Jun 25, 2012

Know Nuristan through Richard Strand & David Katz 's Lectures

Afghanistan's Nuristan Region in Strategic and Ethnographic Context:

A Lecture by: Richard Strand and David Katz
Boston University GSU, Room 310
Monday, October 15, 2007 

The region called Nuristan is one in a chain of ethnic refuge areas that line the mountains of the Indian Plate collision zone from Afghanistan to Southeast Asia. Nuristan lies in the Hindu Kush mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, spanning the basins of the Alingar, Pech, Landai Sin, and Kunar rivers. It is the homeland of a unique group of Indo-European-speaking tribal peoples, now called Nuristanis, who fled and resisted Islam as it spread eastward. In 1895-96 the Nuristanis were finally conquered by the Afghan armies of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, and the people were obliged to abandon their ancient religious beliefs in favor of Islam.

Nuristanis are today such devout Muslims that they were the first citizens of Afghanistan to successfully revolt against the communist overthrow of their government in 1978. Their success inspired others throughout the country to rise up against the Soviets. Today Nuristan remains a key region in a strategic and ethnographic context.

Richard Strand: 

Richard F. Strand is a linguist and anthropological researcher who is best known for his research into Nuristani and other little-known languages of Afghanistan and neighboring areas of Pakistan.

He was trained at Cornell University. He has published material on the linguistics and ethnography of Nuristân and neighboring regions, collected and analyzed since 1967. Funding for his field research in Nuristân, Afghânistân, and Pâkistân was provided in part by the following institutions: the Fulbright Foundation (1991-92), the Smithsonian Institution (1980, 1984-85), The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (1972), Brown University (1971), Cornell University (1966-69, 1970), and Teachers College, Columbia University (1967-69)

David Katz:

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, U.S. Department of State, with the rank of Counselor, he recently completed an 18-month assignment as the Deputy Director, Force Reintegration Cell, at ISAF Headquarters, Kabul, Afghanistan. Before that he served a two-year detail as a professor in the Strategy and Policy Department and State Department Advisor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He received his PhD in Anthropology (UCLA 1982) based in part on two years of ethnographic research
 He conducted in Nuristan, eastern Afghanistan during the mid-70s. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1984, he has had assignments in Iceland, Afghanistan (during the Soviet Occupation), Yemen, Estonia, Pakistan, and Eritrea. He also served as a Civilian Observer with the Multinational Force and Observers based in the Sinai, Egypt.
Dr. Katz has spent over 10 years in positions both in Washington and abroad dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan. He served as the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate,
 Peshawar, Pakistan (1999-2002) and as Deputy Director, Office of Pakistan and Bangladesh, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (2004-6). Dr. Katz also served as the first State Department Representative at the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Afghanistan's Nuristan Province (2006-7).   A resident of Washington State, he also has a home in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Links for the Lectures:

Jun 11, 2012



Author: Rabia Shahid

How would it feel to be part of a culture that is practiced by just 3000 people in a global population of billions? The Kalash culture is indeed unique. Situated in the midst of a Muslim majority population, the three little villages of Kalash are an excellent example of the preservation of a community which is distinct in its ethnicity, language, religion and culture. 

The Kalasha community is the smallest minority in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan under Article 260 only recognizes religious minorities, ignoring the existence of other types of minorities. Kalash is located at a height of 1900 to 2200 meters in the Hindu Kush mountain range between the Afghan border and Chitral valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province , Pakistan. It primarily consists of the three villages of Birir, Bumburet and Rumbur, locally known as “Kafristan” (land of the infidels, coming from the word Kafir which is an Islamic term for an unbeliever). The valleys are situated to the southwest of the town Chitral at a distance of 40, 43 and 36 kilometers respectively. 

