Friday, April 18, 2008

Simurgh: launch of a policy discussion blog for mountain people

By Ghulam Amin Beg

Welcome to Simurgh!

This is the first policy discussion blog for development practitioners and activists in the mountain regions of Karakoram, Hindukush, western Himalayas, Pamirs, Tien Shan and Kunlun!

Please spare some time to go through this introductory posting about the rationale for the blog and the blog name.

If this interests you we invite and welcome you to this journey of thirty birds!

The motivation to launch this blog was obviously due to the growing interest to know who is doing what in the mountain areas, what are the learnings and best practices, what policy instrumens work and don't work, and how can we look for a 'regional approach' through sharing micro level experiences with implications for cross-border and trans-border cooperation in this region.

Secondly, it is also visible that in the face of rapidly changing geo-political and geostrategic environments and the pressures of globalization in the form of growing trade, consumerism and communication networks, there are profound opportunities and risks for the livelihoods, environment and cultural,social and political rights and identities of local people.

Of course issues of participatory governance, human rights, fundamental freedoms and marginalization and accessibility are key challenges and mountain specificities that set the policy agenda and its implementation.

I looked for a a broader outlook and focus and how to title the blog? Through reflection and some intuition, I came to the word Simurgh, as this was the word I used to here in the folk songs and tales of Central Asia and about which our teachers, elders and literature talked about. Like the story of 'kuhe Qaaf' and the 'Simurgh', the folksong, 'simurgh-i zarin, jon zhu nozamin' etc.

Thanks to internet, I was able to findout more about the metaphor and the fact that it was used by non other then, Farid u Din Attar.

For the introduction and interest of all of you, I am reproducing some portion from the great epic on Conference of Birds by this 12th century great Persian poet, which might guide us on how to go from vaguely 'known' to totally 'unkown' territories.

Metaphor from the epic; 'Conference of Birds- Simurgh':

The mythical Simurgh or Simorgh is depicted in Iranian art as a winged creature in the shape of a bird gigantic enough to carry off an elephant or a camel. It appears as a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion; sometimes it is shown with a human face. The Simorgh was also called Siræng "Thirty Colors" because it is thought to have thirty different colors on its body, making it quite beautiful.

Because it is part mammal, the Simorgh suckled its young - and also has teeth. It has an enmity towards snakes and its natural habitat is a place with plenty of water. According to the 12 century persian poet Attar, the Simorgh has thirty holes in her beak and flew the wind through them whenever she was hungry. Animals heard a pretty music and gathered at the peak of mountain where they were eaten by the Simorgh.

When the Simorgh took flight, the tree of knowledge's leaves shook making all the seeds of every plant to fall out. These seeds floated around the world, taking root to become every type of plant that ever lived, and curing all the illnesses of mankind. Its feathers are said to be the color of copper, and though it was originally described as being a Dog-Bird, later it was shown with either the head of a man or a dog. It is inherently benevolent and a touch from its wings can cure any illness or wound.

(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simurgh - 28k - 10 Sep 2006)

This is the story of a long journey undertaken by a flock of birds in search of their King, Simurgh, a transparent symbol of divinity. The birds finally reach their goal after travelling through seven valleys: Love, Knowledge, Detachment, Unification, Bewilderment, Privation and Annihilation.

Simurgh, which means "thirty birds" (the number of birds who survived the journey out of the hundred thousand who started off), manifests himself as a mirror for the chosen few who manage to see him: at the end of the work, the metaphor of the journey resolves itself in the discovery that the birds and their King are one and the same being. The book is clearly a metaphor of the mystic journey, Man's spiritual ascent, and the challenges which need to be overcome to reach the Beyond, to connect with it and to find oneself in its image.

Attar paints a fresco of the diversity that humankind has to offer - kings and princesses, silver-chested youths and damsels with moon-shaped faces, archangels who talk to people and love-struck errant sufis, characters drawn both from Biblical sources and from the Qu'ran. (Ref: http://www.babelmed.net/index.php?menu=1&cont=1272&lingua=en)

Taking this metaphor of Simurgh from the 12th century, in our discussions in 21st century, on the Future of the mountain people and sustainability, I think we may have to pass through seven valleys: participation, justice, peace, freedom, pluralism, equity and empowerment.

At the end of this voyage we may be able to reach a state where we are able to grasp the challenges of globalization and market forces and raise our people to a level where where at the end of the day, the mountain people find themselves in the image of nature and is tamed to live in harmony with nature and in dignity and honour.

