Future of Kalasha people, a big question mark?

Mother of late Noor Ahmad

Mother of late Noor Ahmad mourning, photo taken once the dead bodies were reaching the temple Jestak Hand at Kraka’

Kalasha Desh 30 July 2016, the ancient living civilization, culture and unique traditions of Kalasha community are on the verge of extinction for last many years. But the increasing incidents in recent few years have been mark a big question on the role of law enforcement agencies in the District Chitral. Kalasha people are counting around 4100 living in three v-shaped valleys of District Chitral (Mumuret, Rukmu and Biriu). They are living here since 327 B.C and are the original inhabitant of Chitral area. The small community was once ruled Chitral to Asmar in Afghanistan.

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Mayor a Kalasha kid watching her closed relative shoot by militants, dead bodies taking inside the Jestak Hand 

It was 29 July around 4-5 A.M when a group of militants attacked on shepherds at Bahol’aret high pasture and shoot two shepherds on the spot. Noor Ahmad was shoot on the face at the right hand-side while his fellow shepherd Khush Wali was shoot at chest and stomach. When the militants attacked, there were four shepherds, two have been successfully escaped, interestingly the escaped shepherds are belonging to converted family and they were safe, isn’t it seems something wrong? Why Kalasha shepherds and livestock were only targeted? On the same day militants snatched away hundreds of goats at high pasture in Biriu valley, but shepherds remained safe. It doesn’t stops here, two more valleys Rukmu and Acu’hagha were also under threat and shepherd were informed presence of militants in aforesaid areas as well.

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There were news about movement of militants on the border since last month, and the last week was given clear threat to the community and large number of security forces were deployed, but where they were deployed? A local shepherd informed all security forces just three days prior to the attacked, why the Pak territory was given free zone for the militants’ movement and living there? Who are responsible for security laps? There wasn’t single resistances from security forces, isn’t they failed to manage the border security matters? The attacked happened just two kilometres away from security check post.

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Lady Health visitor and proud daughter of Kalasha people, couldn’t watch the brutal murder of her relatives and cry out.

The same place was targeted in 2012, one shepherd was slaughtered and seven hundreds goats including sheep were snatched away and taken to other side of the border Nuristan.

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Daughter and sister of late Noor Ahmad and closed relatives of late Khush Wali in mourning inside the temple 

The Shawal pass was also used to kidnap the Greek-volunteer in 2009, he was kidnapped from Kalasha Dur that is located at the centre of Mumuret valley, and his police guard was killed, and there wasn’t any success story to say about it. Militants were taken him through the villages and front of the security checkpoints, but there was no order to tackle the militants. He was kept in Nuristan for seven months and then after giving ransoms he was released.

Same happened this time no orders from high-ups? Because there was a threat to the helpless tiny minority and there wasn’t any risk to the so called VVIPS!!! Where is the national action plan when it comes to the most peaceful and beautiful part of the country?

Every time the Kalasha people hear that all security forces are there for their protections, when the time comes it goes opposite, and left the community disappointed in every incident.

On 16 June 2016 a clash on Kalasha people left many people injured, the mobs created uncertain situation in Mumuret valley, although it was minor issue for the majority people living in the area. The incident increased disparities among the Kalasha People. After days passed there wasn’t any action and FIR on the mob that was caused clashes. Every time Kalasha people had been informed about engagement of third party after clash, isn’t it clear from the recent attacked on the community? Now there shouldn’t be any confusion about the third party rumours.

Today was the saddest day for the Kalasha people of Chitral, KP Pakistan. As first time there was not full flagged funeral rituals and dead bodies were just kept inside the temple for a night and women and men were mourned and buried without completing the traditions earlier this morning. When asked from elders they said, it happened because we are helpless and we felt only way to record our peaceful protest. Stopping rituals and beating drums…what message it convey? Why they were thought to not perform certain rituals? Isn’t it fears of another attack?

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Shawal Pass is a home of militants groups, in winter it closed due to heavy snowfall.