Historically, Kafristan included the region of present day Nuristan in Afghanistan and the three Kalash valleys. It is believed that in 1320 the population of the Kafirs was 200,000. This has now reduced to a mere three to four thousand. In 1895, Amir Abdul Rahman, the King of Afghanistan, conquered the Afghan region of Kafristan and forced the Kafirs to convert to Islam. It was at that time that the Afghan Kafirs migrated to the Chitral valley to avoid threats of conversion. The people of Chitral gave them a warm welcome, allowing the community to exist and practice their religion and culture without any restraint. According to Israr-ud-Din (1969), the Kalash ruled Southern Chitral for around three hundred years, until they were overtaken by the Khowar speakers. Thereafter, some Kalash retreated to the valleys they occupy today and some became Khowar speakers and converted to Islam. The cordial relationship between the Chitralis and the Kalash people who refused to come under the religious and political influence of the Khowars exist today, even though radical Islamization of the country has posed some challenges for them. As per Kalash custom, once a person converts to Islam he or she is banished from the community and cannot revert. Today the number of Kalasha speaking converts living in the vicinity of the valleys exceeds the number of the original polytheistic Kalasha.

Origin of the Kalash community in Pak-Afghan region
The historic origins of this community are shrouded in mystery and controversy. Different theories exist as to the origin of the Kalash people, the most popular and grand being that they are descendants of Alexander the Great. The other two theories propose that they are an indigenous population of South Asia, or as suggested in Kalash folk songs and epics that their ancestors migrated to Afghanistan from “Tsiyam”, which is identified by some anthropologists as the area of Tibet and Ladakh. 

There are many pieces of evidence presented by all schools of thought in this matter, making it difficult to trace the true origin of this minority. The Greek influence is found in the architecture, music, games, food, wine, and even in the blond hair and blue eyes of the Kalash. Yet at the same time certain genetic studies, like the study by Rosenberg, have come to the conclusion that this race is a separate aboriginal population with little influence from outsiders. Another genetic study "Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation (2008)" also came to a similar conclusion and categorized the Kalasha population as a separate group of people. 

The Kalash Language - no written documentation
Kalash is a Dardic language which belongs to the Indo Aryan Group of the Indo-Iranian group of languages, which is itself a sub group of the larger Indo-European Group. Kalash is further categorized into the Chitral sub-group of languages, next to only one other language, Khowar. Though the two languages are different, they nonetheless share some similarities, and due to the increased interaction between the native speakers of these two languages there are now more bilingual people speaking both Khowar and Kalash as there were in the past.

The most distinct characteristic of the Kalash language, along with some other local languages of the Chitral District, is that it is purely oral and has no written manuscript. Thus all the folklore, customs and traditions have been handed down from generation to generation through word of mouth without any written documentation. Absence of a written manuscript, coupled with the fact that around four thousand people speak this language, has placed it on UNESCO’s list of critically endangered languages.

However, the people of Kalash maintain great pride in their language and the usage of this language has not decreased in the Kalash valleys over the passage of time. It is normal to see Kalash people interacting in their language in their homes, streets and markets. The most popular second language with the Kalash people is Khowar, but it is only used by people who go outside the Kalash valley for business or work, thus women and children are in a majority of the cases monolingual. 

Recently many attempts have been made by local Kalash people in cooperation with foreign NGO’s to preserve the Kalash language via its documentation. In 2000, Taj Khan Kalash, a local Kalashi, organized the first Kalash Orthography Conference in Islamabad. Working in collaboration with international linguists and researchers, the first alphabet book of Kalash language in Roman script was published. Efforts are now being made to teach the Kalash people how to adjust to this evolutionary change in their language and learn how to write it. Significant research has taken place in the codification of this language; the dictionary of the codified Kalash language is even available online today, increasing the possibility for linguists and researchers to study this language in more detail. 

Despite efforts to preserve the language, the community faces tough challenges in preserving it for future generations. It was in 1989 that the government allowed the Kalash to use their language as the medium of instruction, despite the uniform syllabus rule in the country. The majority of the teachers are Khowar native speakers, resulting in the instruction language to be Khowar rather than Kalasha. Thus, the major logistic hurdle in the teaching and preservation of the language is a lack of schools teaching the Kalash language and using it as a medium of instruction. 

Kalash Culture: Festivals and Purity
The Kalash culture has been the centre of fascination for tourists, the British, and many anthropologists for years. Compared to the conservative Islamic majority, the Kalash valley, which is well protected within the mountains of Hindu Kush, is the home of polytheists for whom dance, wine and mingling between the sexes is not a taboo. 

