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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The prospect and perception of peace in Pashtun culture

The prospect and perception of peace in Pashtun culture
By Prof Dr.Rajwali Shah Khattak and Sher Alam Shinwari

The world has never been in the dire need of peace at any stage of
history as it is today. One reason is quite clear. That is that
almost every country of the world has sufficient cache of deadly
weapons due to the advanced nuclear and war technology. It is with a
flash that the world could be wiped out and made extinct. It is,
therefore, intensely needed that the conflicts between countries and
various cultures should be resolved through dialogue. In the new
emerging perspective of the world, the psyche of the peoples and
nations both on individual and collective levels herald destruction
of the world peace. But fortunately, well in accordance with the
concept of globalization, some individuals and organizations have
intended to promote the cause of peace culture in the global village
and reduce the possibility of war to the least extent and also pave
way for adopting dialogue as means to resolve conflicts.
Peace always guarantees advancement, prosperity and betterment of
the people. It can be manifested in all shapes of beauty, high sky
towers, buildings and magnificent seats of learning. On the
contrary, wherever we see devastating signs of destruction, they
bespeak volumes of evils of war and barbarism. This bizarre
situation has forced people belonging to all the cultures of the
world to bring peace to their respective societies by enacting their
cultural values and golden traditions. The peace efforts move on
from local frame to international level involving the whole of
humanity in order to bring back peace and unity in diversity. We
have lots of religions, social norms and ethics which advocate
peace, mutual respect, unity and humanism. , the culture of Pashtuns
has teachings of peace if properly understood.
Pashtuns enjoy this ancient and very strong culture of Pashtunwali.
The habits, rituals, customs, traditions and the rules and
regulations which govern the typical Pashtun life pattern, is called
Pashtunwali. This code of conduct of Pashtuns reflects the
explication of the inner and outer life of Pashtuns and their values
down the centuries. This very code of conduct also shapes the
individual and collective psyche of Pashtuns. The word `' is
synonymous with Pashtun culture. It has different dimensions. Before
dwelling upon this terminology let us have a look at the location of
Pashtuns. The climate and geographical conditions have also played a
significant role in shaping the Pashtun culture. They are lying upon
60° to 73° longitude and 26° to 36° latitude of the earth. The
region is divided into different geographical configurations and
areas. Pashtuns live on both sides of the Durand Line. Different
tribes live in the North West of Pakistan and Eastern region of
Afghanistan. In addition, many scattered tribes live in the tribal
pockets of the North Eastern Pakistan as well. In Far flung North
West of Pakistan and in some of its South Western regions we find
some Pashtun tribes. Also in Indian States of Rampur and Rohailkand,
we can find a sizeable Pashtun population.
Geographically, Pashtuns are surrounded by Karakuram range in the
North East and in the North West are Hindukush ranges. In their
extreme, West and South are mostly desolate deserts. In the East we
see lofty peaks of Himalaya. The historic Oxus River flows in the
North. Hilmand Harriod Rivers flow in the South. This is the land
where 60 million Pashtuns or Afghans live by their glorious
traditions and customs. Their land is multicoloured. The severe heat
of valleys and plains, the Alpine cold of the hills, mountains and
the extreme weathers of the desolate deserts have all contributed to
the shaping of Pashtun's psyche. All the social norms, values,
traditions and practices fall under one comprehensive system earlier
referred to as Pashtunwali. This term is derived from the
word "Pashtun". Pey (p) stands for pat `fellowship or comradeship',
Sheen (Sh) for Shegarrah `doing good to others', Tey (T) for Toora `
literally means sword ( bravery) , Wawo (W) for ` wafa' ( fidelity),
and Noon ( N) for Nung ` honour. Its essence lies in chivalry,
courage, loyalty and honour.
These values have given a special character to the Pashtun race.
Pashtunwali is an unwritten code controlling, guiding and balancing,
to a large extent, the form, character and discipline of the Pashtun
way of life. It is the name of the traditional customary law, which
