First Kalash member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly makes headlines

PTI MPA Wazirzada represents a community that claims to be descendants of Alexander The Grea

Islamabad: The Kalash population is fast shrinking due to conversion to Islam. Their estimated population is around 4,000 and different religious schools of thoughts have established seminaries in the Kalash-populated valleys. According to various NGOs and groups that have researched on this population, their conversion to Islam is due to various factors like discrimination in the name of religion by the dominant Muslim populations, insecurity and above all poor living conditions.

Wazirzada is the first Kalash-descent Member of Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) who took oath of his office on Monday and became the first-ever Kalash MPA of KP Assembly. He represents the country’s smallest ethno-religious community that lives in the remotely located stretches of Hindukush Mountain. With his election as MPA, he is now representative of other religious minorities too.

As the legend goes, Kalash people trace their lineage to Alexander the Great, whose army conquered Hindukush region around 2,000 years ago. Another belief is they are the indigenous people, sons of the soil for centuries.

Wazirzada belongs to Rumbur valley, one of the three valleys where the remaining Kalash community exists. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) didn’t shortlist him first and had gone for another person from the area, Ravi Kumar, who also was elected MPA on reserved seats.

While talking to media, Wazirzada said he was working for a local Non-Government Organisation (NGO) that paid him a salary of Rs7,000 monthly.

However, he only got paid whenever the NGO received funds, said Wazir, adding that his family included seven brothers and four sisters.

He graduated from the University of Peshawar (UoP) in 2006. He later did his Master’s in Political Science and was now working for awareness of people on a number of civic and political issues.

On the inaugural day of the KP Assembly, Wazirzada was the focus of everyone’s attention when he arrived for oath-taking looking unique with green and red feathers in his Chitrali Pakol cap, which featured the PTI colours.

Before becoming MPA, he worked for his organisation for several years. Various NGOs have spent Rs300 million on different community projects, including health and education, in three valleys dominated by Kalash people.

“It was during the PTI tenure that our region got a high school and primary school for girls and other works for the welfare of community,” he said. The previous government worked well in Kalash, he said adding that now he will extend that network and take every step in consultation and with consensus of all religious minorities.

He said that 50 per cent of the children of Hindus and Christian communities were out-of-schools due to lack of various facilities.

He wants to provide his people access to basic amenities of life and work for their education, health and housing facilities, “I also take upon myself the responsibility of bringing harmony to all religious minorities and shall work for harmony between Muslims and minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.


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