By Ahsanul Haq
While the rest of the country is facing sectarianism, hatred and violence, Chitral is setting some tremendous examples of sectarian harmony and religious pluralism. The spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is expected to visit Pakistan in the first week of December to celebrate His Diamond Jubilee with his followers. He will visit Chitral where He will address congregations of the Ismaili Muslims. When people of the Sunni community heard the news of His Highness’ arrival, they were equally enthusiastic to welcome the honorable guest. The ceremonies of Didar will be held in Garam Chasma in lower Chitral and Booni in upper Chitral and a rough plain beside River Yarkun has been allocated for the Didar near Booni.
Before starting work on the preparation of the Didargah, the Sunni leadership of the area (Booni) also joined the Ismailis to prepare and furnish the place. In addition, the leadership of the sister community also ensured moral and financial support to the Ismailis.
As said earlier making arrangements for the huge gathering is a towering challenge but the sister community has shown generosity by opening their doors to all people who will arrive in the valley for Didar. Politicians and businessmen from the sister community have even announced to vacate their hotels and shops for the accommodation of the Ismaili guests.
Chitralis are known worldwide for their loyalty and unconditional love and hospitality. They will not forget the one who has been kind to them and will try to return the love and care. And the love of His Highness for Chitral is not hidden from anyone. He has been personally involved in the development projects in Chitral. The institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) have been working restlessly without any discrimination throughout Chitral for the improvement of the quality of life and these are some of the embodiment of the His Highness’ concerns for Chitral.
Involvement of the sister community with Ismaili in the preparation of Didargh is the continuation of the remarkable tradition of loyalty and hospitability of Chitralis.
Unfortunately, there occurred some incidents in the past, including the incident of 1982 and the recent issue of blasphemy which painfully disturbed the sectarian harmony of Chitral. With the passage of time, however, the people have understood the vicious elements who are perpetrating such an unrest. To maintain this harmony, we have to deal wisely with those elements. We need much maturity and unity to maintain and preserve this process of sectarian harmony.
Rest of the country needs to learn from Chitral that if we want peace and stability in our nation at large, we need to respect each other. We need to respect each others’ beliefs and faiths. We can achieve a long lasting peace if we involve ourselves in activities which can bring us closer-together. The recent trend which the sister community of upper Chitral has set is an eye opening lesson for the entire nation. May this unity and peace last forever!
I will conclude with a lovely poem written by a sister community youth Anwar Khan (upper Chitral) dedicated to the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims HH Prince Karim Aga Khan’s upcoming Chitral visit.
Margast Rajuli na Gulsambar ta Babat
Sawzeko no betam kya har ta babat
(Margast, Rajuli, Gulsambar these flowers are not comparable to you).
(Therefore, still I am not able to make a worthy flower necklace for you).
Tu kos ki haqa na hatar rakhumgen
Tey royan ghicha hoi shotar ta babat
(To those whom you are so merciful)
(Alas! they choose a barren land to welcome you).
Dunya behsht ki retaw espa chutia
Muniya ye hal boski chetrar ta babat
(If you want to see Heaven on Earth that is Chitral)
(Thus, Stay here this Heaven on Earth is worthy of you).
Tu bo azeem menu ma deha gosan
Gani tat kyagh angom dorar ta babat
(You, the most honorable guest is coming to my valley
What worthy gift of yours can I bring from home)
Koshish d bo artam kya hazir Imam
Newashen no hotam Anwar ta Babat
(I have tried my best Hazir Imam
Still Anwar couldn’t praised you worthy of you.)
(Courtesy: Anwar Khan, translation: Shah Nazakat Hussain Syed).