Hence the very name 'Simurgh' for this blog is wide ranging; having personal, cultural, spiritual, social and political dimensions to discuss and promote global ethics of humanism and its relevance in a time and space to mountain people.

Refering to the range of issues that may be discussed in the context of shaping the future, ranging from youth and women rights to social and political movements and poverty, climat change and to good governance, it touches the nerves of making a journey into the future.

What I wish here is a lively discussion on the future of the people in the mountain areas in general, but with major and particular focus on the Central Asia: Karakoram, Hindukush, western Himalayas, Pamirs, Tien Shan and the Kunlun ranges.

Who are the 'birds' in this context? I am thinking of the youth, development practioners, teachers, professionals, students, rights activists, policy makers, politicians and all those who have a stake in shaping the future of the mountain areas.

Lets jointly undertake this voyage and fly through the seven valleys, so to speak.

Amin Beg
Moderator, Simurgh

35 comments:

Aazur Hunzai said...

An important step forward. I have been in the blogosphere, alone, for more than two years, venting my frustration, as some taunt me. It is nice to see that, now, more people will join the journey.

I would like to call myself the "Hudhud", in this journey of the birds :)

Hud-Hud

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Great! In the Simurgh story around 100 brids took part but only 30 reached Kohe Qaaf! The fact that you are there for 2 years and others have just started flying down the valley is a recognition of your struggle and resilience. We hope others will join us on the journey.

Keep flying

ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ali said...

Dear Amin Beg sahip
The enticing idea of development has swept away the marginalised people of the so called Third World for the last fifty years since the end of the Second World War Political struggles, economic development policies, and the whole process of nation-building centred around key notions coming from the advanced industrialised countries. However, these policies have done little to uplift the peripheral countries of the global south. These policies which were about the magic and virtues of the free-markets, democracy, freedom of expression and human-rights have produced rather contradictory results for us. We were told, rather lectured that, opening up our economies and encouraging unfettered global capital would solve festering problems of poverty, mass-unemployment, and education. These policy prescriptions maintained that foreign direct investment would herald an era of skills and technology transfer and would ultimately help the economies of the Third World take-off to an era of high industrialisation and mass wealth. However, the reality of conflict, mass-unrest, the environmental catastrophe, soaring prices of food and other basic necessities, defies the wisdom of both the free-markets and its panaceas.
It is also time now to question foreign agendas and concentrate on our own local wisdom and ways of sorting out our own problems. However, it is undeniable that modern technology and production of cutting-edge knowledge takes place in the West but our quest should remain as to how we can replicate conditions that encourage production of knowledge. Rather than becoming consumers of development aid and development policies we should devise our own indigenously rooted methods for solution of our own problems. The holy-grail of development can be only be achieved through a dispassionate study of the history of the rise of the West and their successful modernisation. The history of the West in its origins clearly suggests an environment of great political struggles, epitomised in the great French Revolution. It also tells us about gigantic intellectual struggles on diverse fronts: theology, politics and culture. The Florentine Renaissance was all about challenging established and hardened attitudes and ways of being.
I believe and hope that this policy discussion blog would help chart out the way forward in the discovery of solutions to our own problems. Like the Simurgh, the truth lies within us; it is time only that we need to unravel it from our own hearts.
Best regards
ali al-Hakim

Taj said...

Amin Bahi!

It’s really fascinating and nice to hear about our childhood epic "Simurgh-i-Zarin" It may be difficult for us to fly up to the high mountains, but hope the great stories form mountain flayers will encourage us to flex our wings.

Wish you good luck

Taj Hussain
Lahore

Aafiyat Nazar said...

Amin Bai
Congratulation on the extraordinary initiative: the inception of the blog. Inspiring to engage people in the policy dialogue. The marvelous analogy for different segments of life with the birds is equally unique. Hope our journey to discovery and rediscovery will continue
Aafiyat Nazar

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Welcome Al-Hakim, Taj and Afiyat to this journey.

Al Hakim, I agree with the prognosis of global development theories and practices and its negative implications for the people in the developing economies.

Indeed this was a great contribution from your side to bring upfront the anomalies of global development agenda.

In our discussions on this forum, where we will be specifically focusing on the mountain areas, let me share the general policy prescriptions which are based on the assumptions of mountain specificities: inacessibility, remoteness, small landholdings, centralization of powers and state functions.

