November 2, 2011

95% Pakistanis don't know Gilgit-Baltistan's story: F. M. Khan

The Terrorland Report  

F.M. Khan - historian and a
veteran of Gilgit-Baltistan's 
liberation war 1947.
RESEARCHERS and historians are aware of the name of F. M. Khan (1930–2002). His only book, The Story of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, is a must-read for those who want to know the real story of the strategically important region.

The book was still in the press when the author died in Gilgit city. Habib Sulemani says: "I was contacted to compile and edit Mr. Khan's book. I worked hard on it as he was not in good health, and badly wanted to see his book published. The Pakistani style publication plus, as is said, haste makes waste, the proofreading and font errors couldn't be corrected at the other end."

However, many historian believe, still the book is a big achievement regarding the local perspective on their history and political issues. The flap of the book introduces the author in this way:

"The author, Mr. F. M. Khan, is a resident of the United States of America. He was born in Bargu, a small village of Gilgit, in (about) 1930. He had a tumultuous life — a veteran of the war of liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan (1947-48) and a successful businessman, who emerged as a leader of the business community in Lahore. He served on the Board of Directors of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries for 12 years and was their Vice President in 1978.

"He is a voracious reader and a keen writer. His first article was published in 1959 in the Pakistan Times, entitled Songs of Fairies. He has written numerous articles on diversified subjects, which were published in the English language newspapers of Pakistan, including the Pakistan Times, the Muslim, the Nation and the Frontier Post.

"Being a widely traveled person, he has visited two-third countries of the world. He has the proud privilege of friendship with the top families of Pakistan like the Bhuttos and Sharifs. On the ancient, recent and contemporary history of the region, this is the first effort in English by a native." 

Here is the “Introduction” of the book written by the author himself. It may give you an insight into the man and his work.

The Story of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral 

By F. M. Khan

Jacket of the book published in 2002.
A nation without its history is like a herd of cattle drove—roaming in the wilderness. Without being proud of its history and the courage of its forefathers, no nation can build a bright future. 

Living nations have their rich historical heritage preserved in their national archives. Even, God Almighty is proud to narrate the past history of nations and the prophets. The Holy Qur‘an is full with stories of Adam-Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and their nations. The book of geneses in the Old Testament is one of the grandiose records of the human history.

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral are unfamiliar of their history, which is extraordinarily rich and fabulous, but unfortunately, it is not available in the form of authentic books or recorded and preserved in old historical scribes either.

Allama Ghafran’s The History of Chitral in Persian, Molvi Hashmatullah’s The History of Jammu, written in Urdu and F. M. Hassnain’s Gilgit: The Northern Gate of India, in English, are some very helpful books, but there is no authentic book available, especially in English language, which could deal with the detailed history of this mysterious land— now known as the Northern Areas of Pakistan [it has been changed to Gilgit-Baltistan since then].

Even the country’s old name Bolor has no historical background to prove except insufficient references made in the travelogues of the western explorers. So much so, the name of Dard or Dardistan is also not correct. Dr. W. G. Leitner used this name/term, for the first time without any basis and research. He was on a flying visit to Gilgit for two days in 1866. All the 18th, 19th and 20th century explorers have given misguided information based on gossip or misconstrue of references particularly the British explorers who tried their best to distort the history of this area in their books. They intentionally omitted the legendary warrior Gohar Aman’s turbulent period from their books.
The main purpose of this book [The Story of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral] is to lay open the ancient, recent and contemporary history of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to help the future historians to expand upon it and carry out further research. This is the only way that living nations have assembled and preserved their history. This book tells the reader a story of near about 2,000 years (two millenniums) i.e. AD 7 to 1999. I, the author of this book, being a native of the area, feel proud to present this book as my maiden attempt. I hope, besides the common people and history students, those foreign tourists, who come to Pakistan to know the land and people, will find it helpful.
The location of Gilgit-Baltistan falls right in the bulls’ eyes — there are five big powers bordering all around, and out of them, four are nuclear powers. Then there are six central Asian states. If anybody thinks that Gilgit is a shantytown, located amongst the mountain ranges of Karakorum and Hindukush, he/she should get his/her head examined!

Unfortunately, 95 percent Pakistanis are not aware of Gilgit-Baltistan’s geo-political importance. In 1999, this area emerged on the world map as a nuclear flashpoint because of the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan. The world has witnessed and the enemy has appreciated the great sacrifices of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI), the descendants of the legendary warriors Gohar Aman and Ali Sher Khan Anchen. The Pakistan Army realized this fact and stopped treating NLI as an inferior force.

NLI is now a full-flagged regiment of the Pakistan Army with equal rights but the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are still without any right as compared to their fellow Pakistani citizens. They are without any constitution, wondering in the wilderness even in this new century and millennium. It is indeed a sad story.

Moreover, the history books in Pakistan are silent about Gilgit-Baltistan. The story of the Tiger Force and its epoch making-march in 1948 is not available even in the archives of Pakistan Army. No one had written a page or citation for the great achievements during the War of Liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan in 1947-48. There are no detailed accounts of the famous battles of Guraiz and Baltistan.

On the contrary, the Indians have given full details of these great battles in their defense journals and books, written by famous generals like General Thiyyama. It appears that a deliberate attempt has been made on Pakistan’s side to minimize the achievements of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Thus the pages of history are still dormant.

Hence, the purpose of this book is to lead the future historians to correct the judgments. This book, hopefully, will present an accredited account of the battles of Tragbal, Guraiz, Zojila, Drass, Kargil and Ladakh.

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