A young woman died of heart failure/BBC silent-forever

Kalash Desh 16 July, A young woman and mother of five children took last breath at Peshawar hospital on 16 July and couldn’t sustained her life at the age of 24 years , according to her family sources she felt chest pain three days ago and brought to District Headquarter Hospital Chitral which is located at a distances of 43 kilometres from her village Anish at Kalasha valley Mumuret, (It is also important to mentioned here that District Chitral lacks medial facilities and therefore, there are no MRI and CT scan facilities in the town and the patients usually refers to Peshawar, it locates at a distances of 400 kilometres from Chitral town, that is rough and tiring journey indeed) ,after initial medical check-up, she was referred to Peshawar immediately. It was 16 July evening when she died in a hospital at Peshawar, it has been said that she had heart failure.

File photo BIBIC

Inspired by BBC (British Broadcasting Company, her parents named her BBC, later in school her named was written in local style as BIBI C. She married in teenage to Shakeel Ahmad from her village and gave birth to five children, her elder son Saif Ali Khan is disabled, and three daughters are healthy, she gave birth to a baby boy three months ago but unfortunately she couldn’t feed him anymore and left her children orphaned. 

Born to a family of ex.councillor of Sher Mohammad Khan a well known figure in Kalasha valleys, since there was no television in the valleys long ago and BBC Urdu was main source of information through radio that inspired him to named one of his child as BBC.

She was a good human being and she had worked for her community as post-woman as her father-in-law is serving postman and she was educated in the family therefore helping her family to sort out parcel for distribution in Kalasha valley north-western part of Khyber Pakhtankhawa.

The mountain people are well exercised in daily life, but last few decades have been witness increase of heart failure and related diseases.

Funeral rituals are in progress where large number of people from three Kalasha valleys are gathered to see off her.

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Deceased will be buried on 18 July as per the Kalasha tradition of burial in her ancestral graveyard at Brun village. 

May Dezau (The Creator help her soul rest in peace at Behes’t’)

Dozen injured in a clash and Kalasha community are threaten

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ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Muslims clashed with members of Kalash tribe in Chitral on Thursday after a teenager claimed she was forced to convert to Islam, police and residents said.

Attacked on a house and ishpata news team watch now

Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd attacking a house in the Kalash tribe’s valley of Bumburate in the northwestern district of Chitral, where the girl had gone to give a police statement about her conversion, said Kalash activist Luke Rehmat.

The Kalash, country’s smallest religious minority, celebrate their gods through music and dance – an anomaly in conservative Muslim Pakistan.

Faces of Kalash: Untold stories of the valley

They number only around 4,000, according to Rehmat. Increasingly their youth are converting to Islam, prompting activists to campaign to preserve the traditions of the ancient, diminishing tribe.

The teenager had “returned to her home saying embracing Islam was a mistake and she wanted to live with her family, which infuriated the Muslim community,” Rehmat said.

She went to a neighbour’s house to speak to police, the home’s owner told AFP, but hundreds of people began to gather outside as word spread through the close-knit community.

“The Kalash community had also gathered to save the family and when the Muslims chanting slogans attacked the house with sticks and pelted stones everybody was running for their lives,” Rehmat, who was out of breath from fleeing the scene, told AFP by telephone.

“Dozens” were injured, he said, though apparently none seriously.

“Law enforcement agencies reached here on time otherwise they would have killed all of us,” said local Kalash politician Imran Kabeer.

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It was not clear what happened to the teenager.

Conversions threaten ancient Kalash tribe

Police of Chitral said the district police chief had gone to Bumburate with other senior officers, adding that the situation was under control.

The owner of the house that was attacked was also in Chitral, where he said police were refusing to let him return home.

“They came out in a mob to attack my house and to kill my wife and my children,” he said, asking to remain anonymous.

“They threw stones at the roof and at the windows. Police were firing in the air.”

Chitral, a northern district of Khyber-Pukhtunkwa, has long attracted tourists for its beauty and has hitherto been notable for having been spared the country’s violence.

Kalasha family protests against police behaviour threatens to migrate

Kalash community protests against police behaviour threatens to migrate

CHITRAL: Elites from Kalash community under the chair of Mir Bacha Kalah of Birir valley held a protest rally against police station Ayun’s nepotism and staff’s brutal behavior against the community.

The Kalash women and men including their children  also held a press conference in a local hotel.
Addressing thepress conference Mir Bacha and others said that they have some land dispute with a rival group at Birir whose one daughter is serving as police constable and his son in Chitral border police (Levies) who use their influence and are pressurizing Station House Officer (SHO) Ayun who lodged 3 FIRs against us.
But they took no action against them as usually police lodge cross FIR in such cases at Chitral.

