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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A good begning :Well-done Mondokhail

Taliban and Talibanisation
Wali Khan MandoKhail
The Frontier Post. December 27 , 2006
After admission from the founder of Taliban, some elements are trying to deny facts and misguide the masses through emotional and irrational sentiments. This is crime against one particular nation, as we have been bracketed with Taliban. Furthermore, a turbine of terrorism has been thrust on our head as a reward, not as an individual but as nation. This is unacceptable and condemnable as we Pashtuns are a peace-loving nation with a rich culture of paying respect to all humans - irrespective of religion, race, creed, language, colour and culture. After the US suffered a humiliating defeat in Vietnam, the USSR was engaged in a proxy war. The US was looking for revenge searching an opportunity of the trapping the former Soviet Union. This search for opportunity finally ended when the USSR was invited to defend the new-borne revolutionary government in Afghanistan. Americans evinced a keen interest in training and waging a proxy war against the USSR in Afghanistan to Pakistani government which they accepted as they were looking forward to settle their own scores with Afghanistan. CIA with the help of ISI started training and providing weapons to People who were in opposition to that change in Afghanistan, Present Pashtun belt were transformed in to sanctuary for training and crossing over the boarder for instability and terrorist activities in Afghanistan, As Pashtuns are Islam loving nation so they chose to give this proxy war a name of Jihad with strategy to attract more people here. Our religious leaders were paid by CIA and ISI to declare Jihad in Afghanistan by issuing Fatwa's which our religious leaders did without thinking about the after math, All Arab countries were allied in this proxy war by providing oil money and sending international terrorists to tribal area including present fugitive Osama Bin Ladin, after long lasting fight and lost of heavy casualties under an agreement Russians withdraw forces from Afghanistan in 1989, from 1989 to 1992 Afghanistan were ruled by Dr Najeeb and they fought the all intruders with heroic spirit. Dr Najeeb on several occasions invited the rebel leaders for peaceful settlement of Afghan crises but these so-called jihad preachers never listen to his sincere efforts and then time arrived when Dr Najeeb decided to quit for the sake of bringing peace to war torn Afghanistan, here the true face of jihad and jihadis appeared. They started quarreling each other and killing each other as who will be the ruler at Kabul, in the meanwhile Afghanistan history has seen the worst face of these jihadis and their so called jihad as innocent people were killed, women were raped, boy's were abducted by different mujahideen faction leaders, Afghanistan situation were made worst then Dr Najeeb Govt era for sake of chair, Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI was the mother of all these mujahideen factions so they intervene with the help of Pakistan based religious parties heads including Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Then accords were sign by swearing on Quran in Kaaba for settling disputes through peaceful means. We had seen the worst fighting in Kabul where Ahmad Shah Masood and Gulbadin Hekmatyar fought each other which destroyed every inch of Kabul city with casualties up to 35 thousand in short period of one week. Did any one ever try as to what was the main reason behind assault on Kabul? The main reason was Pakistan was looking for Pakistan friendly and pro-Pakistan in Kabul who will look after Pakistani interests in Afghanistan but Ahmad Shah Masood refused to act like a Pakistani puppet and there Pakistan sent a signal to Gulbadin Hekmatyar for big assault on Kabul. Pakistan was looking to settle the Durand Line issue with Puppet Pro Pakistani govt in Afghanistan and that was the sole reason by supporting Hezb-i-Islami in war Against Ahmad Shah Masood but Pakistan failed to get rid of Ahmad Shah Masood, who proved to be a tough resistance leader against Pakistan-backed forces. Time passed by as it is and more factional killing among mujahideen organizations which made ordinary Afghan's lives like living in hell. After few years ISI got new plan to capture Afghanistan and declare it as 5th province by introducing Taliban, How Taliban emerged? Pakistan made an attempt to go through Afghanistan with a trade caravan entering through Chaman border via Kandahar heading towards central Asian country, Pakistan believed they will go through Afghanistan without any difficulty but the case wasn't like what Pakistan was assuming. Commander Mansoor stopped then between Spin Boldak and Kandahaar and asked them about their documentation and visas which Pakistani delegation was not able to provide, they were all stopped and arrested and put in prison for violating and traveling in to Afghanistan with visa or permits, this something very humiliating for Pakistan and a right time to launch Taliban movement. >From Chaman ISI-trained people were order to march on Qandahar and in backup all religious leaders were asked to provide more foot soldiers by declaring again jihad against another Muslim Commander on orders of ISI, All around Pakistan ISI backed groups were called to backup this newly born Taliban movement, in mosques and seminaries; once again ISI-paid Ulema started preaching jihad but innocent and uneducated people never asked why jihad now and against whom? They just run as Mullahs asked them. Before I go further I had a one interesting incident while traveling from Karachi to Quetta by bus, next to my seat there was a group of Taliban's who were heading towards Afghanistan, during conversation I asked this question: How you guys fly jets as you don't know about the them and it needs basic qualification and tough training before a person is permitted a solo flight? The answer was really interesting. They guy goes: "We just recite a few verses from Quran and then we are able to fly jets." It shows which verse they were talking about. Pakistan regular army and reserve army was fully behind the offensive of Taliban including ISI, apart from admission by Gen. (rtd) Naseerulah Babar and other ex-ISI officials. I remember the article of well known columnist Jawed Chaudhry in Jang, where he wrote about the law and order situation in Pakistan. He once wrote: "Col Imam , an in-service official of ISI told him when he was traveling from Herat towards Torkham ; he didn't carry bundles of bodyguards but after crossing Torkham was escorted with 10 to 15 cars''…Question arises what an in-service Col Imam was doing in Herat? Is Herat a Picnic point? Was he on a picnic? Or was he there with visa? The answer is a big no and the true answer is he was the commander-in-chief of the Taliban movement and all others like Mullah Omar and Co are dummies. Pakistan's motive behind creating Taliban was of several reasons,(1) To sign a agreement for settling the historical dispute of Durand Line in favor of Pakistan which they did but fortunately some true Afghans among Taliban ranks refused to do so and those who refused were then eliminated from Taliban movement by killing them. To break Afghanistan into several pieces and that was the reason fanatics like Lashkar-i- Jhangvi, Harkatul Mujahideen and many more organizations were given a free hand to do what they want in Afghanistan. As a result, the massacre of more then 20 thousand Hazaras in Bamyan occurred. That was condemnable in the strongest of terms as innocent people were killed, women raped and whole villages destroyed. It was a brutal and inhuman act of barbarism by ISI agents to create hatred among Pashtuns and other nations and fan sectarianism by promoting Taliban, labeled as a Pashtun movement. That tactics worked and there was revenge from Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks against Pashtuns by assaulting them, killing them and raping their women which I feel ashamed as a Pashtun to write these lines but to open my fellow Pashtun's eyes I took a bold step to write these harsh lines. This was tit-for-tat but still condemnable as strong as possible. Pakistan were failed again in her attempts to conquer Afghanistan after tragic 9/11 event, international community and the US turn back faces towards Afghanistan and Pakistan were ordered to leave Afghanistan as quick as possible other wise face bombardment of all major Pakistani cities. This was a good day for Afghans as Pakistan pulled out its regular and reserve forces from Afghanistan. That resulted in the collapse of the Taliban regime. After the fall of Taliban in Afghanistan and threats from the US to Pakistan of an open war, jihadists in Pakistan were curbed for a while. Meanwhile, Pakistan made again a demand for fencing the Durand line which was rejected. Then Pakistan started another proxy war with the help of al-Qaeda by staging guerrilla warfare against the development and stability of Afghanistan by burning schools, killing teachers, engineers, ulema and setting up a sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taliban fugitives in the tribal belt on the eastern side of Durand line. Because of American pressure and condemnation by international community Pakistan was not able to interfere in Afghanistan openly, so a proxy war is the best way for creating instability there. Pakistan is of the opinion that Afghanistan will be stabilized and developed then Pashtuns living on the eastern side of the Durand Line may decide to go back to Afghanistan. So a disturbed Afghanistan and a strong Taliban Movement in the Pashtun belt is in favor of Pakistan because on the one hand Pakistan is using Taliban and Mullahs to destabilize Afghanistan and on other they are trying to crush nationalist movements with the abduction and killing of their leaders on ISI orders. Because these nationalist movements are looking for unification of all Pashtuns land and greater control of Pashtun resources, which is unacceptable to Pakistan and which is against the interests of Punjabi imperialism, intent upon oppressing and exploiting Pashtun resources to feed Punjab's population and to develop that province. In Last I have few Questions for my brothers, when Americans were supporting and paying dollars for destruction of Afghanistan it was jihad and now when Americans stop paying now it is jihad against Americans? Why? Maulana Fazlur Rehman is not resigning from national and provincial assemblies and he is enjoying being in cahoots with Gen Musharraf's party PML-Q. But in Afghanistan he is against dialogue and doesn't believe in democratic politics? Is that not double standard? In Afghanistan it is jihad to destroy roads, schools, hospitals, killing ulema and teachers, women and children. But in Pakistan, against American ally Musharraf, jihad is not allowed. Why? In Pakistan when nationalist leaders demand Pashtun rights and unity, they are declared kafir and all their demands against Islam. But in Afghanistan they talk about Pashtuns? Is that not cheating in the name of Islam? Why within a few hundreds kilometers Islam is totally changed? The answer is neither Taliban nor these Mullahs are sincere to Islam; they are just using the jihad slogan to defend Pakistani and Punjabi interests. Now for Allah sake, wake up and don't use Islam as a weapon to defend Punjabi imperialist interests. Talibinisation of the Pashtun belt by ISI with help ISI sister organization are condemnable and now the UN must intervene to save Pashtuns from mass criminalisation and Talibanisation and they must pressure Pakistan to expel all her guests from tribal belt as there is no more place available for agents and their guests in the tribal belt for their proxy war against Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Volatile North-West Frontier: Summary of a D.C. Event

