Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Pashtun Peace Jirga
Pashtun Peace Jirga vows to bring stability to Fata
By Behroz Khan
PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party on Monday emerged victorious in its history-making effort to assemble top leadership of the Pashtuns in Peshawar to talk peace and work together for bringing unity and stability to Pakistani tribal areas and neighbouring Afghanistan.
This was the first event of its kind in the history of Pakistan that the ANP invited the Pashtun leadership to the Pashtun Peace Jirga (PPJ) held at Bacha Khan Markaz and almost all the nationalist, religious and progressive parties honoured the invitation.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad was absent due to his visit abroad, but the party provincial chief and ex-senior minister of the MMA government in the NWFP Sirajul Haq was present to represent his party.
Siraj delivered an emotional speech saying that Army generals were ruling the country against the will of the masses and in sheer violation of the constitution. Chief of his own faction of PPP and Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao and Federal Minister for Political Affairs and PML’s provincial president Amir Muqam were conspicuous by their absence. However, they had sent party representatives to the Jirga.
JUI-F’s chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman stole the show in the first session of the daylong deliberations through his witty and bold remarks against the army rulers, the role of the nationalist and democratic forces and growing trend of militancy.
The Maulana offered his services to mediate between the Taliban and the Afghan government with the condition that all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan and the US should no longer label Taliban as terrorists, which he thought would enable him intervene and use his good offices.
The Maulana also called upon the Taliban to become part of the democratic dispensation in their country that would pave the way for negotiations and restoration of peace in war-shattered Afghanistan and bring stability to the tribal belt of Pakistan.
It was unexpected on the part of Maulana Fazlur Rehman to declare that Durand Line was a controversial border between the two countries and that the deployment of 80,000 troops along the Pak-Afghan border was violation of the Gandamak Agreement reached between then British India and the Afghan Government more than 100 years ago. “No country can deploy such a huge army on disputed borders,” the Maulana said adding that Hamid Karzai’s government was helpless and without powers as the real power lies in the hands of forces behind him, a reference to the US.
He offered to work for the unity of Pashtun nation despite having ideological differences with the nationalist forces. In a light vein, the Maulana said it was a positive sign that the Pashtun nationalists have realized to give due status to the mosque.
ANP President Senator Afandyar Wali had set the tone of the peace Jirga by announcing to make the Hujra, a symbol of Pashtun social and communal life, and the mosque to work together for pulling Pashtuns out of the present-day quagmire.
Pashtun nationalist, Mehmud Khan Achakzai, dominated the second session of PPJ and replied to some of the points raised by Maulana Fazlur Rehman when he said that Hujra and Mosque could work together provided the Maulana prevailed upon the Taliban to get rid of the Pakistani intelligence agencies supporting them in their fight in Afghanistan. He said that the Pashtuns were neither terrorists nor discriminate against others on the basis of race, language and religion. He called upon the Maulana and all other religious leaders to give a Fatwa to determine whether or not the Pashtuns have the right on their own resources within Pakistan.
“We demand that interference in Afghanistan be halted and all the troops and the so-called foreign guests must leave the tribal areas on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line,” Achakzai said.
The ANP president in his brief speech said that General Pervez Musharraf is out to convince the world that Pashtuns were terrorists, but the truth is that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not the product of Pashtuns but have been elevated to the position by others. He congratulated the participants of the Jirga and hoped that all the forces part of the Pashtun nation would join hands to rescue the people, who are victims of a senseless war imposed on them.
“The Pashtun Jirga has resolved today to work for peace. This is the first step and the next Jirga will comprise Pashtuns from Afghanistan and all over the world to tell the international community that negotiations were the best solution to any conflict,” the ANP chief said.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan MNA, Pakistan Mazdoor Kisan Party head Afzal Khamosh, PPPP’s provincial president Rahim Dad Khan, MRD’s secretary general Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, Nawab Ayaz Jogezai, senior journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai and others.
The following resolutions were passed by the Jirga.
The PPJ calls for unity among all the Pakhtuns to stop the ongoing bloodshed. This call is prompted by the fact that the international security system and regional governments have failed to bring peace in the Pakhtun populated areas. Now it is our national duty to rise above political and ideological positions, give a united response for the sake of our national survival and press all the governments to work for peace in our region.
The PPJ condemns the ongoing interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan for the sake of destruction and calls upon all Afghans to resolve their political differences through dialogue. The PPJ is of the opinion that peace is not only in the interest of Afghans but is also the perquisite for stability in the entire region. As the events of the previous few years have proved, peace in Afghanistan and in the region is also essential for the whole world.
The PPJ is deeply concerned over the tribal areas in Pakistan being turned into a turf of conflict by alien elements and demands from them to quit the tribal areas.
