Monday, May 25, 2015

Kalash Girls of Pakistan

Many Pakistanis of Chitral, Hunza, Gilgit and Nagir have long claimed descent from the Greek and the Macedonian invaders who were led into India by Alexander in 327 B.C. Among them are the Kalash people who live in Chitral, Pakistan.

Kalash Genes:

Kalash Girls in Chitral Valley
Last year, a genetic study reported in The New York Times found that the Kalash people's DNA seems to indicate that they had an infusion of European blood during a "mixing event" at roughly the time of Alexander's conquests in 4th century B.C. This isolated people are thus most likely the direct descendants of the ancient Greek-Macedonian armies who came to this region 2,300 years ago.

The study was published in February 2014 in the journal Science by a team led by Simon Myers of Oxford University, Garrett Hellenthal of University College London and Daniel Falush of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

 A 2013 Harvard study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics has found that vast majority of Indians today have descended from a mixture of two genetically divergent populations--Ancestral North Indians (ANIs) who migrated from Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Europe,  and Ancestral South Indians (ASI), who are not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent.

Pakistan is a racially diverse country with a range of of skin colors and facial features. There are people of European descent in its northern areas like the Kalash along with the Sheedi or Makrani people of African descent in parts of the south along the Arabian Sea coastal line.

Sheedis of Sindh and Balochistan:

Sheedis are thought to be the descendants of African slaves brought to the shores of Pakistan at the height of the international slave trade that started in the 7th century and continued into the 18th century.

Sheedi Makrani in Karachi 
Also known as Siddis in other parts of South Asia, they are believed to have arrived in India in 628 AD at the Bharuch port. Several others followed with the first Arab invasions of Sindh in 712 AD. The latter group are believed to have been soldiers with Muhammad bin Qasim's Arab army, and were called Zanjis. Siddis are related to the Bantu peoples of Southeast Africa. They were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by the Portuguese.

The Sheedis of Pakistan, also known as Makranis, live primarily along the Makran Coast in Balochistan, and southern part of Sindh. In Karachi, they are mainly concentrated in Lyari. Pir Mangho is revered by Sheedis as their patron saint. Sheedis have an annual celebration in Manghopir area around the shrine of their patron saint.

Chitral Valley:

A 10,000 ft high mountain pass and big glaciers separate the scenic Chitral valley, the home of the Kalash, from the Swat Valley that was hit by the Taliban insurgency in 2009.  It has so far served to insulate these pagan people from the rising tide of intolerance and religious militancy in the Islamic Republic.

Young Kalash

A CNN story calling the Kalsh "the happiest people in Pakistan" succinctly captured their lives in the following sentence:  "Year round, the Kalasha dance their way through a stream of festivals and rituals, and socially and culturally, theirs appears to be a joyful existence".

Hunza's Greek and Macedonian Connections:

A few years ago, the neighboring Hunza people,who also claim descent from Alexander's men, found themselves in the middle of a tussle between the governments of Greece and Macedonia. Below is a post I wrote back in 2008 on this subject:

"I am honored to be in my country Macedonia", said Prince Ghazanfar Ali Khan of Hunza, as he arrived in Skopje, the capital of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in July this year, according to Financial Times.

So what is the Wali of Hunza doing in Macedonia? It is hard to believe but true that Pakistan and Pakistanis figure prominently in the ongoing struggle for the inheritance of the legacy of Alexander, the Great, and with it, Macedonia as a moniker. Both Greece and the country of Macedonia, officially called the "Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia" by UN and other international bodies, claim Alexander's legacy.

The prince, his wife Princess Rani Atiqa and their entourage claim descent from Alexander the Great’s conquering army, which reached their Hunza tribal homeland in northern Pakistan 23 centuries ago.

Hunza Valley
The princely state of the Hunza is currently in northern Pakistan, former part of Persia, and the place of their residence is, according to historic data, the most eastern point of the kingdom of Alexander of Macedonia.

Hunza folklore gave a shot in the arm to the ex-Yugoslav country of 2m – still embroiled, 18 years after independence, in a frustrating “name dispute” with Greece, whose northern province is also called Macedonia. Greece has opposed the country of Macedonia calling itself Macedonia. To pacify Greeks, the world calls the nation of Macedonia F.Y.R. Macedonia, where F.Y.R. stands for the former Yugoslav republic.

As Greece and F.Y.R. Macedonia fight over their claim to the name of Macedonia and Alexander's heritage, they have both been courting the Kalash and Hunza people of Pakistan. While the FYR of Macedonia rolled out the red carpet for the prince of Hunza, the Greek government is funding the cultural activities of the Kalash people of northern Pakistan.

Aleksandar Dimiskovski, a business consultant in Skopje, told Financial Times: “The [Hunza] visit provides affirmation of our ties to the former Macedonia of Alexander the Great. Approval from these people confirms that the legacy of ancient Macedonia belongs to the Republic of Macedonia, not just to Greece.”

