Mohammad Ibrahim Langou deals in gemstones while Haji Abdul Hanan Khilji collects antique coins. The vendor and antique collector from Quetta, respectively, recently came to Karachi and exhibited their collections at the International Gems and Jewellery Show Pakistan, which was held at the Pearl Continental hotel on Saturday. They shared their stories with The Express Tribune.
“Mining of gemstones has been happening for the past 100 to 150 years in this part of the world [Balochistan],” says Langou, who owns a shop called Balochistan Gems, Jewellery and Handicraft in Quetta. “However, things have changed drastically over the years; tribal houses govern the mines now and this field has become a difficult place for others to enter.”
This vendor has been in the business as a middleman for almost four years now. But he admits working conditions in Quetta are not hassle-free due to the current scenario and political instability. “Politics have gravely affected the business of mining and gemstones,” he says, with regret in his eyes. He says the industry has faced a blip, and that there are no profits or buyers.
Although Langou visits the Chaghai and Kharan belts — areas which are rich in gemstones such as Lapis Lazuli and Peridot — he feels the industry in Quetta, which was once frequented by tourists from the west as well as from the Far East, is dying,
Antique collector Khilji, who has passionately been collecting coins since he was a little boy, was also present at the exhibition. “Travelers from other parts of the world sell these off to me,” he says, talking about how he owns centuries old remnants. And yet while these coins depict heritage, there are no buyers. “There aren’t any buyers in such a political set-up but things are looking good in the near future. With elections, things might just change for the better,” he exclaims.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, Khilji — owner of a shop in Quetta called Saif Jewellers Ambers & Handicrafts — pointed out one of his most precious collectibles: a coin with British Queen Victoria. His collection also included relics which would take a person to another era altogether such as that of the Abbasids or that of Mehmood Ghaznavi.
He only gathers and displays select coins; he admits that he dreads traveling to the no-go areas of the Baloch region, calling the Bilour belt and Faryab region troublesome places to be seen in.
With almost 24 years to his journey, and about 200 pieces in his extensive collection, Khilji reveals that he will leave his inherited pieces to his children and would love to have them follow in his footsteps.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2013.
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