KPK History / Pakistan

Political Organization of Duber & Kandia, Indus Kohistan, 1954

Duber – Kandia: There is a clear difference between the east and west dialect areas in their formal political organization – compared to Patan, the western area is more segmented and autocratic. In the words of a highly travelled mullah, our companion for several days across the Patan-Kandia pass: In Patan everyone is equal; here in Kandia, Subhidar Sahib is the leader of the whole valley. The crux of the difference lies in the greater emphasis given to descent and seniority in the Duber-Kandia area. The son of a leader should, unless he proves himself unable to wield the authority, succeed his father to leadership; and the senior son is regarded as the proper successor. In every lineage on every level of segmentation, a senior line will thus split off and he vested with a particular position of authority, and a hierarchy of leaders is produced, each claiming authority over larger and more inclusive descent groups. However, lacking in any sacred sanctions or political machinery to maintain his position, the area controlled by any leader is limited in practice by factional activity. Thus the theory of senior line autocracy can only be realized in part, and is complimented and modified by the institutionalization of councils. All the men of ‘moderate’ seniority in Duber thus meet in a common council of ideally 20 members, which has the power to make decisions. The members are thus not elected and delegated; they refer to qualifications of descent and seniority, and thus recognize differences in status between themselves. Only persons who own land sit in the council. While the councils of Patan are colleges of equals, speaking for groups, the councils of the Duber-Kandia area councils of the elite, speaking for themselves, and their followers. Considering the role of these councils in allotting land to lineage segments and individuals, it is only to be expected that the emphasis on senior lines is correlated with considerable differences in wealth. Thus, the senior leader of the Mullah Khel in Duber has 10 tenants, while the richest members of the Patan community have land for no more than 34 tenants.

Members of the central council are called zetan. The council has no fixed meeting-place, though a conveniently located mosque is frequently chosen.

Reference (Source of Information):

Fredrik Barth, Indus and Swat Kohistan, An Anthropological Survey, STUDIES, HONOURING THE CENTENNIAL OF UNIVERSITETETS, ETNOGRAFISKE MUSEUM, OLSO, 1857-1957, VOLUME II, 37-38

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