has been adopted by Pashtuns from times immemorial. It is framed on
the principle of equity and has deeply ingrained in the social
fabric of a Pashtun's life and is highly esteemed and held
sacrosanct by all persons irrespective of their financial or social
status. The more one adheres to its manifesto, the more high esteem
he enjoys in his brotherhood and community. It embodies in itself,
all the customs, and traditions, heritage, customary Law, usage and
all social relations. It is a concept conveying the meanings of
tribal socio-economic, political and cultural system in totality---
courage, hospitality, kinship, loyalty, love for friends, chastity,
morality, respecting other people's rights, are different components
of Pashtunwali. This code requires of every Pashtun to defend his
motherland, to grant asylum to destitute irrespective of their creed
or caste to offer protection, even to his deadly enemy. Pashto to a
Pashtun is not only his language, but is also the embodiments of all
human virtues. Some basic components are briefly described here for
the knowledge and interests of the readers.
Jirga, Mailmastia (Hospitality, Nanawati (Seeking forgiveness in
feud), Panah (Asylum), Ghairat (Modesty), Nung (Honour), Teega
(truce) and Rogha (Reconciliation) are leading towards strengthening
peace in the society. All his character traits are because of being
brought up in the culture of Pashtunwali. It is the culture which
shapes the character of people. This culture has different aspects
and various institutions which form the true spirit of the people.
It is beyond any doubt that Pashtuns are diehard lovers of their
Pashtunwali and hold it high in esteem and deem it a precious asset
of their national pride. Pashtuns consider their code of conduct one
of the best and ideal systems of the world based on moral values. It
is because of the fact that there is a greater possibility of
satisfying human aspirations and expectations whether spiritual or
material. But one has to understand the philosophy of pure
Pashtunwali. Pashtun is basically a tribal society. Their simple way
of living has its own peculiar colour and taste. Popular Indian
Dr Rafiq Zakaria in his celebrated book `A study of Nehru' has
quoted the remarks of Jawaharlal Nehru about the tribal way of
living in India which are fit to Pashtuns as well. "Indeed, it is
quite absurd to call them backward. An average crowd of some of
these tribes would probably be more advanced in many ways than an
average crowd else where in India. The tribal people are virile;
they are highly disciplined; they are often, a great deal more
democratic than most others in India. Above all they are a people
who sing and dance and try to enjoy life, not people who sit in
stock exchanges, shout at each other and think themselves civilized.
People should develop along the lines of their own genius and we
should avoid imposing anything on them, but should rather try to
encourage in every way of their won traditional arts and culture. We
should not judge results by statistics or the amount of money but
the quality of human character evolved."
The history shows that whenever the Pashtuns had leaders of vision
and farsightedness and capable of understanding the true
Pashtunwali, the real and basic features of their culture have
become visible. Whenever the aliens have accessed this culture
following the set principles, Pashtuns have welcomed them and the
union has always resulted in peace and prosperity. Pashtuns have
contributed towards establishing peace and stability in the world
but this history has not been written yet. Perhaps this cultural
history of Pashtuns till now lay scattered in their proverbs,
traditions, songs and the folkloric genres. However, a chunk of it
has been preserved by Pashto literature. Before examining the
literary genres and oral traditions which will reveal the true
picture of Pashtun culture, it is better to discuss the image of
Pashtuns in the world in the wake of new geopolitical scenario
shaped by other peoples. Pashtun is being considered as martial and
warrior race. There is no denying the fact that Pashtuns have had
fought many battles and wars. They have shown resistance against
Alexander the Great, the Iranian Darius the Great from Zaheeruddin
Babar, Aurangzeb Alamgir followed by Ranjeet Singh, Britishers and
then having trapped in the Great Game, Pashtuns seriously suffered
the Russian invasion. Still Pashtuns having fallen prey to world
politics, they have faced a war like situation even after the
disintegration of Russia.
Khushhal Khan Khattak once has rightly depicted this bizarre
situation of Pashtuns in one of his couplets.

