By Muhammad Panah, Hunza
It is important to discuss the two system of governance (monarchic and democratic) and narrate its humanity and dignity aspects in the social and religious context. It is my faithful intention to make short review of Hunza tyrannic governing system, who never seen such system neither remained part of same system.
The communities are living under horrific poverty because of autocratic system of governance and uneasy access with rest of other part of neighbour smallest states. Former Hunza state kingship was the tyrannical system of governance; the governance and judicial system were in the hands of the kingship. He was selected his representatives from villages to implement his governing law; the village entitles were “Alchi (envoy) for China”, “Wakeel” “(envoy) for Kashimir” “Arbob” “yarpa” “chorbew” and “Borwer” .
“Alchi (envoy) for China” was selected by Mir of Hunza to represent Hunza State in China; his responsibility was to deliver certain quantity of gold text to China yearly.
Wakeel” (as ambassador/envoy) representative from Hunza state in Kashmir, his farm of duties was to deliver gifts from Hunza to Kashmir and get taxes from Kashmir to Hunza state.
“Orbob/thrangpa” was responsible to execute indigenous unwritten law at village level under direction of farmer Hunza state Mir; he was village arbitrator(s) and counsellor(s), they had authority to solve village level conflict and issues with deep consultation and deliberation of village elders without wasting much time and resources; the worse unsolved cases were referred to Mir of Hunza. He was reviewed the cases and shared it with his nearer intellectuals and “wazir” (advisor for Mir)”, Thrangpa(s)/ Orbob(s); they were thoroughly reviewed the cases and took decisions. Mir of Hunza was the supreme commander and chief justice, for that reason his decisions were unchallengeable forever.
“Yarpa” there were two Yarpas; one was responsible to graze Mir of Hunza’s cattle in the pastures; they were responsible to care and make cattle products in with help of many shepherds to the Mir. Second “Yarpa” for crops cultivation and harvest; he was responsible to accumulated the crops and carry it to the Mir’s palace.
“Chorbew” was assistant of Orbob to deliver Mir’s the messages to the people; he was responsible to deliver State’s massages door to door, because that time there was no proper communication system to deliver massage through electronically. His biggest duty was to intimated Hunza state’s taxes collection massage to the public.
“Borwer” was responsible to carry uplift burdens on place to other places and cut crops and grasses of Mir, they have to execute the work properly without excuse and financial benefits.
Economically the society was classless, only (king) Mir’s nears and dears were considered somehow upper class in the society, because 100% of the population are directly dependent on agriculture and livestock. There were not substitute income generation opportunities because of landlocked and strictness by Mir’s toward to taking any steps for the economic improvement; the people had no access with rest of other parts of the region; neither autocratic government allowed them to go out of Hunza without his permission.
For that they were relaying only on the available resources; they were working collectively for survival, family elders (male and female) were heading the family. All livelihood and social activities were being carried-out after their consultation and guidance, each social and livelihood works were being done collectively without wages expectation and incentive.
The people were proactive regarding to their foods for entire year from their agriculture lands. For that reason they were stored their crops and dried and undried fruits for entire years; household level elders were responsible to manage the limited food storage for entire year; because there no alternative sources to acquire foods from outside.
In communal level; they were constructed big stores and made biggest wooden boxes in each village to store (wheat, barley, black peas, and white peas) to protect the villager from fame and disaster situation. It was obligatory for each household to contribute certain quantity of crops for the communal food storage during the harvest time, nobody were exempted from it except those who had no resource or disabilities. Each household has right to borrow certain quantity of crops in the situation of foods shortage at household level, it was compulsory to the crops borrowers to payback that quantity of wheat, barley and peas with having more than certain quantity for next harvest season. It is strongest strategy to compensate prevent local people from fame and disasters; it is the reason that no a signal person has died from hungry. It was indigenous thought that the stored food prolonger women were be considered well manager.
In the marriage ceremonial time; all village help the bridal and groom in kinds to reduce their material burden. In funeral time the same devotion is exist in region; all villagers come to set the sorrow family for seven days to contribute their sympathy to the sorrow family.
Livestock was the other biggest source of their surveillance; each family had enough numbers of livestock (cows, goats, yaks, ships, oxen etc.); male and female were intensely engage to raise number of cattle and make eating products (milk, butter, cheese) wearing products (capes, coats, shoes) products and quilts, beds and carpets. The highest numbers of cattle holders are considered richest family in the society. Fruits and un-fruits plants wood were used to make kitchen utensils except cooking pots, agriculture cultivation and harvesting tools.
In the duration of inaccessibility with rest of the external fund and assistance; indigenous wealthier people and family were funding (in kinds) to construct communal buildings, pony tracks, water channels and pastures-shades for the future reward of virtues.
In the tyrannic system their socioeconomic condition is worse; despite inferior horrific economic conditions, they had pension and generous to contribute their skills, materials and times for the society; each tools of individual were used neighbourly and communal level, because they have a societal and human reciprocity and generosity devotions.
The traditional society transformed in to institutionalize in 1969; when first time Ismaili council has formed in the area to assist people to improve people’s socioeconomic standard. Certainly it was quit new system of governance to the local people; it encourage encompassed common people in the system, they started give guidelines and involved them to take decisions. The Ismaili council was the first and magnificent platform for the community to make them self-reliant and explore leadership at grassroots.
In the continuation of organizational evolution, 1974 prime minister of Pakistan Zulifqar Ali Bhutto dissolved 900 years old ruling state and declared it a democratic part of Pakistan. Pakistan state owned to provide basic facilities to the citizen and kingship influences reduced forever from the region. It caused again institutional paradigm shift for the local the people; however the big population of the region were premature in the politics and it took decades to understand the democratic system of governance. According to the Pakistani law; communities formed formal and informal financial institutions and development organizations to stimulate socioeconomic improvement activities.
1982 Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) is launched sustainable development program in some parts of Gilgit-Baltistan; it mobilized grassroots community and they formed village based organizations and institutions to skill-up communities’ capacities through education trainings, freedom of expression and encourage self-reliance approaches. Nowadays volunteer contribute their time and knowledge in the organizations and institutions for the socioeconomic betterment of the people. The strengthened organizations and institutions are engage to improve living standard through mobilizing external and internal resources.
It is igniting gesture that the indigenous altruism devotion is being revived; recently local philanthropists stand to contribute for village and regional organizations to up-lift socioeconomic standard of grassroots communities.