So the effects of these specificities, it is said, lead to marginalization, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and food insecurity etc.

The general prescriptions are to invest building communication infrastructure, increase landholdings through land development, diversify agricultural sector,development non-farm sectors, mainly tourism, trade and services and development quality human resources through investments in education and skill development.

And for the last 20 years we have seen enormous increase in investment in the above sectors both by the public sector and the non-profit, non-state sectors in some countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan and now in Afghanistan.

Whether these investments are in the right direction? what other experiences are there in the region? Are these investments actually addressing and mitigating the real problems on ground? What should be our policy focus in coming 5-10 years?

We need to discuss and suggest ways and means to address the real problems.

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

These news flash and comments are pasted here courtesy Pamir Times:

Return of the birds: Simurgh Launched
April 18, 2008

A new blog named “Simurgh” has been launched by Mr Ghulam Amin Beg, a development activist from Gilgit-Baltistan. This is the first ‘policy discussion blog for development practitioners and activists in the mountain regions of Karakoram, Hindukush, western Himalayas, Pamirs, Tien Shan and Kunlun!’

The name is inspired from the legend of thirty birds attributed to the famous Sufi poet Farid ud Din Attar, who is said to have been a member of the ”Ikhwan-al-Safa”, Brethern of Purity, of the twelfth century. The seven valleys that were crossed by the birds of Attar have been replaced by seven other valleys that the modern birds want to cross, in search of not a divine, pristine truth, but learning about the future of the mountain people.

Click on the link below to visit the blog.

http://www.simurgh-simurgh.blogspot.com/


2 Comments Add your own
1. Alyan | April 19, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Well, a praiseworthy attempt but I wonder why couldnt he find words form our own beautiful Wakhi language to define his work. Simurgh is no doubt a cherishing word but it is Persian
not Wakhi.

Likely, why wouldn’t we like to use our own language to call ourselves whatever in this journey of birds.

Confusing indeed, yeh! Why dont I use my very own language to write these comments myself? sO many WHYS!!!

Anyhow…..

LOVE & PRAYERS for all his doings


2. Sher Karim | April 19, 2008 at 10:35 pm

To understand the idea of semurgh one needs to read the story of Simurgh, which is a story of great courage and commitment to explore and learn about the mystries of that time (the Koh-e-Qaaf).

I think persian is not an alian language for us, the Wakhi tajiks, after all persian is the mother of our dialect i.e. Wakhi and more importantly it is the language of the glorious intellectual harritage of Islam and particularly of our faith.

I salute the efforts of Ghulam Amin Beg for this commendable job he is doing and i think this blog will connect people and prove to be a forum where people will learn from each other and come up with fresh ideas and new horizons for our youth.

I would like to make a request to our young fellows please do make comments on the real issues instead of critcising just for the sake of criticism.

I would like Mr/Ms Alyan to come up with an equally suitable wakhi word so that the moderator of the blog is convinced. Moreover, there are so maney social issues our youth is facing and are likely to face in future, there is a real need to start new topics to blog involving youth to give them awareness and guidence.

I think we should take the issue of new challenges for parents in the coming days. I hope and pray that our youth are on the right direction towards achieving their future goals.

Sher Karim
RAWALPINDI

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

I sharing the contribution by ghulam Ali, CEO KADO, which he sent on my email address:

April 20, 2008

Dear Amin Beg,

Well tailored and prudent step and it would be learning adventure, I guess!

With reference to the name itself; is it a religious or ideological loyalty? why not to name it'siadam 30 + (insan)' giving a direct sense of mankind in action rather a metaphorical attribution. It should start with (not necessarily just a suggestion) with an ideology that mankind should seen and believed in the widest but intellectual humility to see the differences and to make these differences as a means to connect with the rest - meaning linking mountain with non mountain people to really endorse universal ethics
of knowing each other.

Your first step is highly commendable! And I say good luck hope we catch the bandwagon soon.

With regards

Ghulam Ali

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Thank you (Ali) for the suggestions and encouragement.

I got your point regarding the name of the blog.

As i tried to explain in the intro on the blog, let me elaborate it further here. Personally, in order for me, to 'indigenize' the development discussion, i wanted/wished to symbolize it to some 'conceptual thinking' that relates to a) mountains/nature b)our philosophy of life- spiritual underpinng c)individual quest d) collective struggles and e)a common
destination-a discovery of self and unity in diversity.

