“I will try my best to stop women’s sports gala”, said the Food Minister of Gilgit Baltistan.
Before going into the details, let’s first understand the background : Shams Loun, the Food Minister of G.B, is currently holding the most important position in PTI’s provincial government as he is the closest chump of Chief Minister. He has been acting as the unofficial focal person of C.M. The constituency from which he has been elected doesn’t have a basic secondary school, primary health care facility, or adequate food availability. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago, he, along with his cabinet partners, was found enjoying a late night dance show at the only place which remotely resembles a school.
When the Mullahs had started to get into the streets of GB after they got wind of the upcoming women’s sports gala, Shams came out as a defender of Islam and made a statement that put him into instant limelight. His glorious pledge can be read at the start of this article. His devout herd of idiots from ISF rushed to romanticize their hero by making a tik tok video using the theme song of Ertugrul as background music. But things took a wrong turn when his patron, the Chief Minister, took a contradictory stance to what his focal person had already said. This happened because a German delegate was on her visit to G.B. She made many tweets to promote the event and visited the stadium, three days before the event was scheduled. The poor CM scrambled with clarifications to save the image of his government.
But Mullahs, and their allies, didn’t lose completely. At midnight, from a twitter handle of the Govt of G.B, it was tweeted that the event was turned into a Mina Bazaar, instead of a sports event, and there were to be stalls and motivational lectures for women. Then at 5 am, another tweet came : the sports gala would start as scheduled with some changes i.e only indoor games were told to be played and no men were allowed inside stadiums.
The “Women Sports Gala ” was not actually the problem this time; the real issue was that it was happening when Mullahs were facing a severe crisis of legitimacy.
This is an example of pure misogyny and patriarchy at play. The environment for women in G.B has always been different from that in other parts of Pakistan. Although the situation is not exemplary elsewhere, yet the women in the mountainous region of Gilgit Baltistan are subjected purely to the whims of their men – men who have assumed the role of an angry God.
Despite this, the “Women Sports Gala ” was not actually the problem this time; the real issue was that it was happening when Mullahs were facing a severe crisis of legitimacy. The seeds of militarisation and fundamentalism were sown by Musharraf. In his war on terror, the then northern areas and today’s G.B were used as mujahid-breeding camps. Previously, G.B had laid diversified with a peaceful coexistence of different religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and others). This harmony ended when the ‘Wahabi madrasa’ or the ‘mujahideen home’ was built in Gawari district of Baltistan division. The recent TTP head, Omar Wali Khorasani, who was shot dead in Afghanistan earlier, is a notable alumni of this school.
The life of women in the Baltistan division has been in a state of permanent jeopardy since then. Women of this region didn’t lag behind men in joining the workforce. No. Women stepped into the field with men, right when GB’s roads got connected to the world. Although there has been lots of hurdling norms for the women in Baltistan or any other district yet the courageous women of Hunza led the way for them. Hunza is the only women-friendly society in GB, right now. The societal norms in Hunza are one of the most civilized. Here women lead in a majority of societal affairs and men proudly idolize their heroines.
Sitting on couches while their women cook and clean after them; getting up only to offer prayers and lecture the same women in their sermons; killing their daughters’ dreams of living normal teenage lives like boys; and contributing nothing to the society that feeds them, other than hatred and misogyny – these Mullahs are the filth of GB.
A decade ago, when the progressive leader, Baba Jan was abducted by the security agencies, the local women held a protest that not just got coverage of local media but it echoed in offices of the biggest media cells around the country. The state bent down and released Baba Jan after massive sit-ins.
The Women Sports field in Pakistan is dominated by Hunzai-women; Sania Baig, Diana, Mahnoor Shehzad all were grown up in the same region where today a harmless sports gala in the name of women has become the biggest issue. So what exactly has gone wrong?
It all started last year when the heads of two dominant sects (shia and sunni) after initial bantering on their ‘respective’ Friday sermons, decided to go into the WrestleMania aka Munazara. Keep in mind that this was the time when the plague of Ertugrul was fast spreading. The locals were very excited for this munazara that was decided to be held on Friday. The state had to intervene, in order to stop a big massacre that could lead us back to the times when sectarian conflicts were common in GB.
The state’s intervention was followed by the step back of the Mullahs, but in a way that didn’t harm their position. When the month of Muharram started this year, and the ceremony of putting the “Alam” on the chowk was going on, someone attacked the shia Sheikh, though he got saved by two of followers who weren’t as lucky as him and got killed. This event was what has set the tone of the entire year. Mullahs have been propelling their narrative since then, fuelling hatred and conflict.
In order to take their grip back on the local men, they have started targeting their women. The primary argument of these Mullahs in their opposition to the Sports Gala was that it would promote obscenity. Heck with obscenity. Art, music and sports are the culture of GB and we would not give it all up because some ill-educated wrong numbers put forth equally ill rationale. Sitting on couches while their women cook and clean after them, getting up only to offer prayers and lecture the same women in their sermons, killing their daughters’ dreams of living normal teenage lives like boys, and contributing nothing to the society that feeds them other than hatred and misogyny – these Mullahs are the filth of GB. Presently Baltistan region is operated by them as an active colony of Iran and Gilgit-Chilas as that of Saudi-Afghans. The irony is that these people make fun of the egalitarian system of Hunza, while on the other hand, their boys go to Hunza hoping to get a peek of their girls.
There is only one road that connects Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan. To go on this road is like going to a lion’s den. Here, if you are lucky enough to survive natural calamities i.e land sliding, floods and earthquakes, you might not be so lucky to evade death if you are Shia. Back in 2012, these terrorists blocked the roads and brutally slaughtered the passengers by just looking at their‘identification-cards’. In 2019, a contract was signed between the terrorists and their organizers. Now when the event of women sports gala happened, they have returned making it an excuse. Day after this, they once again blocked the road, and hijacked more than twenty busses. They kidnapped a sitting minister (a retired colonel) and editor of a local press. Their demands are to release their masters who have been kept in Gilgit jail, since 2013-14 and impose the sharia. This exposes the fact that how weak the government is in this region or worse, there’s no government at all. Hence it has gotten clear that the women’s sports festival was an excuse-a very planned one, to announce the return of the state’s favorites.
Saran Khan belongs to Astore, GB. He currently studies law at GCUL.