The Donkeys Grave site in 1962- Photo © CER 2019
What confusion reigns over the skies in this area, darkness prevails in previously lit areas. Disturbing to see no strong pure light from any house on land, but then a cold wave breeze lifted the pall and I found what I sought…flew down straight…what war clouds prevail? what vibes of murder rise from hateful intentions, what peace measures offered from controlling wise ones…unacceptable yet, futile decisions…
so relieved to hear you – war never seems to leave us,Our Master so Merciful and Forgiving has blessed us with all the guidance but still mankind wavers in actions…intentions leading to self destruction-and attempts were made to attack sacred places, not realizing that all parts of this land from North to South and from East to West is protected and guarded well…
Understandable as is known from centuries, one special day of The Great Ending will come.I see blood flowing in the Northern corner ,young and fresh blood.It flowed centuries ago and continues, for truth and justice…enemies will exist till the last day…Kashmir and Kashmiris sacrificing …people dying…
People were demanding freedom from the colonialists, and now Kashmir is demanding freedom from the Hindus. In that turbulent time thousands lost their lives in the communal conflict that followed, and the Muslim majority area of Jammu and Kashmir was taken over by the Indian Army. To this date,entering the fourth generation Kashmir is still fighting for their freedom, with thousands martyred, women widowed raped and youth and children killed or missing …Pakistan has kept the issue alive but India claims Kashmir as its own land so no question of freedom…
Pakistan is again,very much in the news these days. The stark reason being war and more threats of a more disastrous war. Ever since I opened my eyes I have found myself in and around a state of war. 1949 onwards though the World War had ended, this area saw war in 1965 and again in 1971…and now again we are facing aggression intrusion and violation of International boundaries by our neighbor …and the area that was the focus of enemy jets has a strange story of its own…
Oh that must be true history,this is a valley of faith saints and mystics who spent their lives in devotion meditation and preaching…
Yes I have been thinking on a related story ever since it was revealed that enemy jets wanted to destroy that particular area. Actually the majority of citizens in this region are faithful believers …one finds them all over.While writing my memoirs of Abbottabad I had looked up references and Lo ‘The Story of The Dutiful Donkey’ came up with details. Everyone traveling in the area knows the place. Before the new road was built it was quite a natural picnic spot, father loved to spend time by the small stream, have food and a hot cup of Samavar Tea and relax for a while away from the Cantonment.
Story of ‘Khota Qabar-The Dutiful Donkey https://wondersofpakistan.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/khota-qabar-the-story-of-a-lost-battle/
‘Khota Qabar lies on the Karakoram Highway, about 60 miles North of Islamabad and 7 miles short of Abbottabad. It is precisely where the road starts climbing into the mountains of Mansehra and beyond, into the picturesque Kaghan valley and the Northern Areas. It as a place where truck drivers coming up from the planes stopped to let their engines cool down, and to top up the radiators with cold water from a nearby stream, to ready their vehicles for the climb ahead. Because of the presence of trucks, several small one hut’ restaurants have sprouted at the spot and are doing a brisk business.
The story begins, of all the places, in Rai Breli, a town in present day Uttar Pardesh, India and ends in the mountains of Balakot, a town in the far north of Pakistan.
It is the story of Syed Ahmed born in Rai Breli in 1786, a deeply religious man. His life mission was to usher in, once again, the glorious Islamic past. He wanted to establish an Islamic state on the pattern of the early Caliphate, first in the subcontinent and then, possibly, in the rest of the world. To achieve this he decided to wage a war against the infidels who ruled the Indo Pak subcontinent then. Thus, he became one of the earliest, if not the first, native Islamic fighter of the subcontinent.
This was the time when the Mughal rule in India had virtually ceased to exist. The Mughal Empire stretched barely beyond the present city of Delhi. The dominant powers of the time were the British Empire, represented by the East India Company, which controlled most of the Northern India, the Marhatta Empire to the south, the Sikh Empire in the north-west and Kashmir, and hundreds of minor kings, Maharajas and Nawabs in various parts of the land.