Nature plays a spiritual role in the lives of the Kalash people and this is reflected in the gods they worship and the customary festivals of the community. Among many festivals celebrated, the three main ones are the Joshi festival celebrated in May, the Uchau festival celebrated in autumn, and the most important Chaumos festival celebrated for two weeks at the winter solstice. Festivals are a way to offer thanks to the gods for the abundant natural resources gifted to the people of the valley. The Kalash people like to celebrate, and a typical festival involves singing, dancing, offering bread, cheese, meat or wine, and at times a sacrifice. The women of the community take active part in the singing and dancing at the festivals. Unlike Muslim societies, there is no concept of segregation in the Kalash society. Men and women freely interact with each other. Women are free to choose their husbands, while sex and love affairs are a common occurrence.

Kalash women are easily distinguishable due to their unique dress. They always wear a long black gown stretching on until their ankles. The gown is adorned with colorful beads and cowrie shells and accessorized by bead necklaces coiled around the neck, accompanied by an ornamental headdress. Men wear the traditional national dress of Pakistan with a woolen waistcoat. 

The Kalash culture is very particular about the pure and impure. A particularly intriguing tradition is the tradition of Bashli. Bashli is the tradition of sending menstruating women and the ones giving birth to a special home. They can only come out of the home after the menstrual or child birth period is over. During such a state a woman is considered impure. Gods are considered pure, and between impure women and pure gods there are degrees of pure entities. A man is considered more pure than a woman, and an innocent boy would be more pure than an adult. There are also designated pure areas inside houses where women cannot go because they are considered impure. 

Discrimination and attempts to convert to Islam
Kalash is a pastoral community which is heavily dependent upon agriculture and livestock. Over the years tourism has also become a major source of income for the Kalash people. However, generally the area remains underdeveloped due to its remote location and also because of the apathy of the authorities. The Kalash people are poor and face discrimination when it comes to jobs. Money that comes in from tourism seldom comes in the hands of Kalash people as majority of the hotels in the vicinity are owned by non-Kalash. 

Availability of cheaper alternatives, coupled with poverty, is endangering the use and production of rich Kalash gowns worn by women, and of certain foods and drinks, especially the production of wine, which is often expensive. Infrastructure is weak as there are not enough roads, hospitals, high schools and universities for the Kalash. This forces many families to convert to Islam; a trend which is detrimental to the existence of the Kalash. The religious sites of worship are also in danger due to attacks by Islamic fundamentalists and a lack of funds for maintenance.

Lack of media causes discrimination
The discrimination is allowed to continue due to the absence of any medium of communication that would connect the Kalash communities with the outside world. There are no Kalasha newspapers, radio or TV stations. Other than a few websites personally made by some Kalash individuals, there is no official presence of the Kalash community in the media in the form of a group or organization. Any development in the area of preservation of the valley and its culture has primarily come from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and international aid groups interested in the region. Major aid and development is devoted to improving and facilitating cultural festivals, tourist information and environmental protection measures. According to Saifullah Jan, an activist who has represented the Kalash people at many forums, more resources need to be devoted to basic infrastructure like schools, roads, and health facilities to ensure the survival of these indigenous people. Also, less interference should be made into matters of farming and irrigation techniques, which according to him are something that the people are already well versed in. 

1. SOCIOLINGUISTIC SURVEY OF NORTHERN PAKISTAN VOLUME 5 LANGUAGES OF CHITRAL. Kendall D. Decker 1992. National Institute of Pakistani Studies Quaid-i-Azam University and Summer Institute of Linguistics.
2. The Kalash - Protection and Conservation of an Endangered Minority in the Hindukush Mountain Belt of Chitral, Northern Pakistan. IUCN – The World Conservation Union.
3. Minority Rights Group International, Report on Religious Minorities in Pakistan, by Dr. Iftikhar H. Malik. 
4. Enclaved knowledge: Indigent and indignant representations of environmental management and development among the Kalasha of Pakistan. Peter Parkes, University of Kent, Department of Anthropology, United Kingdom 1999
5. THE KALASHA PAKISTAN) WINTER SOLSTICE FESTIVAL. Alberto Cacopardo and Augusto Cacopardo Liceo Scientifico "G. Ulivi" Borgo San Lorenzo. Ethnology, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Oct., 1989), pp. 317-329. University of Pittsburgh- University of Pittsburgh- Of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. 
6. Low Levels of Genetic Divergence across Geographically and Linguistically Diverse Populations from India. Noah A. Rosenberg, Saurabh Mahajan, Catalina Gonzalez-Quevedo, Michael G. B. Blum1, Laura Nino Rosales, Vasiliki Ninis, Parimal Das, Madhuri Hegde, Laura Molinari, Gladys Zapata, James L. Weber, John W. Belmont, Pragna I. Patel.
7. Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation. Jun Z. Li, Devin M. Absher, Hua Tang, Audrey M. Southwick, Amanda M. Casto, Sohini Ramachandran, Howard M. Cann, Gregory S. Barsh, Marcus Feldman, Luigi L. Cavalli-Sforza, Richard M. Myers.
8. Proceedings of the third International Hindu Kush Cultural Conference - A minority perspective on the history of Chitral: Katore rule in Kalash Tradition, Peter Parkes. 


