Dr. Inayatullah Faizi of Chitral and Sir William Blackburne of England’s recent letters in memory of Shuja-ur-Rehman were evocative tributes to the prince we first met as a merry young man in the early 1980s and whom we had the pleasure of meeting on numerous subsequent visits to Chitral, most recently in 2007. Typically, Shuja gave no indication of ill health at that time, though he must have known his condition was serious. He and his family graciously entertained us at Chitral House and the evening was one of good food and lively conversation. It was a sad shock to learn of his sudden death.

As Americans, who have an historic antipathy to royals, we were captivated by Shuja-ur-Rehman’s modesty and humor from the moment we met. Our respect for Shuja grew as he matured into a wise father and the epitome of a thoughtful, post-modern prince. He was a true patriot: Mindful of Chitral’s defects and aware of his family’s turbulent history, he nonetheless loved Chitral and strove to preserve the best qualities of its cultural and physical heritage for future generations.

In our last correspondence earlier this year, we discussed proposals outlined in Chitral: An Integrated Development Vision, a fine publication produced by the ICUN under Shuja-ur-Rehman’s leadership as manager of SARHAD. Shuja was especially interested in ongoing efforts to bring Chitral’s fledgling museum up to international standards. He wrote that he was dismayed by the current status of the museum and we discussed ways we might work together to revive interest in its goals.

Sir William’s admirable suggestion that Chitral preserve its forts is a fitting tribute to Shuja-ur-Rehman and would easily fit into a larger project of cultural and environmental conservation. Such a project would educate Chitralis as well as visitors about Chitral’s unique place in history and its contribution to global environmental health.

Shuja-ur-Rehman wanted to ensure Chitral’s relevance in the future by understanding its past. Like other members of his family, he also strove to preserve Chitral’s magnificent physical inheritance. He recognized that the “environment” includes museums as well as mountains. He will be sorely missed, but we hope that his vision will inspire others to continue his work for the benefit of Chitral and the world.  

Anita and David Christy


25 Jul 08


Remembering Shujaur Rehman -letter2


The news of Shuja-ur-Rehman's untimely death at the age of only 55 is sad indeed. I met him on one occasion, memorable both for him and for men and, I dare say, for many others. It was at the dinner reception in the Fort following his marriage. I cannot remember the date except that it was sometime in the early 1980s. It had been a very hot day and nightfall had not greatly reduced the late afternoon temperatures. A breeze stirred the great chinar trees and above us was a wonderful starlit firmament. I can recall the event as if it was yesterday. I was there, together with my old friend Geoffrey Raspin, in the company of the unforgettable Shahzada Burhan-ud-Din.  Needless to say this great event was an all-male gathering (the ladies were celebrating elsewhere). And what a gathering! Guests had arrived from far and wide, including Afghanistan (then under Soviet domination). I remember being introduced to all manner of fascinating people, including the grandson (or possibly he was the son - he looked very wizened) of Umara Khan (of Jandul and 1895 fame) and many other descendants of combatants from conflicts long past. It was as if history had walked into that magical setting!

Would it not be a wonderful memorial both to Shuja-ur-Rehman and to the many others from the Katoor and associated clans who have played a part in the Noghor's long history if this marvellous collection of buildings
could be restored and kept as a reminder of Chitral's fascinating and turbulent past?

William Blackburne
Richmond Surrey, UK

 23 Jul 08

                            Shujaur Rehman-An upright Prince - letter

Way back in the eighties, of 20th century, I watched a movie “Last of the Mahakans”. Today I am looking at the grave of Prince Shujaur Rehman and I think he was in his own way and right “Last of the Katoors” of Central Asia and Chitral. At the age of 5, he went to Aitcheson College Lahore for his studies and as luck would have it, at the age of 55, he breathed his last at the intensive case unit of the Combined Military Hospital Lahore. Papers wrote, he was son of the 2nd last ruler of Chitral and brother of the last ruler of Chitral. Papers wrote that his grand father took a lead among the princedoms of the Indian subcontinent to accede to Pakistan in May 1947. But papers failed to write that he was an upright man. He was a man with strong will power, and a man with Iron hand and kind soul. This is a rare combination and leaders who combine these two qualities perform extra-ordinarily and do miracles.

Shuja-ur-Rehman neither liked the prefix “Shahzada” with his name, nor he liked the suffix “Prince”, however he was proud of his ancestral legacy and he was committed to the collective cause of his family. This is again a combination of two qualities which ensures broader outlook and unbiased approach towards day to day matters of mortal life.

Shuja-ur-Rehman was born in Chitral in 1953. His father HH Saifur Rehman was ruler of Chitral since 1949. His grand father ruled Chitral during the crucial period of the partition of India. His name was HH Muzaffarual Mulk and he took timely decision to accede to Pakistan and communicated his consent to the Government of India through secretary home Col. SB Shah on May 5th 1947. He signed the accession document along with founder of nation Qauide-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on Nov 7, 1947. He joined the citizens of Peshawar in hosting a reception in honour of the father of nation at Jinnah Park in April 1948 and accompanied Qauid-e-Azam on his historic visit to Torkham border post in Khyber. Shujar-r-Rehman’s grand- grandfather Shujaul Mulk ruled Chitral for 41 year (1895-1936). His family rule extends to 374 years, 300 years (1595-1895) as independent state, 52 year (1895-1947) as British protectorate and 22 years (1947-1969) after accession of the state to Pakistan. His father HH Saifur Rehman died in an air crash near Lawari in Dir in 1954, when Shuja was hardly one year old. His elder brother HH Saiful Muluk Nasir was coronated at the age of 4. Shuja followed his elder brother to be admitted in Aitcheson College Lahore at the age of 5 in 1958. Hostel life at such an early age was a unique and interesting experience for the young princes. Recalling his hostel days he used to say that hostel life at such an early stage leads to sense of insecurity in the personality of an individual, which could be overcame through strong will power. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Provincial Minister Pervez Khattak and Development Consultant Khalid Saranjam Khan were among his friends of the good Aitchesonain days. Shuja attended 52 long course at PMA Kakool from 1974 to 1976 and was commissioned in Pakistan Army. Due to his domestic obligations and temperament, he resigned from the army in 1980. He was elected to the Town Committee of Chitral in local bodies elections in 1983 and served his constituency till 1987. He along with like-minded friends and social workers, established Society for Sustainable Mountain Development in 1994.He joined International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as District Manager for Chitral in 1997. He held public consultation meetings throughout the district for the formulation of Chitral District Conservation Strategy, Which was adopted by the District Government of Chitral as integrated Development Vision in 2003. Shuja was elevated to the post Manager Sarhad Provincial Conservation Strategy (SPSC) in 1999 and took over as Head IUCN, Sarhad Office in 2004. He was suffering from lever serosis since September 2007. However, he did not give up his hope and courage. He used to perform normal duties in his office till July 7, 2008 when he proceeded to Lahore for routine check up and suffered from the failure of vital organs at CMH Lahore on the 9th of July, and went in to coma. He passed away on 14th July 2008 at CMH Lahore and was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard in Chitral on 15th July 2008. When I recall the life and struggle of Shuja ur Rehman, it reminds me of the famous poem of Shakespeare which says the world is a stage and we are all actors, who act according to a well thought script from early child hood to young age, to man hood and from manhood to the old age.

Shuja’s part ended at manhood and he was shown exit before old age. No doubt it was part of script, however his vacuum at the stage will be felt till long long days and years to come. Katoor’s are there, but I believe he was “Last of the Katoors” in his own right and place.

 Dr. Inayatullah Faizi:


 20 July 08.