They said that Asham Bibi is lady police constable and she using her influence in police department lodged FIR 3 times and arrested our women, children and men and sent to jail.

They said that although the case is under trial in civil court but even then the rival group was harassing us to occupy  the land which is our legal right.

Holding banner in their hand inscribing the message  to chief Justice appealing for justice they protested and took out rally against Chitral (Ayun) police against their partial activity and taking action against them  on the desire of influential persons.

Mir Bacha and his wife said that they also submitted written application before the District Police Officer (DPO) Chitral but no action was taken so far.

They appealed to the Chief Justice Peshawar High Court, Chief Minister Khyber Pahtonkhwa, Inspector General of Police to take action against Ayun police on their nepotism and misusing their power  only to patronize their lady police constable.

They warned if they were not provided justice they will leave this country and will migrate to an other country as a protest.

Kalash valley road blocked, people are stranded both sides of the river

Dubaz bridge damaged completely (7)

Kalash Desh 12 May; poor management of district administration caused serious issues for the residents of Mumuret and Rukmu valley.

Dubaz bridge damaged completely (8)

Especially children, women, patients and tourist are helpless at checkpoint Dubaz. People in the valleys are very disappointed from District concerns, serval times elected representatives and residents demanded government to make some measurements to provide relief for the community living in Kalasha Desh, but all their request had been trashed to dustbins and no one cares.

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Women, tourist and children are seen on both sides, they were restless, as local police and Chitral Levis had stopped them crossing the river on damaged site.

Dubaz bridge damaged completely (2)

The famous Zhoshi (spring festival) just a click start on fourteen May, and there are lot of issues for everyone, not only the road closed, all link bridges have been disappeared in last few days, as the water level has been raised in the stream. And there were no pre-cautionary steps taken since last year.

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People are in confusions and whispering about the changed promised in 2013 general election and blaming the Khyber Paktankhawa government for ignorance and less interest towards the people of Chitral District.

Dubaz bridge damaged completely (3)

Chitral is worst affected by natural climates in KP, it was devastated by flash floods and then earthquake has been traumatized the situation and increased worries of survival for the people.

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Government didn’t learnt lesson, evidently waiting for another worst days to be happened, as there have not been any work plan for the district red zone areas, that would be changing the landscape in upcoming monsoon season of 2016.

Dubaz bridge damaged completely (5)

Worst conditions of link bridges in Kalasha valleys

Girls are crossing link bridge at Rukmu

Kalasha Desh; poor condition of link bridges can result same situation that happened on six May at Drasun of Mulkhow village where daughter and father lost their life while crossing locally built rough link bridge.

As one can see the above image in horrible condition, dozens of school kids, crosses the bridge every day to reach their school situated at a distance of one kilo meter in Grom center Kalasha valley Rukmu. Last year flood disaster has been swept away all link bridges in Kalasha valleys and people are facing serious issues as the water level in streams has been rising day to day.

After ten months district administration and provincial government failed to built bridges for the mountain community, instead of ease their life government is putting salt on their wounds, that can causes loss of precious life in far flung areas of the District.

Two people are crosing link bridge at Gorapuna

Two man are trying to cross bridge at Gorapuna in UC Ayun, they could imbalance any time as the link connection is dangerous to move on it. Responsible agency is government, District Disasters Management Authority, Provincial Disasters Management Authority and National Disasters Management Authority. But all these concerns are sleeping and enjoying wheel chair at office, they don’t have any pain for the people those are suffering because they, and their kids are safe and sound and having no such issues then why they care about others!!!

Federal government approved Rs. 2.4 billion for the construction Mumuret (Bumboret) Road

Photo taken at Gombayak road leads to Rukmu valley

Present condition of road in Kalasha valleys

By Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: The federal government has approved a large sum of Rs. 14.52 billion for the construction of four road projects in Chitral on which preliminary work has already been started including its alignment survey and compilation of feasibility report.

road in Kalash valleys
Talking to Chitral Times by telephone from Islamabad, the MNA from Chitral, Shahzada Iftikharud Din said that all the four road projects led to the four major valleys of the district and had been the long standing demand of the people.
Eulogizing the prime minister for his generous approval of the most wanted road projects, he said that he (prime minister) had announced the projects during his visit to the flood affected village of Kuragh in upper Chitral last year.

