Monday, 20 March 2017

Gor Khuttree -- marking 2000 years of history

Grave danger
Gor Khuttree -- marking 2000 years of history

By Dr Ali Jan
Gor Khuttree literally means the 'Warriors Grave', although there are no traces of any grave here. It is perhaps the oldest citadel in the ancient city of Peshawar. A recent UNESCO sponsored archaeological excavation at the site has established the city's historic profile which dates back to pre-Christian period of more than two millennia making Peshawar one of the world's oldest living cities.
It remained an important place for travellers for thousands of years. Buddha's alms or begging bowl was displayed here at one time. After the decline of Buddhism in the region following the invasion by Huns and Sassanians, it became a bastion for Hindu worship. Mughal Emperor Babar in the beginning of his memoir, Babarnama, recorded: "On Friday, the 1st Sefer in the year 932, when the sun was in Sagitarius (1525 AD, November 17th), I set out on my march to invade Hindustan." On reaching Peshawar, Babar with his usual curiosity visited Gor Khuttree and wrote, "There are nowhere in the whole world such narrow and dark hermit's cells as at this place. After entering the doorway and descending one or two stairs, you must lie down, and proceed crawling along, stretched at full length. You cannot enter without a light. The quantities of hair (cut off by pilgrims as offerings), both of head and beard, that are lying scattered about, and in the vicinity of the place are immense."
The present buildings built at the site mostly date back to Mughal, Sikh and the British period. Lying at the crossroads of the old trade-route, Gor Khuttree became a major caravanserai in Mughal times and mainly served as a stopping place for travellers coming from other parts of the world. It was converted into a fortified compound and two grand entrances were built on its eastern and western ends. The gates were kept locked at night to provide safety and shelter to the camel caravans laden with merchandise. A mosque was also built here by Jahan Ara Begum, daughter of Emperor Shahjahan.

During the early Sikh rule, around 1823, the mosque was destroyed and replaced by a temple to Gorakhnath in the south of the courtyard. Later Gor Khuttree became the residence of their Italian mercenary general, Paolo de Avitabile who also built a pavilion over its western gate. A rare pen and ink sketch of him dated February 1844 (originally done by 'C.G' in Calcutta) has recently been discovered in the dusty store-godown of Peshawar museum.
Avitabile was from Agerola, on the famous Salentine peninsula between Naples and Amalfi in Italy. The town square of San Lazzaro in Naples is named after him. He was a mercenary in the true sense who had also served in Napoleon's army. He ruled Peshawar from 1838-1842 with an iron hand. The local inhabitants of Peshawar used to call him 'Abu Tabilah'. When the 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment passed through Peshawar on August 21, 1842 they were hosted by him. The service digest of the British regiment records: "The officers were entertained hospitably by the governor of the city, the Italian General Avitabile who had been recruited by Ranjit Singh to train his army and had stayed on to serve his son. They were impressed by the evidence of his methods of maintaining law and order. At each corner of the city there was a large gallows on which malefactors were hanging." (Service Record, the 31st Regt, 1842)
In 1842 Avitabile returned home to Italy laden with wealth and honours, and proceeded to procure for himself a large castle-like mansion, a magnificent funeral chapel in the local cathedral. People also credit him with having created a new breed of cattle by importing some Jersey cows from Britain, on his way home from Peshawar in 1842, and crossing them with the local variety; the result is supposed to produce a fine local cheese. He soon came to occupy the same funeral chapel that he had bought when he married his 12-year-old Italian niece who it is said poisoned him to death in 1850.
Yet long after his departure from Peshawar and this life some of his past subjects from this region were still searching for him. Sir Richard Francis Burton, the legendary explorer, linguist and translator of Arabian Nights etc (who also became the first Englishman to perform the ritual of Haj in the guise of a Pathan in 1853) records meeting a group of plain folks from the Punjab Frontier in Arabia "...who had walked from Meccah to Cairo in search of 'Abu Tabilah,' (Avitabile), whom report had led to the banks of the Nile." Burton noted: "Some were young, others had white beards -- all were weary and wayworn; but the saddest sight was an old woman, so decrepit that she could scarcely walk. The poor fellows were travelling on foot, carrying their wallets, with a few pence in their pockets, utterly ignorant of route and road, and actually determined in this plight to make Lahore by Baghdad, Bushir, and Karachi. Such -- so incredible -- is Indian improvidence!" (Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah -- 1855)
During the Anglo-Sikh wars (1849) George Lawrence, the British representative and his family took refuge here for sometime. In the following years its eastern end became the City Mission House. The Illustrated London News (ILN) in an 1860 issue printed an image entitled 'Illumination And Fireworks At Peshawar' depicting a grand Viceregal procession of elephants passing through the old city towards the western (tahsil) gate of Gor Khuttree. The illustration was done on the occasion of the grand durbar of February 29 1860 when the Governor General and Viceroy of India held a reception of the principal chiefs of the various Pathan hill tribes who had assembled to pay homage to the representative of Queen Victoria. According to the ILN: "...the occasion was celebrated by illuminations and a display of fireworks of both of which natives are exceedingly fond; and they produce the finest fireworks by the simplest means. A little earthen dish, like a flat cup, is used, filled with oil, and with a piece of cotton-wick is put in it. These lamps are provided in great numbers, and are placed in rows along the tops of houses, and upon the cornices of the shops, over and under windows, around arches, and, in fact, wherever one of these tiny lamps can be placed. The effect is picturesque in the extreme. Everywhere the natives are sitting, perfectly still and quiet, in long rows, behind the lights, waiting silently to see the Lord Sahib pass by." (Illustrated London News, 1860)
In March 1869 Amir Shere Ali, the King of Afghanistan resided in the house which stood on the south-eastern corner of Gor Khuttree at the invitation of the missionary clergy. In the latter half of the nineteenth century it became the residence of the lady missionaries connected with the Church of England Zenana (female) Missionary Society.

Dr. Arthur Lankester opened the medical mission work in Peshawar at this site. It began on January 12, 1898, when a man from Ghazni in Afghanistan, some two hundred miles beyond the frontier, walked into the courtyard and asked for treatment. The hospital carried on until 1904 when it was shifted to much larger premises outside the walled city at the Mission Hospital, Dabgari Gardens.
An English archaeologist Gertrude Bell, mostly renowned for her findings in Iraq, visited Gor Khuttree in 1903 and wrote in her diary: "22 Jan -- We went to the Tahsil where there is a suite of empty rooms where the Amir's envoys are lodged, with a zenana for their women. The Tahsildar is an agreeable Persian speaking man. From the roof we had a wonderful view over the rabbit warren of mud coloured Peshawar and away across a plain set with trees to the hills of the Forbidden Land." (Diary of Gertrude Bell, 1903)
In 1912 a Fire Brigade Station was built on the premises. Two red antique fire engines are parked under the former municipal shed at Gor Khuttree. They are well-preserved and the name of the Merry Weather London Company that manufactured them in the early 1900s is still visible. During the British-era, Gor Khuttree also functioned as a Tahsil or District Police Superintendent's headquarter.
Recently an archaeological museum has been built on the south-eastern side where the original grand residence known as 'Serai-du-dar' ('The Jun of the Two Gates') had perhaps once stood. Objects recovered from excavations at Gor Khuttree are displayed here. It has an interesting ethnological gallery upstairs as well. The curator, Ihsanullah Khan, is a knowledgeable young man who gave me a splendid guided tour of the place.

