Syed Yahya Shah (also called Aga Yahya) is a politician and stayed as a member of the Gilgit–Baltistan Legislative Assembly from 1975 to 1980. Shah was born in Minapin Nagar. He acquired his early education in Nomal and Gilgit, and attended high school in Astor and Kashmir. He then studied at Edwardes College in Peshawar. On return to Gilgit. He taught at High School, Gilgit. The people of Nagar elected him to become the first elected Member of Legislative Assembly of Gilgit–Baltistan from Naga in November 1947, Nagar acceded to Pakistan, which became responsible for its external affairs and defense, while Nagar continued to self-govern internally. In 1968, Syed Yahya Shah, the first educated politician of the valley, demanded civil rights from the Mir of Nagar. In 1974, when Ayub Khan’s dictatorship ended in Pakistan and the Pakistan People’s Party, under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came into power through elections, the government forced the Mirs of Hunza and Nagar to abdicate. The areas were then merged with the Northern Areas In addition to his political career, Syed Yahya worked as a pioneer nature conservation activist in Gilgit–Baltistan. He was the first person to introduce Trophy Hunting Program (THP) in Bar Valley in Nagar, which was supported by IUCN, WWF and Government of Pakistan and replicated by other communities and villages of Gilgit–Baltistan. He saved several snow leopards in Nagar when they were caught to kill by villagers.
Syed has also worked on various charity projects to improve his home region. He initiated the connecting a warm spring in Diater Mountains in the Karakoram to Bar Valley in Nagar in collaboration with WWF, which not only saved fuel energy but also decreased diseases in women caused by the washing of clothes in cold water during cold weather. As Minapin Community Leader, in Minapin village, he motivated Aga Khan Rural Support Program to initiate a project which restored a deserted mountain called Khaiadar where the canals irrigating to the pastures and agricultural fields at this mountain was cut off from the source of water-glacier by climate change d recession of glaciers. He led the community to install a pipeline which reconnected broken water channel after 150 years of desertification. Syed Yahya Shah participated in a historical documentation of customary laws in nature conservation in Gilgit–Baltistan, a project of IUCN and the government of Pakistan. Syed Yahya Shah was awarded The Quid-e- Azam Award by Aga Khan Rural Support Program for his social work. Awarded Asad Ali shah award by WWF in 2011 in Lahore on his great contribution on saving wildlife. Syed shah is also writing several books regarding the history of Gilgit Baltistan some of name of his books are Broshaal Ke Kabul, Tazehul Wasail, Broshaal.
by Munatazir Abbas
Published by Passutimes on April 22, 2016