the relatives sought the help of exorcists who claimed the boy was possessed by a female djinn who was enamoured with him.

Islam Khan, who lives in Gilgit, says one of his relatives is settled in the UK. ?He contacts me quite often to discuss his problems with me. After listening to him I take his problems to spiritual healers who, through exorcism rituals, solve them,? Islam told?The Express Tribune.

?You see the results, as we start rituals the patient starts feeling the heat which is actually the evil force inside the person feeling the pain,? said Khan who is in his 40s. ?Everyone can?t perform the rituals. It requires hectic efforts which one can do in isolation for at least four months.? After four months not necessarily everyone qualifies to be a spiritual healer. Only a few succeed.

Exorcist Mayoon Khan said he inherited the ?art? from his father. ?This knowledge was transferred to us by our forefathers and we will pass it on to our kids.? Though he did not share what incantations they recite during the exorcism rituals, Mayoon explained the rites were carried out to overcome the ?evil eye?. He also insisted on there being two types of djinns ? good ones and destructive ones.

?I think many of these superstitions are on the decline especially in educated families but not completely extinct,? said a schoolteacher. ?It is more in uneducated societies that also entangled with the financial crisis.?

Dr S?kefeld suggested there could be other more mundane explanations to the murder by djinn stories. ?For reasons of justified fear, people might avoid attributing killings to the actual human murderer, fearing the murderer?s retaliation and wrath,? he said.

?Or they do not want to accuse a near relative of a crime. Then jinns come in handy, as an explanation. I think such stories would need much more exploration,? he added.? ?.. Source

GB women Football League kicked off today

Published on: 13/09/2019 | Comments: No comments 

CHITRAL:? Eight teams are competing in the Female Football league tournament in Gilgit Bltistan, Passu. The tournament is a five day event and has received wide support from spectators and football lovers. However the players complained of lack of support and sponsorship from the government. The Urdu video is produced below courtesy Gilgit TV .. CN report,13 Sep 2019

Pilot error cause of ATR crash landing at Gilgit Airport, says report

Published on: 28/07/2019 | Comments: No comments 

Chitral: The inquiry report set up to investigate the skidding off after hot landing of the PIA ATR aircraft at Gilgit airport on 19 July 2019,? has apportioned the blame on the captain of the aircraft.

The Captain Maryam Masood,? a lady pilot of the PIA, known for her flying skills and professionalism, confessed that the aircraft had made a high approach and overshot the original touchdown point at high speed causing the accident. Both the captain and the co-pilot have since been grounded. .. CN report, 28 Jul 2019

Well played Gilgit; Chitral is the winner again

Published on: 09/07/2019 | Comments: 1 comment 

Chitral: Shandur Polo festival had a throbbing climax when the Chitral A and Gilgit A teams fought it out neck to neck till the finish when Chitral put the ball through the goalpost in the dying moment of the match to win the Cup by a short head i.e a lead of one goal.

In the first half of the match Chitral team led by by five goals against two of Gilgit appearing the clearly stronger side. In the second half however Gilgit came on strong and equaled the score at 5-5. All this time Chitral was mostly on the attacking side but failed to convert many attacks into goals while the Gilgit players did not miss the chances they got.. The Gilgit players showed good stick work and control over the ball. However merit outshone finally when Chitral led by Shahzada Sikander Ul Mulk was rewarded with the winning goal, seconds before the trumpet blew. Izhar Ali stood out as top scorer from Chitral side scoring five out of six goals.

The final match was telecasted by PTV news. Prime minister was expected to witness the final game but his program got cancelled at the last moment due to his urgent commitments. Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood was the Chief guest on the occasion.