Retrieved from : watandost Blog
Pakistan's Volatile North-West Frontier: Pashtun Tribes, Taliban, and al-Qaeda
Washington, DC: December 14, 2006

Event Summary
Hassan Abbas, Fellow, Harvard's JFK School of Government
Michael Scheuer, Senior Fellow, The Jamestown Foundation


On December 14, The Jamestown Foundation hosted an event featuring Hassan Abbas, a fellow at Harvard's JFK School of Government, and Michael Scheuer, a senior fellow at The Jamestown Foundation and the former chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit. More than 90 guests attended the conference, which was titled Pakistan's Volatile North-West Frontier: Pashtun Tribes, Taliban, and al-Qaeda.

Hassan Abbas, who is a former Sub-Divisional Police Chief in the NWFP and former Deputy Director of Investigations in Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau from 1999-2000, began the conference by highlighting some critical issues affecting stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan:

Pakistan and Afghanistan have reached an unprecedented level of tension over the border. Musharraf is dangerously close to losing control of the tribal regions. The traditional tribal maliks, a cornerstone in governing the tribal belt, are being assassinated in growing numbers. NWFP Governor Orakzai, who was appointed by Musharraf, has lost credibility with his own people, the Pashtuns, as a result of the recent Bajaur Agency airstrike. Foreign aid to Pakistan is not reaching the tribal areas. Musharraf faces increasing pressure from the Pashtun element in the military.