Peshawar has a rich history which is gradually disappearing brick by brick. In the north of the compound is an appalling new construction -- a 'Marriage Hall' -- built in 1980s despite much public opposition, which is unfortunately a big blot on the otherwise charming ancient heritage site of Gor Khuttree.

QK Archives Ethnobotanical Studies of some Useful Shrubs and Trees of District Buner,

Ethnobotanical Studies of some Useful Shrubs and Trees of District Buner, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan

Mohammad Hamayun

Address for correspondence:
Ethnobotany Project, WWF-Pakistan

34 D/2 Sahibzada Abdul Qayum Road, University Town, Peshawar

E-Mail M. Hamayun:

The present study was carried out to assess and document ethnobotanical knowledge of shrubs and trees of District Buner as the area has diverse flora and high ethnobotanical potential. It was found that 94 different plant species are used for medicinal, timber, fuel wood, fodder, ornamental, agricultural tools, Thatching, fencing, naming (folk lore) and fruit yielding purposes.

Bulk of plant species show multiple uses like Juglans regia wood is used for making furniture, gun woody parts, carving and as fuel. Root bark (Dandasa) is used for cleaning and sparkling teeth. Leaves are used by womenfolk for coloring lips (make-up). Nuts are edible and are traded to other parts of the country. The fruits are aphrodisiac and also used as dye. Decoction of leaves is given in eczema and intestinal worms. Used in naming i.e. Ghuz.

Several species like Abies pindrow, Berberis lycium, Juglans regia, Skimmia laureola, Daphne oleoides and Pistacea integrima are under severe pressure from local population and require protection and conservation strategies.

Key words:Ethnobotany; Medicinal shrubs; Medicinal trees; Buner.

Introduction to the Area

Buner is located in the north of NWFP, bordering upper Swat on the north, Malakand Agency on the west, Mardan District on the south and Hazara Division on the east. Buner is a Sanskrit word which means forest, which seems to be true because Buner is rich in forestry.

Buner with an area of 1760 square kilometers lies between 34°-9' and 34°-43' N latitudes and 72°-10' and 72°-47' E longitudes. The climate of Buner district is moderate. During summer season, the climate is hot in the lower Buner (Ambela) but pleasant in the upper parts (Gadezai and Gokand). The summer season is short and mild. During this season the temperature seldom rises above 40° C. The winter season is very cool and extends from November to February. Rains and snow occur during this season. People migrate from upper parts due to severe cold and remain in the lower part of the district till the melting of snow.

Ethnobotany in Pakistan

Ethnobotany includes all sorts of relationships between people and plants. The definition of ethnobotany can be sum up in four words i.e. People, Plants, Interactions, Uses.The term ethnobotany was for the first time used by John Harshberger in 1896. In the last 100 years, the science of ethnobotany has progressed and the trend is shifting from mere documentation process to a more practical one which emphasize on conservation and sustainable use of plant resources.

In Pakistan, ethnobotany is introduced quite recently. Only a few projects have been launched for documentation as well as sustainable use of plant resources despite of the fact that Pakistan presents very rich and diverse flora due to her diverse climatic, soil conditions and multiple ecological regions. Pakistan has four phytogeographical regions, the uniregionals, consisting of Irano-Turanian (46%), Sino-Himalayan (10%), Saharo-Sindian (9.5%), and Indian element (4.5%).The country has about 6,000 species of wild plants of which about 400 to 600 are considered to be medicinally important.

The northern areas of Pakistan with unique biodiversity due to the presence of Himalayas, Karakorums and Hindu-kush mountain ranges are under tremendous pressure from locals because of illicit cutting of valuable plants, poor collection and storage methods of medicinal plants, smuggling of timber wood, over grazing, corrupt forest officials, illiterate population with no sense or lust for conservation and above all passive and non practical policies of Government as well as NGO,sworking in the area.

Materials and Methods

The project area was visited several times for collection of data during the year 2001. The plants were collected, pressed and later on identified. Questionnaires were adopted for documenting ethnobotanical knowledge of the area. The data obtained was cross checked with available literature.


The ethnobotany of 94 species of shrubs and trees were documented during the present investigation. The results follow:

Botanical Name:Abies pindrow Royle


Local Name:Achar


Part Used:Trunk, Branches

Folk use:The plant is used for timber, making furniture, beams for bridges and roofs and fuel wood in the area.

Botanical Name:Acacia catechu L.


Local Name:Zunda


Part Used:Wood, Leaves

Folk use:Wood is used locally for making agricultural tools and fuel wood. The leaves are used as fodder.

Botanical Name:Acacia modesta Wall.


Local Name:Phalosa

Habit: Tree

Part Used:Leaves, Gums

Folk Use: Leaves are used as fodder. Gum is tonic, stimulant. Kand (A mixture of Gum+ Desi ghee+ Poppy seeds+ Almond) is fed to women after child birth.

Botanical Name:Acacia nilotica (L) Delile


Local Name:Kikhar


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Gum

Folk Use:The wood is hard and durable and used for house construction, agricultural tools and asfuel wood. Leaves are used as fodder for goats while Gum is used as tonic, also for curing diarrhea, dysentery and diabetes.

Botanical Name:Acer cappadocicum Gled.


Local Name:Chinaranga


Part Used:Wood

Folk use:The plant is used for fuel wood and ornamental purposes.

Botanical Name:Aesculus indica (Wall. ex. Cambl.) Hk.f.


Local Name:Jawaz


Part Used:wood, Leaves and Fruit

Folk Use:Wood is used as timber, furniture, agricultural tools and house hold utensils. Leaves as fodder for goats while fruits serve for treating colic in horses.

Botanical Name:Ailanthus altissima (Mill) Swingle


Local Name:Bakhyana


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Bark, Gum resin

Folk Use:wood is used for construction, low class furniture and as a fuel wood. Leaves are used as fodder for goats and sheep. Bark is anthelminthic. Bark juice is mixed for curing dysentery and diarrhea. Gum resin mixed with milk is valuable remedy for dysentery.

Botanical Name:Alnus nitida (Spach.) Endl.


Local Name:Geiray


Part Used:Wood

Folk use:wood is used for fuel wood purposes and agricultural tools. The plant is good soil binder and prevent soil erosion.

Botanical Name:Bauhinia variegata L.


Local Name:Kulyar


Part Used:Wood, Bark, Flowering buds

Folk Use:Wood is used as timber and fuel wood. Bark is tonic, anthelminthic, astringent. Also useful in skin disease and leprosy. Flowering buds are used as vegetable.

Botanical Name:Berberis lycium Royle


Local Name:Ziar Largay


Part Used:Leaves, Fruits, Bark

Folk Use:Leaves decoction is useful in dysentery and sore throat. Fruits are edible. Root and stem bark is tonic, cathartic and diuretic. Decoction is useful in dyspepsia, jaundice and other liver disorders. Also used as hedge plant.

Botanical Name:a. Betula jaequimontii Spach.

b. Betula utilis D. Don


Local Name:Barg


Part Used:wood and branches

Folk use:Wood is used for making agricultural tools, utensils and fences. Branches are used as fuel wood.

Botanical Name:Calotropis procera (Wild) R. Br.