The metaphore of Simurgh, to my understanding, best represents this pluralism. Therefore the choice.

And I'll still like to go with it.
You have the birth right to disagree, and i respect your views and choice!

However, i am very happy and welcome you 'as early bird' to this journey.

Start and keep flying!

Amin Beg

ali said...

Dear Amin Beg sahip

I think that Simurgh is a fairly inspiring name. However, some commentators have questioned the relevance and importance of the name on various grounds. To engage in this process of naming and re-naming the blog is a fruitless endeavour, at best. We, those who live in the inelegantly named region of Giligit-Baltistan must be particularly aware of the dangers of hoping to find the best names. We should move on to tackle real issues head-on, rather than letting ourselves on the slippery slope of putting forward new names. I would further highlight that the owner of the blog has a right to name it as he sees fit. One cannot tell or suggest a poet that he should write this thing or that. I believe that Amin Beg sahip might have been inspired from the idea of Simurgh at one point in his voyage of intellectual and philosophical discovery and hence the name. I would say that we should respect the moderator’s decision, in the interest of moving forward and seeking to realise the intended objectives of the blog.

Your commentator Mr. Ghulam Ali has expressed his misgivings on the idea of Simurgh in a rather deceptively elusive way, when he asks ‘is it a religious or ideological loyalty?’’ He goes on and reluctantly implies as if the idea of Simurgh is a parochial concept rooted in a particular religious tradition. I think Ali sahip has attempted to mis-represent or he has misunderstood Attar’s idea of Simurgh. In this great epic poem Attar wanted to remind, not just the mountain peoples or his Muslim followers, but all the humanity to recover fundamental human values through a ceaseless intellectual struggle. This ‘intellectual’ struggle or the ‘quest’ for discovery is within the individual or within the ‘human-being’. This is neither a manifestly religious idea nor an obscure ideology. This is rather a radically philosophical idea that puts human-beings at the centre of every intellectual enquiry.

As Attar was a mystic and he characteristically rejects the corrosive impact of organised religion on individual human freedom. So in that sense Attar is a not an ordinary type religious person. We can safely isolate the idea of Simurgh from any particular tradition and we can interpret it in universal terms. However, one point must be said and that is that Attar was fundamentally concerned with the discovery of Truth and he unashamedly found that truth in the concept of the Unity of God, expressed as Tauheed in Islam.

While it was important to say something about the idea of Simurgh in the face of various misunderstandings, however Amin Beg sahip himself has tried to make it abundantly clear that the idea itself has to be taken metaphorically in order to discuss and debate issues of immediate concern to us living in our mountain surroundings.

Aejaz Karim said...

As already noted in this blog that it is one’s birth right to choose between agreement and disagreement on a particular point. Here, I must say that in the present circumstances or our country and especially of our region-the land of voiceless masses it is an excellent choice.
Unfortunately, for the last few decades we face a strong wind of sectarian conflict blown in from outside. We also face a harsh weather of voicelessness. We are engulfed by the incessant, gnawing and ad-infinitum storm of bureaucratic and military interests. The so called “strategic importance” of our area has limited our political rights, even left us nameless. Like the flock of birds we face many hurdles, uncountable stumbling blocks, numerous impediments and snags. We might loss our feathers in the harsh weather; we might face heat strokes; we might be detracted by the strong wind. We need keep flying in order to live a dignified life.
On the other hand it is also heartening that we have hope, the greatest weapon to remain alive. If hope is alive nothing will stop us to be the master of our own fate, destiny and future. Furthermore we have knowledge, we are skilled, our civil society structure is strong and above all we are motivated to fly. The participation of local people in the development activities in our part of the world is exemplary for the entire world. Considering this track record of the people of our area it is not difficult to move ahead. In spite of the above listed hurdles our people have made a commendable progress. Amin Bhai has rightly identified the seven valleys: participation, justice, peace, freedom, pluralism, equity and empowerment in order to being able to grasp the challenges of globalization and market forces and to live in harmony with nature and in dignity and honor.
I am also deeply touched by his choice of issues for discussion: ranging from youth and women rights to social and political movements and poverty, climate change and to good governance. It is very important that we must come together and discuss these issues without any hesitation and put forward better solutions. We must share our experiences and knowledge in order to achieve the dream of a progressive, peaceful and prosperous world.
Some people might question the viability and impact of blogging as well. My experience here in the US tells me that it is one of the most powerful tools to influence the decisions of the policy makers. It conveys the true voices and sentiments of the development activists and practitioners to the decision makers. I am sure that the “Simurgh Blog” will educate and guide our policy makers on various development related issues. It will show them the real ground situation: issues, resources, solutions, past experiences, future prospects. It will also suggest them better solutions rooted in modern scholarship, research, professional experiences, theories and practices. It will also strengthen their professional capacity. But the big question mark….? “The prevailing political and institutional systems in our region.” Are they flexible enough to accommodate or even consider any external policy suggestion?
If our answer is YES, it is great. If we have a big NO, even than lets be a part of this voyage….. Let us be one of the 30 birds…… because after flying through the valleys of Love, Knowledge, Detachment, Unification, Bewilderment, Privation and Annihilation they finally reach their goal.
Many many thanks and best wishes...