Girls dancing at the Joshi Spring festival by John Moore. Getty Image

A Kalasha Child by Hajra Tari

Traditional Kalasha dance by Gulhamad Farooqi. AP Photo

A Kalasha Temple by Hajra Tariq

Dardic & Nuristani languages

  • Description
  • List of languages
Though Dardic and Nuristani languages are considered by the majority of linguists as two separate groups of languages, they are very close in structure and in vocabulary, and can be described together. Moreover, they have common origin and they are both spoken in one mountainous region in the Gindukush mountains.
In fact, Dardic and Nuristani languages originate back to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family. Nowadays their speakers, mainly peasants in Northern Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, make about 4 million people (Dardic) and 150 thousand people (Nuristani). As it is usual with mountainous tongues, it is hard to distinguish between separate languages and dialects of one. Practically every little village, has the speech of its own. The lack of scientific material about both groups makes the research even harder, but still linguists managed to name exact languages within the groups: at all there are about 15 Dardic tongues and five or six Nuristani languages.
In phonetics it is very hard to select any characteristic features of the group - for example, vowels are very variable, and little common can be found. This proves that the very name "Dardic group" or "Nuristani group" is to some extent just nominal; the long history of development of different languages led to great varieties of sounds among languages. However, we can say that Dardic languages in general widely use aspirated consonants, sometimes cerebral, palatal and labiovelar sounds. An interesting peculiarity is the presence of tone oppositions in several Dardic languages, such as Gavar, Dameli, Shina. Nuristani lacks aspiration, but uses extensive cerebral consonants instead.
Both groups have from 2 to 4 noun cases, which are frequently composed with numerous postpositions (or more rarely prepositions). Two genders (masculine and feminine), and two numbers (singular and plural) are in use, by the way, plural is formed mainly by agglutinative formants, though most cases have normal endings. Interesting that both Nuristani and Dardic have definite / indefinite articles before nouns; nouns are also divided to animate and inanimate. 
Nuristani and Dardic people count in twenties, except the Kashmiri language which adopted the count in tens. There is no special in this if we remember that Celtic and Italic languages also used to count in 20s. This was probably normal for Proto-Indo-European as well. The same can be said about Dardic & Nuristani pronouns - personal pronouns exist only for the 1st and the 2nd person, and the 3rd one is expressed by demonstrative pronouns, just like in Baltic, Slavic, Greek and many other Indo-European languages.

Verbs generate both analytic and inflectional forms, thre trend to losing inflections is seen in the eastern regions, where verbs have already lost the category of person (Torwali, Mayan). However, everywhere verbs still use numbers and genders. Dardic languages Khowar and Kalasha preserved the augment prefix, which existed in Vedic and Ancient Greek languages.
Most languages use Persian and Arabic scripts for writing; the original system of writing exists only in Kashmiri (one of Indic alphabets). Many languages have no writing at all: this is explained by the fact that the majority of their speakers are illiterate peasants. 


