THE Kalash community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Chitral district is something of an anthropological enigma. For centuries, the Kalash have held on to their ancient religion and customs and are a tiny reminder of the region’s pre-Islamic past. Yet this may change if the community has to abandon its traditions under the threat of militant violence. As reported in this paper, the Kalash have stopped placing their dead in the open and have started burying their corpses for fear of militant attacks. The decision was taken after a Kalash shepherd was reportedly kidnapped and killed by marauders coming from the neighbouring Afghan province of Nuristan, who also made off with hundreds of sheep. In the past there were reports of forced conversions, yet this seems to have stopped. However, with militants raiding their areas, a new threat to Kalash culture is emerging.

The Kalash are few in numbers — reportedly a few thousand people — and considering the rough deal the minorities of Pakistan have received, it is a miracle they have survived and managed to preserve their culture. Yet while minorities and all those Pakistanis who disagree with the militants’ warped worldview are under threat, the Kalash may be wiped out if not given protection, simply because they are so isolated and so few in number. Providing adequate security in the border areas with Afghanistan is an obvious first step. The problem is that security forces are concentrated in the valley, whereas they need to be posted at the border areas to stop the intruders. It has been witnessed that whenever the state wants to showcase Pakistan’s ‘diversity’ to the world Kalash cultural troupes are presented at various events. Yet when it comes to protecting the Kalash and their culture, the state has yet to make a more visible effort.

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Comments (5)

Keti Zilgish
August 26, 2012 7:55 am
Maybe it is time for a referendum on religion.
Asif Ansari
August 27, 2012 7:00 pm
Yes, humanity is the first one.
Manu
August 26, 2012 1:40 pm
Hope the various Islamic strata will not be at daggers drawn once there are no minorities left to eradicate
Assad Razzaque
August 26, 2012 9:33 am
Editor takes bold stem to highlight this issue. When Pakistan sighted on the map of earth it was not only the country for Muslim but also the homeland for every one living here without any discretion of religion language & cultural , and since long time every one is living here with love piece and harmony. But after the issue of 9-11, Pakistan involve in war against terrorism, and this make Pakistan as a front line country, and become sandwich one side there are international forces who build pressure on Pakistan to do more ! And all anti Pakistan forces start damaging the Positive image of Pakistan. First these anti Pakistan forces create violence in big cities such as Karachi, Lahore Islamabad, Peshawar & Quetta and effected economical and human life in these city, and now these anti Pakistani forces inter in grass rote or micro level and hitting those areas where the presence of Pakistani security forces is poor and they start damaging the harmony of people of Pakistan as they start conspiracy between Christian, Hindu, Ismaili and now in Kalash People, for effecting the positive image of Pakistan internationally. For defeating these anti Pakistan forces we have to develop unity & discipline and work build a very strong Pakistan so that we can fight these conspiracies against Pakistan to give full protection to all Pakistanis irrespective of there religion, language & culture and building Positive Image of Pakistan.
Agha Ata
August 26, 2012 8:07 pm
I agree with you one hundered percent.. Readers please come forward. Lets say it.
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