Politics and Chitrali society

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Politics has always been the most interested and concern topic. Interestingly, the understanding of politics with its different complexities is not that much easy as it seems to be. The various popular stereotypes and misleading scholarships, with little grounded research, from the world of non-social sciences show that there is something terribly wrong with our social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power. For the far-flung mountainous regions of the third world countries, including ours, the state is very much alien entity and so the relationship with the existing western type of governances. To comprehend the polity in such areas, it’s indispensable to have an approach within specifities instead of being more general or moving from abstract to concrete.

 Politically Chitral is one of the most generalized, yet least understood part of the country. The relationship between state and society is far more complex than most of our intellectuals have generally acknowledged. Only a brief historical materialistic analysis would be enough to make sense of the contemporary social order. This article seeks to explore that how the different major segments of our society have shaped the overall political environment, within the context of ongoing socio-political situation. For this, I have divided the people of the particular region into two main groups and each group further comprises of two segments based on gender, age and political understanding.

Firstly, male gender falling between the ages of 30 and 60 years old:  This group acquires momentous position both within and outside the sphere of political influence including decision makings and societal managements. In this domain, majority of the people do not have proper political understanding rather they believe that politics is something that can be a useful tool to achieve their interests related to power such as jobs for family members, financial support etc. Because of such mentality, they prefer to support an individual political figure with having some sort of relation based on religion and ethnicity. It is precisely this approach of patronage that not only gives strength to colonial legacy of power enslavement, but also deprives the society from the formation of organic intellectuals. “Organic intellectuals are thanking and organizing element of a fundamental social group. These are distinguished less by their profession, which may be any job characteristic of their class, than by their function in directing the ideas and aspirations of the class to which they organically belong” (Gramsci, 1947).   

Secondly, youth of aforementioned gender: The members of this particular segment are quite segregated. Most of the youngsters having very cheap understanding of politics. They belong to a generation where they have been taught that politics is a game that can only be played by elite and influential people where the outcome is nothing more than corruption, nepotism and other self-centered things. Likewise, this part of the society is neither interested in reading and learning about the contemporary global politics and its associated challenges nor ready to take it seriously as if it is something of no importance. The massive impact of the few private news channels especially in creating hatred attitude against a single political party depicts that our youth is unaware about the political history of this country and its associated different social problems. Regarding this concern, our educational system is also responsible. For example, important course like Pakistan Study plays significant role in promotion of religion based nationalism, hatred against Hindus and the creation of unnecessary jingoism. It does very little in the provision of true political history and the formation of well informed and responsible youth.

 Women, the second major part: Chitral is amongst the most patriarchal societies in the country, and the public sphere is exceedingly male-dominated. Our political atmosphere is in such condition in which it’s too difficult to say that it depicts the everyday reality of the mass of Chitral’s women. About 75% women of the particular age, above 30, are uneducated. As they are living in a patriarchal society, so it would be best to analysis their political affiliation through the lens of opposite gender. The lives of women, at this particular time and space, have been shaped in such a manner in which it seems that women have nothing to do with politics. For example, the alienation of this part of social being from the various kinds of political gatherings shows that in politics women don’t have the same importance like that of men despite the fact that they both (male &female) having the same right to have one vote.

Youth of female gender: Again patriarchy and its associated multiples factors led to such kinds of consequences in which this part of the society has been, completely, separated from the sphere of politics. For them politics is a very strange thing. It is hard to see young ladies discussing politics or having understanding and interest like that of male, at least what I observed. Since childhood, they have been the part of system where women are nothing more than a vernacular object. Recent election would be the best example. So many political events took place but all for men. Interestingly, they constitute about half of the population but not a single women appeared in the list of candidates either for provincial or for national assembly. Unluckily, the success of the wright-wing religious parties wouldn’t be a good sign because the presence of contradictions in their religio-political ideology will only deteriorate the already fragile social status of the given gender.

  Finally, to be more precise, it’s obvious that the low level of our political consciousness is because of an ample of factors which are the characteristic of unaware and uneducated society. Politicization of religion and the growing influence of male dominated capitalist system are also responsible. We have no other options but to find more and better ways to have a proper political understanding not only at the time of elections but before and after that. In doing so, I think, the following measures would be indispensable.

  1. State must take some immediate initiatives to create a sound political culture especially for the residents of the remote areas.
  2. Women should be given maximum opportunities in every aspect of lives.
  3. The need to expand the public’s capacity for democracy.
  4. The school text books, Pakistan study in particular and other relevant texts in general, need drastic change.
  5. Religion cannot be use in defining every political activity.
  6. Educational environments and other public places must be open to have any kind of political gathering instead of policing.
  7. It must be clear that all the private channels and social media are more concern in profit making than to serve humanity. So it’s inevitable to be more careful in dealing with these kinds of things.
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