Local Name:Spalmay


Part Used:Whole plant, Latex

Folk Use:All parts are used for making paste, which along with raw sugar is applied over the dog bitten wounds. The dry leaves are smoked for curing asthma and cough; large doses are poisonous for human beings. The latex is commonly used for ringworm and skin diseases.

Botanical Name:Cannabis sativa L.


Local Name:Bhang


Part Used:Leaves, Flowering tops, whole plant, Seeds

Folk Use:Leaves are used as green manure. Paste is made from fresh leaves which in anti-lice.

Flowering tops are sedative, anodyne and narcotic. “TANDAI” a cold drink is prepared from its leaves and resinous deposits which give sedation and produce a pleasant excitement. Charas or hashish is also prepared from it which is used with in the country as well as exported abroad.

Plant is used for fuel wood purposes.

Seeds are used as feed for poultry and pigeons. In some cases oil is also extracted from seeds.

Botanical Name:Cedrella serrata Royle


Local Name:Meem


Part Used:Bark, Leaves

Folk Use:Stem and root bark is specialized for curing round worms while leaves decoction is excellent hair wash. The juice is administrated in diabetes and it also produces body coldness.

Botanical Name:Celtis caucasica L.


Local Name:Tagha


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Fruits

Folk Use:wood is used for making agricultural tools and for fuel purposes. Leaves are used as fodder while fruit is edible and applied in colic, amenorrhea and allergy.

Botanical Name:Cotoneaster nummularia Fish & Mey.


Local Name:Kharawa


Part Used:Whole plant

Folk Use:Stem and branches are used for making walking sticks, agricultural tools and fences around the fields.

Botanical Name:Crataegus oxycantha Jacq.


Local Name:Tampasa


Part Used:Whole plant, Fruits

Folk Use:Leaves used as fodder, wood for fuel requirements. Fruits are edible.

Botanical Name:Cuscuta reflexa Roxb.


Local Name:Maraz Bootay

Habit:Parasitic climber

Part Used:whole plant

Folk Use:Its infusion is anti-lice and used for washing sores.

Botanical Name:Daphne oleoides Schreb.


Local Name:Kutilal


Part Used:wood, Fruits

Folk Use:Fuel wood. Fruit is edible. Its poultice is used for rheumatism.

Botanical Name:Debregeasia saeneb (Forssk) Hepper & Wood.


Local Name:Ajlai

Habit:A water course shrub

Part Used:Branches, wood and fruits

Folk Use:Fruits are edible and also used as flavoring agent. The stem yield excellent fiber. It is used as fuel wood. Branches are used in thatching. The powder made up of aerial parts is mixed with mustard oil and used as antifungal for curing skin rashes, dermatitis and eczema. It is also used as hedge plant.

Botanical Name:Dendrocalamus strictus (Roxb,) Nees


Local Name:Bans


Part Used:Leaves, Branches, Stem

Folk Use:Leaves are given to horses for curing cough and cold. Branches are used as building material, for making ladder, thatching huts, carts and pipes. The splits stem is woven into baskets and mats.

Botanical Name:Desmodium tiliafolium D. Don



Part Used:Leaves, Branches

Folk Use:Leaves serve as fodder for goats while branches are used for fuel purpose.

Botanical Name:Dodonaea viscosa (L.) Jacq.


Local Name:Ghwaraskay

Habit:A shrubby plant of exposed dry habitat.

Part Used:Leaves, seeds, wood

Local Uses:Astringent, ant rheumatic, aromatic, ornamental and hedge plant. It is used in swelling, burns, thatching and fencing. Its shoots are tied to make brooms.

Botanical Name:Diospyus lotus L.


Local Name:Tor Amlook

Habit:A wild medium sized tree

Part Used:Fruit, wood, leaves

Local Uses:The wood is used in furniture and as fuel wood. Fruits are edible which are carminative, purgative and causes flatulence, leaves serve as fodder.

Botanical Name:Diospyrus kaki L.


Local Name:Ziar Amlok

Habit:Grafted in the local Dyospyrus lotus

Part Used:Fruits, wood

Local Uses:It is very common commercial fruit tree. It is used in dry and fresh form and is very delicious. It is laxative. The wood is utilized as fuel.

Botanical Name:Ehretia obtusifolia Hochst. ex. DC.


Local Name:Ghada Bootay

Habit:A medium sized shrub

Part Used:Leaves, branches

Local Uses:Fodder for cattle, fuel wood.

Botanical Name: a. Elaegnus parviflora Wall. ex Royle

b. E. umbellate Thumb.


Local Name: Ghanum Ranga

Habit: Shrub

Part Used:Wood, Fruits

Local Uses:Fuel wood. Fruits are edible and cardiac stimulant.

Botanical Name: Ephedra gerardiana Wall. ex Stapf


Local Name: Asmani Bootai

Habit: Shrub

Part Used:Fruit and Leaves

Local Uses:The plant is used for curing asthematic bronchitis and rheumatism. The tincture of Ephedra is a cardiac circulatory stimulant.

Botanical Name:Eruca sativa L.


Local Name:Jammama


Part Used:Leaves, Seeds

Folk Use:Leaves used as vegetable. Seeds are used for extraction of oil, which is hair tonic, antidandruff and used to cure ring worms.

Botanical Name:Eryngium biebersteinianum Nervski ex Bobrov


Local Name:Ali Kanda


Part Used:Shoots

Folk Use:Used as fodder for cattle and goats. Shoots are also stimulant and carminative.

Botanical Name:Ficus carica Forssk.


Local Name:Enzar


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Fruit, Latex

Folk Use:wood is used for fuel purpose. Leaves are fodder for goats. Fruits are edible and laxative while latex soothes the bee sting by simply rubbing on the skin. Some time its is used for naming a person ( Enzar Gul meaning F. carica flower).

Botanical Name:Ficus racemosa L.


Local Name:Oormal


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Latex, Fruits

Folk Use:Fuel wood. Leaves infusion is astringent .Useful mouthwash for spongy gums. Stem latex is applied in piles and diarrhea. Fruits are edible, astringent, stomachache and carminative.

Botanical Name:Ficus religiosa Roxb.


Local Name:Peepal


Part Used:Wood, Bark, Fruits

Folk Use:Low cost fuel wood. Bark decoction is given in gonorrhea and scabies while fruit are edible and laxative.

Botanical Name:Grewia optiva Drum. Ex Burret.


Local Name:Pastawoonay


Part Used:Leaves, Bark of branches

Folk Use:Leaves are used as fodder. Bark from branches are used for fiber and making ropes.

Botanical Name:Gymnosporia royleana Wall. ex Lawson.


Local Name:Soor Azghay

Habit:A spiny shrub of foothills

Part Used:Whole plant

Folk Use:Young shoots are taken by goat as fodder. Hedge plant and fuel wood.

Botanical Name:Indigofera heterantha Wall. ex. Brand.


Local Name:Kainta

Habit:A medium sized shrub of exposed habitat.

Part Used:Shoots, branches

Local Uses:Shoots serve as fodder for goats. Young branches are twisted into ropes, also tied to make brooms for cleaning roofs and lawns. Fuel wood, for thatching and fencing, wood ash is used for making snuff, honey bee species. Name of place i.e. Ghoreja.

Botanical Name:Jasminum humile L.


Local Name:Zair Rambail Chambail/Yasmin

Habit:Wild ornamental climbing shrub

Part Used:Flowers, whole plant

Local Uses:Ornamental. Root decoction is used for curing ringworms.

Botanical Name:Juglans regia L.


