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     August 01, 2012


In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty

Hard Aspects of 'Soft' Chitral

'Self observation brings a man to the realization of the necessity of self-change." Its an instrument to rectify our mistakes and to awake ourselves from slumber. Self observation is limited not only to an individual but it can also be a collective work. In a broader sense, it can also apply on a nation and community. It provides a way of renewing our thoughts, traditions, customs and way of life. Self observation is like looking in the mirror which can show the 'chinks' in our armor and the weak points in our cultural net without any exaggeration and depreciation. It is the best way through which we can make our life better than before.

If we look at our Chitral and its culture from a neutral eye , we see it, a place of polite , civilized and peace loving inhabitants. We come across a unique culture which is filled with tolerance , harmony and fraternity. We can smell the fragrance of love and simplicity in its valleys. Safety and security is one of the rare gifts Chitral provides to its visitors and inhabitants. Besides these, unlike its surrounding areas except Gilgit , Chitral is seen as the home of educated people and its inhabitants are seen busy in pursuit of knowledge across the country and even outside the country. Its literacy rate is higher than that of its surrounding areas despite of very tough living conditions. While wandering through its streets we come across an eyes soothing scene when we see little boys and girls going togetherly to get education. We do not any see barbarism in a public area in the name of honor. We don't find killings and killers. Despite of being in the much trouble zone and ,probably, the most dangerous belt on earth, Kalashnikov culture hasn't found any place in Chitral yet. Chitralis have always preferred pen over gun. In a nutshell, even viewing from a neutral eye we find numerous positive aspects which are seldom found in any other culture especially in its neighboring districts.

However, self observation really doesn't mean finding out only the positive aspects and be happy with them. We need to examine the 'inner body' of our culture as well. We will stop progressing the day we felt that we are the best . First of all, we need to realize the fact that despite of having so many positive features in our culture and customs, we are still very much behind from that stage where a nation is truly called a 'civilized nation'.

If we dive deep in the sea of our Chitrali culture we come across some harsh facts hiding beneath the 'soft' surface of our culture. Women oppression , forced marriages, social injustice and human exploitation are some of the prominent 'evils' residing in our society for years. These are the "inherited evils'' because people have suffered from these for decades. Women have been victims of oppression for a long time. There is a big contrast when we see that on one hand women are venerated in the form of mother and sister etc but on the other hand deaf ears are turned to their wishes and demands. Instead ,decisions are imposed on them without even listening to them . A funny adage truly depicts this scenario which states: " Listen to your wife but don't do what she says". Though Chitrali culture is comparatively flexible towards women but it still grabs the freedom of woman by its 'cultural claws'. It doesn't allow a female to live a life of her own choice. Women are supposed to obey males even if they are being deprived of their basic rights. Sometimes they are physically abused as well. Unfortunately in our society a woman 's objection to or rejection of a choice made by male is considered as 'rebellious act' so women rarely dare to stand up against man's atrocity . Consequently, they suffer silently for their whole life. Sometimes the situation becomes so worse that they commit suicide seeing their life ruined by men. Forced marriages are still prevalent which is the basic human right violation. Besides these, Chitrali culture is also not free from the curse of social injustice and human exploitation. Rich exploit poor. Strong mutes weak and consequently the gap is increasing between the two classes which can ultimately undermine the harmony of the society..

Apart from these "hereditary evils' we have now some "imported evils" as well in our society. Human trafficking , smuggling, contraband, drug abuse, child abuse and religious extremism are some of those loathsome and detestable curses which have intruded in our society quite recently. Most of these issues have emerged since the influx of Afghan immigrants and other Non-Chitrali people who came here for business purpose or for permanent settlement. Thus, our people are not only becoming the target of our "hereditary evils' but they are also becoming the victims of the imported evils.

In short, I would like to say that problems can be solved only if they are identified and understood. And for identification , self-observation is mandatory. We all love our Chitral and we all are proud to be a part of its culture , but its cultural beauty can be maintained and enhanced only if we try to remove all those hurdles which come in the way of its progress. We all should join hands to eradicate all types of evils whether they are hereditary or imported. All the stake holders and the people in Chitral should take solids steps in this regard otherwise, our late intervention will only let these evils strengthen their roots which will ,ultimately, have a catastrophic effect on our society and culture.

Yasir Ali
Engg. Student (NUST)



mail @ chitraltimes@gmail.com

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