Before analyzing these issues, Mr. Abbas presented a detailed overview of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the NWFP:

Wahhabi and Deobandi influences are strong in the tribal regions, but especially so in North and South Waziristan. There are approximately 60 major Pashtun tribes, yet more than 400 sub-clans. The Pashtuns in the tribal belt profit from trading, tracking, trucking and trafficking. Education levels are low. The entire border region has been a rentier state historically. Pashtuns have not surrendered control of their territory to outside forces; nevertheless, they are prone to compromise. Suicide bombings were largely unheard of in the region until recently. Now, the number of suicide attacks has escalated significantly in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Durand Line, which separates Pakistan and Afghanistan, is long and twisted, making it very difficult to patrol. Despite there being some 186 check points on the Pakistan side of the border, human traffic continues to flow between the two states.

Mr. Abbas then outlined the current ground realities in the tribal regions. While Pakistan's writ in the tribal areas has always been minimal, the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan exacerbated the problem. Islamabad's political agents in the tribal agencies are under constant threat of attack, and those accused of supporting the government are regularly killed. Extremist tendencies are on the rise in the tribal belt, and some of this has to do with al-Qaeda's influence. Tribal maliks are being killed at an unprecedented rate, with some 200 assassinated in the last two years. This has resulted in the elimination of the traditional tribal leadership.

In an especially revealing statement, Mr. Abbas explained a primary reason for the difficulty in controlling the tribal areas. While the Pakistani army is mainly composed of Punjabis, approximately 20-25 percent of it is Pashtun. Due to Pashtun culture, these Pashtun soldiers regularly take leave at their homes in the tribal regions, sometimes every two to three weeks. Here they are influenced by developments "back home," which pressures the Pakistani government to keep this section of the military satisfied. According to Mr. Abbas, this may be one reason why Musharraf has tried to establish peace deals in the tribal agencies.

Mr. Abbas then offered some solutions to alleviate the strain in the tribal areas:

Negotiate with Afghan and Pashtun leaders in tribal jirga format rather than round table discussions. Attempt to revitalize secular forces in the tribal areas, such as Asfandyar Wali Khan, the leader of the Awami National Party. Consider incorporating some of the tribal areas into the settled areas of the NWFP. Recognize that the military option has not worked. Oversee Pakistan's spending policies in the tribal areas since much of the foreign aid coming to Pakistan for this purpose is not evident on the ground. Increase infrastructure investment in Afghanistan in order to dull the draw that this conflict has on Pashtuns in the tribal belt. Allow journalists and human rights organizations into the tribal areas.

After Hassan Abbas' speech, Michael Scheuer examined al-Qaeda's involvement in FATA and the NWFP, the border areas in general, how intelligence gathering is accomplished on the Frontier and ways ahead. According to Mr. Scheuer, Osama bin Laden established bases and contacts in the border region throughout the 1980s, well before the creation of al-Qaeda. This influence originated when Abdullah Azzam and bin Laden created the Afghan Services Bureau to coordinate humanitarian and military operations in Afghanistan during the jihad against the Soviets. In the early 1980s, bin Laden developed a working relationship with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan Army. This relationship facilitated bin Laden's access to the border regions. During this time, bin Laden established ties with notorious Afghan figures, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Qazi Mohammad. It was these various ties that assisted Osama bin Laden and the core al-Qaeda leadership in their escape from Tora Bora in 2001.

Mr. Scheuer then explained how intelligence work in the border areas is conducted. The tribal areas present a formidable obstacle in acquiring intelligence since the Pashtuns are divided into various sub-tribes and are often at odds with each other. The society is very insular and Westerners are not welcome, making it difficult to insert Special Forces units into the region. While it is possible to recruit Pashtuns to assist outside forces in intelligence gathering, it is almost impossible to recruit a Pashtun that will condemn another Pashtun or even a non-Pashtun Muslim. Furthermore, after nearly three decades of conflict, the Pashtun brand of Islam has moved closer to the more conservative standard of the Middle East. Not only do Western intelligence services suffer from these factors, but Pakistan's own ISI and military also encounter the same problems. An even more basic dilemma is the topography of the region and the nature of the border--to this day, accurate maps are difficult to find, even for the intelligence services.

According to Mr. Scheuer, the outlook for the region is not positive. Karzai's government in Kabul is in a state of demise and is increasingly unpopular at home. Failure to secure the border will mean that Pashtun and al-Qaeda insurgents will continue to engage in attacks in Afghanistan and then use Pakistan as a rear base, remaining free from U.S. and NATO reprisals.

Founded in 1984, The Jamestown Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research institution dedicated to providing timely information concerning critical political and strategic developments in China, Russia, Eurasia and the Greater Middle East. Jamestown produces five periodic publications: Eurasia Daily Monitor, Terrorism Monitor, Terrorism Focus, Chechnya Weekly and China Brief. Jamestown research and analysis is available to the public free-of-charge via Jamestown's website.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