Local Name:Ghuz

Habit:A wild/cultivated large deciduous tree

Part Used:Nuts, bark, leaves, and wood

Local Uses:It is used in standard furniture, also used for carving. Bark (Dandasa) is used for cleaning and sparkling teeth. Leaves are also used as lips make-up. Nuts can infect throat due to its oily nature. It has warm nature and can cause jaundice. It is also used as a dye. Used in naming i.e., Ghuz. Decoction of leaves is given in eczema and intestinal worms.

Botanical Name: Justicia adhatoda L.

Synonym:Adhatoda vasica Nees.


Local Name: Baikar

Habit:Non palatable shrub

Part Used: Root and leaves

Local Uses: Roots are used in rheumatism, pneumonia and cough. Leaves are applied to reduce swelling. The decoction of leaves is antispasmodic, expectorant, abortifacient and also used for curing dysentery in cattle. It is also used in scabbies and other skin disorders. Used in snakebites, eye and ear ailments. Antiseptic and insect repellent. Honey Bee species.

Botanical Name:Luffa aegyptiaca Mill.

Synonym:L. cylindrica Roem.


Local Name:Torai

Habit:A cultivated climbing vegetable

Part Used:Fruits

Folk Use:Fruits are used as vegetable, good for stomach and ulcer problems. Dried fruit case is used for cleaning utensils.

Botanical Name:Mallotus philippensis (Lam.) Muell.

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Local Name:Kambeela


Part Used:Wood

Folk Use:Used as fuel wood.

Botanical Name:Malus pumila Mill.


Local Name:Manra

Habit:A cultivated fruit tree with many varieties

Part Used:Fruit, flowers, wood

Folk Use:Valuable commercial fruit, purgative, source of iron, expectorant, used in jams, jellies, marmalades and good for heart. Wood is hard and is used for agricultural tools, branches serves as fuel wood.

Botanical Name:Melia azedarach L.


Local Name:Shundai


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Fruit, Bark

Folk Use:Timber wood, used for making furniture and building materials. Medicinally used for curing fever. Leaves are used as fodder for goats and are carminative. Fruits are eaten by Nightingales in winter, also grind and fed to the goats. Bark is anthelmintic and poisonous with bitter taste.

Botanical Name:Morus alba L.


Local Name:Spin Toot

Habit:A cultivated or wild deciduous tree

Part Used:Fruits, leaves, branches, trunk

Folk Use:Fruits are eaten both fresh and dry. They are laxative, purgative. Leaves are emollient, used for cleaning throat, cooling agent, anthelmintic and astringent. Baskets are also made from the flexible branches. Wood is used in furniture. Leaves were once used in rearing silkworms. Leaves are eaten by goats and sheep. Planted as shade tree.

Botanical Name:Morus nigra L.

Family: Moraceae

Local Name:Tor Toot

Habit:A cultivated or wild deciduous tree

Part Used:Leaves, fruits, branches, wood

Folk Use:Fruits are eaten however they are laxative, leaves are emollient, used for cleaning throat, cooling agent, anthelmintic and astringent. Baskets are made of flexible branches. Wood is used in making furniture. Shade tree, fuelwood, leaves are fodder for sheep and goats.

Botanical Name:Myrsine africana L.


Local Name:Maru Rang

Habit:A medium sized shrub

Part Used:Leaves, fruits

Folk Use:Used for fragrance in tea. Used as spices, carminative, appetizer, flavoring agent, digestive. Fruits are edible, develop taste.

Botanical Name:Nerium indicum Mill.


Local Name:Gundary


Part Used:Whole plant

Folk Use:Ornamental but poisonous. The leaves decoction in the form of paste is applied externally on the skin to prevent skin diseases.

Botanical Name:Olea ferruginea Royle


Local Name:khoona

Habit:Medium sized tree

Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Bark

Folk Use:Wood is very hard and used for making sticks, agricultural tools and for construction. Also used as fuel wood. Leaves are used as fodder and leaves decoction is also used for toothache, gonorrhea while bark is used in curing fever.

Botanical Name:Opuntia dilleni Haw.


Local Name:Zuqam


Part Used:Phylloclades, Fruits

Folk Use:Phylloclades poultice is used for extracting guinea worms. Fruits are edible, demulcent and expectorant. The ripe fruits juice is useful remedy for asthma and whooping cough

Botanical Name:Otostegia limbata (Benth.) Boiss.


Local Name:Spin Azghay, Pishkanr

Habit:A small sized shrub

Part Used:Leaves

Folk Use:Used in gum diseases and curing of wounds.

Botanical Name:Parratiopsisjaequimontiana Dene


Local Name:Beerunj


Part Used:Wood, Leaves, Branches

Folk Use:Wood is used for making agricultural tools, utensils and sticks. Leaves are fodder while branches serve as fuel wood.

Botanical Name:Picea smithiana (Wall.) Boiss.


Local Name:Mangazaey

Habit:Characteristic conifer of moist temperate forest

Part Used:Whole tree.

Folk Use:Timber wood used in bridges, building houses, fuelwood. Leaves are used to keep fruits in crates.

Botanical Name:Pinus roxburghii Sargent.

Family: Pinaceae

Local Name:Nakhtar

Habit:A characteristic tree of subtropical pine forests

Part Used:Whole tree

Folk Use:Timber wood, fuelwood, used for making furniture, cones are used for burning and decoration purposes. It yields edible seeds. Needles are used for sheltering and for keeping fruits in crates.Resin of bark, locally known as "Jaula", is stimulant used in ulcer, snake bites, scorpion stings, skin diseases and blood purifier. Saw dust is used by barbars to warm water, it is also used for cleaning utensils. It's name "Nakhtar" is termed for a tall person.

Botanical Name:Pinus wallichiana A. B. Jackson


Local Name:Peeuch

Habit:A characteristic tall tree of moist temperate habitats

Part Used:Whole tree

folk Use:Valuable timber wood, used for house building, making furniture, used in match industry, making bridges and beams. Cones are used as ornamental.

Botanical Name:Pistacea integrima J. L. Stewart ex Brandis


Local Name:Shnai


Part Used:wood, Leaves, Fruit

Folk Use:Wood yield timber which is used for making furniture. Leaves serve fodder for cattle .Tonic, antiseptic. Fruits and galls extract is given in jaundice. Also used for curing chronic wounds.

Botanical Name:Platanus orientalis L.


Local Name:Chinar


Part Used:Wood, Bark

Folk Use:wood yield timber, fuel wood. Bark is useful remedy in diarrhea and dysentery.

Botanical Name:a. Populus caspica Bornm.

b. Populus ciliata Wall.


Local Name:a. Sufaida, Spari dar

b. Zangali Sufaida

Habit:Tall cultivated tree especially on roadsides

Part Used:Leaves, wood

Folk Use: Used as fuel wood, ornamental, shade tree, used for making shelters for tobacco drying. Leaves serve as fodder for goats and sheep.

Botanical Name:Prunus domestica L.


Local Name:Alucha

Habit:A medium sized cultivated fruit tree with many varieties

Part Used:Fruit, wood, leaves

Folk Use:Commercial fruit is used in jams and jellies. It is laxative, flavoring agent. Fruit pulp is used in chutneys. Wood is used for burning. Leaves are used as fresh fodder. It is honeybee species.

Botanical Name:Prunus armeniaca L.