Hunza Girl
The fair-skinned, blue-eyed Hunza people, whose own accounts trace their descent to Alexander’s march-weary troops, are renowned for their longevity and their high literacy rate, says the Financial Times story on Hunza. In the 1930s, scientists in Nazi Germany also combed the Himalayas in search of lost Aryan cousins.

In addition to the Macedonian prime minister and his cabinet, the Hunza delegation also met Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, HH Stefan, and Skopje Mayor Trifun Kostovski, according to Turkish Weekly Journal.

The delegation visited sites and towns throughout Macedonia, and attended the renowned Galichnik Wedding. The Hunza visit was organized by Macedonian Institute for Strategic Research.

FYR Macedonia has been making efforts to seek the attention and support of the United States in its fight with Greece. As a part of this campaign, Macedonian officials attempted to ingratiate the US by trying to become an ally in the war on terror. Macedonian security officials planned and staged fake anti-terrorist raids in which six innocent Pakistanis and an Indian migrant were killed in cold blood in late 2001, two months after 911 attacks. The New York Times covered the details of this fake tale of terror in Macedonia in a May 2004 story. The Hunza prince's sponsored visit, and the warm welcome he received in Macedonia, seem to be a continuation of the same cynical campaign that started with the massacre of innocent Pakistanis in Macedonia.

Here's a video clip of Wali of Hunza's visit to Macedonia:

The Macedonians from Hunza are coming back home!. by faizan-maqsood

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Greek and Macedonian Connection

Soccer Loving Sheedis of Lyari

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Harvard Genetics Study Finds Most Indians Not Indigenous 

Rising Tide of Intolerance in Pakistan

Pakistani Cover Girls

Pakistan's Top Fashion Models

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan


Jaan said...

They are not Greek or Macedonian. They are native to the region. Their religion also shows signs of Paganism practised throughout Afghanistan by ancient Iranic or Indo-European people.

Shan said...

May be Pashtun believe that their ancestors were greeks or what soever. That region has been invaded by many empires from all sides. Tomorrow they will become Mongols and later they will call them selves turks, or iranians as all look alike.

Anyways, I am not a Pathan, nor my ancestors migrated to Pakistan from north or west or wherever. I look like typical south asian, neither an invader nor a slave of an invader.

Riaz Haq said...

Jaan and Shan:

It's not just their claim; it's the DNA evidence that links them to Greeks and Macedonians.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan village of Rasoolpur: 100% literacy, no crime, very clean …

Pakistan's sensational media coverage projects only the dark side of the country with a constant stream of news stories of militancy, illiteracy and deprivation. But BBC Urdu took a road less traveled and found a small village of Rasoolpur in the Punjab which demolishes some of the worst stereotypes of the country.

Here's how BBC describes it:
دور دراز علاقوں سے ایک تو خبر ہی مشکل سے آتی ہے۔آتی بھی ہے تو اکثر بری خبر ہی ہوتي ہے۔ شايد سی لیے رسول پور جیسے گاؤں، 99 فیصد شرح خواندگی اور زیرو جرائم کا ریکارڈ رکھنے کے باوجود سنسنسی زدہ میڈیا کے لیے خبر کا درجہ نہیں رکھتے۔۔
Translation: News from remote areas of Pakistan does not easily reach the urban press but when it does, any good news like 100% literacy and zero crime in Rasoolpur village is discarded by the sensational media as not newsworthy.

Rasoolpur is a village with a population of just 2000. Most of its residents are ethnic Baloch whose ancestors migrated from Pakistan's Balochistan province to Southern Punjab. It is located in Rajanpur district in the Seraiki speaking region. Its literacy rate is near 100%. The United Nations defines literacy as the ability to sign one's name. But Rasoolpuris hold themselves to a much higher standard; they have all their children finish high school.

There are no children out of school. It is crime-free. It is clean. There are two high schools, one for the girls and other for the boys.

Riaz Haq said...

How One #Pakistan Town in #Sindh Mastered Religious Tolerance via HuffPost Religion

"IN February this year, I happened to travel to Tharparkar with friends to view the drought-affected areas and launch some projects to overcome the disaster that hits every year. After a 20-hour arduous road and rail journey, I finally reached the quaint little town of Mithi, and here I experienced what I had never expected to see in a Pakistani town.

Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 percent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram.

Not only that, the Hindus of Mithi also happily participate in providing food and drinks for Muslims during Ramazan, and both groups exchange sweets on Eid and Diwali. The crime rate in Mithi is at two percent and never has anyone witnessed any incident of religious intolerance.

Speaking with the locals of Mithi, I discovered that here, one could find Hindu speakers organising majaalis in Muharram -- something I haven't seen anywhere else in Pakistan -- and as my friend in the United States had stated, I heard Hindus sharing their account of Muharram, where they led Ashura processions and provided assistance to procession members in a city where Muslims hardly made up 20 percent of the population.
Pakistan has become synonymous with terrorism. On most local and international news channels, we hear about minorities getting slaughtered at the hands of extremists; attacks on temples, churches, imambargahs; or the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians in the country.