áÇ íæ ÔæÑ ÑÇ ځíäې áÇړ äå æí Èá ÑÇÔí
ãګÑ Òۀ ېÏÇ å æÑځ Ï ÔæÑæÔÑ íã

"I am constantly in the grip of pandemonium; probably I am born on
the day of chaos.' The land of Pashtuns enjoys a significant
strategic geographical importance in the world politics. It has both
political and strategic dimensions. Unfortunately, before trying to
have an in-depth study of the Pashtun's cultural values, the world
powers in their ecstatic state of unprecedented strength directly
plunged into war with Pashtuns. This is not the first incident in
the history. Many such incidents have taken place in the life of
Pashtuns. In the recent past, first during the Great Game, the two
world powers: the Britishers and Russians against the wishes of
Pashtuns made their pure land as a central field for playing their
political game and secondly without understanding the traditions and
Pashtun psyche , both the great powers began their intriguing game
which resulted in a constant clash. The three Afghan wars between
Pashtuns and the Britishers is an ample proof in history as to who
is to be blamed for destroying the peace in the land of Pashtuns.
The literature created during the wars reflects a strong desire for
peace and also the Pashtun folklore contains aspiration for
establishing the lasting peace. After the Afghan wars, when Pashtun
soldiers were fighting on different fronts during the Second World
War, the Pashtuns mothers, sisters and damsels have longed for peace
in their songs and their strong desire for stability and peace has
made a loud echo in the Pashto folk literature. Tapa is a unique
folk literary genre which is sung with or without any musical
instrument in which mostly Pashtun women express their feelings and
emotions in a befitting manner. Almost every Pashtun male and female
is gifted with the natural poetic talent to compose tapa on any
occasion and subject. It has encompassed every aspect of Pashtun
life. Peace and love for peace has always been the favourite subject
of the tapa. A few examples reflect love for peace. "Your love has
made me so caring that I don't dare trampling even an ant for fear
of its being separated from its life partner." "I am so tired of
wars that I won't fight even the battle of love." "If respect could
be achieved through fighting wars, then all the elders of the
villages would have been led by dogs."
After the Second World War, began a long and crucial period of the
cold war. It divided the world into two hostile blocs. This division
gave a new sense of peace to the peoples of the world. As a
consequence of the cold war, Vietnam was entangled into a hot war.
The atrocities being meted out to the oppressed people of Vietnam
roused the conscience of the enlightened peoples of the world to
sympathize with them. Voices for self determination of the people of
Vietnam were raised in the world literature. With it, an organized
world literary movement for establishing peace and stability in the
world took strong roots in every nook and corner of the globe.
Pashtun poets and writers were not lagging behind other peoples in
this regard. They too were desirous to bring peace and stability to
the chaotic world. A strong literary movement in Pashto started in
favour of Vietnam for establishing peace at all levels which is
reflective of Pashtun's love for peace. In this connection, two
masterpiece poems of the popular revolutionary poet and critic
Qalandar Momand can be quoted `Da Alami Zameer Pah noom' (In the
name of the world Conscience) and Da Veitnam Charbetay', they are
the representative poems of the Pashto literature. The rough English
translation of the first and last stanzas of the poem "Da Alami
Zameer Pa noom" is given."

Òۀ Ï ÊíÑæ Çæ ÙáãÊæäæ ÇÒáí ÏÔãä íã
á˜å Ï äãÑ ãې åãېÔå Ï Ôې ځíګÑ څíÑáÿ
ãÇ Îá ځÇä áãÈې ګÇááې ÒãÇ Òړۀ
Îæ ãې Ï Ôې ÍÌÇÈ Ï څړí˜íæ å ÎäÌÑ څíÑáÿ
ÊÑ Îáå Ï ãÙáæ㠁å ãÑÓÊå ټíäګ æáÇړ íã
ÇáÌÒÇÆÑ æ æښÊÆ æ ګæÑÆ ˜ÔãíÑ څۀ æÇÆí¿
ې ää å ãÇ Ïå äæ å ãÇ Ïå å ÇÑÇ㠁ÑÇÊۀ íÆ
íۀ ÏÏäíÇ ÇæáÓå !ÊÇÓæ Êå ÖãíÑ څۀ æÇÆí¿

"I am an absolute enemy of aggression and tyranny. / Like the sun
rays, I have torn down curtain of night's darkness. / I have carried
the burden of the hardships on my heart. / I have torn down the
curtain of night's darkness through the sword of my pang. ………………..I
have stood firmly by the destitute to the best of my capability. Ask
about Alga ire and what the Kashmir demands from you? / To day it is
my turn to have been in trouble. Tomorrow it will be yours. O! The
peoples of the world, prick your conscience what does it tell to you?
Likewise, poems in Pashto literature have been created to throw
light on every such big incidence of prime importance. Pashtun poets
and writers have expressed deep anguish and concern over any kind of
aggression and have resisted it strongly in their writings. The
poems `Lomumba' and `Da AlgazireJameela' of Fazle Haq Shaida reflect
the hatred for war and strong desire for reconciliation and peace.
In the wake of the world struggle for peace, Pashtun poets and
writers too gave a significant place to this interesting subject.
The impact of the world literary movement filtered down and cast
indelible marks on the modern Pashto literature too. The poem `Amn'
( Peace) of the twentieth century Pashtun poet was even recommended
for entering in the gallery of United Nations Organizations (UNO)
and a letter in this regard was also written to the then Secretary
General of the UNO. The poem written on the subject of peace also
carried the title of `Amn' (Peace). This earned the title of Shaair-
i- Amn to the senior Pashto poet Pir Gauhar and still enjoys fame by
this title. Translation of the first and last stanzas of the poem is
presented as a specimen.