Family: Rosaceae

Local Name:Varieties: Khubani, Zardaloo and Asharay

Habit:A cultivated fruit tree with many varieties

Part Used:Fruits, wood, leaves, seeds

Folk Use:Fruits and seeds are eaten both fresh and dry. It is laxative, gum is obtained, fuel wood and honeybee species. Leaves serve as fresh fodder.

Botanical Name:Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.

Family: Rosaceae

Local Name:Shaftalu

Habit:A small sized wild/cultivated fruit tree with many varieties

Part Used:Fruit, leaves and wood

Folk Use:Fruits edible, fuel wood, leaves serve as fodder.

Botanical Name:Punica granatum L.


Local Name:Ananghorai

Habit:A wild/cultivated fruit yielding small bush like tree

Part Used:Fruit, bark, leaves

Folk Use:Leaves are used in skin diseases, dysentery. Fruit is astringent, cooling, blood purifier. Fruit pericarp is used for whooping cough, it is laxative. Seeds are dried and known as "anardana" which are condiments and used as spices. Bark of stem and root is anthelmintic, mouthwasher, antipyretic and expectorant. Used in naming i.e., Anar Gul (Flower of pomegranate).

Botanical Name:Pyrus pashia Ham ex. D.Don.


Local Name:Tangai

Habit:A wild fruit tree

Part Used:Fruits, wood

Folk Use:Fruits are edible, astringent, febrifuge, sedative and laxative. Fuel wood. It serves as rootstock for grafting apple and pear. Honey bee species.

Botanical Name:Pyrus communis L.


Local Name:Nashpati

Habit:Cultivated tree with many varieties

Part Used:Fruits, wood

Folk Use:Fruits are edible and have a commercial value. Wood is used for burning purposes. Honey bee species.

Botanical Name:Quercus floribunda Lindley ex A. Camus

Synonym:Q. dilatata Lindley ex Royle.


Local Name:Tor Banj

Habit:A slow growing tree

Part Used:Wood and nuts

Folk Use:Fuel wood species. Seeds are edible, astringent and diuretic, used in diarrhea, indigestion and asthma. Children play marbles with seeds. Due to its toughness, the wood is used in agricultural tools, handles of plough, axes, gun buts, and walking sticks. Children use seed cups as playing tops.

Botanical Name:Quercus baloot Griffith

Synonym:Q. ilex L.

Family: Fagaceae

Local Name:Tor Banj

Habit:A slow growing tree

Part Used:Wood

Folk Use:Timber, fuel wood, Wood is also used for making agricultural tools specially ploughs and handles.

Botanical Name:Quercus leucotrichophora A. Camus

Synonym:Q. incana Roxb.

Family: Fagaceae

Local Name:Spin Banj

Habit:A slow growing tree

Part Used:Wood

Folk Use:Timber, fuel wood, used for making agricultural tools specially ploughs and handles.

Botanical Name:Rhododendron arborium Smith


Local Name:Namair


Part Used:Wood, Flowers

Folk Use:Fuel wood. Flowers are ornamental and are sold in the market. Flower petals are tonic and are eaten by local people.

Botanical Name:Ricinus communis L.


Local Name:Arund, Harhanda

Habit:A perennial herbaceous shrub

Part Used:Leaves, seeds, oil

Folk Use:Leaves are emetic, narcotic, poisonous and purgative. Poultice is applied to swellings. Castor oil is purgative, oil is given in constipation before and after child birth to mother. Seeds are sedative.

Botanical Name:Robinia pseudacacia L.


Local Name:Kikar

Habit:A cultivated tree

Part Used:Flowers, wood

Folk Use:It is introduced and cultivated for stopping erosion and fuel wood. Leaves serve as fodder for goats, also used in fencing and hedges, honeybee species.

Botanical Name:Rosa moschata J.Herm.


Local Name:Zangaley Gulab

Habit:Climbing shrub of hilly areas

Part Used:Flowers, branches

Folk Use:Ornamental, aromatic, used in fencing and hedges, Honey bee species. Used in naming i.e., Gulab Khan.

Botanical Name:Rosa serica Lindley.


Local Name:Zangali Gulab

Habit:Climbing to prostrate shrub

Part Used:Flowers, branches

Folk Use:Used for curing piles, ornamental, cultivated at the edge of fields as fencing and hedge plant, honeybee species.

Botanical Name:Rosa webbiana Wall. Ex Royle

Family: Rosaceae

Local Name:Palwari

Habit:Climbing to prostrate shrub.

Part Used:Flowers, branches.

Folk Use:Ornamental, cultivated at the edge of fields as fencing and hedge plant, honeybee species.

Botanical Name:Rubus ellipticus Smith

Family: Rosaceae

Local Name:Sra Karwara, Bagana

Habit:A climbing shrub

Part Used:Fruits and leaves

Folk Use:Leaves serve as fodder for goats, hedge plant.

Botanical Name:Rubus fruticosus Hk.f.

Family: Rosaceae

Local Name:Karwara

Habit:A prostate to climbing shrub

Part Used:Fruits, leaves and shoots

Folk Use:Leaves are used for diarrhoea, cough, fever, used as diuretic, carminative and fodder for goat. Fruits are edible and used in jams and jelleys. Hedge plant.

Botanical Name:Rubus ulmifolius Schott.

Family: Rosaceae

Local Name:Goorag

Habit:A prostrate to climbing shrub

Part Used:Fruits, leaves

Folk Use:Leaves are used as fodder for cattle.Fruits are edible and are used as carminative. Hedge plant.

Botanical Name:Salix babylonica L.


Local Name:Wala

Habit:Deciduous tree along watercourses

Part Used:Whole tree

Folk Use:Fuel wood, small sticks are cut and used in weaving cloth and "Azarband"(the woollen belt for Shalwar) at homes, used in making cricket bats and light furniture, ornamental, mud supporter and prevent erosion. There is an interpreting Pushto sentence: "Da-Waley (streams)-Waley (Willow tree)-Waley(why)-Waley(hitting)" means "why are you hitting willows of the stream?"

Botanical Name:Salix tetrasperma Roxb.

Family: Salicaceae

Local Name:Wala

Habit:A deciduous tree along water courses

Part Used:Whole tree

Folk Use:Fuel wood, planted along water courses to prevent soil erosion, mud supporter, used in making cricket bats and light furniture.

Botanical Name:Skimmia laureola (DC.) Sieb. & Zucc. Ex Walp.


Local Name:Nazar Panra


Part Used:Leaves

Folk Use:Used in curing small pox. It is believed that smoke from leaves purify air and repel evils.

Botanical Name:Tylophora hersuta L.


Local Name:Gilo


Part Used:Root, Leaves

Folk Use:Root and leaves decoction is used for jaundice. The dried leaves are emetic, diaphoretic and blood purifier. Along with opium it is used in asthma and whooping cough.

Botanical Name:Viburnum cotinifolium D. Don


Local Name:Zangali Chamyarai


Part Used:Fruits, branches

Local Uses:The fruits are edible, branches serve as fuel wood.

Botanical Name:Viburnum foetens (D.Don) Wall. ex DC.


Local Name:Ghar Meva

Habit:Shrub of exposed habitat in temperate forests

Part Used:Fruits, branches

Local Uses:The fruits are edible, branches serve as fuelwood.

\otanical Name:Vitex negundo L.