The PPJ assures Pakhtuns of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) that they are not alone in heir difficult times as the entire body of Pakhtuns sands in solidarity with them. The participants of the Jirga demands that the people of Fata should not be deprived of the fundamental human rights, and political and administrative reforms should be undertaken by consent and will of the people in Fata.
The participants of the historical Jirga pointed to the fact that the use of military force is not a solution to any problem. On the contrary, the use of military force, to resolve conflicts, further complicates the existing problems.
We call upon all the active players in the Pakhtun populated areas to respect the life, property and human dignity of our people. We also demand that in incidents, where indiscriminate use of military force has been made, should be investigated and those responsible should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The deliberations in the Jirga highlighted that the leaders of all sections of the Pakhtun society should get united for the sake of bringing peace and national unity among Pakhtuns and prevent the enemies of our people to take advantage of our internal differences for the sake of their own interests.
Peace jirga for end to Pakhtun genocide Participants call for withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan; seek political role for Taliban Abdul Hakeem Mohmand PESHAWAR: Nationalist leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, asserting Pakhtuns’ unwavering belief in resolving issues by peaceful means, Monday denounced the recent massacre of civilians in Bajaur and Malakand Agencies. Addressing the “Pakhtun Peace Jirga,” organised by the Awami National Party (ANP) at Bacha Khan Markaz here on Monday, Asfandyar made clear they respected human life, property and dignity. The Pakhtuns expected the world at large to reciprocate their gesture and make efforts for an immediate stop to their genocide, the ANP president added. The government must stop the bloodshed of innocent Pakhtuns or be prepared to face the grave consequences of its rash actions, he warned, recalling that his illustrious father Bacha Khan never opted for war even in the worst of situations imaginable. “The Khudai Khidmatgar leader always preached non-violence and peace. We being his grandsons will follow are committed to following in his footsteps,” he observed.
Asfandyar, who held Gen. Musharraf accountable for the killing of tribesmen, roundly condemned military operations in Bajaur, Waziristan and Balochistan as a counterproductive step. He also questioned Musharraf’s statements branding Pakhtuns as extremists supporting Taliban militants. “Let me ask who created Taliban? The answer is simple and straight: Gen. Musharraf himself.” Excoriating the president’s remarks that all Pakhtuns were Taliban, he insisted they were a peace-loving nation while the former student militia that ruled Afghanistan until 2001 was the creation of the Pakistan Army.
With regard to the traditional jirga system, Asfandyar said other nations resolve their problems in a variety of ways while Pakhtuns used their own forum through the ages. “The Pakhtun Peace Jirga is not a one-off event, as we plan to invite all Pakhtun leaders from across the world to similar forums in future. I hope they will participate in future grand jirgas.” Asfandyar argued the participation of all political parties in the jirga amply proved the entire nation desired peace and that Pakhtuns were fighting a war for outsiders. “First, the region was used by America against the Russians; and now it is again being used by the US against Taliban and al-Qaeda.”
The jirga unanimously passed a resolution that urged unity among Pakhtuns to stop the ongoing bloodshed and to rise above political and ideological positions for the survival of their nation. “Since the international security system and regional governments have failed to bring peace to Pakhtun-populated areas, therefore, it is the national duty of the Pakhtun leadership to stand united and press the government to work for peace in our region.” The joint resolution condemned the ongoing interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan for the sake of destruction and calls upon all Afghans to resolve their political differences through dialogue. “ PAJ is of the opinion that peace is not in the interest of Afghans but is also the prerequisite for stability in the entire region.” Events over the past few years had proved that peace in Afghanistan and in the region was essential for stability in the world, said the resolution, which added the Pakhtun Jirga was deeply concerned over the tribal areas being turned into a turf by aliens. It asked them to quit the tribal areas.
Opposition leader in National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman, in his speech, said all parties must set aside their political differences and unite on one platform to resolve the issues facing Pakhtuns. He stressed unity among Pakhtuns to foil the designs of their enemy and called for the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, where the real political forces, including Taliban, should be given a role in bringing peace to the war torn country.
Central president of Pashtunskhwa Milli Awami Party Mahmood Khan Achakzai said, historically, Pakhtun had never been involved in terrorism. He claimed the Europeans gave rise to the scourge when Alexander The Great invaded the region, followed by Mughals, Russians, Arabs and Americans. Coming hard on the Pakistani establishment, the nationalist leader said Islamabad had always destroyed the institutions of Afghanistan, which was the cause of uncertainty and unrest in the region. Peace was not only in the interest of the Afghans but was also a perquisite for stability in the entire region, he maintained. “We don’t believe in colour, caste, religion, language or race; we respect every nation and want others to respect Pakhtuns in the same spirit. We don’t have any enemy,” he said, wondering why the NWFP was not given the name of Pakhtunkhwa. “When we seek our due provincial rights, the government calls us terrorists and extremists; we are blamed for trying to break Pakistan into parts,” he added. The fact that Bacha Khan spent decades in jail for demanding the rights of his people but remained non-violent spoke volumes for Pakhtuns’ belief in peace. “Whatever rights have been granted to the Panjabis should be given to Pakhtuns as well,” he stressed.