Òۀ ÛæÇړ㠁å Çãä áå ÇÒÛíæ Ï ÇېÔíÇ áãä
äå ÛæÇړ㠍ې Óæځí å áãÈæ Ï ÇېÔíÇ áãä
ډ˜å Ïې æí Êá å ګáæ ÓÑæ Ï ÇېÔíÇ áãä
ÓÊÇ íãå ÔÇÚÑ å ښÊæ Ï ÇېÔíÇ áãä
ÈÓ å ÍÞ ÇäÕáÝ Ïې å ÑíÔÊíÇ ÎÈÑå Ӂíäå Ôí
ÛæÇړãå ې ټæáå ÏäíÇ ãíäå ãíäå ãíäå Ôí
ÏÇ ÏÈÇÔÚæÑæ äړۍ ÛæÇړ㠍ې ÇÈÇÏå æí
æј Ïې Ôí Èãæäå Çæ Ìäګæäå ãᘠÈÑÈÇÏæí
Çãä Çãä Çãä ÈÓ å Çãä Ïې Êá ښÇÏå æí
ÏÇ ځÇäګæ Ï Çãä Ïې ÑېÔÊíÇ å Çãä íÇÏå æí
ځÇÑ Ïې ÇãÑí˜å áå ÑæÓå ÑæÓ Ïې ځÇÑ áå íäå Ôí
ÛæÇړãå ې ټæáå ÏäíÇ ãíäå ãíäå ãíäå Ôí