All Pakhtuns Taliban? NO

All Pakhtuns Taliban? NO
Helmand Khan
At this point in time, the west is trying to understand the causes beyond the renewed strength of Taliban's led insurgency in Afghanistan, fighting the war on terror in the remote mountains of Southern Afghanistan and closely watching developments in the tribal areas of Pakistan which has recently been dubbed as virtual mini Taliban state by an international think tank, ICG (International Crisis Group). One obvious finger is being pointed towards one community called Pakhtuns and is suggested that Taliban are pakhtuns and pakhtuns are Taliban. However, is it fair to associate the whole community- spreading the large swath of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with extremist Taliban. The obvious answer is a big No. It is not the first time that pakhtuns are on the sponlight. When erstwhile Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, the whole free world rushed to this remote corner of the world, pursuing a a gurella war thorough its proxies in Afghanistan against soviert forces. The war sucked in thousands of pakhtuns not only form Afghanistan but also form Pakistan's tribal areas, NWFP and Baluchistan. With the hind sight it is logical to concede that pakhtuns were fighting the war of Soviet Union and the free world led by the United States of America. Hence they were caught in a cross fire. Pakistan being a regional player, benefited the most from the Afghan war. It's policy towards pakhtuns was very much calculated: Pakistani's establishment which was and is running the countries foreign policy, set up hundreds of Madrasas in the pakhtun dominated areas of NWFP, Tribal areas and Baluchistan. Religious political parties were established, and funded by Islamabad and their backers in the Middle East. Thus it become the defecto official policy of Islamabad to promote extremism and fundamentalism among the pakhtuns. Through out the Afghan war, Pakistan suppressed pakhtun democratic and secular forces as it was easy for the army to manipulate religious political outfits to its ends. Nationalist leaders were imprisoned, and no voice of civil society among the pakhtuns was let to question the state policy of radicalising pakhtuns. Unfortunately, the west also tuned a blind eye towards Pakistan's deliberate policy of fostering extremism in the nearly 40 millions pakhtuns (figures quoted by renowned journalist and regional expert, Ahmed Rashid). This policy also indirectly served the interest of the west to have more foot soldiers available for "Afgan Jihad". T-he steady supply of pakhtun foot soldiers to Afghan war, created a quite impression in western capitals: that Afghans-read pakhtuns-owing to extre-me religious fervour, were ready to die in the name of Isl-am or Jihad. There was no di-rect communication between the pakhtun democratic and se-cular political parties and the west. As the cold war was over and subsequent events proved, the west simply walked away form Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan in charge of the region. Among other objectives, with the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, Islamabad pretended that Taliban's coming into power was in the interest of pakhtuns in Afghanistan thus becoming champion of pakhtun rights in Afghanistan as well. The arrival of Taliban in Afghanistan, provided a great opportunity to Pakistan assure the world that Taliban are the natural choice of pakhtuns: that pakhtuns are Taliban and Taliban are pakhtuns, so the whole world should support Taliban so that pakhtuns' grievances are addressed in Afghanistanm and by doing so end the internal fighting in the country. As there were no credible secular democratic parties among pakhtuns of Afghanistan, Taliban were touted as the only pakhtun force on the scene hence to be reckoned with. The demonising of Pakhtun community continues even today. The logic behind the recent deal in the tribal areas of Pakistan was this: local pro Taliban elements were gaining support among pakhtuns of tribal areas so in order to wane the support of pakhtuns, Tal-iban should be part of any deal. However, in fact it was a recipe for further talibanisation of the area. Islamabad has never allowed mainstream pakhtun political parties to do political activities in tribal areas. But religious alliance of Mutahida Mijlas Amal (MMA) has MPs elected to Parliament from this area. It proves that Islamabad continues with its cold war policy of deliberately radicalising pakhtuns at the expense of moderate pakhtun political parties, on hand, and sending a message to the whole world that all pakhtuns are Al Qaeda sympathisers and Taliban supporters. However, evidence suggests otherwise: The fact is that electoral successes by the religious right in pakhtun areas have always been engineered by Islamabad. Even today, moderate and secular pakhtun political parties are suspected as anti Pakistan just because they have opposed the policies of Islamabad on democracy, human rights, interfering in neighbouring courtiers and radicalising pakhtuns and greater autonomy for minorities. Besides, the above parties, thousands of middle class pakhtuns are in Europe and the United States who have strongly opposed Taliban and Al Qaeda's presence in the region. A new pakhtuns middle class is emerging in Pakistan who believes in education, development, and above all moderation. Pakhtun women are increasingly becoming educated and trying to participate in all walks of life. Now they have started to join non traditiona fields like NGOs, air force and media. They would never approve Taliban's restrictions on fellow women. The west needs a long term strategy to deal with extremism in Pakhtun areas of Pakistan. 1. It should not support Pakistan's so called peace deals with pro Taliban militants in Tribal areas and help rid the area of parallel Taliban administration . 2. It needs to put pressure on Pakistan army to abandon its policy of radicalising Pakhtuns by stopping the promotion of religious parties in the Pakhtun belt, introducing Madrasa reforms, bringing in the area a far with the rest of the country, and uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the pakhtuns. 3. Western capitals should link all their aid to Pakistan ,with political reforms in Tribal areas and genuine support for secular, democratic forces among pakhtuns. 4. General Pervaz Mushraf's talk of "enlightened moderation" is a mere rhetoric that needs concrete actions so should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Pushtunwali / Honour among them

Honour among them
From The Economist print edition

Thieves, murderers, rapists; and how the Pushtuns' ancient tribal code is fighting for survival against radical Islam

IN A cinema hoarding in Peshawar's Khyber bazaar, Arbaz Khan brandishes a Kalashnikov rifle with a muscular brown arm dripping with scarlet blood. Two nicely plump, pink-cheeked maidens are arranged on the grey rocks behind the actor, manacled and in chains. Mr Khan's roaring, jet-moustachioed mouth bellows the name of the film: “It is my sin that I am Pushtun!”

