Just last month, NADRA launched an updated version of its website that lets you apply online for your CNIC. Now, they have gone ahead and added a separate option for the Kalasha community in the CNIC as well.
Kalasha, or Kalash, are the people of Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. They speak their own unique Kalasha language and are considered to be a unique tribe on their own. This non-Muslim community even has its own separate cultural traditions.
NADRA has finally recognized Kalash as a different community, giving them a separate column in the National Identity Card. This is the fifth community recognized by NADRA, other four communities include Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The people of Kalasha aren’t exactly advanced in their ways of living and still lack some of the basic facilities of life like education, health, and social services. Although government and NGOs have done some considerable efforts, the community is still primarily a rural community. Due to their religious affiliations, this community has been pretty vocal of their demands for a separate identity and it seems that their efforts have finally bored fruit with NADRA’s decision today.
The inclusion of the ‘religion box’ for the identity card in the 1980s in the reign of General Zia-ul-Haq had one major flaw, it didn’t include the religion of the Kalasha people. This has been a major cause of concern for this small community since then, and they have been protesting repeatedly against this violation of their basic human rights.
NADRA didn’t even clear this confusion or give them a reason for the exclusion of their reason. When the computerized-NIC were introduced, the Kalasha religion did make an appearance in the list of religions, but only for a very short while. Nadra removed it again to the dismay of the Kalasha and even then, no reason was given for this. Later on, NADRA again showed their resilience by ignoring a recommendation from the Ministry of Minorities Affairs to include the Kalasha religion in the list of religions. The Kalash community didn’t give up even then, and it looks like they have finally accomplished their mission.
The Kalash consider themselves a very different community. A while back, a BBC-journalist did a story on the beautiful people of Kalash valley and documented their struggle. Here is an excerpt from BBC showing the difficulties faced by them,
“This is far removed from ordinary Pakistani life where most people adhere to an Islamic code, shunning drink and dance. The Kalash, on the other hand, worship their own gods.
Pakistanis would view Kalash culture with disapproval but nevertheless many, mostly men, still flock to the valleys from around the country to experience the liberation the festival offers.
The Kalash use the blanket term “Punjabi” for the Pakistani men who suddenly show up in the village staring at women, trying to “chat them up”, and making many feel uncomfortable.They do not consider themselves Pakistani. In fact, they call anybody from elsewhere in the country “Pakistani” – as if it that term would not cover themselves as well.”
Clearly, People of Kalash are very happy with NADRA’s decision and are satisfied to know that their community has finally received the recognition they deserved. There are also some additional benefits of this, as noted by Kalash People Development Network Chairman Rehmat Kalash, their people will now be able to gain eligibility for quotas in admissions and jobs.
Source: Express Tribune
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