" I wish Asia to be secured from thorns (in oriental poetry thorn is
the symbol of evil) / I am against the flames of war which burn the
land of Asia. / I wish the flowers of peace be blossomed in Asia. /
I am a poet of Pashto and admire peaceful Asia in my mother
tongue. / Let all the disputes be settled through dialogue on
merit. / I wish the whole world to be bound in the net of love…………I
wish this world of the civilized people should remain prosperous. /
To hell with bombs and wars that bring destruction. /Let the world
should remain joyful through peace and peace alone. / Let this
cradle of peace be always remembered as peace loving region. / Let
America befriend Russia and Russia be tied into the knot of
friendship with China.
The sense of having love for peace and hatred for war which had been
aroused among Pashtuns as a result of an organized movement is of
much historical significance and could be termed as a historic
revolution. This movement was launched in the earlier decades of the
twentieth century when all the Pashtuns were gathered and took up
arms to resist the British aggression against their territory and
values system. During freedom struggle of the subcontinent from the
British clutches of power, the efforts of non -violence of great
Pakhtun leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan popularly known as Baacha Khan are
crystal clear to every one in the world. Likewise, his views on
different political issues after partition regarding India, Kashmir
and Afghanistan have proved true and hundred percent correct. This
shows the inert and innate Pakhtun philosophy towards peace and
mutual understanding. This visionary, revolutionary, farsighted and
peacemaker leader of a charismatic qualities, Khan Abdul Ghaffar
Khan popularly known as Baacha Khan appeared on the scene and gave a
slogan of peace to this centuries war stricken warrior Pashtun folk.
He was a Khan (landlord) by status but his heart was throbbing with
pains of the poor masses. He initiated a movement along with some of
his other sincere companions which was not new in nature but
unprecedented in the history of Pashtuns on their land.
The movement came to be known as Khudai Khidmatgaar Tehrik. The
manifesto of this movement was the philosophy of nonviolence,
brotherhood and peacemaking. It was a successful movement which
turned even the warrior Pashtuns into nonviolent. The Khudai
Khidmatgaar Tehrik of Baacha Khan drove away the rapture of Khanism
and feudalism from the powerful Khans and landlords among Pashtuns.
It defeated the pride of the powerful people and gave a new hope to
the weak and the destitute. The movement united both Khan and poor
at one single platform. For the first time, Baacha Khan brought
unity in the ranks of Pashtuns. He then took along all including
Khan, tenant, labourer, wager, and craftsman to get freedom through
equity and humanism. He taught them the meaning of human freedom in
clear words. Baacha Khan freed Pashtun folk from the clutches of the
Britishers through the philosophy of nonviolence. His determination
was firm like a rock. The ordeals and tribulations of imprisonments
could not weaken his strong will. He suffered every kind of trouble
for the sake of his people. People from every walk of life were
drawn to Khudai Khidmatgaar Tehrik.
The movement cast deep impact on Pashto language and literature. So
the nonviolence philosophy carved out a niche in the Pashto
literature and occupied a prominent place for itself. That is why we
see glimpses of thoughts and desire for peace, fraternity,
reconciliation along with the freedom struggle. It is, therefore,
deemed as the brilliant chapter in the history of Pashtuns. It was
the era when the Great Game was being played on the land of
Pashtuns. After the Great Game, Second World War, the cold war, soon
the land was once again trapped into the Russian invasion. It might
have left some psychological impact on the minds of Pashtuns. It is
very difficult to judge this fact that as to why Pashtuns are termed
as the warrior nation.
They fight war for Nung (Honour) only. But unfortunately, nobody has
taken pains to understand the value of Nung in Pashtun's culture;
otherwise their inclination towards peace could have been revealed
very easily. World peoples have condemned the Russian aggression
against Pashtuns but remained oblivious to their incredible
sufferings. The Russian invasion created such unrest on the land of
Pashtuns that forced every peace loving Pashtun to take up arms
which resulted in the disintegration of the former USSR. Warlords
were emerged to serve the interests of the West, the negative
consequences of which are still actively visible in the fabric of
the whole society. In the back drop of 9/11, once again a disastrous
chaos was imposed on the territory of Pashtuns in the name of peace.
Once again Pashtuns came into lime light to be called as terrorists
and religious fanatics across the globe.
This is in fact another blunder. Superpowers being unaware of the
Pashtun culture, history and psyche think that they (Pashtuns) could
be subjugated on the gunpoint. This goes against the tide of
learning from history. Someone has justifiably said, "We learn from
history that we don't learn from history." It may not be difficult
to grab Pashtun's territory by force but to digest it by force is
the most crucial task. The other historians too have termed Pashtuns
as a warrior race in the annals of the history but it is not the
whole truth.
Looking into the chapters of history will reveal to us that growing
up of the glorious Gandhara civilization and reaching its zenith
reflects the Pashtun's natural love for peace. Also collectively
accepting the religion of Islam as a result of the decision of the
Jirga provides us a proof of their love for peace and security as
stems from the very spirit of the religion. It is a different view
altogether that Islam is also being considered now a days as the
religion of terror and threat to the world peace which is in fact a
misunderstanding and borders on the clash of civilizations to some
extent. It needs explanation as to why civilized Pashtunwali
drenched in the teachings of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Islam
should be presented in such a way to the world peoples.
What are the various aspects of Pashtunwali, the world today wants
to know about the true nature of Pashtun values system. If they are
serious about it then they must keep in mind that in addition to its
own indigenous natural characteristics is also a medley of all those
features of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Islam which can guarantee
the world peace. The question is why peace should not be maintained
on the land where Zoroaster spread its teachings successfully, where
Gandhara civilization attained the pinnacle and where Islam is being
practiced in its true letter and spirit. As we have mentioned
earlier, Pashtunwali and its culture is the unwritten constitution,
it is preserved mostly in oral traditions of Pashtuns. It would be
not an exaggeration to say that Pashtun society has more peace
inviting terminologies than any other peace loving society in the
world. The practical examples that can be cited as Rogha , Saaz,
Teega, Panah, Jirga, Maraka, Baramta, Mailmastia and many more.
Hujra is the hub of many social activities in Pashtun's way of life.
It plays very important role in keeping peace among various sections
of the village people. The term Hujra Jummat (Hujra and Mosque)
symbolizes the sense of decorum and seriousness of the situations
regarding social and religious responsibilities of a Pashtun.
Different issues relating to peace and stability and other village
disputes are brought under discussion in the Hujra and resolved
through the census of the Jirga.
These are practically in use in everyday life of Pashtuns. The
message that can be drawn from folk songs for peace has an
interesting background. Also one can feel an intense and clearly
visible propensity towards peace and stability in the classical
literature of Pashtuns. This concept of peace is closely linked to
the cultural values of Pashtuns. This value is held in high esteem
by Pashtuns. If there is no threat to Pashtun's honour (Namoos) both
on individual and collective levels and if it is secured, then the
question doesn't arise that any Pashtun will take up arms. If the
thing is the other way round, then saving this honour is a positive
aspect of Pashtun's culture. True Pashtunwali also favours this
concept. Khushhal Khan Khattak versifies this in his couplet.

