By Salman Rashid
As journeys go, this one was hardly a great one. Kamran Alavi (with his throat orchestra of which more later) and I reached Gilgit hoping to go walking up north of Misgar in the Gojal region in the extreme upper edge of Hunza. That would have been after I had done a short dash to the end of the Chapursan Valley to check out the tomb of Baba Ghundi.
Since I had been in Chapursan back in 1990 (when I had more hair and less fat), I had never returned and there were some people I sorely wanted to see again. One was Sarfraz Khan alias Chairman of the village of Zuda Khun who had a gold tooth and a rifle. All his life he had been a keen hunter and when he agreed to lead me across the 5200 metre-high Chillinji Pass, he brought his trusted old rifle along. With a wide grin he had said he would be coming back with an ibex or two. I asked how he could carry back two dead animals and he said that the pass being glaciated, he could always bury one in the deep freeze and return for it later.
It is only in Gojal and Hunza that one will chance upon a solitary young woman, shovel on her shoulder merrily marching along on her way to water a potato or wheat field. That she can go off into the wilderness unaccompanied has a lot to say of a society that does not threaten its womenfolk, a society at peace with itself.
This comes from education and not from sham belief in religion: remote Chapursan has one hundred percent literacy. Little children that we accosted on the way spoke perfect English and Urdu and possessed impeccable manners. Most of the rest of us could take a leaf from this book. And this has all come to be because of the good work of the Aga Khan Foundation. I say, exterminate these politicians and let the Aga Khan be King of Pakistan. He will turn us, including the Mehsuds and sundry other creatures inhabiting that region, human.