Road leading to Mumuret (Bumboret) valley
The prime minister, he said, did not lost his time in approving Rs. 7.5 billion for Shandur road (147 kms), Rs.3.5billion for Garam Chashma road (67 kms) and  Rs. 2.4 billion for Bumburate road while National Highway Authority will start work on the sites shortly.
He said that all the three roads are of prime importance and will boost up trade and tourism thereby bringing about progress and prosperity as the Shandur Road is the one which connects Chitral with Gilgit-Baltistan onward leading to the Chinese market.
The law-maker from Chitral said that for Booni-Torkhow road, the federal government had already provided Rs. 1.12 billion rupees which was being executed by the communication and works department of the provincial government.
He said that both Torkhow and Garam Chashm roads can be used as passage to Tajikistan which had already been declared as feasible in early 1990s when Mian Nawaz Sharif was in power.

Ishpata Youth Competition 2016 Concludes in Mumuret valley

Faiz Begum and Anila with their winner trophy  

Kalash valley first ever Ishpata youth competition concluded in Kalasha valley on 3rd may 2016 the competition was funded by AKRSP/EELY project with financial assistance of Global affairs of Canada.

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It was implemented by AVDP and organized by Kalash People’s Development Network, KPDN. First time there have been such competition hold in kal’as’a mondr the Kalasha Language.

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The Event was divided into six different categories such as Essay/speech, traditional songs, Dhushak, Drazahilak, Nomnomek and Danhun bhanjek. Total 28 youth participated the competition. In Essay Competition Zarkima wins first position. Anila came 2nd while Faiz begum stood 3rd and Humaira also get position, in Drazhahilak category, Zafar Muluk win first position. Iqbal Nazir 2nd and Amir Gul secured 3rd position.

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The Category; Nomnomek, teacher Rahmat Din wins first position, while Shahid Khan secured second 2nd position. In Category; Traditional song, Kamar U Din wins first position, Gul farad 2nd position and Shashmita stood 3rd position. Ca’a’ group, Sail Nazir first position Sham Seema got second position, the last competition was beating traditional Drams. In this groups Iqbal Shah wins first position, Sayed Hakim 2nd and Bihari Lal stood 3rd. The competition was aim to promote leadership skills in youth, through such competition. The event was also participated by large number of school students. Nazim village council Adv.Muhammd Rafi appreciated efforts of AKRSP/GAC especially AVDP and organizers of KPDN for promoting healthy competition in youth.

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Judging panel including Wazir Zada, Khosh Ahmad Khan, Kui Begam, Lali Gul, Akram Hussain, Bakhtawar Shah, Sher Taj, Rahmat Din and Shahi Bibi Kalash Qazi and elder Mashar term the basic event to polish young talent to lead youth for leadership. The participants were in view that such competition need to be held very frequently in Kalasha valleys to promote youth development activities.

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Winners received cash prize and trophy in all categories.

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Mr. Bugi Ansari hold painting workshop for school kids during the competition. Bugi is Dutch Pakistan and friends of Kalash for last many years. He also runs Facebook based campaign name Help Preserve Kalasha as UN protect site. 

5 days Kal’s’amondr orthography workshop comes to conclusion

Paticipants during final day

The 5 days orthography workshop was organized to revisit orthography issues of Kal’s’amondr the Kalasha Language, it was funded by USAID/NRSP and implemented by Ayun and Valleys Development Programme under its project Kalasha Language and Culture Preservation. Interestingly number of Kalasha teachers participated with community linguist.

Greg and Elsa Cooper participated the orthography workshop via internet, they sent video message for the participants, including 2016 orthography issues. Both papers and video have been shared with the participants.

Greg was suggested that the apostrophe could be change into Indological letters

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Above is the chart prepared for inside covers of the 2003 Kalasha Alphabet book. Somehow it was omitted in the final edition.

