Democracy has the power to transform societies, but this transformation can not take place if people are not ready to come out of their shells of clan, class, sect, language, race and lineage. A leader who is chosen on the lines of race and clan is most likely to be racist in all aspects. Similarly, the one who is chosen on the basis of vision, charisma, demonstrated leadership skills, or the willingness to lead through examples, is also most likely to craft a society that reflects and cements such traits in the society.
That there are four strong candidates from four strong clans or tribes of central Hunza (kunjut) is not a very positive indicator for a democratic society. Altikutz, Burong, Diramiting and Khurokutz are represented by four strong candidates. Similarly, in a small part of Gojal, four candidates registered to contest the elections, representing their tribes, namely Posh, Rumi and Quli Kutor.
While it’s not a sin to belong to a family or seek the support of one’s family for getting elected, it certainly is a crime to focus election campaigns around ethnic identities, lingual affiliations and race. Some candidates in Hunza have planned their campaigns in such a manner that they visit certain villages in Gojal valley, trying to get language, clan and race votes, displaying complete disregard for regional harmony and democratic norms, in stark violation of the code of conduct recently agreed.
The fact that some parts of Hunza are demanding separate political identity is a reflection of the reaction that people have towards the established norms of getting votes in Hunza valley. “If you are not a Burushaski speaker, you are not going to win in Hunza”, people are heard saying. The sad part is that even the most educated people seem to have internalized this notion and they are at complete ease with it.
It is agonizing and unhealthy for a society that claims to be highly educated and based on merits of the candidates rather than his race or language. Our deeds make our claims hollow.
This trend will have to change, if we want harmony and mutual respect in the region. History proves that people in some parts of Hunza have voted without considering race, language or region while in other parts the opposite is true. Nazir Sabir and Wazir Baig are alive to testify this truth.
As responsible members of the society we will, first, have to break through our own glass ceilings that blind us. This is our last hope for making Hunza a land of opportunity based on personal merits, rather than the politics of lingual exploitation. Hunza deserves a better future.