As an examination of moral equivalence, the film raises difficult questions. To simplify: Mr Khan's father is killed in a blood-feud, after which, according to the tribal code of the Pushtuns—or Pakhtuns, or Pathans, as they are also called—Mr Khan's uncle should marry his dead brother's widow and accept Mr Khan as his son. But Mr Khan's mother is rather long-in-the-tooth, so Mr Khan's uncle (or father) takes up with a dancing-girl, whom, to satisfy his mother's honour, Mr Khan kills. Mr Khan then falls in love. But, dash it, his uncle (or father) makes a play for his girl! Herein lies a dilemma. According to the tribal code, which is called Pushtunwali, Mr Khan must honour his father and also slaughter anyone who messes with his lady. Which way should he choose? After brief anguish, Mr Khan slots his randy uncle.
To Western critics, “Aayeena” might sound like Bollywood schlock. But it has real-life resonance in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Your correspondent recently paid a visit there to a politician, Anwar Kamal Marwat, a florid gentleman of military bearing and parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the NWFP assembly. By chance, Mr Kamal had that evening returned from a distant jirga, or tribal council, involving several hundred elders from Pakistan and Afghanistan, representing several dozen Pushtun tribes and their constituent clans. The jirga had been convened to settle a blood-money claim against the Marwat tribe, which Mr Kamal leads, incurred in April 2004.

For several years previously, the Marwat had been feuding with their neighbours, the Bhattani, another small Pushtun tribe. The tit-for-tat offences were quite piffling, said Mr Kamal—a spot of thieving or kidnapping of fighting-age males. Then some Bhattani hotheads abducted two Marwat girls; and Mr Kamal went Pushtun-postal. Leading an army of 4,000 Marwat fighters, equipped with artillery, he levelled a Bhattani town, killing 80 people, including the two unlucky, but nonetheless dishonoured, girls. Neither the bloodletting, nor the jirga that followed it (which stung Mr Kamal and his tribe for $60,000), seem even to have been mentioned in the Pakistani press.

Asked whether he saw any contradiction in a senior lawmaker instigating such extreme violence, Mr Kamal appeared astonished. “Well, we don't claim this is something to be proud of,” he stuttered. “But it is a question of prestige, you see, a question of honour.” In other words, he might have said, paraphrasing Mr Khan: it is his sin that he is Pushtun.

It is over 250 years since Afghanistan was cobbled together, from many ethnic groups, and two centuries since British colonisers tried stretching their writ to India's (now Pakistan's) north-western frontier, where the plains crumple up towards the Hindu Kush. Yet, in both places, a large part of the population is still wedded to Pushtunwali. Some 15m Pushtuns live in Afghanistan, or 50% of its population; and 28m in Pakistan, mostly in NWFP, representing about 15% of the population there. Most of them are ruled by their tribal code, the notable exception being where the rival Islamist code, of the stringent Saudi variety which is preached by the Taliban and quite new to Afghanistan, is strong. Islamism has rivalled Pushtunwali for centuries; it has often gained prominence, as currently, in time of war. More typically, the two competing ways have cross-fertilised in Afghanistan, each subtly influencing the other.

Pushtunwali's principles have not changed in centuries—certainly not since they were recorded by Victorian ethnographers, middle-class soldiers and civil servants: players of the Great Game. Most lionised the fierce tribesmen, who periodically murdered them. Some even swallowed a delicious Pushtun claim to be descended from a lost tribe of Israel. But not all Westerners fell for the Pushtun. As a reporter for the Daily Telegraph, attached to the Malakand Field Force, Winston Churchill wrote: “Their system of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as virtues rather than vices, has produced a code of honour so strange and inconsistent that it is incomprehensible to a logical mind.”

Pushtun amateur genealogists (that is, most Pushtun men) say Pushtunwali is 5,000 years old. But as Pushtu was first written less than 500 years ago, the theory is hard to test. The code's sine qua non is honour, or nang, a word which, according to Sir Olaf Caroe, an imperial scholar of the Pushtuns, contains a mythical sense of chastity. According to Khusal Khan Khattak, a great 17th-century Pushtun poet, credited with 45,000 poems: “I despise the man who does not guide his life by nang,/the very word nang drives me mad!” In dusty Pushtun villages today, few bearded men would not nod approvingly at this. “Any man who loses his honour must be completely ostracised,” said Sandaygul, a long-beard of the Mangal tribe in Afghanistan's south-eastern Paktia province. “No one would congratulate him on the birth of child. No one would marry his daughter. No one would attend his funeral. His disgrace will endure for generations. He and his family must move away.” In Pushtu, to be disgraced means literally to be an outsider.

The insulting Americans
There are infinite ways to slight a Pushtun's nang, but most involve zar, zan or zamin: gold, women or land. The search tactics of American troops in Afghanistan, five years after they invaded the country, tend to offend on all counts. By forcing entry into the mud-fortress home of a Pushtun, with its lofty buttresses and loopholes, they dishonour his property. By stomping through its female quarters, they dishonour his women. Worse, the search may end with the householder handcuffed and dragged off before his neighbours: his person disgraced. America and its allies face a complicated insurgency in Afghanistan, driven by many factors. But such tactics are among them
His honour besmirched—and here's the problem for the Americans—a Pushtun is obliged to have his revenge, or badal. Last year, in one of the myriad such examples that arise in conversations in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, the daughter of a prominent businessman in Gardez, Paktia's capital, eloped with her beau. So the businessman sold up his property, moved to Kabul and tracked down and killed his daughter's lover. His daughter, whom he must also kill if the stain is to be removed, has been given sanctuary by a human-rights organisation. Her prospects are not good. According to a Pushtu saying: “A Pushtun waited 100 years, then took his revenge. It was quick work.”