‘’Now a new chart will show that all apostrophes are replaced with a dot under says Greg and Elsa Cooper’’

New chart with under dot option

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The workshop was facilitated by Forum for Language Initiatives, the facilitators Naseem Haider and Farid Ahmad discussed basic alphabets, consonants, vowels, verbs, nouns, paradigm, script, orthography, phonetics, nasalization, stages of orthography development, kinds of orthography process, and benefits of standard orthography, orthography development rules and principles and participation of stakeholders.

The Kalasha Literacy and Culture committee, agreed to maintain the last working orthography with Roman script and unanimously agreed to use (n’) letter with diacritics for nasalization sound instead of using (~).

Changing under dot could create more confusion for those students and published documents and huge number of investments made in past decades on Kal’s’amondr could be suffered, and handsome funds shall be required to re –publish all those books that have been printed since 2001. Aforesaid concerns were raised by the Kalasha community.

Language and Culture Development Officer Mr. Luke Rehmat emphasis that ‘’ we need to proceed with Roman script that have been teaching for many years, consistency needs in Kal’s’amondr to read and write’’ he further says that ‘’Kal’s’amondr is very unique and rich in phonetics, there are 29 consonants and 15 vowels, that includes nasal, retroflex and aspirates sounds’’

Mr. Rehmat added that ‘’there are upcoming writers workshop for Kal’s’amondr speakers to further study and research on read and write Kal’s’amondr the Kalasha Language, he appreciates efforts of Ran, Greg, Elsa and Greek volunteers for their dedication and wonderful job, they did for Kalasha community to maintain the rich culture and endanger Language’’

The work on the Kalasha Alphabets began in 1982, with the help of Ran Trail from America, Elsa and Greg Cooper from Australia. The initial orthography was chosen as Arabic (Persian) script and the work was continued for two decades. In this period the researchers and linguists along with some Kalasha People had completed the alphabets and a dictionary.

Group of orthography workshop

Later in 2001, an orthography conference was organized in Islamabad and the alphabets were changed into Roman Script. Also the work done by the linguists was revised. Interestingly, the new changes were endorsed by the local community and soon a dictionary and an alphabets’ book was published in the newly Adopted script.

Mr. Luke with Participants

In 2007, Greek Volunteers under the leadership of Prof. Anthanosis started a new project with teachers of the Kalasha Dur Private Institute for Kalasha Culture and Traditions and developed 18 level workbooks for their students. They made changes to the nasalization sound and created two way of writing the Kalasha Language. While the earlier work was limited to publications, the new methodology implemented a different approach and a handsome number of kids learnt the new format at Kalasha Dur School and trained teachers got engaged in other Government Kalasha primary schools in the Kalasha valleys. The script remained same as development by earlier linguistics.

Senior Community Linguist Mr. Abdul Khaliq in happy mode during the orthography workshop

Senior Community Linguist Mr. Abdul Khaliq in happy mode during the orthography workshop

Kalash fight for their identity with Unesco bid

CHITRAL: Pakistan’s smallest religious minority, the Kalash speak their own language and celebrate their gods through music, dance ─ and alcohol, which they brew themselves in Chitral’s plunging verdant valleys.

Here, the sexes mingle easily, marriage can be sealed with a dance, and women are free to move on to new loves ─ it is a far cry from life in much of the rest of the country, where many adhere to a strict religious and cultural code.

Kalash students attend a class at a school in the Brun village of Bumboret valley. — AFP

Kalash students attend a class at a school in the Brun village of Bumboret valley. — AFP

Yet the Kalash fear their unique culture will not endure: Increasingly their youth are converting to Islam, prompting activists to campaign to preserve the traditions of this ancient, diminishing tribe.

Their fight to get the Kalash on to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List began in 2008, but eight years on remains mired in sluggish bureaucracy.

With their fair skin and light eyes, academics have speculated the Kalash might be descended from the ancient Middle East or even from soldiers of Alexander the Great’s army, which conquered the area in the fourth century BC.

Kalash Peoples Development Newtwork (KPDN) activist Luke Rehmat stands at the door of a Kalash building of worship in Brun village in the Bumboret valley. — AFP

Kalash Peoples Development Newtwork (KPDN) activist Luke Rehmat stands at the door of a Kalash building of worship in Brun village in the Bumboret valley. — AFP

Centuries ago they ruled Chitral but now they number just 3,000, according to the Kalash Peoples Development Network (KPDN). Today, the Kalash say their traditions are under threat.