Local Name:Marvandaey

Habit:A medium sized shrub of water courses and graveyards

Part Used:Leaves, roots and branches

Local Uses:Fresh roots are used as bandage to relieve pain of chest and back, branches are used as toothbrush (Miswak), leaves are aromatic, febrifuge, diuretic and anthelmintic. Leaves are smoked to relieve headache. Flowers are astringent and tonic. Non-palatable, used for making shelters for tobacco seedlings.

Botanical Name:Vitis jacquemontii R. Parker


Local Name:Gedar Kwar

Habit:A perennial wild climber, sometimes covering whole tree

Part Used:Fruit

Local Uses:Wild edible grapes, laxative

Botanical Name: Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal.


Local Name: Kutilal


Part Used: Leaves fruits and roots

Local Uses:Leaves and roots are used as poultice to swellings, ulcers and carbuncles. The fruit is diuretic. The root is an aphrodisiac tonic, diuretic, narcotic and used in rheumatism.

Botanical Name:Woodfordia fruiticosa (L) Kurz


Part Used:Wood

Folk Use:Used as fuel wood species.

Botanical Name: Xanthium strumarium Linn.


Local Name:Ghut Ghiskay


Part Used:Leaves

Folk Use: Leaves decoction is recommended in long-standing malarial fever.

Botanical Name:Zanthoxylum armatum DC.


Local Name:Dambara

Habit:A medium sized spiny shrub

Part Used:Bark, fruit, stem, seeds

Folk Use:Fruit is used as stomachache, carminative, used in toothache. Seeds are used as condiment, flavoring agent, tonic, aromatic, used in fever, cholera, increases saliva secretion, used in chutney and increases cow milk. Young shoots are useful in gum diseases, also used as toothbrushes. Stem and branches are used to make dreadful sticks (Dambaray sotay) to kill snakes and keeps the dogs away.

Botanical Name: Zizyphus jujuba Mill.


Local Name: Baira


Part Used: Wood, leaves, roots, bark, fruits

Folk Use:Fuel wood. Fodder for goats. Edible, bloods purifier and cure indigestion. Fruit decoction is excellent hair wash and also used for bronchitis. Bark macerated in milk is given along with honey in diarrhea and dysentery. It is a major ingredient of “Joshanda” which is used for cough and cold.

Botanical Name: Zizypus numularia (Burm. f.) Wight & Arn.


Local Name: Kurkanda


Part Used:Roots, fruits, branches and leaves

Folk Use: Fuel wood. Fodder for goats. Edible and laxative with sour taste. Also used as hedge plant. Branches are also used for fencing. Leaves are used in scabbies and boils.

Botanical Name: Zizyphus oxyphyla Edgew.


Local Name: Elanai


Part Used:Roots, fruits

Folk Use: Roots are used in curing jaundice. Fruits are edible and used in gas trouble.

Botanical Name:Zizyphus sativa Gaertn.

Family: Rhamnaceae

Local Name:Markhanaey.

Habit:Spiny medium sized tree

Part Used:Fruits, branches

Folk Use:Fruits are edible, used as astringent, cooling. Fuelwood, used in fencing and hedges, leaves fresh fodder for goats. Honeybee species.


Plants provide us ready made food, medicines for ailment, fodder and forage for our domestic animals, fuel wood for burning, flowers for aesthetics and celebration, raw materials for many industries, timber for construction and many more useful items. Humans are using these natural resources in some parts of the globe very ruthlessly and one such area is the Hindu- Kush, Himalayas region. The natural resources in the Hindu Kush - Himalayas is deteriorating more rapidly than many other global regions, but had received little attention internationally than other ecosystem. However, it is now time to realize that the traditional knowledge and management system are as important as the need to introduce modern innovative approaches to sustainable development and management of natural resources in order to sustain the livelihood of traditional societies in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region (ICIMOD 193).

People use plants in many ways such as medicinal, timber wood, fuel wood, food, fodder etc (Hussain and Khaliq, 1996). So there is a great impact of human life on local vegetation as well as local vegetation influence human life (Delcourt, et al. 1986).

The people of Buner are mostly rural and illiterate. They cut forest and sell it as timber and fuel wood. They also use valuable timber wood for fuel wood requirements. The ever increasing population requires more food and as a result forests were burnt, cleared and replace with cultivations. In Buner, forests of Abies pindrow Royle, Acacia modesta Wall., Aescules indica Wall ex.Cambl., Cedrus deodara, Dodonea viscosa (L.) Jacq., Juglans regia L., Pinus roxburghii Sergent, Pinus wallichiana A.B. Jackson, Quercus dialatata Lindley and Quercus incana Roxb., have been destroyed at alarming rate.


Aumeeruddy, Y. 1996. Ethnobotany, linkages with conservation and development. Proceedings of first training work shop on “Ethnobotany and its application to conservation” NARC, Islamabad. Pp: 152-157.

Delcourt, P. A., H. r. Delcourt, P. A. Cridlebaugh and J. Chapman. 1986. Holocene ethnobotanical and paleoecological record of human impact on vegetation in the Little Tennessee river Valley, Tennessee, USA. Quaternary research (NewYork) 25 (3): 330

Hamayun, M., A, Khan and M. A. Khan. 2003. Common medicinal folk recipes of District Buner, NWFP, Pakistan. Journal of ethnobotanical leaflets, SIUC, USA.

Hamayun, M., M. A. Khan and S. Begum. 2003. Marketing of medicinal plants of Utror-GabralValleys, Swat, Pakistan. Journal of ethnobotanical leaflets, SIUC, USA.

Hassan, N. 1980. Dir-Swat relations. M.A.ThesisPakistanStudyCenter, Univ. of Peshawar. P. 22.

Haq, I. 1983. Medicinalplants. HamdardFoundation Press, Pakistan.

Hussain, F. and A. Khaliq. 1996. Ethnobotanical studies on some plants of dabargai Hills Swat. Proceedings of first training work shop on “Ethnobotany and its application to conservation” NARC, Islamabad. Pp: 207-215

Khan, A. 2001. M.Phil thesis on Ethno botanical potential, Phytosociology and Conservation status of MountElum, buner, Pakistan.

Khan, A. A., R. A. Rajput and U. Khalid. 1996. Plants in co existence with man and wild life of Deosai, Himalayas. Proceedings of first training workshop on “ethnobotany and its application to conservation”, national herbarium, PARC, Islamabad. Pp. 26-42

Pei, S.J. 1992. Mountain culture and forest resource management of Himalayas. In: D. W. Tiwari, “Himalayan Ecosystem”, Intel. Book Distr., Dehra Dun, India.

Shinwari, M. I. and M. A. Khan. 1999. Folk use of medicinal herbs of Margalla Hills National Park, Islamabad. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 69 (2000). 45-56.

Shinwari, Z. K., A. A. Khan and T. Nakaike. 2003. Book on Medicinal and other useful plants of District Swat, Pakistan.

Shinwari, Z. K., S.S.Gilani, M. Kohjoma and T. Nakaike.2000. Status of Medicinal Plants In Pakistani Hindukush Himalayas. Proceedings of Nepal- Japan Joint Symposium, 2000.

Williams, J. T. and Z. Ahmad. 1999. Priorities for medicinal plant research and development in Pakistan.