In addition, the honourable Pushtun embraces two obligations. He will offer hospitality, malmastai, to anyone needing it. And he will give sanctuary, nanawatai, to whoever requests it. Stories of extreme generosity are common in Pushtun places. Near the village of Saidkhail, in the Zadran tribal area of eastern Khost province, a wandering Islamic student, or talib, killed a man with a knife, recounts Mohammed Omar Barakzai, the deputy minister for tribal affairs. The talib knocked on the nearest door and said to the woman who opened it: “I have killed a man. Shelter me.” She let him in. And sure enough, to trim an elegantly told tale, the murdered man was the woman's son. “I am a Pushtun and have given this man refuge,” the woman told her blood-lusting husband and brothers. “Take him to safety.”
But Pushtunwali is not all fierce imperatives. The code also contains many flexible means of preventing conflict through consensus and compromise. Chief among these is the jirga, of which each of Afghanistan's main groups, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Pashai, Hazaras and Baloch, has its version. By one estimate, jirgas settle over 95% of Afghanistan's disputes, civil and criminal. The figure for northern Pakistan is perhaps only slightly lower. This is not just because the regular courts are incompetent and corrupt (Afghanistan's were recently reformed by Italy). It is because, given high levels of illiteracy, many Afghans and Pakistanis find it easier to understand unwritten customary law, in Pushtu called narkh. And, where authority is contested by a well-armed citizenry, the jirga's verdicts, delivered with the warring parties' consent, tend to be more enforceable than off-the-peg legal or Islamic judgments.

A juddering two-hour drive from Peshawar, at Jamrud, in Khyber Agency, a 60-strong jirga recently settled half a dozen cases in a day—more than a bent Pakistani magistrate might manage in a week. Two disputes over money and property, including one involving the murder of five people, were ended with compromises. A dispute over a murderer who had been given sanctuary by a neighbour was postponed, pending deliberation from the spingeeri—literally, white-beards—who make up the jirga on a forerunning series of killings. A man accused of “adultery”, of rape in fact, was told to pay 1m Pakistani rupees ($16,500) to his victim's family; he may thank his stars he had lived so long.

Among the spingeeri sat Adam Khan Afridi, who had himself been judged shortly before. For 25 years he squabbled with a cousin over which of them would inherit an uncle's lands, until Mr Khan killed his cousin and his cousin's sons and grandson. Then he killed their uncle. This was excessive, Mr Khan conceded; he had committed the crime of miratha—annihilating every male in the rival camp. The jirga decreed that two of Mr Khan's houses be destroyed, and fined him 500,000 rupees. He thought this harsh.

Jirgas do even greater service, as with the Marwat and the Bhattani, in ending tribal wars. On a chill recent morning in Kabul, your correspondent sat with a jirga convened to settle a dispute between two nomadic clans of the Siddiquekhail, a sub-tribe of the powerful Pushtun Ahmedzai. In 1980, a 17-year-old youth of one the clans, named Babur, disappeared while travelling through Pakistan with members of the other; then in 1992, a 60-year-old shepherd of the second clan was found murdered, allegedly killed with an axe by an uncle of Babur.

Previous attempts to settle the dispute had foundered in part on a deposit of $10,000 that each tribe had been asked to lodge with the jirga, with a vow to abide by its decision. “It is time for this feud to end,” said Haji Naim Kuchi, the chief mediator, or narkhi, and member of a different Ahmedzai clan. “You should be at home sleeping with your wives, not plotting to kill each other!” Mr Kuchi, who is famed for his deep knowledge of customary law, asked the feuders to “place a stone” on their dispute—to suspend hostilities while the jirga sat. “We all know that if this continues many men will die before you return to the jirga,” said Mr Kuchi, who had been released from American custody shortly before, after three years' imprisonment without trial in Guantánamo Bay.

To settle disputes, Mr Kuchi has two main options. He can order a guilty party to compensate its victim with cash, a practice known as wich pur, “dry debt”, or he can order the two parties to exchange women, or lund pur, “wet debt”. By binding the antagonists together—just as in medieval European diplomacy—lund pur is considered more effective. Typically it involves exchanging a 15-year-old, a ten-year-old and a five-year-old girl, to be married into three succeeding generations of the enemy clan. Thereby, and though human-rights groups understandably revile the practice, Pushtuns have peace and happy grandfathers. “Blood cannot wash away blood,” runs a Pushtu proverb. “But blood can be turned into love.”

In a land far, far away
If Pushtunwali is about more than killing, its strictures are still remarkably unforgiving. Many Tajiks, like Pushtuns, would die before they suffered a slight. But, unlike Pushtuns, they do not fear their peeved neighbours to the extent of living in castles. A recent European Union analysis of jirgas in eastern Afghanistan found that elopement was the crime most often heard by Pashai jirgas, but Pushtun jirgas rarely considered it. That could be because few Pushtun lads and lasses elope or, more likely, because they are more likely to be killed when they do. What makes Pushtunwali so durable and so harsh?

One reason is remoteness. At the confluence of civilisations, between Central Asia, ancient Persia and India's plains, Afghanistan has been contested by marauding armies and strange traders for millennia. A ruined capital, or two, lies buried in most of its 34 provinces, and each has left its trace in the languages and traditions of today. Pashto, for example, is believed to have originated in Bactrian, the language spoken by Greek descendants of Alexander the Great. And yet the wildest Pushtun places, especially along the lofty border where the strictest Pushtunwali is practised, have been relatively untouched by outsiders for centuries. Waziristan, in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal area, has never been held by any foreign power.

Another reason for Pushtunwali's rude health lies in the nature of Pushtun society. Once rulers of Delhi, in the ranks of the Mughal emperors, and never vanquished for long, Pushtuns consider their society every bit as superior as Winston Churchill considered his. And it is defined by Pushtunwali: there is no Pushtun nation or, in fact, ethnicity. A Pushtun is simply someone who speaks Pushtu and who therefore follows the tribal code: Pushtunwali literally means to “do Pushtu”.