ÌåÇä ÔÑã äÇã æ ääګ Ïÿ
˜ۀ ÏÇ äå æí ÌåÇä ړäګ Ïÿ

"It is to live with honour in this world, without it, the world is
anarchy." Lord Russell said, "If peace can not be maintained with
honour, it is no longer peace." Pashtuns are always desirous of
strengthening this honour for the sake of constant peace, they
prefer to leave their hearths and homes but never compromise on the
question of honour. Perhaps it is the reason that Pashtuns do not
build cemented houses which are either left behind or demolished for
safeguarding the cause of honour.
An intellectual has said, "Peace won by compromise is usually a
short lived achievement." Having natural democratic thinking about
safeguarding the honour, Pashtuns are equal irrespective of their
social status. Honour has the same meaning for poor, affluent, small
and big Pashtun folk. Therefore, it is obligatory upon everybody to
take care of everybody's honour. Large number of Pashto proverbs
contains this concept. A few examples are given here. "A city can be
run better by a sweet tongue than by a sharp sword." A hundred
rupees are not worth a single good word." "To rule requires wisdom."
Avoiding beating a man with your finger and he will not kick you."
History is witnessed to this very fact that uncertain situations
have always forced Pashtuns to take up arms. These uncertain
situations are nothing but the fear to lose this honour due to the
foreign intervention.
If even today the world superpowers ensure the protection of
Pashtun's honour, not a single Pashtun will ever like to go on war
with anyone at any cost. It is to make it very clear that this
honour is not a so called misnomer rather it is very meaningful in
its individualistic perspective. Being tired of the centuries old
wars at the hands of the foreign powers at the behest of their
expansionistic desires, Pashtuns of the modern day whose country and
people have been destroyed have a strong desire for peace.
The world should now understand the true spirit of Pashtunwali and
Pashtuns and should access them through their cultural tradition. No
other nation perhaps knows better the importance of dialogue than
Pashtuns. Khushhal Khan Khattak the national poet of Pashtuns has
said long ago,

ÈäÏæÈÓÊ Ï ããá˜Ê Ôí å ÎÈÑæ
íæ ÊÑ Óáæ ÕÏÞå Ôå Óá ÊÑ ÒÑæ

"State can be managed best through means of dialogue. / One could be
sacrificed for hundred and so the hundred be sacrificed over the
number of the opinion of thousand persons." One can derive deep
meanings reflecting the democratic thought of the poet in this
couplet. In another couplet, Khushhal Khan Baba says,

äæÑÇäí ˜Ç åÛå ځÇÆ ې ÓÑå ˜ښېäí
ÏېÑíäå څáæÑ íÇÑÇä å ãÕáÍÊ

"If sit together a few close friends for reaching a compromise, they
will enlighten the very place." Emphasizing the need for dialogue
Khushhal Baba says,

ÑÎäå ګÑ åÑ ګÒ Ï ãá˜ Ï Ñېښææ äå Ïÿ
˜ۀ åÑ څæ Æې ÔÝÇÚÊ ÔېÎ æ ãáÇ ˜Ç

"Any dispute that could be resolved through moderation, then there
is no need to resolve it through war." Condemning the miscreants and
trouble makers the great Baba says," The trouble maker should not be
tolerated in the country at any cost, even if he has the support of
Mullah or a saint." Advocating and adopting the way of dialogue for
arriving at a census on any issue is very old among Pashtun culture.
All the Pashtun intellectuals, poets and writers have advocated the
adoption of democratic norms in their writings in a befitting
manner. The other prominent and deep impact on the Pashtun's outlook
comes from their spiritual leaders and literary giants. The Pir
Roshan's teachings and the whole Roshanite literature advocate the
promotion of the cause of peace and reconciliation. Different mystic
disciplines have created poets like Rahman Baba whom we call as the
poet of humanism. The tremendous popularity of Rahman Baba among
Pashtun's society is an ample evidence of their love and deep
attachment with peace.
Large portion of Rahman Baba's poetry consists of the verses which
gives the message of morality and the high human values. Had peace
been against Pashtun nature, how would Rahman Baba gain such
enormous popularity among Pashtuns? The fact is that those verses of
Rahman Baba have received much world wide public applause which
contains the message of peace. He says,

˜Ñ Ï ګáæ ˜ړå ې Óíãå Ïې ګáÒÇÑ Ôí
ÇÒÛí ãۀ ˜Ñå å ښæ ˜ښې Èå Ïې ÎÇÑ Ôí

"Grow the crop of flowers so as to make the whole area flowery/
don't grow thorns, they will prick your own feet." While teaching
goodness, at another place, Rahman Baba says,

