Various critics and authors evaluated differently the recent showdown of power by the congregation of Rizakhel clan in Drosh valley of district Chitral. Some of the people chided it by labelling it nothing more than an opportunist herd of local political influentials barely month before the electoral exercise in our country, with the ulterior motive of winning adequate number of votes on the basis of shared a shared kinship group. Another group of people look forward to it more positively, regarding it a right step in the right direction and enthusiastically enumerates the political advantages it can potentially bring to the local masses of the region. Having enough experience in seeing such fragile groups easily forming and then splitting, more or less, with the same pace, the future holds very bleak, more specifically, for the common peoples so there seems to be no merit in the groundless claim that it will be of any advantage to others except for the group itself. Before commenting any further, let us be courageous enough to accept the undeniable fact that “in Pakistan everything is politics” as the veteran British writer Anatol Lieven puts it marvelously while giving a detailed description of the political system and the way it functions. Generally speaking, Chitral is no immune to it as is the rest of Pakistan.
On actual ground, it is almost laughable to think of those tendencies creating rift and division among masses on the bases of ethnicity and regionalism, religion and creed to achieve anything beneficial. One needs to remember that an exclusive in-group in a visibly heterogeneous society characterized by the presence of various kinship groups will naturally consider others as adversaries. And it is more than evident in our country where resources are limited, corruption is rampant, literacy rate is abysmal and justice is rare. Moreover, the prevailing situation of lawlessness and injustice directly favors the more powerful as Just a case in point, haven’t alleged attempts made by a certain politically influential family to save the perpetrators of rape recently sparked a huge public outcry? If such groups continue to mushroom, visibly struggling to achieve their own political ends, the dream of a better future for all residents of Chitral regardless of any tribal or kinship affiliation, would surely remain an unrealistic fantasy.
Additionally, let us be real and blunt to ourselves in the digestion of a bitter reality. Still to date unfortunately, people are labelled as serfs (chirmuxh), Palum roi (sarcastically used for people of the lesser known tribes) and what not. Even among the university educated students, this retrogressive mindset is very much prevalent which is openly demonstrated during the CSWO elections. Given this mindset, the myriad issues that plague us now would remain unaddressed. As it appears that seemingly intellectuals and educated segment of the population who need to play active role in bridging the gap among people themselves fall victim to the same age old traditional politics of division. Keeping this unsettling trend in view, the situation seems very much unfavorable.
Fakhr E Alam
International Islamic University Islamabad.