A third factor promoting Pushtunwali is one of its most appealing features, egalitarianism. Leadership among Pushtuns is rarely inherited. It is more often bestowed by a jirga on merit. Even then, the most elevated Pushtun elder dares not condescend to another man of his tribe. When lunch is served at a Pushtun feast, with tasty dishes of mutton, raisins and rice, there are no servants, but servers, of equal status to host and guests. Where a good name is the cost of social inclusion, Pushtuns will fight to keep it so.

It is above all this political function that makes Pushtunwali so resistant to change; but it is not unchanging. Pushtun tribes constantly update their code. Three years ago, the Mangals of Paktia ended a practice of revenge-taking by proxy, whereby a weak man had only to slaughter a sheep outside the house of his stronger neighbour to make him accept his blood-debt. “We were doing too much killing,” explained Sandaygul, the Mangal in Gardez.

More traumatic change to the code has come from external pressures. In urban places, where the Pakistani and Afghan states somewhat function, aspects of Pushtunwali have been jettisoned; jirgas of the Kasi tribe, which is based in the Pakistani city of Quetta, rarely meet. More powerful opposition has come from political Islam, which seeks to replace the authority of the jirga with the mullah, customary law with Islamic sharia.

Over the past millennium or so, the Pushtuns' religious and tribal codes have roughly co-existed. As a mark of a time-honoured accommodation, Pushtun elders and mullahs often insist there is no contradiction between the two prerogatives. “The sharia and jirga systems are not opposed,” said Maulvi Sayeed, a member of the Muslim council, or shura, in Kandahar, capital of southern Afghanistan. “To solve a problem through the use of a shura, a council, is the aim of both. The jirga is not against sharia law. If there has been a murder then the aim is to satisfy the relatives of the victim,” said the mullah, seated cross-legged amid stacks of religious texts, with a vast white turban atop his grizzled head.

In fact, sharia courts, which in Afghanistan are often indistinguishable from regular courts, are an alternative to blood-feuding and jirgas. Like jirgas, they can urge the victims of a crime to settle the matter through compensation. But where this is rejected, the courts can issue death sentences, or other harsh penalties, which jirgas do not. A plaintiff who is unhappy with a jirga's verdict may seek an alternative ruling from a sharia court. According to Maulvi Sayeed: “If the brother of a man who has been murdered does not agree to forgive his killer according to the jirga, then he can go to the sharia court. If the murder was unjust then the sharia court will say that the killer has to be killed.”

Another big difference between the codes is in their treatment of women. In sharia law, there can be no exchange of women as a means to end disputes, and women are guaranteed some rights of inheritance—unlike in Pushtunwali. Nor does sharia law recognise the Pushtun habit of wife inheritance, wherein a widow is forcibly married to her dead husband's brother or cousin. “Such things happen when people are uneducated,” sniffed Maulvi Sayeed. “We don't oppose the system of tribal elders but they must follow the way of Islam. They can convene jirgas and dispense the law, but the law must be that of sharia.”

Though fiercely religious, Pushtuns have mostly preferred their leaders and law to be tribal. The great exception has been in times of duress, when a standard is needed to rally their fractious tribes and sub-tribes: then they have tended to hoist the flag of jihad. Of the 19th-century Masood tribe of Waziristan, Sir Olaf wrote that they wanted “at all costs to resist subjection and to preserve their own peculiar way of life. To attain this end they were always prepared to make use of adventitious aids such as appeals with a pan-Islamic flavour.”

Thus the jihad launched in the 1980s against Soviet invaders united all Afghan tribes. It was generously backed by Saudi Arabia and America and given sanctuary by Pakistan, which was home to 3m Afghan refugees. Yet still its Pushtun leaders found it necessary brutally to suppress their tribal peers, terrorising the refugee camps and murdering the jirga-leaders who defied them there.

In the early 1990s, after the Soviets had been driven out and the former jihadist chiefs were fighting a civil war, Pushtuns again rallied around Islam. A band of Ghilzai Pushtuns near Kandahar, led by a mullah named Omar, backed by Pakistan and calling themselves the Taliban, raised the black flag. Gushing with Islamist zeal, Pushtun youths rushed to join them as they swept the feuding militias away.

But once the Taliban restored order to most of Afghanistan, Pushtuns began recoiling against their rulings. Their public executions and other outrages to public decency were anathema to them. So too when the Taliban—despite their celebrated chauvinism—outlawed wich pur and advocated female inheritance. No wonder if the lives of the vast majority of Afghan women have not eased since the Taliban were bombed from power.
For two years after their demise, the Taliban were not mourned in Afghanistan. But since then an insurgency has gathered pace. It is not quite clear what is driving it. An exploding opium harvest, which is providing cash for the Taliban and a reason for Pushtun farmers to keep the government away, is one reason. Another, as Sir Olaf might have foretold, is the response of the most remote and traditional Pushtuns to a foreign invasion.

In late 2001, thousands of Taliban and several hundred Arab and Central Asian followers of Osama bin Laden poured into northern Pakistan's tribal areas—including Waziristan, home of the Masood. To hunt them, and in a bid to save Western troops in Afghanistan from the same cross-border insurgency that hobbled the Soviet Union, Pakistan sent 80,000 troops into the tribal areas.

Alas, they have achieved the very opposite effect of that intended. Calling themselves the Pakistan Taliban, fighters of Waziristan's main tribes have rallied against the army, killing several hundred soldiers. As in the former refugee camps, jihadist assassins have killed several hundred Pushtun elders, ensuring that sharia, not Pushtunwali, is the law.