Gawar (Gawar-Bati)
Glangali (Nangalami)
Pashai (West and East)

Forgotten Victims Of Great Games

Kalash tribe: Some call them the descendents of Alexander’s army because they prominently have blue eyes and very fair skin. We tried but could not trace the rights for this photograph, which has been taken from

They would have called themselves Katis, but the Muslims surrounding them had for centuries called them Kafirs - infidels - and their land, thus came to be known as Kafirista

One day in 1897, near the village Brumotul not far from Chitral, then a semi-independent Muslim state high in the Himalayas, a bunch of boys went walking. They were not Chitralis, but refugees from another place that lay west of the newly demarcated Durand Line. They were not Muslims, either. The boys would have described themselves as Katis, but the Muslims surrounding them had for centuries used “Kafir” to describe the boys’ ancestors, and “Kafiristan” for their original land. The British had retained that nomenclature for the portion of that land they now controlled, while the Afghan Amir, Abdur Rahman, whose invasion had made the boys refugees, had named his portion “Nuristan” (“The Land of Light”). 

The boys stopped on a bridge to watch two “Sahibs” fishing in the stream below, not having seen their likes before. One of the sportsmen came over to them and said something in Khowar, one of the several languages spoken among the Kafirs. One Kati boy understood what was said; he asked his friends to find earthworms for the Sahib. Later, he and another boy carried the day’s catch to the Sahibs’ camp. The man who spoke to the boys was an army doctor named Capt; the Kati boy who understood him was named Azar. Something about the boy struck Harris as exceptional. He sent for him the following day and almost obsessively insisted that Azar—barely ten or eleven at the time—should join his service. Azar offered excuses, his mother cried, but his father, Kashmir, the leader of the clan, gave his permission. Azar became Harris’s servant—first for 18 months at Chitral, and then for two years at Peshawar. Meanwhile, Kashmir was killed by some relatives when he was on his way to Kabul—after converting to Islam—to meet the Amir and seek from him his previous high status. 

In June of 1900 Harris was dispatched to China to help suppress the “Boxer Rebellion,” while Azar stayed with the Captain’s spinster sister. However, when she decided to return to England at the end of the year, Azar refused to accompany her. He insisted on staying in service in the army with the Punjabi soldiers he had come to like, and who had been very kind to him. Miss Harris then handed him over to a Capt. A.A. James. 

Soon after, Azar fell seriously ill, and during that illness took a vow to become a Muslim on regaining health. After recovery, Azar made his wish known to James, who was not pleased. It was not what Harris had wanted, who, in fact, had given everyone strict instructions against it. (For the record, Harris had never sought to make Azar a Christian.) Seeing Azar’s determination, however, James took the necessary steps and obtained the required permission from the Political Department. One Friday, Azar converted to Islam, and took on a new name: Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah Khan. His devotion to Capt. James, however, and the latter’s manifold kindness to him remained unchanged.

A few years later, in the summer of 1905, when Abdullah was at the mountain resort of Murree with his master, he was overwhelmed by a longing for his ancestral homeland. A new ambition also took hold of him. He got the idea of accomplishing what his father had died trying to do—return to the original home in Afghanistan and become the leader of his people. With James’s help, a petition was prepared and—after Abdullah put his thumbprint on it—sent to concerned authorities. Several British officers helped in forwarding the cause. Abdullah eventually got an audience with the new ruler of Afghanistan when the latter visited India, but, not knowing Persian, he could not converse with him. Promises were made—or so Abdullah thought—but nothing happened. Then James had a serious accident, forcing him to return to England. 

That is where Abdullah’s story, as told by him, ends. It is now available to us in a remarkable book. (Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah Khan ‘Azar’, My Heartrendingly Tragic Story, edited by Alberto M. Cacopardo and Ruth Laila Schmidt (Oslo: Novus Press, 2006), pp. xl, 136, 139.) As the narrative closes in Jalandhar Cantonment, Abdullah says: “Now I can feel homesick with a good conscience, because God Almighty has given the Sahib relief and recovery.” The learned editors add in a footnote: “This was probably written in early 1908; Abdullah is already planning his return home, which will take place later that year.” Abdullah returned to Brumotul, where he lived out the rest of his life. The editors think he died around 1948.