˜ۀ Èá ÈÏ ˜ÇäÏí Êۀ ښۀ æÑÓÑå æ˜Ç
åÑ íæ äÎá ې ãېæå áÑí ÓäګÓÇÑ Ôí

"You do well to others despite their mistreatment to you. Look at a
tree bearing ripe fruit , it will give you fruit when throw stones
at it." Advocating humbleness and humility he says,

ÏåÞÇä ˜Ñ å áæړå Òã˜å ÈÇäÏې äå ˜Ç
ÓÑ ˜æÒí ˜æå ې Èڼ Ïې ãÑÛÒÇÑ Ôí

"The farmer does not grow crop on high fields, likewise you too
should remain submissive and humble to get your garden flourished

ÒåÑ ښۀ Ïí ˜ۀ å ÕáÍ å ÕáÇÍ æíäۀ
äۀ Ô˜Ñې å ÝÊäæ Çæ å ÛæÛÇ

"Getting of poison through peaceful way is better than getting of
sweets through means of fighting."

ې Ï æÑæÑ Ï ÚÒíÒ Òړۀ Ñې ÇÒÇÑېږí
ÍÇÕá ãå Ôå åÓې Ñäګې ãÏÚÇ

"It is better not to achieve any goal which hurts dear and near
one's hearts." There is no end to such sublime verses.
The gray colour of Pashtun's dress symbolizes their down to earth
nature. Pashtuns like the dye of ashes of spalmai (Calotropis
Gigantea) and also this colour is a symbol of tradition of
nonviolence. One can't help to put these questions as to why and
what for the peace loving Pashtuns were forced to long for grabbing
power and resorted to aggression. Why the Pashtuns who used to live
a prosperous life in their clay made muddy houses were compelled to
build up forts and towers. They used to decorate flowers in their
turbans once upon a time but now carry guns on their shoulders. Who
did all this mischief to them? This is simply tragic and nothing
else. Pashtuns are misrepresented and misinterpreted by world media
and have leashed out an anti-Pashtuns propaganda calling them
terrorist and religious fanatics which they had never been and would
never be. This is a serious blunder committed by the world community
the consequences were worst in the past and will also cast black
shadows in future for the world peace. The best thing would be to
discover and explore Pashtuns, their history, social traditions and
customs and cultural heritage in true perspective. People should
know and understand the structure and functioning of Pashtun's Jirga
system. They should try to comprehend the philosophy of Jirga as a
social institution.
If the Bonn conference of Loya Jirga could bring peace, stability
and democracy to a war ravaged country of Afghanistan, then Pashtuns
can also play their due role in establishing world peace and can
contribute a lot to the spreading of the global peace culture. But
mutual understanding is a perquisite for accomplishing such a
gigantic task. Before converging on one platform, the world cultures
should develop and enhance a sense of tolerance and mutual
understating in a better way among their peoples. For establishing
everlasting peace on the surface of the earth, Pashtun's moral
system can be best exploited at world level in this regard.
Jirga and its institution have a very long history since the times
of the Aryans; Sabah, Shura, Ghunda and Naasta, Maraka are the other
names of the Pashtun council but Jirga/ Jurga are the actual names
which are widely known. It is this Jirga which makes the Pashtun
culture and Pashtuns peaceful and peace loving. The very concept of
Jirga is based on peace Jirga is the council of elders whose
representatives are selected from among the different Khels
(sections) of the village, Seema (Area) and Qabeela (tribe). Jirga
and its tradition are very old. It is the best peacemaking
institution. Pashtuns resolve all of their disputes and conflicts
through the decisions of Jirga. Jirga functions at local as well as
national level. Local Jirga works for resolving the various issues
and conflicts arising among village people while national Jirga
(Loya Jirga) is a big council which is held to resolve the
conflicts , issues and other affairs according to whether pertaining
to bringing peace among the warring tribes and also to select the
head of the government. This Jirga enjoys the powers to resolve
political, social, economic, cultural and religious issues. It
eliminates tension, quarrels and misunderstanding existing among
people of the society. Jirga is preceded by Maraka (discussion)
which develops a census among members of the Jirga before taking a
firm and righteous decision regarding any issue at hand. To accept
Jirga's verdict is considered as a sacred social responsibility.
Nobody can violate laws of the Jirga, whether a huge penalty in
terms of money, demolition of house and excommunication.
The local Jirga comprises of those well chosen representatives whose
honesty, fairness, courage and straightforwardness are widely
acknowledged by village people. It is essential for every member of
the Jirga to have character integrity, truthfulness and
outspokenness. He must have the quality of being intelligent,
farsighted and must know the rules and regulations of the Jirga and
Pashtunwali. Jirga actually functions and takes decisions according
to the principles and laws of the Pashtunwali. It is a must for the
Jirga to be held at a neutral place where all the members would sit
on ground traditionally in circle. That is why every member can be
seen carrying a chadar (sheet of cloth) so that he could lay it to
sit on.
The Pashto proverb "You better leave the village but don't ignore
the customs of the village" explains one of the basic principles of
the Jirga means that one can leave the village but can not violate
the principles laid down in the traditions and customs of
Pashtunwali. At local level too, the Jirga paves way for brining
peace and reconciliation among people regarding any issue or
conflict. Jirga enjoys the authority conferred on its members by the
people hailing from every walk of life. Jirga has the capability to
resolve conflicts between two opposing groups, tribes and even two
nations. It can play its due role for creating a favourable
atmosphere for peace and tranquility between government's forces and
tribesmen as well. The decisions of the Jirga are so long-lasting
that they are still honoured once made with the Britishers in the
tribal agencies. The present unrest and uprising in the Waziristan
is said to be because of the violation of those decisions by the
government. Had the government taken the tribesmen into confidence
through Jirga, the resistance of the army would have not been that
severe. The history tells us that the strength of the Ghori and
Lodhi dynasties was the result of consultation of brethren Pashtuns
through Jirga of the earlier Monarchs before Ibrahim Lodhi when he
ignored this practice of his forefathers, the Pashtuns left him
alone and this caused his defeat in the first battle of Panipat.
Ahmad Shah Abdali fondly remembered as Ahmad Shah Baba, the founder
of modern Afghanistan had got access to the throne through the
decision of Jirga. Though the history of all those historical Jirgas
has not been written so far, but there are many historical Jirgas
which have changed the course of history. Many interesting evidences
could be found while arriving at the historical decisions. All the
peace agreements that had been reached between the Britishers and
Pashtuns were taken by Jirga.
It is need of the hour that we should know the depth of the
prediction of Allama Muhammad Iqbal which he had made in of one his
Persian couplets. "Asia is a body made up of water and clay. The
Afghans (Pashtuns) possess the place of heart in this body.
Disturbances in this heart will cause disturbance to the whole of
Asia and its nourishment is the flourishing of o Asia.