Aejaz Karim
Washington, DC

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Thank you Al-Hakim and Ejaz for your contributions.

Agreed. We need to start entering the valleys now.

As this blog has just started, I thought in order to let early birds join us, I will post the second posting after 25th April. Others, I hope, may join us on the way.

Amin Beg

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

I have received this comment in my email from Mr. Jan Madad. GM, AKESP North:

Amin --- thanks man. Good initiative and you appear to be up to something very useful!

By the way, the link does not open. Would appreciate your help.

Regards
JM

Jan Madad,

Thank you for your comments. We hope you will fly with us on this journey.

The URL is ok. You may copy and paste it in your internet explorer address field and click 'enter'.

http://www.simurgh-simurgh.blogspot.com/

Cheers

Amin Beg

Zulfiqar said...

The step from Ghulam Amin Beg in true sense is to web a virtual network for the development professionals of High Asia region which will ultimately lead to a paradigm shift in regional development and cross-border cooperation and development concept. I hope development practitioners will actively engage in this platform to develop a practical mechanism for knowledge management and networking among the Karakoram-Himalaya-Hindukush-Pamir, Tien Shan and Kunlun regions.

These mountain regions have more common specificities than that of the lowland areas of the same country. This will also help to put forward innovative ideas about cross-border co-operation and networking to synergise efforts and advocate for the problems of the marginalised mountain communities. The mountain regions are providing vital resources for both mountain and lowland communities, including fresh water, biodiversity, food, forests and minerals. These regions are also the home of diverse culture. However, mountain regions are vulnerable to poverty, food shortages, chronic malnutrition and other problems. The policy decisions influencing the use of mountain resource are generally made in centres of power far from mountain communities, which are often politically marginalized and receive inadequate compensation for mountain resources, services and products. Climate change, natural hazards and other forces also threaten the complex webs of life that mountains support.

We have models and lessons from Alpine Europe where the mountain communities of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Monaco are synergising efforts based on Alpine conventions signed during 1991.
Like the story of Simurgh and the practical experiences from the mountains of developed countries we can also join hands to work for a prosperous, safe, healthy and developed future in mountain regions.
“”The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step””

hassanbalti said...

Dear Amin Baig

Thanks for the initiaitve. I,ll appreciate if you could identify a spacific topic for our focused discussion. As a moderator you have the proregative. hassanbalti

Jalal said...

Dear Amin Bhai

First of all, let me take the opportunity, to have hats off salute to your effort providing an opportunity to the birds being on disintegrated routs of travel….in the valleys….

I am expecting a productive and lively discussion …however I humbly suggest that if you take the lead the discussions by structuring themes around the seven valleys you mentioned so that every one will contribute precisely on the theme…

I have circulated the web link here to all people I know in AKDN Tajikistan and outside AKDN so that we will have some contribution from Pamirs as well….therefore I’d like to add to my earlier suggestion that…the thematic coverage should be more on a regional perceptive ….

Many thanks ……I am there a small bird with you if you take me along!!!
Jalal

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Dear Zulfiqar, Hasan and Jalal,

Thank you for your contributions and joing us on this voyage.

Zulfiqar has rightly provided the mountain context and perspective.

I agree with Hasan and Jalal to to start the thematic discussion. I understand the enthusiasm and the time factor.

As I posted earlier, I will start the second posting after 25th April, as I wanted to give time to 'early birds' to join us, before we start flying.

Warm up, and we are on the move!

Amin Beg

Parveen Roy said...

