People of Northwestern areas of Pakistan and their cultural orientation

By Sajjad Khan Bangash


In every country, there exist a magnitude of cultures, linguistics, religious beliefs and ideologies, traditional and social norms, spiritual identifies and patterns but again it gives a beautiful contour on a larger context at a national level thus making them ‘as unified nation with a single flag, passport and national identification card etc. and at international level, they’re recognized by their country not by their race, languages, cultural or religious identifications.  Pakistan is a country duly enriched with variances of cultures, linguistics, religious beliefs and ideologies, ethical backgrounds, traditions and customs but again, a society is made up of such variances and collectively known as ‘Pakistani nation‘.


Now, if you further sift through sequentially to the depth of Pakistani society then you’ll find out that people of Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as northern areas of Pakistan) have unique cultural heritage, linguistics basis, religious and archaeological foundations and historical background of their own. The people of those areas are fair color with blue or green eyes and blond or golden hair colors.


They’re very soft spoken, very welcoming and hospitable, peaceful with different regional languages they speak while, the weather of northern areas is cold and snowy and at the extreme north of Pakistan, weather remains extremely cold with temperatures below minus and freezing since that’s the peak of the world with never melting glaciers i.e, The Himalayas – the world’s highest mountain ranges are plated around those areas. The people of northern areas live under their own ancestral traditional lifestyles and their customs, family integration and gathering, personal appearances in their own traditional dresses and celebrate their ceremonies and festivals under their own ancestral rituals and ceremonial forms.


Their traditions are very unique and blend of Greek inheritance as well since they’re said to be the remnants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers. In modern times – they’re living under their own ancestral traditional lifestyles and the center of attraction for entire world. Gilgit-Baltistan borders Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province to the west, a small portion of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the northeast, the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast, and the Pakistani-administered state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south.


Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Gilgit and Skardu are the two main hubs for expeditions to those mountains. The region is home to some of the world’s highest mountain ranges. The main ranges are the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. The Pamir Mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) and Nanga Parbat, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.


Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan: the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier. There are, in addition, several high-altitude lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan.


While if we further traverse back to the northern west parts of Pakistan, we find province of KPK (Khyber Pakhtoon-Khwa) and tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to its very west. The people of KPK and tribal areas live under their own inherited ancestral lifestyles and customs as ‘tribes men’. These people are known as ‘Pashtoons/Pakhtoon’ and world-known for their kindness, hospitality, straightforward nature, and bravery.


Pashtoons have a brilliant history of bravery and protecting their homeland from any foreign invaders: from Alexander the Great to Mongols, Tajiks to Arabs, Persians to SIKH and from British to Russians. The resilient Pashtoons thwarted every invasive attacks of their invaders and kept protecting their homeland and the enemies sustained humiliated defeats. The tribal people live under their own ancestral traditional lifestyles and socio-economic setup and follow the sets of rules duly obliged by ‘Jirga system of elders’ who mutually consult each other and make decisions which are accepted by the people.


The Western world think that people of KPK and tribal areas are extremists and fundamentalist but that’s not true and totally fabricated and fictitious stories concocted by Western media for the wider agendas of their own.  In fact, Pashtoons and people of tribal areas have their own dignified recognition – as very welcoming, hospitable, tolerant, peaceful, human loving and caring to everyone irrespective of race, color, language, culture and ethnicities. We respect elders, women and guests. Our societies equally understand the importance of humanity and care. It’s 21st century and age of information technology. The people of KPK are equally aware of the happenings of the world.

In today’s time where the world is technologically laden and narrowed which has also turned the people entirely sophisticated with changing mindsets and attitudes. Now, everyone is racing up for attaining materials by overlooking the very nobility of humanity and care for each other. In fact, in true sense it has drastically intensified the possession of materialism. As the world got changed as it brought improvements in people’s lifestyles, new ways of communication and transportation etc. have emerged up which systematically altered the way people see, think, live and behave. Verily, the entire shift of people’s will to get and possess something can be visibly seen. Back in times, people were caring for each others feelings, respect and personal belonging while now, this aspect is entirely fading.

Our ancestors used to narrate us really good stories of caring and respect to each other of their time. My grandfather told me that we would travel miles by foot to meet our friends and gave great concerns during their bad times and sad phases while this had keep them gelled together. They didn’t have that luxurious lifestyles and facilities as people enjoy now in modern times.


That’s the reason that they had strong unity, understanding, mutually collaborated and stoned together in every walks of life. They were tied up socially so firmly that the fact can be seen from the architectures, constructions and olden times edifices are still standing tall in our times. In villages, one can see their heritage in the shape of Hujras, mosques and ponds they’d built for multiple purposes of their needs and even in far off mountains, we still can find the reminisces as they paved the pathways, ponds and even dug the caves. Talking about their ages, one can see that they lived longer ages as average person lived at average length of years were 90+, and a big percentage of people could live for more than 100 years. Why, they lived for such longer, even though they’d limited resources of medications and medical care facilities, lack of proper food and nutrition etc.?

There is a logical reason behind this longevity and healthy life expectancy: the people of that time used to rely on food which was pure, clean and highly hygienic and they would utilize their physical energies by working hard in their agricultural lands while lesser use of technologies made them physically strong and active.


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