Inspriational Quotes
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Love quote
Few Jokes
Papkistan's online newspapers.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

QK Archives: Smashing statues, erasing history

Saturday, March 03, 2001 published by The Nation Pakistan

Smashing statues, erasing history
Husain Haqqani
Afghanistan's Taliban regime is facing international condemnation once again, this time for its decision to smash all statues in the country. Afghanistan was once part of the ancient Kushan empire. It is the site of historic Buddhist remains, some of which are two thousand years old. In fact, the world's tallest Buddha image is located in Afghanistan. Two soaring statues of the Buddha in Bamiyan were hewn from 125 and 174 feet high solid cliffs, most probably by bare hands and primitive construction tools. These statues are fascinating remains of a civilisation devoted to the Buddha and are no longer the object of anyone's worship. To almost everyone else in the world, except the Taliban, these statues represent history.
The Taliban, however, see the destruction of statues as enforcement of the Islamic injunction against idols or human likenesses of divinity. Indiscriminate as they are in imposing their beliefs, the Taliban seem unable to make the distinction between "Aasaar" (historic remains) and "Asnaam" (idols to which unbelievers pray), even though such a distinction can be clearly found in the Holy Quran. They have refused to respect the historic, cultural or archaeological significance of statues from Afghnaistan's pre-Islamic past.
Reuters reported Taliban Information and Culture Minister Mullah Qudratullah Jamal as saying, "All statues will be destroyed." He also said, "Whatever means of destruction are needed to demolish the statues will be used.'' The official Bakhtar news agency quoted Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil as telling U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell, "The abandoned relics are not our pride. Destroying them would not mean that the freedom of the minorities would cease.'' Vendrell had arrived in Kabul with an appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to save the historic statues. The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news service quoted Jamal as saying statues had been destroyed at museums in Kabul, the southern city of Ghazni, the western city of Herat and at Farm Hadda near the main eastern town of Jalalabad.
Russia, Germany, India and Pakistan have condemned the destruction and appealed to the Taliban to think again. Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Sri Lanka also have expressed alarm at the Taliban's focus on eradicating reminders of the centuries before Islam when Afghanistan was a centre of Buddhist learning and pilgrimage. But the Taliban are unlikely to be moved by international concerns about protecting humanity's historic and cultural heritage. What might appeal to them is an Islamic argument against erasing remains of past civilisations.
Egyptian Muslim intellectual Fahmi Howeidy has pointed out that the Taliban edict runs contrary to Islam. "Islam respects other cultures even if they include rituals that are against Islamic law,'' he says. I will go one step further than Howeidy. Relics of the past are mentioned in the Quran distinctly, with the injunction that lessons be learnt from them. In Sura Aal-e-Imran (translated as 'The family of Imran' by Marmaduke Pickthall), ayat 137 reads : "Systems have passed away before you. Do but travel in the land and see the nature of the consequence for those who did deny (the messengers)" (Quran 3: 137). How would believers be able to travel to the land of Afghanistan and see the consequence of disbelief of an earlier civilisation if the Taliban erase all signs of that civilisation? Further, in Sura Al-Rum ('The Romans') ayat 42 it is explicitly stated: " Say (O Muhammad, to the disbelievers), travel in the land, and see the nature of the consequence for those who were before you! Most of them were idolaters" (Quran 30: 42). It is perhaps for this reason that most scholars in the Ummah did not advocate destruction of ancient remains, including statues.
Had the Taliban's narrower interpretation regarding destruction of idols been implemented by earlier generations of Muslims, the sphinx in Egypt and the archaeological sites of Babylon and Mesopotamia, among others, would not have survived to this day. Quite clearly, early Muslim conquerors distinguished between "Aasaar" (relics and historic remains), which they spared and "Asnaam" (idols), which they destroyed. In a modern, tolerant, inter-dependent world it is unfortunate that the Taliban have opted for an interpretation of Islam that was not the norm in earlier times.
The destruction of artefacts has inflicted new damage to the Taliban's already-poor ties with most countries. The Taliban are already heavily criticized for their restrictions on women and for their poor human rights record. The three states recognising their regime-- Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia-are seen by other nations as being under obligation to influence Taliban policy.
It is apparent to all but the most na‹ve that Pakistan should not risk tension with the entire world in return for friendship with the Taliban. This is especially so in view of our continuing hostility with India. Pakistan's armed forces, above all, must be concerned at what is happening to the country's international image on account of the Taliban's attitude. Pakistan's traditional friend Iran is among the states concerned about the Taliban's whimsical and often narrow-minded decisions. As a result, Pakistan is losing the strategic depth it secured from a friendly Iran, while Afghanistan remains unsettled. If the influence over the Taliban is to cause Iran-Pakistan relations to deteriorate, then ties with the Taliban (rather than Iran) must be reviewed. In any case, the Taliban have consistently proven to be a liability rather than an asset for Pakistan.
Everyone in the world believes that Pakistan is responsible for encouraging the Taliban, official protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. By recognising the Taliban government before any other country, Pakistan made it clear where it stood in relation to this group from another century. Although they control much of Afghan territory, the Taliban have failed to secure international recognition and remain a pariah to most of the world. One need not be a foreign policy expert to understand that losing the friendship of states which are part of the international community to please a pariah can only damage Pakistan's credibility.
It is a positive sign that Pakistan has refused to act as an apologist for the Taliban on their statue-smashing policy. Their rise is attributed by most of the world to Pakistani support, or at least acquiescence. Their brutal regime would not be able to survive if Pakistan joined the rest of the world in pressuring them into accepting the basic norms of civilisation and of Islam as practised by the overwhelming majority of the Ummah. The unenlightened sectarian interpretation of Islam being offered by the Taliban is creating problems for Muslims the world over. The Iranian revolution has settled down and even at its height, revolutionary fervour in Iran did not lend itself to such universal condemnation as is being faced by the Taliban. Another Islamist regime, that in Sudan, has conducted itself by-and-large in accordance with international norms. Western criticism of its conduct can be rebutted with some validity as reflections of prejudice. But the same cannot be said of the Taliban. Their behaviour, in many instances, is violent. They have failed to establish the concept of due process of law even under Islamic rules. Their attitude to women and modern communication technology will set Afghanistan back even further than this tribal backwater has always been. The Taliban must reverse their decision on historic remains and relics. If they do not, the world will be justified in thinking ignorance, rather than pursuit of Islamic learning, is the Taliban's motivation.

Friday, 10 March 2017

I am Hazara

By Hania Hussain
Published 2013

Almost always, the first question that people ask me is, “Are you Chinese?” I answer “No, of course I am not Chinese, I am as Pakistani as they come.” The second question is inevitable: “If I am not Chinese, then why do I look like one? Where in Pakistan do people look so oriental?” I tell them I am from Quetta. At this point they assume that I am either Baloch or Pathan, albeit an odd looking one. But I am not. I am Hazara.

The name Hazara was first recorded in the Baburnama, the memoirs of the Mughal Emperor Babur.. The word referred to the people living in what was then called the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan. These people are thought to be descended from the Mongols; especially the conquering Changez Khan and his army, part of which settled in Bamiyan (Afghanistan) in the 13th century, along with their Persian wives. This origin is also evident in the name ‘Hazara’; the name is taken from the Persian word ‘hazaar’ (thousand), which may be a translation for the Mongol word ming, a military unit of 1000 soldiers in Changez Khan’s time.

In the nineteenth century, many Hazaras fled ethnic persecution in Afghanistan, migrating to and settling in neighboring countries such as Iran and pre-Partition India. In today’s Pakistan, the majority of the Hazara population (approximately 0.3 million) lives in Quetta, having established businesses and households there. However, small communities of Hazara people can be found in other cities of Pakistan such as Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore.

