Hunza News


Share This Post


Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan (d. 1864), the ruler of Hunza State in the northern area of Pakistan, was succeeded by his son, Mir Muhammad Ghazan Khan I, whose successor Mir Safdar Ali Khan had taken refuge in Shagnan during the British invasion in 1891. The British commissioned his half-brother, Mir Muhammad Nazim Khan as the ruler of Hunza. Mir Muhammad Ghazan Khan II and then Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan followed him.

The entire area including Gilgit, Hunza and Baltistan was known as the Gilgit Agency till October, 1947. Sandwiched between the high peaks of Hindukush and Karakorum on the north and those of western Himalaya on the south, is now called as the Northern Areas of Pakistan, which should also be called the Trans-Himalaya Districts of Pakistan, covering an expanse of about 27,188 square miles, thickly populated by the Ismailis.

Major General, Hilal-e-Pakistan, Hilal-e-Juraet, Ghazi-e-Millat, the President and Personal Representative of the Imam in Central Asia, Muhammad Jamal Khan was the prominent Ismaili ruler of an enchanting valley of Hunza, situated in the remotest northern corner of Pakistan bordering with China and Russia. The high fascinating mountains surround the valley.

Muhammad Jamal, the ruler or the Mir of Hunza was born on September 23, 1912. He was educated in Gilgit and mostly at home and succeeded his father, Mir Ghazanfar Khan, C.B.E. in April, 1945 at the age of 33 years. His grandfather, Sir Mir Muhammad Nazim Khan. K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E., who ruled in Hunza for 79 years, was a prolific writer and wrote the history of Hunza. It was in his days that Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of British India, visited Hunza and described it as “the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur.”

In 1947, he visited Kashmir to convince the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to join the dominion of Pakistan. In October, 1947, he and his Ismaili subjects of Hunza state declared their accession to Pakistan and rendered meritorious services in the struggle of the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir, and crowned with the title of  Ghazi-e-Millat.

In 1951, the Imam formed 64 local councils in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, and the Mir of Hunza executed as the President of H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan Ismailia Supreme Council for Hunza State, Gilgit Agency, Chitral State and Central Asia and also acted as the Personal Representative of the Imam in Central Asia.

The Italian Government awarded him the “Order of the Grand Official” for his valuable help to the Italian mountaineering expedition to K-2 peak in 1962. This award was meant for persons assisting the Italian Government in cultural field.

In recognition of his yeoman services to his people, Mir Jamal Khan was also awarded high civil and military titles, viz. Hilal-e-Pakistan and Hilal-e-Juraet by the President of Pakistan.  In December, 1964, the Government of Pakistan promoted him to the rank of Honorary Major General.

It is to be noted that the Ismailis from 20 countries gathered at Aswan to pay their last tribute to the 48th Imam, whose official resting of body was to take place in a mausoleum on Friday, February 20, 1959. There was a distance of 1600 feet between the Imam’s bungalow, called Nur al-Salam and the mausoleum on a hill. According to the expressed will of the 48th Imam, the bier was lifted from the front left side by Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Sadruddin on front right side. Prince Amyn Muhammad was on back side from left and Mir of Hunza on back from right side. It was lifted and carried from Nur al-Salam to the mausoleum in 45 minutes.

The Ismailis of Gilgit and Hunza were submerged in the ocean of immense mirth and joy when they had seen Hazar Imam for first time in their territory on October, 1960. During the grand darbar held on October 24, 1960 at the Polo Ground of Baltit in Hunza, the Mir of Hunza presented a welcome address and said that, “Mawlana Hazar Imam is the first Ismaili Imam, who visited Hunza.”

He also was invited in Paris with his wife to attend the marriage ceremony of the Imam with Begum Salimah on October 28, 1969. Soon after the ceremony, he and his wife showered down 49 pearls at the feet of the Imam in reverence.

In May, 1973, he represented a delegation of 12 members from Hunza, Gilgit and Chitral and had an audience with the Imam in Paris. They held discussion with the Imam on the socio-economic development programmes for the jamats. It was a historic occasion for the Ismailis of northern area of Pakistan, as no such delegation ever travelled abroad and was first ever international conference.

The Mir of Hunza lived in a newly built modern styled two-storied palatial castle, known as the “Jamal Palace” situated on a 8000 ft. high mountain peak in the village of Karimabad, the state capital. The Jamal Palace overlooks the whole of settled valley for several miles in each direction. The Palace is built and furnished in a European style, but is embellished with an assortment of oriental carpets, ornaments and paintings. There are life-size portraits of previous rulers on the walls of the lounge, and remarkably enough, a piano stands in the Palace. The Mir proposed to make a small museum in the castle and to house the big collection of old arms and munitions, manuscripts and photographs.

Mir Jamal Khan was extremely hospitable. He entertained his guests with the music of a band and male dancers. The band, consisted of a tudak (flute), sutar (banjo) and drums, beat out a penetrating rhythm, which seemed to fit so well into the mountain setting. The ensuing performances in the castle ground were watched  from comfortable lounge chairs on the balcony.

Short by Hunza standards, sturdy and squarely built with fair complexion, Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan was a benevolent ruler. He was like a likeable man, self-educated to a high standard. He travelled widely to Europe and the United States. He loved his people. Each morning, he met his Council of Elders, none under 65 years old, and his grand vizir to decide the day to day problems of his mountainous state. Each matter was put to votes. By his own decree, the Mir’s vote normally counted no more than any other did. In an emergency, he could veto his Council, for he was an absolute monarch. But in fact, he ruled entirely as a wise and respected mediator. He travelled the length and breadth of his land at least once a year, accompanied by his wife. Each winter, he was called upon to perform a mass wedding ceremony in Hunza.

The Mir of Hunza expired on March 18, 1976 at his residence in Hunza. He married to a princess of Nagar State in 1934 and had 2 sons and 3 daughters.

More To Explore