I reckon you might be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a small town in Tharparkar, a district of the Sindh province where none of this is happening.

Mithi is one of the few towns in Pakistan where Muslims do not form the majority. In this quiet portion of a sprawling desert, both Hindus and Muslims have lived together like brothers since the creation of Pakistan.

In November 2014, when I was selected for a three-week fellowship program in the United States, I met a gentleman from Sindh who was also among my batch. He introduced himself like this:

"I am a Hindu from Sindh, but throughout my life I have lived with Muslims and this is why during Ramazan, we fast along with them; and when it is Muharram, us Hindu boys lead the procession because this is the culture which Sufism has given us."

I was dumbstruck at the idea of a Hindu fasting in Ramazan or leading a Muharram procession. Was this actually true?"

Riaz Haq said...

Vision 2047 looks back 4000 years to South Asian region's past where a thriving yet peaceful civilization was flourishing in the fields around Indus river. This was the time of Egyptian, Chinese and Mesopotamian civilization. Filmmaker Saqib Mausoof embarks on a journey "in search of Meluhha", a documentary that tells the story of "Indus Civilization through the eyes of its inheritors". Where was Meluhha? How Meluhha connects to Indus Valley Civilization (IVC)? How did the civilization disappear into the pages of history? We will ask Saqib what he discovered during his research while making the documentary. We will also ask Riaz Haq of, a writer and researcher about the irrigation systems, housing and urban development and technological innovations of people of South Asia 4000 years ago. Ali Hasan Cemendtaur will join us and talk about what he found out about IVC while attending a program at India Community Center (ICC) and organized by 1947 Partition Archive, where leading researcher on IVC Professor Jonathan Kenoyer talked about his latest discoveries.

Majumdar said...

Lovely article, Prof sb. We want to read more such articles on Pakistan than the overdose of bad news that local agencies seem fond of churning out.

Btw, have you read the SOFI report for 2015 which was out on Wednesday. Pakiland's hungry % has actually worsened in the last control period from 21.8% in 2010-12 to 22% in 2014-16. India has improved from 15.6% to 15.2% in the same period and has beaten both Pakiland and BD.


Riaz Haq said...

Modernity and Muslims encroach on Kalash, a unique ancient tribe in #Pakistan's #Chitral region via @WSJ

Members of this community (Kalash) say they are battling to preserve their traditions against two powerful forces: the encroachment of modernity and pressure to conform with the surrounding Muslim population.

At this year’s festival, the women wore their traditional long black dresses embellished with bright patterns, heaps of colorful necklaces and headdresses adorned with beads and seashells. But some of the younger women covered their faces for the dance with scarves, in a recent adoption of conservative Muslim norms.

The tribespeople now inhabit three narrow valleys in Chitral, where they grow crops and raise long-haired goats. Their valleys are accessible only by a narrow track carved into the mountainside. The Kalash language and religion are distinct, as are their pacifistic ways in a region known for violence and internecine feuding.

“We’re a peaceful people,” said Muhammad Iqbal Kalash, sitting outside his traditional stone-and-wood house on the banks of a mountain river in the Rumbur valley. “Without the security now provided, we would no longer go to our dancing places.”

Even in their remaining three valleys, the Kalash are now outnumbered by Muslims. While the native Chitralis are known for their tolerance, many Muslim settlers from outside the region have brought a harsh brand of Islam with them.

Women are in many ways the anchor of Kalash culture. Confidently mixing with men and enjoying home-made wine and liquor fermented from mulberries or apricots at festivals, women usually choose their husbands—unlike most of Pakistan, where marriages are arranged by family elders. A Kalash wife can leave her husband for another man as long as the first one is financially compensated.

“Kalash religion and culture has survived because of the women,” said Sayed Gul Kalash, a woman taking a break from dancing at the festival. “Conversion is a silent killer. When someone leaves their religion, they leave their language and culture too.”

Kalash men have adopted the shalwar kameez, the baggy shirt-and-trousers combination worn by men throughout the rest of Pakistan. The men say they are encouraged by Muslims neighbors to shave, so they are not mistaken for Muslims.

The Kalash have adopted Muslim names, while the now-educated young men are reluctant to tend goats, an animal considered pure by the Kalash and an important part of their religion.

With no written tradition and no sacred book, many Kalash find their religion, a faith of shamans and animal sacrifice, hard to explain. They believe in one supreme God, but other deities function as intermediaries.

Cellphone service, another intrusion of the modern world, arrived in some Kalash areas only this year. But while modernization has taken some Kalash away from their home valleys and beliefs, it has also made many of them prouder of their unique heritage.

“There is now awareness of our culture,” said Meeta Gul, a mother of two in Rumbur. “Educated Kalash don’t convert.”