Congratulation for such an inspirational initiative, I am here to join hands with the explorers with a hope that the voyage of this living mosaic takes a different discourse, where the differences or not so invisible hands of class, gender, ethnicity, race, age etc. are not only taken into account and celebrated but also used to foster and encourage the development of the persons or group concerned.
The broader issues such as hope, peace, prosperity, opportunity, equity and dignity have always been and will continue to be multi-dimensional; they should be confronted also from a multi-dimensional perspective that may be able to deal with the complexity of the phenomena for which solutions are sought.

Safe journey,

Parveen

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Thank you Parveen Roy.

Welcome to Simurgh! Your points are well taken.

Rest assured the blog is 'inclusive' and will try its best to promote unity in diversity and respect and support 'aristocrats of merit' having NO visible or invisible interest in 'excluding' any segement of mountain society based on any descriminatory notions.

Thanks for joining the journey

Amin Beg

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Please see below the comments posted by Didar Ali Hunza carpet. Here you will see a perspective of the private sector on social issues!
Regds
Amin Beg

Hello Amin,

It is always like a cool fresh breeze (which awakes the sleepy brains) to hear from you. Very interesting and I am sure many fine brains will contribute at this platform for various discussions, and I wish you and all the birds in this journey a pleasant flight and favorable winds……huuuoooo In short what I understood end of the day what you would like to achieve out of this discussion and its implementation is to create a safe and a pleasant society (heaven) in the mountain regions of Central and South Asia, even during the coldest harsh winters……..for all living souls.

My only concern is our education and health besides many other issues in mountain areas does not seem in favor of greater masses of the population. Our focus is only on few schools and institutions in towns, while most of the community children who are in government schools, SAP schools or regular DJ or private schools and many even out of schools. If sooner the attention is not given to all these schools, health centers and hospitals, a whole generation of youth will grow up with little prospect, and strength for the future. Few people with sharp minds and strong bones will not be able to do any good for these regions, and they will move to cities to try their mussels and brains, and the mountains areas will be lefts for Murghs, Mousses and Mammals….mmm…. Health issues are even grimmer and in future it will not be any better if proper attention is not given, this will also force many people who can afford, just migrate.

I think this will be a true and same story for many other mountainous regions of Central Asia at present or in coming near future. If you are really dreaming a mountain society ..that our communities should not be only users of the modern technology in the future rather creature of knowledge and makers of the modern technology and also live with dignity and pride. Then we have to first give proper attention to education and health of the masses of population living in the mountain regions. Without proper schools with fresh and competent teachers and tools no professional will stay either in mountain regions or villages and town they will move to cities and your mountain regions will be hunting grounds of Mughs, Mammals, and Minerals, for strong outsiders. Or even verse cases are tribal areas……and places with rich oil resources, where there is not enough and appropriate education to manage their resources and opportunities.

In contrary to above situation, if government, and public representatives, NGOs in Education and Health sector, move out of their, seats and face the people and their issues rather than facing fancy laptop screens, portraits of Qaid-e-Azam and wait for pay check and funds to pocket, then there is a possibility that you can create your paradise in any mountain region, and just follow some model countries, having similarities of being mountainous and having harsh climate, multi ethnic groups, etc, etc.

For sure we are living in one of the most challenging mountain regions on earth, but we are not only community living in the mountain regions in the world. Now coming to the point, how we can create a real practical humanly possible healthy society…. in these mountains to live a moderate and reasonably happy life, which should be economically, socio politically and spiritually balanced and also compatible at the same time with rest of the larger societies.

Before you embark on this long and ambitious journey along with your sharp wing birds to find out or carve your ideal paradise between the rocky mountains of central Asia, what I would suggest is visit Switzerland and Finland or some of the cold Scandinavian countries on your own or with a team of deferent experts, from education, health, politics, technology, culture and environment. The reason is you will see what are the possibilities and limitations, to carve out such a paradise in these mountain regions with harsh climatic conditions.

You will be able to see all that what you would like to create is already actually in action in some of the harshest climatic regions and mountainous areas. How they manage multi ethnic groups and govern them successfully. What kind of appropriate modern technologies we should teach, adapt and develop for the future for people living in the mountain areas to create jobs, what would be the fate of agriculture. How we can participate in global trade, while living in these mountain areas, tourism, potentials. And also to learn how to survive between the wild cultural and economic bulls in your surroundings and do not lose your economic, cultural and social identity.

