Skip to main content

Episode 2: A Window to Gilgit-Baltistan

A window to Northern Areas-II, The Muslim dated July 5, 1997.
Author: Syed Shams ud Din 

In the meantime, adverse winds started blowing again and its decay and disintegration ensued resulting in a ruthless split of the territory into tiny tribes each being ruled by an independent sovereign chieftain. With the emergence of this cluster of states, each of the rulers became at loggerheads solely aiming to expand influence which during the course, prompted outsiders to machinate against them all. In such an inhibitive milieu, Sheenaki Kohistan broke away in defiant tribalistic manner never to become re-galvanised afterwards. Centuries passed in this state of absolute pell-mell. At last, the Maqpoons of Baltistan were poised to reach the zenith of their pomp and prestige during the period 1565-1680. They successfully conquered all the adjoining areas areas and brought them under their dominion from Kargil (Ladkh) in the east to Chitral in the west.

The downfall of the Maqpoons however, resulted in yet another predicament by giving birth to resurgence of the fragile fiefdoms – countless in number, like Skardu, Khaplu, Kharmong, Shigar, Rondhu etc. In Baltistan region while around Gilgit, Astore, Hunza, Nagar, Puniyal, Yasin, Gupis and Ishkoman emerged as principalities. Chitral formed comparatively a larger fiefdom. The area of Yasin, Ishkoman and Gupis were then included in Chitral. The rulers of each of the above chieftaincies were always at daggers drawn with ominous expansionist designs while some at times, rivcen by intra-dynastic feuds. To cater to this desire, they did not even hesitate to seek foreign assistance.
Satellite view of Kharpocho Fort Skardu - Photo: Reddit
It redounds to the prudent research of Agha Syed Yahya Shah – a scholar known for his untiring efforts and painstaking research on the culture, language, ethnic background of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan which enabled him to draw irrefutable conclusions on the basis of historical evidence. As narrated earlier, his research divulged that the tiny kingdom of Brushal – a term connoting the habit of Brusho, attaches immense historical significance. It is noteworthy that Brushiski is spoken in both valleys of Hunza and Nagar besides a part of Yasin in Khohi-e-Ghizer while in the rest; Shina is largely spoken in Punyal, Gilgit, Chilas, Darel, Tanghir, Astore and Sheenaki Kohistan southwards.

In the Tibetan dictionary published from London 1818, the term Brusha denotes a country west of Tibet while in the Kingdom of Ladakh written in 1977, Brusha has been discussed in chapter one. Likewise, in Kacho Sikandar Khan’s book titled “Leh Ladakh”, this discussion emanates at page 49. The Tibetan name of Gilgit appears to be Brush or Broosh. In Yusuf Girgan’s history of Ladakh in Balti, the name of Gilgit has been described as Brushal. In the classics of Baltistan, it is invariably alluded to Brushalpa meaning the people of Brushal.


Popular posts from this blog

Gilgit-Baltistan – A Historical Narrative

BySyed Shamsuddin

Perceptibly, there abound divergent narratives and counter narratives wittingly or unwittingly churned out as to status of Gilgit-Baltistan which more often than not, have no bearing on and are sadly devoid of any substance when put in the correct historical perspective. In order to get the best and clearest possible picture, it becomes imperative to have a full view of and delve deeper into its background with a view to irrefutably place facts connected with the matter in the correct historical order by separating what is called the wheat from the chaff for the information of the readers as follows:
Strictly speaking, the region fell on turbulent times and troublous waters during the second half of the nineteenth century which may, with profit, be called the period of uncertainty and the gloomiest transitional phase in Gilgit-Baltistan’s context. Synoptically, region consisted of and apportioned into a dozen tiny kingdoms each ruled by despotic, independent rulers f…

Foiling India’s Inimical Designs

BySyed Shamsuddin A very interesting summation, aptly encompassing has been going on in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) overtime in socio-political context, was published in a regional Urdu daily the other day. The learned writer offered a peep into the brief historical background of the region dating to the post-independence period, and referred precisely to what happened preceding the liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan. Beginning with briefly recording of the facts about how the British colonizers packed off by giving back the territory of Gilgit, in August 1947, to the Dogra occupiers, quite intriguingly with the condition that the latter would retain Major William Brown – a British military officer – to assign him the command of Gilgit Scouts. The move was ostensibly aimed at checking effectively and blocking Russo-China contacts, as well as to preclude Gilgit region from the impact of communists inroads into this land.
After the successful revolution of 1st November 1947, Gilgit emerged as a…

Eulogizing The Protectors of Culture and Tradition

BySyed Shamsuddin QUITE PROPITIOUSLY, a flurry of activities is getting underway in the context of revival of Shina language in its original form and diction. This is in addition to the marked efforts afoot to build a consensus among the literary circles formed by Shina speaking communities all across the Shina speaking areas – mostly inhabiting northern Pakistan and part of the Indian held Kashmir- to popularize and universalize a homogenized approach to a unified code aimed at sustaining and preserving this language which is sadly on the wane.
To give a recent example, Shakil Ahmad Shakil carried out a research work culminating in his products like ‘dade shilokeh’ (grandmas’s tales) and Shina Grammar, Aziz-ur-Rehman Malangi’s Shina Diwan and to top them all is Haji Shah Mirza’s translation of the Holy Qura’an into Shina which is greatly contributive to the existing literature in Shina. There is no gainsaying that viewed in terms of it originality of form, diction and etymology, Shin…