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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Hunza landslide death toll rises to 13

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, Jan 5: Death toll in the Monday’s disaster at Atabad rose to 13.

About 30 people are still missing. Rescue work was resumed early in the morning on Tuesday.

National Disaster management Chairman Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed, Force Commander Gilgit-Baltistan Maj Gen Bajwa, Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah, Chief Secretary Babaer Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad and other officials reached the affected area.

Thirteen bodies mostly women and children were laid to rest at Aliabad, main town of Huinza on Tuesday amid tears. The bodies were recovered from the rubble and efforts are on to rescue other people still under the rubble, by the local volunteers and rescue workers who are racing against time to rescue others.

The massive landslide, caused by shearing off a portion of the mountain, hit Atabad, a small hamlet, about twenty kilometres from main Hunza, damaging over 40 houses, a community centre, a school, cattle pens, trees and orchards, causing panic in Hunza-Nagar.

The boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza River, forming a lake that would threaten the low-lying villages and submerge many villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide has damaged over two kilometres stretch of the Karakuram Highway, disrupting all kinds of communication links and traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families have been evacuated from the village to safer places.

A thick cloud of dust blanketed the whole Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

People of Atabad village had noticed shearing off the rocks, with cracks developing fast on it in 1994 when a high magnitude of earthquake jolted the village.  Later the local authorities declared the area dangerous without making any alternative arrangement of relocation and rehabilitation of the inhabitants. The continuous geological movement had developed huge gullies in the village and surrounding mountains. The people from the dangerous zone of the village were evacuated some days ago.

The residents had conveyed to the authorities concerned about the danger.

Experts had suggested rehabilitation of the residents to some alternative area, as living in such a hazard-prone environment could result in disaster anytime.

But the local administration not responded to the concerns of the people. Had they taken the issue seriously the loss of life could have been avoided, a volunteer working with a civil society organisation said requesting not to be named.

The residents had boycotted November 2009 elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly as no candidate – either ruling party or from other parties – had taken their problem seriously.

A delegation from the village had met Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira at Karimabad Hunza to inform him about the danger. He had assured them of help but no concrete steps were taken.

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Posted in Economy, Environment, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Natural Resources, Society, Water | 1 Comment »

Indigenous languages, cultures face danger from globalization: scholar

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 16, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Noted linguist, Prof Dr Tariq Rahman, has endorsed the aspiration of Pamiri people for saving the 3,000 years old Wakhi language and culture. As he put it, languages endow prestige, pride and power to a people who speak it.

He was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar on “Wakhi language” on the third day of the Wakhi Cultural Festival at the Heritage Museum here on Friday.

“Your people are giving a call for the right to educate children in your Wakhi mother tongue from becoming obsolete, and it is a cause we support,” he said.

Prof Rahman recalled UNESCO concern about the danger confronting indigenous cultures and languages. Among the 6,000 languages in the world, 2,500 are about to disappear or have already ceased to exist. According to UNESCO about 3,000 languages lose their carriers every year. Smaller community languages face danger from globalisation that wanted to impose a monolithic world culture across the globe.

“This in turn provokes reaction of the kind that we find reflected in religious extremism and terrorism,” Dr Rahman said.

He suggested a three-tier scheme for education in the mother tongue, with a bridge opening to a more appealing language, such as Urdu, and also rounded off with education in English. But the system must be applied uniformly throughout the country, including in the schools in which the children of the elite receive education.

He said that economic and cultural trends influence attitudes of people towards their language. No language is superior or inferior intrinsically. It was the political and economic power of a nation that determines the position of a language.

He said that due to globalization the powerful economies were influencing minority cultures and resist their promotion.

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He emphasised pluralism in the globalised world with space for all cultures.

The seminar was addressed by a number of experts including, Asmatullah Mushfiq, Nazir Ahmad Bulbul, Fazal Amin Beg, Azam Beg and Shambi Khan. They expressed the fear that the Wakhi language will die unless it received proper attention for its conservation and preservation as was being done in Xinjiang, China and Tajikistan. There the Wakhi language was being used and researched extensively.

Nazir Ahmad Bulbul lamented that the younger generation was prone to developing feelings of inferiority when they come to the cities in search of work or education and stop using their language with which the culture also suffers. Once a small community language goes into disuse among the young, it dies with the death of the elderly speakers. Once that happens, the nation loses its individuality and in course of time it also dies with its peculiar culture, character and moral attributes.

The speakers highlighted the history, rich cultural heritage and traditions and evolution of Wakhi language over the centuries. They also presented recommendations for promotion of Wakhi and other local languages of Giglit-Baltistan as all the dialects spoken in the region were in danger of extinction.

The speakers lauded efforts of Lok Virsa and GECA for their combined efforts for promotion of Wakhi culture and language.

Director of Lok Virsa Khalid Javaid vowed to play his role to promote the Wakhi language and culture.

In his presentation Fazal Amin Beg traced the history of the language and said the Wakhi language belonged to the Iranian group of languages, assimilating a number of Persian and Arabic words, but recently it had been overwhelmed by the spread of modern information technology. He also complimented those women of letters who had contributed to the richness of these languages with their literary and poetical work.

Azam Beg Tajik also paid tributes to Wakhi scholar Haqiqat Ali for his pioneering work on the script of the Wakhi language. The assembly resolved unanimously that all Gojali should speak their own language and disseminate it through publications and propagation on electronic media.

Tayib Jan,Vice-Chairman Education com mittee of the Gojal Educational and Cultural Association thanked the chief guest and other guest speakers for the valuable contribution for the promotion of Wakhi language.

Neelum Nigar, secretary of the education committee in her introductory remarks explained about the Wakhi language in -historical perspective.–Coutesy Dawn

Posted in 5584, Culture, Education, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Society | Leave a Comment »

Wakhi artists enthrall audience

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 11, 2009

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Posted in 5584, Art, Culture, Education, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Gojal, Pamir, Society, Tourism | 1 Comment »

International Day for Eradication of Violence against Women celebrated in GB

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on November 25, 2009

By Our Correspondent

GILGIT, Nov 24: International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women was celebrated in Gilgit Press Club in collaboration with various civil society organizations. Banners inscribed with demand for ending violence against women were displayed and speakers belonging to various civil society organisations, trade unions, market committees and boy scouts stressed upon the need to initiate a mass awareness program for eradication of violence against women.

Assistant Commissioner Gilgit, Momin Jan urged upon the civil society organisations to take steps for the Eradication of violence against women. He said violence against women can be significantly reduced by Education, Forums and Seminar and urged upon the Print and Electronic media to play their role in community awareness campaign on the issue of domestic violence.

The celebration concluded with a candlelit vigil outside Gilgit Press Club to show men’s pledge to end violence against women. NGOs, Media, Bar Councils, Police, Local Administration, Students and Teachers, Trade Unions and Market committees, and Boys Scouts participated in this event.

The day was being celebrated to mark the White Ribbon Day in Pakistan since 2006.

The celebration was jointly organised by Publishing Extension Network (PEN), Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resource Management Association (HIMAQANTI) Aga Walidain Informed Parents and Rupani Foundation.

Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan, Society | 1 Comment »