Safeguarding Kalash heritage

UNESCO World Heritage

A workshop for the preparation of the nomination dossier for the inscription of Kalash on the UNESCO World Heritage List was held at the Lok Virsa Heritage Library. The workshop was held under the aegis of Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage), the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration and the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM). National Heritage and Integration Federal Secretary Faridullah Khan said: “Keeping in view the heritage of the Kalaash valley and the threats posed to it, the ministry is keen to come up with a comprehensive plan for safeguarding it.”
He added that the preparation of the nomination dossier for the inclusion of Kalaash in the World Heritage List would be started soon.
He stated that the process necessitated the involvement of all the stakeholders, including the local governments, NGOs/INGOs, the provincial and federal governments. Khan emphasised the need for the support of the relevant organisations to fulfill the requirements for the successful completion of the dossier. He also assured his ministry’s cooperation for the documentation and preservation of the Kalash culture. The discussions revolved around the measures necessary for safeguarding the Kalash cultural heritage, including taking inventory of the region’s endangered elements; documentation of Kalash culture and preserving the Kalash culture in the Bamborate, Birir and Rambur model villages. Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid said the Lok Virsa had established a creative diorama at the National Heritage Museum in Islamabad to depict the efforts of the Kalash people in its ongoing initiative to preserve the area’s indigenous folk culture.
He added that Lok Virsa had also published a book on Kalash which can facilitate research about the neglected area.
The present Kalash community is restricted to three parallel Chitral district valleys, namely Bomboret, Birir and Rambur. Collectively, these are called the Kalash valleys or Kafiristan. In the Birir and the Rambur valleys the Kalash out number the non-Kalash while in the more picturesque Bamboret valley the non-Kalash are in a slight majority. These three narrow V-shaped valleys are situated to the south-west of Chitral. In 2007, the local government department approved the creation of separate Union Councils in Bamboret for the Kalash valleys.
The word Kalash bears three meanings: it is the name of the tribe, the pagan religion and the endangered language.
The Kalash were in majority in Chitral and ruled the area in the 12th century. In 1320 Muslim invader Rais conquered Chitral, and forcibly converted the Kalash community. After embracing Islam the Kalash community abandoned their religion as well as their language and ethnic identity, except for a few thousand people who took refuge in Bamboret, Birir and Rambur. Recent history shows that the Kalash population is shrinking instead of rising. In 1951 the Kalash population numbered to 10,000.
During the last 60 years, the population of Muslims in Chitral is increasing at the rate of 2.5 percent per annum and the population of the Kalash has decreased from 10,000 to 3700. The participants who took part in the workshop were Archaeology and Museums Department Director General Dr Fazal Dad Kakar, Zakir Hussain from Survey of Pakistan, Inamullah Khan from IUCN, KPK culture department member Pervaiz Sabat Khel, Zahir Gul and Luke Rehmat from Kalash.

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11 Comments

  1. Shah Karez said:

    A highly commendable initiative. We want to see the day when such programs are implemented with honesty of purpose and in letter and spirit. I personally extend my full cooperation and am ready to contribute as a community development worker from Chitral.

    • Khalid said:

      Jumping here and there after money and after completely ruining the Aga Khan Education Service, Chitral, Shah Karez is finally looking to grab this opportunity, if there is any, to protect the Kalsh culture by offering his services as community development expert. Who does not know what sort of a man this Shah Karez is, and this could be further confirmed from the ‘PRINCE”, am dead sure everybody knows about the prince? Such a greedy man who first raped the AKRSP and then AKES, which is yet to be streamlined after the top leadership of AKES came into action and showed the doors to both Shah Karez and Zuhran Shah, for their massive embezzlement. These so-called community development workers, who have a track record of corruption, if given an opportunity, will be like saying goodbye to the remaining culture of Kalsh valley.