One feature that was quite visible in the match as in previous Shandur festivals, was the good number of uniformed personnel visible witnessing the game as spectators. Military uniform is highly respected and venerated in Pakistan, however,? too many uniformed personnel in a civil festival looks a little odd. In countries where tourism is their main economy e.g Thailand, Turkey etc, there is strict vigilance by security staff, cameras etc on beaches and public places, but no uniformed person can be seen by tourists. All the duty personnel are in civvies and behave like tourists and mix with them while carrying out their vigilance. It is therefore hoped that this point will be considered in future Shandur and other festivals. .. CN report, 09 Jul 2019


Plan to build five star hotels in Gilgit Baltistan

Published on: 23/12/2018 | Comments: No comments 

BEIJING: Vice Chairman, Board of Investment, Gilgit-Baltistan Raja Nazeem-ul-Ameen has said that the construction of five-star hotels would soon be started to attract more foreign and domestic tourists particularly the Chinese visitors in the scenic areas of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The commercial and political attach?s from the Chinese Embassy, Islamabad recently visited Hunza to examine the current facilities for the Chinese tourists.

They expressed a need to further upgrade infrastructure and construct world-class hotels, he said while talking to APP here.

He said the local government had contacted the management of Serena and Hashoo groups and invited them to construct five-star hotels for foreign particularly the Chinese tourists.

Raja Nazeem hoped that the construction of first such hotel would start in early next year and expressed the confidence it would help attract more visitors.

Terming tourism as the largest industry in GB, he informed that the menace of terrorism had spoiled this important industry leaving a number of people jobless.

He, however, remarked that owing to improvement in the security situation, around 1.5 million domestic and international tourists visited Gilgit-Baltistan during the last three years.

The Vice-Chairman informed that more than 22,000 foreign tourists visited different areas of Gilgit-Baltistan this year which was significant for the development of the area.

Raja Nazeem who attended the 8th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) held here last week, said the GB had presented a proposal for the construction of two power projects with a capacity of 100 MW and 80 MW each to be built under the private partnership.

?We have also proposed construction of a road linking Gilgit-Ghyzer-Chitral, Shandur and Chakdra,?, adding, the mode of payment would be discussed in the forthcoming Joint Working Group meeting scheduled to be held in Islamabad in January.

He informed that according to a feasibility report, the GB has a capacity to generate around 53,000 MW hydel electricity at a low cost and added, ?We are trying to convince the private sector to come forward and participate in the construction of these projects.?

He said this huge potential could help the provincial government to export electricity in future, provide employment to local and save foreign exchange.

Raja Nazeem informed that the Chinese companies were being convinced to set up hydel power stations to produce up to 5,000 MW in the next three years.

About potential of minerals, he said, the provincial government was focusing to tap the potential of mining to generate employment and earn precious foreign exchange.

He said the forest protection was one of biggest issue.

However, the local government had imposed a ban to stop cutting of tree and illegal sale of wood.

?We have devised a plan to train local people to locally make furniture enabling them to earn a respectable livelihood,? he added.? .. Source

NHA to Build Gilgit-Shandoor Road as Alternative to CPEC route

Published on: 24/10/2018 | Comments: No comments 

National Highway Authority (NHA) has planned?to build a 216 kilometre Gilgit-Shandoor road to provide an alternate route to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Talking to APP here Monday, an official of NHA said that project forming part of the Gilgit-Shandoor-Chitral road which would provide an alternative route to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said that detail design and feasibility study of the Shandoor-Chitral section has been completed while?pre-feasibility study for Gilgit-Shandoor section has been completed.

The official said that new road will be an all-weather road and so that it could provide an alternative route to CPEC during the winter season. Moreover, it will provide another route to Chitral other than the Lowari Tunnel. The estimated cost of 345 kilometre road is Rs 45 billion.

In the 6th JCC of CPEC held in 2016, it was agreed to include Chitral CPEC road from Gilgit,Shandoor,Chitral to Chakdara in CPEC portfolio. He said that the road starts from Gilgit town located on Indus Highway and ends at Chitral town located at Nowshera-Chitral Highway.

