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Posts Tagged ‘Khowars

Karakoram and Hindu Kush (north Pakistan): World concentrated glaciers and tallest Peaks

Bordering China, Kashmir, Afghanistan and the central Asian countries are the regions of the most concentrated highest peaks and glaciers and the sources of the Braldu, Shyok, and Indus River (forking westward toward Pakistan and eastward toward India).

Have heard of Karakoram and Hindu Kush regions in North Pakistan and the Baltistan district (with capital Skardu) near the Kashmir borders?

Have you heard of the K2 Peak, the second highest at 8,611 m?

From left and going clockwise you can see on the map the Tower of Muztagh (7,273 m), Broad Peak (8,047 m), Gasherbrum I (8,068 m), Gasherbrum II (8,035 m), Masherbrum (7,821 m), Nanga Parbat (8, 1236 m), Rakaposhi (7,788 m), Ogre (7,285)….

Have you heard of the glaciers Hispar, Biafo, Baltoro, Concordia, Godwin-Austin, Sachsen (where the Pakistani and Indian armies shell one another for the Kashmir region)…?

You find the vast and highest valleys of Shigar, Hushe, Hunzu, Charpursan

The late photographer Galen Rowell (died in an aviation accident in 2002) spent decades of his life to filming this region evanescent beauty.

The road leading to Balistan follow the gorges of the powerful Indus River: There is no other alternative route that the Indus failed to dig in this mountainous region. Most of the deaths in Pakistan are from road accidents, of treacherous side roads off the main highway to China.

The biologist George Schaller trekked the Karakoram in 1973 studying the whereabouts of the Blue Sheep (bhoral) or ibex and wrote in “Stones of Silence“:

My trekking trips were marked by difficulty and deception. But the mountains are like appetite  They did deeper. My hunger for the Karakoram grew by the days…”

The companion of Schaller, Peter Matthiessen wrote the master piece “The Snow Leopard

This vast region is where the Baltis ethnic people dwell.

According to the book “Three cups of tea“, the Baltis are originally from Tibet. They emigrated 6 century ago and adopted the Chiaa Moslem sect. They are mostly short, robust, and most adapted to high altitudes like the Sherpas of the Himalaya mountain chains (Nepal) and the Indians of the Andes chain in South America.

In 1958, the Italian Fosco Maraini who participated in the Gasherbrum 4 expedition  expanded at length on this ethnic group:

“They constantly plot, complain, and frustrate you to the highest level. They emanate an air of bandits, but they have great qualities: They are honest, cheerful, loyal, and have a great resistance to fatigue. You see skinny people carrying 40 kilos through treacherous paths with the ease of people carrying nothing…”

Note 1: After Sept.11, 2001, Greg Mortenson was back in Pakistan to build one of his 80 primary schools for girls in the Karakoram region. The CIA wanted information on the people of this region and the names and addresses of the people on the payroll in Pakistan of the Central Asia Institutes. Greg refused because he will be a dead man if he did, and his mission will be tainted.

The 4 CIA men in grey 4-pieces suits wanted to know the religious sects of the communities (tribes) in North Pakistan. You have the Khowars, Kohistanis, Shinas, Torwalis, Kalamis… The Kalash is an animist tribe. The CIA felt discouraged: The further they diverted from general categories (Sunni, Chiaa..) the more impossible it became to get a good clean-cut understanding

Note 2. Have you heard of the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan?

One day, Greg Mortenson was close to the borders with North Afghanistan in the town of Zuudkan when a group of Kirghiz horsemen crossed the pass of Irshad to meet with him: They got wind of Doctor Greg’s presence who build schools for girls and wanted him to visit the Wakhan Corridor.

The Wakhan Corridor is this long stretch of land, a tongue, sandwiched between Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China, where opium is trafficked and distributed to Russia and China via the passes of Irshad and Khundjerab. This is an extension of the Panjshir Valley region in north-east Afghanistan that the Taliban could not enter. The only access was through the Salang tunnel, which warlord Massoud detonated as the Taliban tried to expand northward.

Note 3: A few words in the Baltis language, an archaic Tibetan version:

Gangs-zhing: glacier

Rdo-rut: avalanche

Brad-lep: Flat rock

Kurba: small round rocks used to cook bread on

Zindabad: wonderful

Mar: rancid butter of yak milk

Gorak: Vulture

Biango: roasted chicken

Lassi: chapati

Urdwa: woolen bonnet ornated with pearls, shells, and ancient money pieces

Zamba: rope bridge in yak hair

Topi: cap in mutton wool

Nurmadhar: village chief

Balti: Central space in a house

Tchizaley? What are you doing here?

Naswar: Green tobacco for chewing

Shalval Kamiz: loose pant and long shirt (Sherwal/Qamis in Arabic)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
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