Dardistan and its linguistic tapestry

Dardistan and its linguistic tapestry Introduction:  Dardistan is the name many explorers and scholars associated with British India referred to as the mountainous area of Hindu Kush, Karakoram and western most Himalaya. It was called so, and to a greater extent now as well, mainly because of its major ethnic agglomeration— the Dards, Darada or Dardic, who speak several Indo-Aryan languages which vary from the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in the plain valleys of the Indus and Ganges. A derogatory term, Kafiristan, was also…

Exoticising and at the same time ignoring the Kalasha

The mountainous communities of Pakistan who inhabit the valleys of Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalaya are on the margins, ignored and side-lined; dependent on external centres of power for knowledge that define and decide their identities, policies and power dynamics. The people of Pakistan largely don’t know much about these communities, their languages, cultures and history. This was glaringly evident during the media coverage coming out of the valley during the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to one of…

The bane of development

In our collective and individual mindset, there still exists a colonial legacy that manifests itself well in various situations – from a classroom in school to a tour along the peripheries. Scholars term it as a colonial mentality, by which they mean “an internalised attitude of ethnic or cultural inferiority felt by people who are colonized”. It is multilayered going from top to bottom. In essence, the colonial mentality is a vertical thinking attitude that measures things in a hierarchical order. If inferiority exists in…

How Swat-Kohistan lags far behind in education

Introduction  This report based on a research study on the state of education in Swat-Kohistan; and is a part of an education improvement campaign in Swat-Kohistan called Improving Quality, Retention and Access (IQRA)—this initiative is conceived and implemented by a local civil society organisation, Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) with the financial support from the nationwide educational awareness and advocacy campaign “Alif Ailaan”. Alif Ailaan works to increase awareness of education related issues among all…

Bahadar’s Almanac

When I still used to lend a hand in the fields to my father, now 78, he would refer to a certain guy, Bahadar |bahadər|, for his oral traditions about the right weather for sowing and harvesting. At that time, I was in college and was familiar with the Gregorian calendar, which was commonly known as Angrezi (English calendar) in our community. My father always ignored the Gregorian calendar and preferred Bahadar’s oral almanac to it. Now I no longer help out with farming and work at my office instead, where we always use…