On the occasion, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra viewed army operations as a big question mark over Pakistan’s integrity and sovereignty. Thus it was the responsibility of the political forces to launch a joint struggle against the army’s role in politics, he continued. The PML-N leader said Bacha Khan’s philosophy was not meant for Pakhtuns alone, but his message was for all Muslims, because he had fought the freedom war for all the Muslims. He also suggested All Parties Conference meeting in London in which all leaders should participate and discuss the political situation of the country.
Ex-Senior Minster Sirajul Haq, Ex-Chief Justice of Supreme Court Ajmal Khan, Brig. (Retd) Mahmood Shah, artist Jamal Shah and Sardar Ali Takkar also urged Pakhtuns to unite if they wanted to resolve their problems. The Jirga passed a resolution that urged unity among Pakhtuns to stop the ongoing bloodshed and to rise above political and ideological positions for the survival of Pakhtun nation. The resolution read out at “Pakhtun Aman Jirga (PAJ)” stated since the international security system and regional governments have failed to bring peace in Pakhtun-populated areas, therefore, it was a national duty of the Pakhtun leadership to stand united and press the government to work for peace in the region.
The joint resolution condemned the ongoing interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan for the sake of destruction and called upon all Afghans to resolve their political differences through dialogue. “PAJ is of the opinion that peace is not in the interest of Afghans alone, but was a prerequisite for stability in the entire region.” The resolution stated the events of the past few years proved peace in Afghanistan and in the region was also essential for the whole world. It said the Pakhtun Aman Jirga is deeply concerned about the tribal areas in Pakistan being turned into a turned into a turf of conflict by alien elements and demand from them to quit the tribal areas. Expressing solidarity with Pakhtuns of FATA, the resolution said tribal people are not alone in their difficult time as the entire body of Pakhtuns stands in solidarity with them.
“The participants of the Jirga demands that the people of FATA should not be deprived of the fundamental rights, political and administrative reforms should be undertaken by consent and will of the tribesmen,” the joint resolution continued. It stated the use of military force is not a solution to any problem; on the contrary, the use of military force to resolve conflicts further complicates the existing problems.
The resolution further stated that deliberations in the Jirga highlighted that the leaders of all sections of Pakhtun society should get united for the sake of peace and national unity and preventing the enemies of Pakhtun from taking advantage of our internal differences. “The PAJ has a historic character because all representatives segments of the Pakhtun society are taking part in its deliberations. During the deliberations, leader of different political parties, Islamic scholars, religious and tribal elders and members of the intelligentsia expressed their views on making peace possible in the Pakhtunkhwa.”
Famous artists to participate in ANP peace jirga today
Famous artists to participate in ANP peace jirga today
Aqeel Yousafzai PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) political leadership has invited different politician, tribal elders, federal ministers and other prominent personalities, including versatile Pushto artists to participate in peace jirga, which is to be held today (Monday). Three internationally famous and outstanding artists, who will represent their artistry community Jamal Shah, Firdaus Jamal and well known Pashtu singer Sardar Ali Takkar will also participate in peace jirga. Talking to The Frontier Post, Jamal shah said as a member of Pakhtun community, he would render his services to bring peace, political stability, and progress among the Pakhtun nation. He further added to love his land and nation was natural of each and every mankind and keeping in mind, this very fact, he promised to participate in the jirga. Jamal stated Pakhtun artists were very sad over the political instability in pakhtun dominated areas. On this occasion, Firdaus Jamal, while talking to this scribe, said he had left all his activities and tough busy schedule in Lahore to ensure his participation in the jirga. He said Bacha Khan and Wali Khan were his favourite leaders and said he to promote peace, tolerance, harmony and tranquility in Pakhtun region, Pakhtun artists should play their due role. Firdaus explained artists were peace lover and discourage extremism, terrorism and violence. The artist mentioned this peace jirga, which to be held on Monday (today), would provide a platform for Pakhtun community to solve their substantive disputes and problems through debate and dialogues. No doubt, Sardar Ali Takkar has contributed a lot for Pakhtuns nation, would also participate in the jirga. Talking to the reporter, he said that such platform had ever been provided to Pakhtuns, which it now would be provided by holding this peace jirga.
- The Frontier Post (November 20)