By Fazal Khaliq 

MINGORA: Haji Jalander Khan, the oldest living man of the district, says that the former Swat State was a social welfare state.

“It was the golden era of the region,” says Haji Jalander Khan, 135, who remained a ‘Jemadar’ in the army of the former princely Swat State. He lives at Khazana village in Shamozo area with his over 200 family members from his four wives.

He witnessed the formation of Swat State. He was appointed a sepoy in the State army and was promoted to the post of ‘Jemadar’ during the Badshah Sahib rule. He was a state employee till 1969 when Swat was merged into Pakistan.

Jalender's two sons

The old age has not harmed the memory of Haji Jalander, who loves to share incidents from the past with the people. He claims that he accompanied Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb, the last Wali of Swat, when his father Miangul Abul Wadood, Badshah Sahib appointed him successor.

“I escorted Jahanzeb (Wali of Swat) to the palace on the day his father enthroned him as a ruler and I am proud to be close to him,” he says. Recalling his past, he says that former rulers of Swat were visionary people, who ensured social welfare of citizens while running the affairs of state.

“There was a proper reward and punishment system during the state era. Once I was appointed in-charge of a road construction project in Yakhtangey area of Shangla. It was a tough task to cut rocks but we completed it before the stipulated time on which the ruler awarded us with prize and extra leaves,” says Haji Jalander.

He says that the state army would construct roads and other government buildings. “Large number of people from an area would come out to construct a road while a music band would play local music to keep them mentally and physically active for work. It was both fun and work,” he recalls.

135 year old Jalander Khan with his children

According to Haji Jalander’s sons, they remind him the incidents of Swat State to appease him when his mood is off. “He is very strict man and always suggests us to be honest and pious. He loves to talk and discuss different incidents of the State era. He likes guests,” says his youngest son Kamin Khan.

His eldest son Khan Bahadar, 65, says that they feel proud when all their family members gather in some function.

Haji Jalander’s great grandson Husain Ali, who had done graduation from University of Peshawar, says that his grandfather died but his father’s grandfather is alive. “We feel proud that our grandfather’s father is still alive and the villagers respect him,” he adds.

Haji Jalender enjoys high respect in the village. “He has been playing a role of head in every matter of the village and his words are considered final in every decision,” says a villager Haji Khan.

Hayat Khan, a lecturer of sociology at University of Swat and resident of the area, says that Haji Jalander is an asset for them. “Actually culture shifts from one generation to another. He is an entity of heritage and history who witnessed four generations and has become an institute and embodiment of culture and tradition of the area,” he adds.