By Azam Baig Tajik
First published in Passu Today
Late Master Haqiqat Ali (commonly known as Master suhib) born in 1939 in Passu Gojal Hunza. Completed primary and secondary education in Hunza and could not continued further education due to multiple reasons. It was an era, when globally there were changes happening based on ideologies, geography and socio-economic and political advancement But people of upper Hunza in particular and people of lower and central Hunza in general were living below poverty-line, restrictions on access to education, freedom of speech and economic and political opportunitieswere based on loyalty with the then Mir dooms. Professional and higher education was only confined to the royal families and upper class of the Mir dooms. In mid 1970s, with inception of Diamond Jubilee schools, Master suhib got opportunity to teach English and Persian subjects in Diamond Jubilee Boys & Girls Middle School in Passu from 1976 – 1977. Master suhib was among the few selfless and active social workers of upper Hunza who devoted their time and knowledge and provide visionary leadership at different levels in most challenging times. He remained pro-active within different Imamati institutions both at local and regional levels since 1960 and rendered services till his unfortunate death in 1990.
Master Haqiqat Ali shacking hands with Prince Amyn Mohammed somewhere in Hunza. Photo: Azam Baig Tajik
Master suhib’s curiosity to understand the society, different cultures, languages and traditions enabled him to establish networking with different literary peoplenational and internationalscholars, diplomats through letters, personal meetings on their visit to the area as tourist. In the beginning of 1970s, Master suhib started research on Wakhi language and culture. His personal diary elaborates his hypothesis on the need of interventions to preserve and promote Wakhi language and culture. Master Suhib was of the opinion (in 1970s) that “currently the economic, political, social and educational condition and position of Wakhi community in Pakistan (Hunza, Ghizer and Chitral) are extremely miserable and is being exploited by others – as a result there is visible influence of the other superior neighboring languages on Wakhi in all regions”. Master suhib’s personal diary shows that he initially collected primary data / information on Wakhi population in Pakistan and other countries (China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan),their political, social and economic status as well as collected the obsolete terms/ words through discussions with Wakhi elders on different topics. At the same time he collected information on Wakhi culture and tradition as well as tried to develop Wakhi family trees and its origin. For this purpose he visited China too.
Master Haqiqat Ali with his pupins from Avgarch in Karachi. Photo Azam Baig Tajik
After more than a decade’s painstaking work on collection of basic data/information, Master Suhibconsulted his other literary friends like Prof. Dr. BoghshoBoghshozadaLashkar Baig (Tajikistan), AsmatUllahMushfiq, Ahmed Jami, Ali Qurban and other foreign linguistic scholars to define the script for Wakhi alphabet. They mutually agreed on Roman script and considered it productive, acceptable and more user friendly for all Wakhi population around the glob. By 1985, Master suhib completed the Wakhi alphabets and published “Wakhi Language XikWorZik Book -1” through the plate forum of Wakhi Culture Association in Passu. This book is first ever initiative of a native wakhi in Pakistan. In this book Master suhib introduced 49 Wakhi alphabets with specific signs and symbols added to fulfill the idiosyncratic requirements of Wakhi. Late RaiGhulamudin, Chairman H.H. Prince Aga Khan Shia ImamiIsmaili Regional Education Board for Northen Areas lauded this pioneering work and mentioned in the forward as “I am proud to say that Mr. Haqiqat Ali, Ex – Head Master of His Highness Prince Aga Khan D.J. Middle School Passu, has taken the challenge of expending an awareness of Wakhi, being a Wakhi himself and well versed with Wakhigrammar, vocabulary and sounds. Mr. Haqiqat Ali has produced a Primer in Wakhi language ….. His desire is that this will further stimulate the young generation to read and write Wakhi and the door for young generation of Wakhi spoken to learn the grammar of their own tongue and preserve their own culture.”Prof. Dr. Georg Buddruss, Professor of Oriental Languages and History, University of Mainz, Germany (Writer of a vocabulary book on Wakhi) remained a good friend with Master Suhib and they were together in a research project on Wakhi in 1982. Prof. Dr. Buddrussexplains his experience with Master suhib as “My friend, Master Haqiqat Ali, Head Master of Midle School Passu has been part of our research on Wakhi language for three weeks in 1982 and we collected more useful data and information on Wakhi language. He was extremely punctual, diligent and patient researcher to his difficult language and he answers all the questions and provides information with great precision and circumspection.”
After completion of work on script and alphabets, Master suhib taken another challenge to develop Wakhi dictionary. He collected more than four thousand words but unfortunately his sudden death stopped this work half-way. It is pertinent here to mention that Master Suhib collected more than 500 Wakhiproverbs. Most of them are either extinct and/or very often in-use. But these data will help in reviving and promoting Wakhi language and will serve important datafor researcher in days ahead.
Master suhib with his humbleness, friendly attitude, positive for sharing and learning had a wider network of contacts and friends circle locally and internationally like foreign researchers, diplomats, scholars etc. Through these friends he collected rare and important books and literatures on different subjects including culture, languages, history and politics. He also collected almost all books on Wakhi written by foreign researchers, scholars and others. He had in mind to establish a “Resource Centre” in order to collect more books and developed reading and research habit among the new generation.
Some memorable photographs of Master Haqiqat Ali
Master Suhib was also affiliated with tourism sector and written two important books on guiding and trekking. These books had a positive impact on tourism in Hunza and Chitral especially it attracted foreign tourists to visit the beautiful Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Master suhib was optimistic about the improved life style of new generation and was considering construction of KKH and AKDN interventions a path to development of the community on modern lines and according to him Tourism, Border trade and cash crops/livestock will be the major economic opportunities in the areas. Master suhib was in-fact the only intellectual having no any family affiliation with the than so-called royal family had a global perspective on issues. His writing pieces, the letters of appreciations and acknowledgments from various foreign televisions, documentary groups, diplomats and scholars for his interviews, lectures and information/discussions with global view/challenges reflect his intellect. Master suhib had a close coordination with Imamti Institutions national and international like Ismailia Association for Pakistan (Now ITREB Pakistan) and The Institute of Ismaili Studies London and international Ismaili scholars.
Although Master sahib has left us more than two decades ago, but his vision, leadership and selfless services and pioneering work on Wakhiis still an inspiration for all age group within Wakhiz and the strong base for way forward is to build on with unity, accepting diversity and hard work.
Mr. Azam Baig Tajik presented this paper during a national seminar on “Wakhi Language, Literature and Culture” organized by GECA in the Heritage Museum LokVirsa Islamabad on 11th December 2009. Beside other key speakers, the globally renowned linguistic scholar and chair of the seminar Professor Dr. Tariq Rehman paid homage to Master Haqiqat Ali’s research on Wakhi and considered it a strong base for the preservation and promotion of wakhi language, literature and culture