Syed Ahmed understood that it was not possible to fight the British. They were better organized, better equipped and in firm control of most of the northern India. He, therefore, decided to emigrate to what is today the NWFP in Pakistan and wage a war from there. With total faith in his mission and trust in God, Syed Ahmed and his devotees left their homes and families (Syed Sahib left behind his two wives) and embarked on a difficult and circuitous journey to Peshawar, via Sindh, Quetta, Qandhar and Kabul. Among his companions was also Shah Ismail, a grandson of Shah Waliullah of Delhi.
Obviously, Syed Sahib believed in and greatly relied upon divine help and miracles.
Hari Singh was the governor of Kashmir and NWFP at the time, representing Maharaja Ranjit Singh who sat in Lahore. He was a clever and ruthless administrator. His forces under the command of Sher Singh lay in wait at Muzaffarabad., now Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Some of his contingents had already moved to occupy the hilltop, known as Mitti Kot, overlooking the town of Balakot. On their way to Balakot to fight the Sikhs, Syed Ahmed and Shah Ismail, who had come all the way from Breli, India, to wage war and liberate the area, had camped where Abbottabad is today. This was in 1831.
The Sikhs, in order to choke enemy’s supply lines, posted troops on the hills overlooking the road that led through the gorge.
Even though the donkey has, for some reason, become a metaphor of stupidity in our part of the world, it is not stupid at all .
In fact, it has a good memory and uses it very intelligently. One of the unique traits of the donkey is that once he carries a load to a destination, he memorizes the route and does not need the help of a handler to be able to go back to the same place. Just a light kick in the back sends him trudging quietly to his destination. So, unknown to the Sikhs, this dutiful donkey trudged back and forth in the darkness of night carrying supplies to the Muslim fighters.
Syed Sahib expected the Sikhs to come down from their perch at Mitti Kot and attack them. He, therefore, had the paddy fields, between the town and the hills, flooded with water, hoping that the advancing soldiers would get mired in them and they could then pick them up like sitting ducks literally. But the Sikhs had their own plans. They did not move and waited instead for the Muslims to make the first move.
The Muslims obliged. On May 6, 1831. It was a Friday. A bizarre incident occurred that morning, which precipitated the battle. While the Muslims were still having breakfast and, at the same time, keeping a wary eye on the movement of the enemy at Mitti Kot, one of them, Syed Chiragh Ali from Patiala, suddenly expressed a desire to eat kheer (rice pudding).Since kheer was not on the menu that morning, Chiragh Ali fetched the necessary wherewithal and set about preparing kheer for himself. (It sounds bizarre reading about it, but people are known to do strange things in stressful conditions.)
While Chiragh Ali was stirring the pot and nervously looking at the Sikhs on the hilltop, something came over him and he shouted, ‘There, I see a beautiful hoor (houri) dressed in red. She is calling me! He threw away the ladle with which he was stirring the pot, and declared that he would eat only from the hands of the hoor. With this announcement he charged headlong towards the hill. It all happened so suddenly that before anyone could realize what was happening, Chiragh Ali was in the middle of the paddy fields, struggling to run in the mud.
The Sikhs who must have been watching the scene with some amusement picked him in the sights of their rifles and shot him dead — in the mud. According to the narrative, Syed Chiragh Ali was the first martyr of the battle of Balakot.
What followed the shooting was total chaos and confusion. Syed Sahib, abandoning his earlier battle plan, ordered his men to attack. About the donkey…well, when the Sikhs found out who the secret courier was. They shot him dead one night when he was carrying a load of goods through the gorge. The mujahideen mourned the loss of the donkey and honored him by burying him respectfully in a grave. The place came to be called as Khota Qabar. The grave may not have survived but the name did.
Oh well, do animals have spirits? Perhaps the donkeys spirit roams all over Abbottabad seeking peace and justice? Some sounds coming during the night do resemble those of a ‘bray’ a short one not too long and pulled so loudly..Ah, the donkey is painful inside no wonder he brays in that manner…may Allah put the animal to peace amen.The name lives after, er..ever after…a place honored for him.
Animals may prove wiser than mankind ,perhaps if they were to rule the planet, there would be peace all over.
Wishful thinking ….