At school, children take a compulsory class on Islam but not about their own traditions, which are becoming more and more difficult to follow as the Kalash move away from their agrarian lifestyle and towards trade, studying or working in the cities.

Some face anger from Muslim neighbours in the region, who believe God is enraged by the tribe’s un-Islamic practises and has unleashed natural disasters ─ floods and earthquakes ─ on the area as punishment.

Under such pressure, more and more end up converting to Islam.

Kalash Peoples Development Network (KPDN) activist Luke Rehmat speaks during an interview with AFP in Brun village in the Bumboret valley. — AFP

Kalash Peoples Development Network (KPDN) activist Luke Rehmat speaks during an interview with AFP in Brun village in the Bumboret valley. — AFP

“The Kalash are a living civilisation and need to be protected legally through the government of Pakistan,” says KPDN activist Luke Rehmat.

He accuses government officials of not taking the Unesco bid seriously, adding: “So far there is no positive work on this.”

The menstrual house

The unique Kalash festivals and rituals mean the tribe do fit the criteria for the list, says Jawad Aziz, a cultural officer at Unesco in Islamabad.

In this photograph taken on October 31, 2015, a Kalash woman walks with a child past a Kalash house of worship in the Brun village of Bumboret valley. — AFP

In this photograph taken on October 31, 2015, a Kalash woman walks with a child past a Kalash house of worship in the Brun village of Bumboret valley. — AFP

Among the more colourful of the Kalash traditions is the “bashali”: the house in every village where women are required to stay during their menstrual cycle.

Kalash women are considered “impure” during their periods, during which they are not supposed to touch others.

Instead they retreat to the bashali, off limits to men, where they spend their days in peace reading books and sewing as family members leave food for them on the doorstep.

Kalash Peoples Development Newtwork (KPDN) activist Luke Rehmat stands near an altar during an interview with AFP in Brun village in the Bumboret valley. — AFP

Kalash Peoples Development Newtwork (KPDN) activist Luke Rehmat stands near an altar during an interview with AFP in Brun village in the Bumboret valley. — AFP

The Kalash also do not mourn their dead, instead celebrating what Rehmat described as “the completion of the journey” that begins with birth with three days of dancing, music and feasting.

Marriage can be agreed by a dance, before the couple run off to his parents’ house ─ only welcome back in the Kalash community when they visit the parents of the bride.

But the woman has the right to leave her husband and marry another ─ should her new lover be willing to pay the price she sets.

Aziz said consultations between his organisation, the government and the Kalash were held in 2012 ─ but there has been no official communication since then.

Kalash students leave a school in the Brun village of Bumboret valley. ─ AFP

Kalash students leave a school in the Brun village of Bumboret valley. ─ AFP

“The government of Pakistan has not submitted any dossier so far either for preservation of the Kalash cultural heritage or to safeguard any endangered part,” he said.

Government officials warn the process takes time.

“The procedure to be included in the Unesco list is quite a lengthy one and in other countries they have separate organisations (to help carry out the process),” said Sajid Munir, a spokesman for the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, which hosted the original consultations in 2012.

He said the institution, known locally as Lok Virsa, has been working to preserve Kalash culture since the 1980s, and still plans to get the tribe on to the Unesco list.

No guarantee

Local authorities in Chitral said they were also fighting to preserve Kalash identity.

The valleys have long attracted tourists for their natural beauty and their brush with legend as the home of the tribe.

Kalash students return from school in Brun village of the Bumboret valley. — AFP

Kalash students return from school in Brun village of the Bumboret valley. — AFP

“When I was appointed here, my superiors stressed that I should concentrate particularly on the Kalash community and make efforts for the preservation of their culture,” Osama Ahmad Warraich, the district administration official of Chitral told AFP.

“The locals said they needed sanitary pads in the bashalis and now we are providing that. We have plans to renovate their places of worships and festivities.”

Rehmat dismisses the government efforts, however. “Every time, they say that Kalash people are living near our hearts,” he said.

“If we are living very close to them then why are all these things happening?” he asked, referring to the tribe’s struggle to preserve its cultural heritage.

At any rate, said Unesco’s Aziz, being included on the list “gives no guarantee of protection”.