The Karakoram mountain range contains the greatest concentration of high peaks in the world. The testimonies are from Shimshal, a community whose territory makes up a significant part of the Karakoram.
Testimonies were gathered in Shimshal, which until 2002 was a village two days’ walk from the nearest road in Northern Pakistan. Our partner the community-based Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT) collected over 60 testimonies and 30 have been translated.
From the testimonies received to date themes include migration, education, pasture management, culture and customs, community development, and hopes and fears associated with a new road under construction.
“When this Khunjerab National Park was established it created much worry in the village, because they were trying to deprive us of our grazing and cultivating lands in the pasture which we are using since hundreds of years….So the community was opposing the Khunjerab National Park (KNP)….And there were several ideas to keep away the KNP. One was to fight with the government, oppose them; the other was to make some agreement with KNP. The third idea which we developed was that we should make such an organisation and we should prove that we are the best managers of this land, so we promoted Shimshal Nature Trust and we wrote the management plan. We presented the management plan to government officials and they also agreed about this point – that this is a good approach, they appreciated it.”
Khalik, male, 35 years, headteacher
“Yes I have been to Karachi. Karachi is a big city, the biggest city of Pakistan but it is not suitable for the people like us. It is good for those who intend to acquire education; not for those who sit idle and waste their time. I was taken round the famous places of Karachi but it neither inspired me nor provided me with mental peace and satisfaction. I would always think about my home (Shimshal) and the pending works that I had to do at the village. Despite living a comfortable life in Karachi, I never obtained peace of mind.”
Qandoon, female, 57 years, housewife/farmer
“…the young used to gather together with the elders, and there is a system that, when after a certain age, like the 60s, the elders will come to the land whilst ploughing but they will not work. They will just sit beside the field and they will gossip, they will talk, they will talk about the history and everything. We feel that group of people to be very good, and the owners of the field who have got many old people sitting there, they feel really rich or very good, it looks very lively.”
Inayat, male, 27 years, community activist