Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Words

I got back to Camp Spann the two nights ago. It was so nice to sleep in my own B Hut and cot. It is good to be back.

Today let's examine two words used widely in the discussions of Afghanistan. My Interpreter enlightened me as to their meaning.

Hazara هزاره

The word in Dari for 1000 is hazaar. When the Mongols brutally invaded Afghanistan in the Middle Ages timeframe, a subset of these warriors chose to settle in the central mountainous part of Afghanistan. The Khan reportedly allowed it, as long as they settled in groups of 1000, as it was the standard number for a Mongol military unit. Like many names of ethnic peoples, it is not a name they chose for themselves, but rather were given by those around them. They are a predominantly Shia Muslim people in a Sunni country. Thus you can see there are several reasons why the other ethnic groups: Pashtu, Tajik and Uzbek have long seated traditional dislike for the Hazara.

Pakistan پاکِستان

We are all aware that Pakistan is the country south of Afghanistan. It was formed as a muslim state during the fractured Independence of Colonial India from the UK. The Dari and Urdu work for clean is Pok. Pokistan, then is the country of the 'clean' people. I doubt the founders meant clean as in the physical sense, since that is almost impossible in this part of the world I fear. They chose the name to separate themselves as the spiritually clean (muslim) population. It is an interesting choice of words.

I must say for all the books I have read on the region, this type of education on the root meaning of words and names only comes from learning from the people of this country directly.

1 comment:

  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/30/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.