He said that the feasibility study of 148 km Shandoor-Chitral section has already been completed whereas the process of feasibility study and preliminary design of he remaining 216 km section Gilgit-Shandoor section will be done in near future for execution of the project under the CPEC umbrella.

About the present condition of the road , he said it was constructed in 2002 by the provincial government but its sharp curves and steep gradient make movement of traffic difficult and unsuitable for heavy traffic. About the objectives of the project, he said that it would connect adjoining areas and valleys, will help boost tourism and create new job opportunities for local residents.

The project will provide better communication system to the people of the area and after completion of Lowari tunnel, this road shall serve as an alternate to Karakorum Highway. and create new job opportunities for local residents.

The project providing better communication system to the people of the area and after completion of Lowari tunnel, this road shall serve as an alternate to Karakorum Highway. .. Source

The Queen of Gilgit who gifted water to her subjects

Published on: 09/01/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Portrait of Dadi Jawari, a 17th century ruler of Gilgit, and one of the two irrigation channels she got built between 1630 and 1660 AD. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Portrait of Dadi Jawari, a 17th century ruler of Gilgit, and one of the two irrigation channels she got built between 1630 and 1660 AD. PHOTO: EXPRESS

GILGIT:?Through the centuries, most people have tried to seek ?immortality? through different means.

Some tried to do it through pictures or stories about themselves. Others built statues to remind subsequent generations. Others still built giant monuments as a testimony to their grandness.

But few have of these methods have stood the trial of time.

But for four centuries, the name of a female ruler in Gilgit has been recalled every time the crops were watered a sip was taken at one of the two irrigation canals that feed the valley.

Dadi Jawari, a 17th century ruler of Gilgit, gave the region perhaps one of its greatest? gifts ever.

Ajeeni daljah and Khireeni daljah are the two main irrigation channels feeding Gilgit which had been built by Jawari between 1630 and 1660 AD.

They had been built to irrigate what is now Kashrote, Nargal, Majini Muhallas, Barmas and Sonikot areas in the heart of Gilgit.

?I am sure that she was one of the finest administrators this region has even seen,? says Sherbaz Bercha, a noted historian in Gilgit-Baltistan.

?The two main channels [Ajeeni daljah and Khireeni daljah] were dug during her rule and I must say we owe the expansion of our city to that great lady,? Barcha told?The Express Tribune.

The channels were built to help expand existing settlements of the time which were confined to Barmas, Jutial and Napoor.

Interestingly, Gilgit?s residents refused to help with the canal?s construction.

The queen, thus, was forced to seek help from the Darel valley ? what is today known as the Diamer district ? to build her canal.

In the absence of proper recorded history of the region, Barcha conceded that they mostly rely on folklore and other accounts to piece together the history.

Ahmad Hasan Dani, a famous historian who wrote History of Northern Areas of Pakistan, wrote that Dadi Jawari used to dress like a man and ride horses and issued orders in her name.

?She took great interest in ameliorating the lives of people, undertook many welfare measures and built many roads in the country, [region]? Dani wrote. He corroborates the construction of the canals in his book.

The queen is also said to have travelled to all parts of her dominion, meeting the locals and inquiring after their troubles.

Once when she was said to be visiting the Sanekar fort in Bagrote area, she was besieged by her opponents. But being a resourceful and capable woman, she managed to break through the siege.

According to Dani, Jawari twice ruled the region. First from 1630 to 1660 AD and then from 1689 to 1705.

This account, however, is disputed by another historian, the late Shah Raees Khan. He says Jawari ruled Gilgit from 1642 to 1667.

While Jawari brought the gift of water to greater Gilgit, it has been neglected by subsequent generations.

The water of the canals was used for drinking till the early 80s. However, a fast growing population and lack of care for the canals means that water in the channels is highly contaminated and not fit for drinking.

Despite that, the canals, along with her work for women empowerment, mean that Jawari is immortalised in the region.

Today, we can see some of her legacy carried forward by pioneering women such as famous climber Samina Baig.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2017.