ÇÓíÇ í˜ í˜Ñ ÇÈ æ ګá ÇÓÊ
ãáÊ ÇÝÛÇä ÏÑÂä í˜Ñ Ïá ÇÓÊ

" This one prophesy of a visionary poet is sufficient for the world
peoples to open their eyes. Don't go any far. We have recently
experienced this phenomenon in Afghanistan. The unprecedented war
destruction in Afghanistan took the whole world to uncertainty and
political turmoil. Now the war on terrorism is being fought on
Pashtun's land without going into the depth of understanding the
psyche of Pakhtuns. It could be made effective only if a way of
dialogue according to the cultural traditions and social norms of
Pakhtuns is adopted and also an understanding of their moral system
is a must which regulates and governs their inner and outer life
style. This moral system is embedded in their language and
Many Pakhtun poets have composed poems reflecting and highlighting
the miserable plight and horrible situations of Pakhtuns focusing on
how they are suffering under the ropes of great powers of the vested
interests. Now when there is a paradigm shift causing a remarkable
change in Pashtun's cultures leading them to perpetual peace,
Pakhtuns are also contributing towards the efforts of making peace
at world level. In addition, they have speeded up the pace of peace
making efforts at local level.
They are very much conscious of the so called clash of civilizations
which results in the absence of dialogue and mutual understanding.
The democratic nations of the world should keep in view that other
civilizations should also have the right to flourish and that they
should avoid hurting feelings of the peoples who come from various
cultural identities across the globe. This is in fact an
evolutionary process while revolution invites war and conflict.
Exercising power will not work to resolve issues and `Change' in the
world could be brought through evolutionary process which may take
years and even centuries as the maxim goes `Rome was not built in
one day'. Everybody should work to eliminate Machiavellian way of
ruling from the world. We strongly believe that peace efforts could
only be made effective if peace elements in the world cultures are
highlighted and the general masses are made aware of this human's
everlasting tie. Pakhtun history, culture, social traditions and
literature can work as catalyst for accelerating the pace of peace
process in the world.

(The research paper was read out at an international peace workshop
recently held in Karachi)

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