In Pakistan today, a lot of Hazaras are also called ‘Changezi’ or are thought to be part of the Changezi tribe. The term stuck in the military when Air Marshal (rtd) S. Ali Changezi decided to embrace his ethnicity while serving the PAF. Throughout his career, my father has been called Changezi by his colleagues, even though this name doesn’t appear in any of his official documents. The Hazaras also divide themselves into different sub- tribes based on territories and names of their leaders. For example, my mother is Daizangi while my father is Jaghori. My brother and I are also, therefore, Jaghori Hazaras.

The Hazaras strongly identify as Pakistanis. Several famous Hazaras include General Mohammad Musa ( Commander in Chief of Pakistan Army, Governor General of West Pakistan 1967-69, Governor of Balochistan Province 1985-91), Syed Ibrar Hussain Shah (Sitara-e-Imtiaz) who won the boxing bronze medal for Pakistan in the 1988 Olympics, Senator Haji Syed Hussain and his son Syed Abbas Hussain (parliamentarian 2008-2013).

Within Quetta, Hazaras are well known for their obsession with cleanliness–people jokingly blame them for the city’s water shortages.. They are friendly and eager to learn about other cultures. They are also peaceful and progressive. This is evident from the fact that each successive generation of Hazaras is better educated, more qualified and thirsty for more knowledge than their forebears. Education is recognized as the key to a better, more enlightened life. Hazara elders realize the need for an educated youth, and encourage them to work hard at gaining a good education and marketable skills. Through sheer hard work and the encouragement and support of his parents, LUMS alum Karrar Hussain Jaffar made it to Harvard. In his native Marriabad, , Karrar is a role model for scores of children who also want to shine.

Hazaras are also passionate about sports.. Members of the community have represented Pakistan at the international level in a variety of sports including karate, boxing, hockey and football. They have won many medals on behalf of Pakistan Hazara women have also participated in national and international sporting events. Suhaila, a 17-year-old Pakistani Hazara, is a black-belt martial arts champion who has won 34 gold medals in national and international matches so far.

Unfortunately, in recent years, target killings in Balochistan have forced many Hazaras to seek asylum in Australia, Canada and Europe. Many members of the community including the boxer Syed Ibrar Hussain have been victims of terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, Hazara youth continue to feel a strong sense of being Pakistani as they march on to win laurels outside their native country, never giving up on achieving their dream of a better and more prosperous life.

Monday, 6 March 2017

QK archives: Who are the Pakhtuns?

Who are the Pakhtuns?
Rahimullah Yusufzai

Date unknown

The unending debate on the origins of the Pakhtuns is as inconclusive and divisive as it ever was. The issue crops up at literary and political gatherings and is even discussed by village folks in their hujras. In fact, it is a fascinating topic with everyone from the layman to the scholar having a definite viewpoint as to the beginnings of this enigmatic and much misunderstood race.

The issue was debated once more but never concluded at the launch of Brigadier (Retd) Haroon Rashid's book, "History of the Pathans, Vol 1, The Sarabani Pathans," in Peshawar some time back. As usual, there were advocates of theories ranging from Pakhtuns having an Aryan, Jewish, Arab or mixed origin. None was convincing enough to carry the day. Disagreement was in the air the moment commentators started analyzing the voluminous book. Notoriously known for their disunity, the Pakhtuns have been unable even to agree on their origins.

NWFP Governor, Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah summed up the proceedings when he noted that the origin of the Pakhtuns was shrouded in mystery. Referring to the different theories in vogue, he reminded that author Naimatullah Harawi considered the Pakhtuns to be of Jewish extraction, the British felt they had mixed origin while Pakhtun writers thought their race was Aryan. He opined that DNA tests could help solve the riddle. Earlier, physician Dr Sher Mohammad Khan had strongly advocated DNA tests to establish the truth.

Scholars having failed to agree on the Pakhtun origins, it is certainly time to request scientists to do the job. It is possible that some people may not even accept the DNA findings if their own theories are demolished as a consequence of this exercise. However, most Pakhtuns would accept the DNA tests if their origins were conclusively established. Knowing a definite answer rather than subscribing to widely different theories would certainly be more appealing. This would also bring to an end the twisting and fascinating debate on the Pakhtun roots.

It may not matter much to other races as to how and where did they first originate. But it matters a lot to the Pakhtuns, who are obsessed about their glorious past and extremely proud of their code of honour and way of life. Many Pakhtuns believe they have inherited their chivalry and courage from the great Muslim general Khalid bin Walid, who earned the title Saifullah ("Sword of Allah") from Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) on account of his exceptional bravery. They would be glad if it was established that they were somehow related to Khalid bin Walid through their putative ancestor Qais Abdur Rashid. This would also strengthen the theory that the Pakhtuns had an Arab origin.

The theory about the Aryan roots of the Pakhtuns is also popular. In particular, the Pakhtuns in Afghanistan advanced this argument and named a number of their institutions including the national airline as Aryana. The rise of Adolf Hitler's Germany also prompted many Afghan scholars to link the Afghans to the Aryans. Hitler's fall surely dampened most Afghans but the Aryan theory refused to go away.

The Jewish theory has been around for ages. Each and every Pakhtun is opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, more so of Bait al-Maqdas, the third holiest Islamic city after Makkah and Madina. As such, most Pakhtuns don't like the Jewish connection. They are shy of conceding that their ancestors could be Jews. But there is no way one's past could be deleted from history. So it pops up again, gaining currency or losing relevance depending on the circumstances. However, some Pakhtuns don't mind being bracketed with the Jews. They would like to believe that the Pakhtuns are the lost tribe of the Jews, a theory that has found many supporters, including noted scholars, in Israel and some Western countries. In fact, a small number of Pakhtuns drew satisfaction from the fact that the Jewish state of Israel had time and again proved its military superiority over a host of Arab countries in its neighbourhood. For them it is affirmation of their own bravery as well as glorious past.

A strong case could be made for making use of the research done by Jewish scholars worldwide to trace the lost 13th tribe of the Jews because it could throw light on the origin of the Pakhtuns. There should be no harm in undertaking collaborative studies between Pakhtun and Jewish scholars to find out the truth. A Canadian film crew made a documentary some time back on the similarities between Jews and Pakhtuns and filmed glimpses of Pakhtun culture that resembled the Jewish way of life. The team also interviewed Pakhtun scholars in the NWFP and Afghan writers in Afghanistan as part of its project concerning the theory that Pakhtuns could be the lost tribe of the Jews.

Imagination can fly wild while discussing different theories concerning the origins of the Pakhtuns. British authors, mostly military men who served in the Pakhtun areas during the colonial period, reported these theories and added to the confusion. Some of them, such as Sir Winston Churchill, made slanderous and derogatory remarks against the Pakhtuns. Their ire was understandable because Pakhtun warriors resisted British rule and inflicted great losses on the imperial army. Other British writers reluctantly conceded the courage and chivalry of the Pakhtuns and described them as their most formidable foes. Books by Pakhtun writers Roshan Khan, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Qazi Attaullah and Pareshan Khattak about their own race also suffer from deficiencies. A definitive account of the Pakhtuns is yet to be written. Until then, we would have to live with the mystery of the Pakhtun origin.