Wednesday December 19, 2018

Kalash of Pakistan: The only Pagan Minority Community in Islamic Republic is under Threat

The Kalash community is believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great and his troops who invaded Kalash

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From the higher Rumbur valley of Pakistan, the Kalash community is a traditional sect of pagan people from North-West Pakistan with a rich, yet threatened culture. A place which is certainly cut off from the rest of the nation, Rumbur valley has no electricity or newspapers and no phone networks. They have one thing in abundance, which is militancy.

There are numerous reasons as to why the Kalashis are under threat, and one of them is Paganism. They worship one ‘creative God’ as refuse to accept Islam while the rest of Pakistan constitutes Muslims. And because they call everyone else Pakistani (despite the fact that they too belong to Pakistan), this community is too prone to sudden violence by Muslims. The security is heightened in the valley, especially during the Kalash festival Joshi, celebrated on the onset of Spring, mentioned voa.com reports.

A young Kalashi girl. Image source: albumofuniverse.blogspot.com
A young Kalashi girl. Image source: albumofuniverse.blogspot.com

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People wear traditional clothes, beat drums and sing traditional songs, drink wine and make merry under this liberating sky. The concern for security or disapproval from other communities doesn’t lessen their celebrations. The ‘Chilam Joshi’ festival is a four-day festival that starts from the Rumber Valley and ends at Bhamboriyat.

A group of Kalashis during the Joshi festival. Image source: thekalashatimes.wordpress.com
A group of Kalashis during the Joshi festival. Image source: thekalashatimes.wordpress.com

Military forces create another trouble across the valley. After every few metres can be found a militant from the ATS to secure the foreign tourists from majorly Taliban; abductions were common here a few years ago. After recent earthquakes and other calamities, the Kalash community highly depends on tourism for an earning. Cattle and livestock or agricultural activities cannot be held here, reported voa.com.

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Conversion is a recurring problem for people belonging to this community. Many women convert from Kalash to Muslim or others after marriage, and men often accept Islam to reach their material goals. Another major reason for conversion is usually that Kalash is an ‘expensive’ culture- where ethnic clothes, weddings and funerals are expensive. The newer generation doesn’t want to learn about their group, they are not interested in learning their traditional songs.

The Kalash community is believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great and his troops who invaded Kalash. They are fairer people with bright coloured eyes, as opposed to comparatively darker skinned Pakistanis. There are not more than 3500 Kalashis in Rumbur and Chitral in total, and they are under constant threat of Taliban.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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  • SuchindranathAiyer

    The Kalash of Pakistan may become the next Yazidi.

    Any genuine and distinctive minority in the World is under threat. Empires, whether Communist, Islam, British or Roman, or the Social Engineering Indian Republic are a threat to spirituality and cultural identity. Islam is an overt, self declared and vicious threat to all who are outside its intestines. That is the very proclamation of this “religion” in the Quran and the Hadiths.

    I might add, as just a few out of myriad examples, that Sabarimala, the Jalykattu, Kohlapur Mahalakshmi, Shaneeshwara Temple and the Brahmin way of life are being eradicated by the Indian Republic and its vicious Constitution, ugly laws a confiscation of other people’s property and religious freedoms, and, even more vicious courts.

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  • SuchindranathAiyer

    The Kalash of Pakistan may become the next Yazidi.

    Any genuine and distinctive minority in the World is under threat. Empires, whether Communist, Islam, British or Roman, or the Social Engineering Indian Republic are a threat to spirituality and cultural identity. Islam is an overt, self declared and vicious threat to all who are outside its intestines. That is the very proclamation of this “religion” in the Quran and the Hadiths.

    I might add, as just a few out of myriad examples, that Sabarimala, the Jalykattu, Kohlapur Mahalakshmi, Shaneeshwara Temple and the Brahmin way of life are being eradicated by the Indian Republic and its vicious Constitution, ugly laws a confiscation of other people’s property and religious freedoms, and, even more vicious courts.

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Taliban And The U.S. Set To Meet in UAE

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians

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USA, afghanistan, taliban
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

A Pakistan-arranged meeting between U.S. and Taliban officials will be held Monday in the United Arab Emirates to push a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

The special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, will lead the U.S. team at the talks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the gulf state, a senior Pakistani official privy to the development confirmed to VOA on Sunday.

The official, requesting anonymity, said Islamabad has facilitated the dialogue after President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month seeking his cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the table for peace negotiations.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a brief statement sent to VOA, has confirmed participation of its political negotiators in Monday’s meeting with American officials, but said that representatives of the host country, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance.

Imran Khan, Taliban
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Nov. 21, 2018. VOA

Initially, it was Khan who disclosed on Friday that Pakistan-aided talks between U.S. and Taliban officials would take place on December 17, though he would not say where.

The Pakistani prime minister, while speaking in the northwestern city of Peshawar, explained his country has agreed to assist in Afghan peace efforts because Washington has changed its position by requesting help, instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. leaders have previously insisted.

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday hailed Khan’s remarks and support for a political reconciliation in the war-ravaged neighboring country.

“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” the spokesperson told VOA.

“Special Representative Khalilzad has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,” noted the U.S. embassy official.

taliban, afghanistan
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

 

In his speech on Friday, Khan said that if peace were achieved in Afghanistan, his country will be the immediate beneficiary in terms of security, economic stability and regional connectivity.

Khalilzad, is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks. He is 14 days into an 18-day visit to the region and has already visited Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belgium.

Since taking office in September, the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy has held two meetings with the Taliban in Qatar, where the insurgent group operates its so-called “political office.”

But those talks have been for the sake of talks, say insurgent and Pakistani officials.

Demands, accusations

Pakistani officials privy to Khalilzad’s interaction with the Taliban have told VOA that until now no progress has been achieved because the insurgents adamantly demand “a date or timeframe” for all U.S. and NATO troops to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban decides to participate in an intra-Afghan peace process.

Afghanistan, Taliban
Security forces inspect the site of a deadly blast in the center of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 12, 2018. VOA

 

Washington has long maintained Taliban leaders are sheltering in Pakistan with covert support from the country’s intelligence agency. Washington has been urging Islamabad to use its influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan and continue to pose serious battlefield challenges for U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

Also Read: U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Actions Towards Peace in Afghanistan

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians, security forces, insurgents and more than 2,400 American soldiers, according to an American University study released recently.

The longest war effort in U.S. history has also cost Washington nearly one trillion dollars. The Taliban has expanded its insurgent activities and currently controls or hotly contests about half of Afghanistan. The conflict is said to have killed more Afghan civilians and security forces in 2018 than in any other year. (VOA)