Wishing you all the best

Didar

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

See the posting by Sultan Mehmood:

Dear Amin Saheb,

Please accept our gratitudes and heartiest congratulations for your innovative initiatives and a real "aristocratic approach" such as this one. Please remember that we have been noticing your dynamic personal and professional capabilities over past more than a decade, starting from Students' representation to professionals' representation.
Keep the good work up !! Selection of the name of blog is lovely "SIMURGH" as it has a cultural, traditional and environmental touch.

By the way, May I suggest you to consider covering the following two areas too:

8. The Valley of Equality...............as there is a slight difference among equity and equlity while we need to maintain both at pertinent times.
9. The Valley of Purity/Free of Polutions............... (or you may rename it with whatever name suits you).

I look forward to having all our other professionals - friends, brothers and sisters actively participate in this blog.

With warmest regards,

Sultan Mehmood
(United Nations)
AJK

Amir Hussain Nihal said...

Dear GAB
This is commendable and I am impressed to see your continuing efforts to effect positive change in mountain areas.
You have done a pulse-quickening job because there is general feeing among development practitioners to start a policy discussion for their professional development with positive social externality.
I think the epic-making journey of "Simurgh" into seven valleys should culminate at a confluence point so that the seven cross-cutting themes associated to each valley give a holistic framework for thought and action. I hope continued discussion will help synthesize these themes into a comprehensive policy framework.
Keep the flag of consciousness flying. I pledge my input in policy debate
Regards
Aamir Hussain Nihal

Amir Hussain Nihal said...

Dear GAB
I dedicate this famous couplet from Shahnameh of Ferdowsi(the Persian Poet) to you

"I shall not die, these seeds [of discourse] I've sown will save
My name and reputation from the grave,"

"And men of sense and wisdom will proclaim,
When I have gone, my praises and my fame"

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Thank you Didar and Amir for your contributions and joining the adventure!

i look forward to your views and contributions to the last posting and questions in the Valley of participation

Cheers

Amin Beg

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Here is an email post by Bridg HI, Hisamullah Baig:

In this journey I would request you to give comments/publicity on the
proposal for review of policy on mineral leases and advocacy with NALA
members for the same. Arguments:
Middle eastern countries ensure interest of their citizens through
ensuring
that 51% share of any business in their countries has to be given to
the
indigenous people even if 100% investment is done by outsiders.
Congo and many other African countries are living examples of how western leasees treat indigenous citizens.

I will share the documentation if it has notreached you.

With best wishes.

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

See the comments posted by Fazal Amin Beg from AJK through email:

Hi!

Before leaving my comments on the Simurgh blog, I would like to congratulate you for your noble initiative to unify the mountain communities around their commonalities; and using these commonalities being human, as a tool for the holistic development. This initiative is without doubt, all-encompassing in its nature and scope.

I was very delighted to go through the nice and productive comments made by variety of human-birds discussing about the issues and challenges confronting the marginalized mountain communities. This blog would, undoubtedly, contribute to towards solutions to those issues and challenges embedded mostly embedded in the policies of the respective governments.

Although, Kuhimir (Karakoram, Himayala, Hindukush & Pamir)—a proposed name for the Northern Areas of Pakistan by me—had also same nature of vision, for the development of the mountain communities, but Simurgh has its broader vision in this regard, which also includes the Tien Shan and Kunlun mountains and the mountain societies as well.

Some human-birds have rightly mentioned to focus our attention on the genuine issues and challenges that encounter and confront the mountain communities. Some of them have even mentioned some issues in random order.

We need not to take the intensive approach rather we ought to take the the comprehensive approach in dealing with the issues and prolems. We need to further stimulate and diffuse the ideas and share experiences from different perspectives among the human-birds and let’s wait other birds to come in too join this flight.

The second step, I would suggest to list down those mountains of issues and challenges.

Thirdly, after an analysis, categorize those issues/challenges according to the cited valleys in the mountains.

Fourth, step by step (valley by valley), the issues & challenges, raised by the human-birds themselves, should be shared with them for discussions to trace the causes of the issues and challenges.

Fifth, by addressing the causes, especially the root causes, we need to look into the solutions (suggestions & recommendations) of the raised issues and challenges.


Sixth, we need to honestly (objectively) come up in foreseeing opportunities and threats/risks in result of those recommendations/suggestions. This much humble suggestions, I think, are sufficient for the time being. Further comments would come up in the later phase.

Thanks again for providing this nice opportunity to discuss and share the our academic and pragmatic experiences together through this forum.