At some stage during the process of petitioning (1906–07), Abdullah dictated to someone an account of his life, containing much more than the bare-bone given above. He also added to that “heartrending” (dilon ko hila-dene-wali) story a separate but detailed account of his Kati people, their history, kinship system, religious rituals, arts, and important myths or lore. Evidently, it was done at the urging of Capt. James, who might have also suggested the topics that needed to be covered. The two narratives are in Urdu, and in first person. But the editors are rightly doubtful of Abdullah’s prowess in that language at the time, for it contains patches that are too purple for any novice. Most likely Abdullah’s words were recast by his scribe friend. Be that as it may, the preciseness of Abdullah’s observation and the poignancy of his feelings draw our respect and attention even if they come in someone else’s language. The singular manuscript, formally dedicated to Capt. James, remained in the captain’s custody until 1914, at which time it was returned to the author with other papers. It stayed with Abdullah until 1929, when the famous Norwegian scholar Georg Morgenstierne (1892–1972) met him at Bromotul, and bought it from him for thirty rupees. It now reposes in the Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture at Oslo.

Morgenstierne was the first to note the importance of the book—no worthy account of the Kati people existed at the time—and planned to bring out a proper translation. Unfortunately he died before he could make any serious progress. The task was then undertaken by one of his illustrious students, Knut Kristiansen, but he too passed away before the job was finished. Thankfully, the project was not abandoned, and we now have the two accounts accessible to us in the original Urdu as well as in English translation. The latter, done originally by Kristiansen, has been revised and updated by Kandida Zweng and Manzar Zarin, and provided with explanatory notes by the editors. A brief epilogue accounts for Abdullah’s life after 1908, while archival photographs allow us to see the faces of these neglected people and their physical environment. There is a wealth of scholarly addenda in the form of an introduction, biographical and explanatory notes, plus an extensive bibliography, resulting in a superbly put together book.

Who were Azar/Abdullah’s people? Only the ancestors knew, and they do not seem to have left any story of origin or migration. Some outsiders, coming much later, have called them the descendents of Alexander’s army because they prominently have blue eyes and very fair skin. When in 1888 Rudyard Kipling sent off his two rascally heroes to become kings in Kafiristan, this is how he described their first sighting of the local people: “Then ten men with bows and arrows ran down that valley, chasing twenty men with bows and arrows, and the row was tremenjus. They was fair men, fairer than you or me, with yellow hair and remarkable well built.” (Sadly, the 1975 film based on the story was shot in Morocco and not in Chitral, and John Huston’s “natives” were swarthy and dark-haired, true only to Hollywood anthropology.) Linguists who studied the relevant languages have declared them as old as the time when Aryan and Iranian languages had not branched away from each other—even older. These people made their home in a remote region, extremely picturesque but not possessing the wealth that attracted marauders and empire builders. Various invading hordes seemingly skirted them. And when the diverse people around them became Muslim, they collectively came to be known as “Kafirs,” and their land as “Kafiristan.”

However, what could survive ancient marauding failed against the combined might of 19th century colonialism and nationalism. The British in India came to terms with the Pathans in Kabul in 1893 and put down the infamous Durand Line (1896) that cut through the land of the Kafirs. Soon after, the Amir of the new nation of Afghanistan invaded his portion of the divide to establish his sovereignty. Those who could do so fled to Chitral, whose Muslim ruler let them settle near their brethren. 

The “Land of Light” is presently controlled by the Afghan Taliban. It gained headlines around the world in October 2009 when The American forward base, “Camp Keating,” was attacked, and eight American soldiers were killed. Subsequently, the Americans abandoned the base after turning it into rubble. Things are also perilous in the Chitral valley, with frequent rumours of Osama bin Laden hiding in the region and the CIA having a listening post there. In September 2009, a Greek scholar-volunteer, Athanasios Lerounis, was kidnapped by the Afghan Taliban. Lerounis had been working with the Kalash Kafirs of Chitral for many years because he was struck by their response when he had asked what they wanted most. “A school of our own,” they told him, “where we can teach our language and culture to our children.” He was now helping the Kalash build an ethnographic museum of their own when the raiders came from across the Durand Line. They now hold him in Nuristan, in ransom for the release of three Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s custody. In January 2010, a group of Chitrali Muslims, including some Kalash, traveled to Nuristan for the fourth time to plead for Lerounis’ release, and again returned disappointed. 

Back in September 2009, a member of the Kalash community had told the Daily Times of Lahore: “If the government doesn’t take any serious action we will leave Pakistan and go to some other country, a move which would bring bad name to Pakistan.” Who can even begin to imagine the desperation behind that threat, so naïve and so futile? In the 21st century, no people can emigrate at will. The countless “Durand Lines” all over the globe will never allow it.