      • Zia said:

        I fully agree with Mr Khalid as he is absolutely right in pointing out about the two so-called community development experts. These people like Shah Karez and Zuhran Shah and other black sheep who have completely failed the education system in Chitral. Shah Karez is the man, who even used to stole toilet papers during his stint at AKES, what else we can expect from him if he does not bother to buy a toilet paper. Who does not know what were the reasons which forced AKES high ups to finally terminate Zuhran Shah. He destroyed an institution like AKES as he had no expertise. He was a personal secretary to general manager AKHSP Gilgit. Just take the example of his brother Dr Mir Baiz Khan who instead of serving the community, is wandering in Canada, I feel ashamed whenever he sends some his scholarly articles to Chitral News, had it been more appropriate if he could have served his community his people instead of taking refuge in Canada. We the people of Chitral must wake up from the deep slumber or it will be too late and these people will drive us into hell straight. Their monopoly must be given an end…

      • Shah Karez said:

        Thank you Khalid for your comments, you have woken me up by pointing out my mistakes in the past rather than appreciating a good initiative on the part of the government. We will talk our enmities face to face on meeting, if you feel there is any, here the talk is about protecting the unique Kalash culture which is going to be extinct very soon if serious action is not taken in time. By the way I cannot claim to be expert of any field as you think I am nor I venture for any job which is your whymsical guess. Even if there is a job offer I would forego for your sake, but please you and Zia talk on the subject if you will.

  2. afzal said:

    Somewhere in the beginning of the article it is said that in stakeholders meeting regarding safeguarding Kalash community. Is this really stakeholders meeting? Was there anyone among the Kalash Community in this meeting? sitting in Islamabad in big houses how can these people decide about the future of this unique sect of humanity. God Help us to give rights to everyone to represent their culture and communities.

  3. Ali said:

    I guess both Khalid and Zia are not coming up from Chitral nor they are honest with the development of Chiral and survival of Kalshi People. It seems that both have burn and grown up in the Truck Adas of any city in the down country. Their comments did not relate to the topic and they are manipulating it for fading some prominent development workers. They don’t know how these people have nourished the said organizations in the difficult time

  4. Khairuddin Shadani said:

    Well done Khalid. The same I am crying in many international forums. Now even we are developing a report on NGO Mafia specially those who using AKDN as their family business in Chitral and northern Areas. Hopefully we will submit that report in AKDN head office Genva…

  5. Engr Nasir Ali said:

    I totally disagree with the comments posted by the guys named Khalid and Zia. To blame someone without having solid reasons is a kind of ignorance in itself. If it seems to you that Zuhran and Shah Karez have committed something wrong, then come up with the proofs and knock the court. I have seen these two personalities as the most committed, and positive individuals having the capacity to handle any difficult task. As a muslim it should not be the practice to blame the people in such a rough language. Zia and Khalid you can imagine the standard of Shah Karez by his reply, you have throne stone on him and he has given the answer with flowers.

    • Khalid said:

      Mr 'ENGINEER' rather engineers sahab listen and pls do not complain that I'm being rude to u in one way or the other. I love my Chitral and my Chitralis from the depths of my heart and perhaps this is the reason I could not avoid speaking against those who try to harm my Chitral in order to avoid their vested interests. The youth must understand how to stop these people, who have befooling us since long or it will be too late. Just take the example of Sayurj Public School? G D Langland, he is only one man, how beautifully managed his school single-handedly, despite resource constraints. And now we have the Aga Khan Education Service, working in the area since long, no shortage of funds, resources, vehicles but could not produce the desired results, due to lack of good management and appointment of incompetent, dishonest people at the helm of affairs. Matriculate and middle passed teachers were recruited. Why they took such decisions because they were not serious about spreading the education in the valley. Let me be clear here that you can settle your scores with an activist like me and Zia but you can not escape the wrath of God….over to you Mr Zia…!

  6. Zia said:

    I'm 100% agree with u that these r dishonest, didn't want children of poor people to be educated and u know what? Today, their own children, who were not honest in running the institution of His Highness, r working in Bata and Service shoes shops, some r selling potato chips, some have established general stores in Krup Risht bazar and the day is not far when they will b opening Public Toilets in at PIA chowk, Chew Dhok, Atalique bridge, Near Polo Ground, Sarhad Ada because their parents have played with the future of thousands of poor talented children. If this man Shah Karez has the guts, why he doesn't raise voice against the Molvis, who r responsible and hell bent to harm the Kalash culture. These r materialistic, greedy people, what they need is money. They've nothing to do with the culture of Chitral. As long as the tone is concerned, they've no other option except throwing flowers as they've already had their shares of the cake. They just don't care who says what because they've been succeeded in their nefarious motives. At the end, I must advise that one Ali, the one who is talking of Bus Adas that we have all the records who was born in astable, bus ada, shalideni…

  7. Tahir Zaman said:

    It is unfortunate that personal mudslinging has taken the place of objective comments on the subject issue.

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