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Thank you Brigd Hisam for your contribution and highlighting a very important right issue.

I know you have sent letters to high officials of Pakistan and the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly to do local legislation to transfer all leases to local communities as this is their human and indigenous right under UN charter.

We will give space and priority to all rights issues and try to analyse and understand the policy anomalies related to it.

I wonder if others could share what are the experiences in the region in central Asia, Afghanistan and China. Though I understand due to the centralized form of governments, most of the natural resources are controlled by the governments. However it will be good to listen to some of the experiences from the region or other regions in Alps and south Asia?

Amin Beg

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Thank you Fazal for your contributions.
Your opening comments are valid and we appreciate your approach to start from the appraisal of the existing situation and enter the future.

In our second posting on entering the valleys, we have extactly done that by introducing the topic and posing some key questions for our contributors to comments and share their views through a process.


Amin Beg

Ghulam Amin Beg, Moderator said...

Posted below is a contribution by Jalal from AKDN MERP AJK Pakistan:

Dear Amin Bhai,

Let me congratulate you on this initiative. All the valleys are fabulous and fantastic but make sure if any valley may not be left out of sight for some high soaring birds. But we are sure alluring brains when join together on this unique forum we can make our way ahead for a better future and future which is always being dreamed for.

the current geo-political situation in the region and subsequent socio-economic crisis in the country portrays even a more grimmer situation especially for resource poor regions like ours. it is feared that the sky-rocketing prices and uncontrolled increasing inflation may not end up into a great recession. Looking back to our history we made a tiresome long journey from agrarian to knowledge based economy (salaried). a scary situation comes in our minds if this inflation keep on increasing, what we foresee is, the money you get in the form of salary will be valuing no more than just a piece of paper. than what would happened, we may not be able to survive with our dwindling purchase power, where we are totally dependant on other regions for food and other edible items.

What I would suggest is to refocus our attention and resources to develop agriculture sector in Northern Areas. more than half of the arable land in NAs is lying barren which can be brought under cultivation if given proper attention and resources. The productivity may be increased through inculcating new techniques and methods. (wheat production in NAS per hector is 1.5 tons in down country 6 tons while UN standard production is 12 tones.).

I hope launching of this forum may pool up plethora of good ideas which may help to strategize our priorities. I would also like to suggest that there should be a forum of development practioners on board who would play an advisory role to our NALC. I hope going through all the valleys will culminate into a comprehensive policy frame work in conformity with the needs and resources of NAs and to be shared with NACL. (a pathway down the road)

regards,
Jalal
AKDN-MERP

Aziz Ali Dad said...

Dear Amin Baig,
Your efforts in establishing a discussion forum is commendable as it will bring people with heterogenious experience and knowledge, like diverse birds in Atar's Mantiq-ur-Tir, under a platform where expereince of each person will contribute to the making of whole. it will pave the way to achieve holistic picture of development in the particular context of Northern Areas. In the contemporary age of postmodernity it is very important to have knowledge of global discourses that tend to eliminate local knowledge and bring about uniformity across the world. this process is expedited by the process of globalisation which creates identity crises and coerces people to return to roots in the shape of either fundamentalism of religion of reactive nationalism. the repurcussions of indentity crises menifest in different shapes and the valleys you have mentioned in the introduction of this blog. we need to be intellectually nuance enough to diagnose ailments that plague our culture and society. you discussion blog is a great contribution is bringing forth underlying currents and contradication operating in our society. Wish you all the best for your endeavours.

Aziz Ali Dad

Noor said...

I have been visiting the blog, on and off.

I was a bit disappointed because of the stoppage of postings on this blog.

It had been giving important learning opportunity for all of us.

Regards

Noor

Jalaluddin said...

Dear Amin Bhai,

I hope you are keeping well. There is a drop silence on this blog. I have shared the initiatives of Pamir Times, and this blog with AKDN Afghanistan Communication head. They are exploring more on how to access and provide access to information on "Rectangle of Concern' the mountain region ....I'll share more in the near future on this
best
Jalal

Rahim Xon said...

Wonderful idea to go ahead, thank you Amin for this initiative. I am afraid, if all birds flew and I left alone. But I will try my best to chase you all who are ahead of me but it will take time.

With Regards

Rahim Khan

Anonymous said...

hello


great forum lots of lovely people just what i need


hopefully this is just what im looking for, looks like i have a lot to read.