From Greater Kurdistan to Iraqi Kurdistan

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The rich culture of Kurdish people makes them unique in the world. They enjoy their dressing, wedding events etc. and their dance (Kurdish dance known as chopi, samaan, chaey) is a bit similar to Balochi Jhumar and also it is important to mention that here women have full independence to enjoy their rights including working in offices (there are many women working at senior positions in Govt. offices), driving the cars and managing the small business too.

By Zahid Jalbani

Being in search and hunt of international assignments, I always keep applying for different countries and this time luck worked for me and got an offer for the first time for an international assignment in Kurdistan, Iraq. Considering the security situation in Iraq generally it is the impression that the situation is not good to go and work in the war-affected country like Iraq. It was back in February 2018 when I finished my recruitment process for this assignment and having skype chat with one of my friends about the security situation. My son, who was very scared after knowing that dad is going to work in Iraq, was observing our chat. When once my friend told ‘Zahid it is very peaceful and loving city (Duhok, Kurdistan) where you will be based. Just go ahead and I am sure you will enjoy’, my son got satisfied and was happy for me going for first international assignment.

Greater Kurdistan (GK) is well known to everyone but let me share few interesting things about it. Having Kurdish people with a dominant majority population and culture, languages and national identity, GK is a roughly defined geo-cultural historical region. It hardly embodies the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges. The territory corresponds to Kurdish irredentist claims.

The Greater Kurdistan comprises of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan). It is witnessed that some of the Kurdish (nationalist organizations) seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others are still campaigning for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.

As for as the Iraqi Kurdistan is concerned, for first time it was able to gain its autonomous status during 1970 through an agreement with the Iraqi government, which was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic back in 2005. Iraqi Kurdistan comprises of four provinces (governorates) including Erbil (its head quarter), Duhok, Sulamanyia and Halabja (recently included with Kurdistan region).

Having autonomous status Iraqi Kurdistan is known as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) which has a population of 5.123 million. It has own government structure including Prime Minister along with different ministries and Governors at Governorate level. Kurdish is the official language of KRG however two dialects of Kurdish including Badaani (Karmanji) and Sorani are being spoken across the region.

In last week of March 2018 I moved to Kurdistan and after spending few days at head office of the organization, reached at Duhok, my duty station. The beautiful Duhok has same landscape as of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, surrounded by lush green mountains with moderate temperate and lots of rains. Duhok gave me the impression that I will at least survive because being in Muslim country you need not to worry about the food etc.

More than 25 team members were working with me and majority was Kurdish (female) all were speaking Badaani Kurdish which has many common words of Sindhi, Urdu, Persian, Dari, Baluchi and Pashto. In the start it was a bit difficult to understand but just within a few months I learnt functional Kurdish and started communicating with my team members. They not only got surprised that I am speaking Kurdish but supported a lot to improve my linguistic skills.

Generally, Kurdish people are very cooperative, supportive and welcoming. When I used to visit markets specially in downtown and started communicating in Kurdish, they immediately asked me about my nationality and when came to know that I am Pakistani they always warmly welcomed, may be because of being from Muslim country.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with team members and different government departments as I found them very receptive in terms of getting things done because ultimately it was benefiting their own people.

The pace of development is on its faster path especially in Kurdistan which can be witnessed through good quality roads with auto controlled traffic system, high-rise buildings, five-star hotels and obviously a huge number of restaurants because the people here are fond of eating at restaurants, instead of homes. The most famous dishes of Kurdistan include Dolma, Maqloba, Burgual and Biryani but this biryani is different from Sindhi and Pakistani Biryani. Yes, I also learnt a couple of Kurdish dishes including Maqloba and Burgul from one of my colleague as she was amazing cook. You can also find two Indian Restaurants namely India Gate and India Food Point and one Pakistani restaurant named Pakistani Food Center.

If we talk about the education system in Kurdistan, it has both public and private education institutions wherein Kurdish is being taught and the medium of teaching in universities is English and the quality of education is much better than other parts of Iraq. It is worth mentioning that the countries like Germany have made tremendous contribution in uplifting the standard of education in the region through wide range interventions including the provision scholarships, infrastructures improvement etc.

Yes, the health system is also much better having the private and public hospitals. I remember, couple of times in Duhok I visited one of the private hospital wherein I found qualified consultant from Holland which was not less than a surprise for me but after inquiring further came to know about the huge number of foreign qualified doctors.

The rich culture of Kurdish people makes them unique in the world. They enjoy their dressing, wedding events etc. and their dance (Kurdish dance known as chopi, samaan, chaey) is a bit similar to Balochi Jhumar and also it is important to mention that here women have full independence to enjoy their rights including working in offices (there are many women working at senior positions in Govt. offices), driving the cars and managing the small business too.

Having such freedom how it is possible women could be left behind from the politics. They are actively taking part into the politics of region and I got chance to meet with one of the Member of Parliament (MP), hailing from Yazidi community, who was advocating for the rights of women and especially for her community (Yazidi).

Kurdistan is the place where you can enjoy the color of four seasons – you can experience 10 degree centigrade temperature during winter with heavy snow and 50 plus temperature during summer, and blooming flowers, roses and trees during the spring and the leaves-shedding trees during autumn. Rains are very common here which make the weather of the region more pleasant.

After having lived two times in the Kurdistan region it is an amazing experience with full of learning and enjoyment with the beautiful landscape of the land.

(The writer, hailing from Sindh, is working for an International NGO in Kurdistan. He also writes blogs for Sindhi newspapers. This is his exclusive write-up for Sindh Courier. He can be reached at [email protected])

 

 

 

 

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