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Kohistani History Essay

To reach Thull, a Kohistani community that is found in the mountains near the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, you have to make a hazarding trip on an endless dirt road that is unattainable in bad weather. The Kohistani are inherently a violent people who strongly believe in vengeance and had most of their fighting take place between descent groups. For the most part conflict was handled by local leaders, and there was usually no fatal accident due to a lack of fatal weapons. The lack of guns was due to the lack of roads that limited economic development, which limited the amount of money a person could amass. However, when Pakistan took charge in 1965, a number of social and economic developments took place. The roads that were installed made it possible for Thull to be linked to other parts of Pakistan. Included with the overwhelming amount of changes that followed, Kohistani violence evolved due to the outside impression that all started because of the roads.

By the way that Kohistani violence and other facets of their culture changed when the roads were introduced, it shows how interconnected everything is. The introduction of the road demonstrated how culture is integrated by the way it altered subsistence strategies, increased violence, and brought innovative ideas to religion. Before the road, subsistence in Thull solely depended on alpine herding and agriculture. Since importing fertilizer was now possible, Thull shifted its system to one weighing in the cultivation of potatoes, a cash crop that brought about several changes. The amount of men who participated in herding drastically decreased after the road was built due to the fact that herding was no longer the main source of income. With less land being used for herding, farmers were able to convert the property into more profitable potato fields. With the diminishing activity in herding, crosscutting ties became weakened as well. Even though the system for apportioning pastures remained the same, preserving a positive relationship with herding units became unimportant since nobody was herding anymore.

With crosscutting ties losing their effectiveness in sustaining peaceful relations, death enmity started to thrive. With the emerge of roads, the subsistence strategy of the Kohistani people changed, and with that incorporated more violence into their culture as well. This is a good example demonstrating how culture is integrated by the way that a street can alter other aspects of the Kohistani culture like its subsistence strategy, which in turn affects violence in the Thull. In addition, not only did the emergence of roads bring a change to subsistence practices in Kohistani culture, but also brought a change to the economic system as well. This change was based on cultivating potatoes as a cash crop tied with an amplified quantity of fields that brought a significant influx of money into the community. Additionally, money in the community continued to build even more with the extensive timber exploitation that was occurring, which was the foremost motive of the Pakistan government to build the road.

With timber contractors hiring local Kohistani people as wage laborers, also brought about paid royalties on the timber, which brought even more cash to the community. This all seems like it benefits the Kohistani community in a positive way, but that isn’t the case. The deforestation that takes place is harming their environment greatly and affecting the fertile land around it, and with an increase in wealth, members of the community can purchase firearms. Prior to the construction of the road, conflict usually never ended in fatalities due to insufficient weaponry, but with everyone being able to buy rifles now that trend wasn’t likely to continue. Buying guns was almost too easy now and men acting on their honor and justifiable faith used them on their counterparts. The emergence of the road indirectly made it possible to violence to flourish in the Kohistani community. This is just another example of how culture is integrated, showing how this one road strengthened the violence of a people and harmed their environment.

The change in cultural values was a crucial factor in establishing organized violence in the community. With a bus service ready to take people to the outside world, Thull’s religious leaders went out and learned from scholars and teachers about the center of Islamic teachings. These leaders then brought back these new concepts regarding honor and opinions toward women. These new concepts caused a wave of death enmity that they felt was justified by the new ideas regarding Islamic faith. This has continued through the years and revenge has become fundamental to a Muslim man’s identity and self-respect as well. They now see it as personal integrity is vital to Islamic faith and that taking vengeance is a stern religious requirement. This together creates an environment that basically supports the act of vengeance. The road let people get a taste of what the outside world was like.

The isolated Kohistani culture became tampered with by new discoveries. Again, we can see how culture is integrated here by the way the road indirectly revised the Kohistani religious values, and caused their violent ways to grow. The inhabitants in the Kohistani community had their lives changed due to political modernization. The transition from their subsistence strategy to an economic system focused on a cash-crop and timber really changed their identity and brought prosperity. This prosperity enabled people to purchase weapons that could do serious harm to others, making conflict a fatal concept in the community. Their religion was changed as well; having it injected with ideas that taking revenge is crucial to a man’s self-respect and basically demanding them to act out violently. All of these factors together encouraged a hostile environment that insisted on organized vengeance. With one road that connected Thull to outside world, Kohistani culture was changed drastically. The Kohistani were a great example to show how culture is integrated, because just one road affected so many facets of their everyday life.


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