If history is any guide, many Pushtuns in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan will continue their drift to Islamist militancy until they are defeated, which looks impossible, or the Pakistani and Western forces are withdrawn. They are then likely to return to their simmeringly murderous tribal ways. That would be better than the current mess. But it would also leave millions of people outside the writ of Pakistan and Afghanistan. If either state is to succeed, the alternative writs of Pushtunwali and jihadist Islam will have to wither. But that will not be soon.

To imagine quite how long it may take, consider Nakband. It is a suburb of Peshawar, the most developed Pushtun city, a mere two-hour drive from Pakistan's smart capital of Islamabad. Yet it is little different from the craggy and forbidding tribal areas, where Pakistan's constitution does not apply. Nakband's inhabitants have no state services except the electricity they steal from the mains. There is no half-serious hospital for 20 miles. Pushtunwali, with a sprinkling of the Koran, is the law in Nakband. Blood-feuding, as marked by the ratchet of gunfire in the unbroken gloom of night, is routine. The government makes no effort to intervene in these disputes. Combing his long black hair beside a baked-mud road, a resident of Nakband said that, in theory, the city police were free to enter his suburb. But the locals had not permitted them to do so, so far as he could recall, since 1998.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pashto Love story

The resurrection of Kharamar
By Salman Rashid
The success of Kharamar is ample proof that all is not lost, and the environment can be saved, provided the will is there.
Yusuf Khan of Tarlandi (on the high road between Mardan and Swabi in the NWFP) was a hunter. That this passion for the chase be satisfied, he walked daily from his village to the nearby massif of the Kharamar hill. Towering a full five hundred metres above the fertile Yusufzai plains, Kharamar in those days was thickly covered with pine, acacia and wild olive and in those thicket-covered chasms the ravine deer and partridge teemed. It was a rare day that Yusuf Khan returned from the hill with an empty bag.

Between his home and Kharamar lay the village of the fair Sher Bano. And so it was only a matter of time that the two saw each other. Cupid's arrows flew and the two hearts were kindled with the warmth of love. Now, much ink has been spilled on the subject of the cousin (tarboor) among the Pukhtuns, its convoluted jealousies and intrigues and how its venom only increases in the event of one's father's death. And since Yusuf Khan's father had long been dead, his cousins now ganged up to deny him not only his father's legacy, but his loved one as well.
The intrigues that followed forced young Yusuf Khan to abandon his home and his aged mother and young sister to seek employment in distant Delhi. There our hero found service in the army of the great king Akbar. Time flew and Yusuf Khan rose in standing until he was assigned command of a body of troops. If that was to uplift his spirits, depressing news arrived from distant home under the dark loom of Kharamar: despite the resistance by his mother, sister and Sher Bano herself, his cousins had contrived Sher Bano's betrothal with another man.
Taking leave from the court Yusuf Khan rode out westward at the head of his contingent of Mughal soldiers. As luck would have it he arrived on the day his Sher Bano was being forcibly wedded off to the other man. Yusuf Khan rode rough-shod into the celebrations, disrupting everything and slaying some of the vilest of his cousins. Those of his cousins that survived, overawed by the power given him by imperial service, made peace with him - or at least pretended to do so.
Yusuf Khan then wedded his ladylove and together they began a new and happy life. One day, not long afterwards, as Yusuf Khan returned home after a day in the field, Sher Bano was disappointed to see he had brought home no game to be cooked. She spoke her sentiment and Yusuf Khan set out for Kharamar with two of his cousins who now pretended to be his friends. Upon the mountain they shot a deer that fell down a gully. As he was lowering himself down the gorge, Yusuf Khan's cousins, forever looking to avenge their brothers' death, cut the rope. Our hero fell to his death. Upon hearing of the end of her man, Sher Bano came up the mountain and there gave up her own ghost.
Kharamar carries the memory of Yusuf Khan and Sher Bano to this day, but its forest where the hero chased the deer and the partridge is a thing of the past. While the last of its ungulates were exterminated half a century or more ago, its birds and trees stubbornly held on until very recently. What happened to these latter is an interesting study of the death and resurrection of a mini-ecosystem.
Aligned in an east-west direction, the north side of Kharamar is owned by the people of village Sheva while the south side falls under the jurisdiction of villages Adina and Kalu Khan. As is common elsewhere, the natural resources of Kharamar too were subject to unsustainable harvesting as well as theft and pilferage. Consequently in 1973 a joint decision by a jirga of Sheva elders and members of Sheva Educated Social Workers Association (SESWA), a local NGO, opted to hand over management of their part of the mountain to the Forest Department.
This move was made under the impression that professional management would save the rapidly dwindling forest. Unfortunately the department fared even worse. Pilferage increased and while wind-fallen trees were being spirited away, standing trees were being damaged and felled to appear as wind-fall. Since the owners knew the number of felled trees, every time they were confronted regarding their disappearance, the guards said a fire had destroyed them. Of course they had no logical answer for the question as to why only fallen trees were consumed by fire while standing trees nearby did not even get so much as a scorching.
By the mid-1980s the Kharamar forest had been heavily depleted. The ungulates were a distant memory; now even the trees, the partridges, kestrels and merlins were becoming rare. In 1990 after considerable effort, ownership of the north flank of Kharamar was again reverted to the people of Sheva. But the practice of thievery prospered and the owners recognized that whatever little remained would soon be gone. In 1993 the jirga decided to sell off whatever little remained of the forest on Kharamar's north flank. By 1995 it was completely denuded: not a tree was left standing by the timber contractor.
The Rs7.3 million that this sale fetched was put away in a bank where it sat for five years growing fat with interest. Subsequently, Rs5 million was distributed among the owners while the Rs3.5 million of accumulated interest was spent through SESWA on their various education projects in the village. (Sheva must be the only village of its size anywhere in Pakistan with twelve boys' and girls' school as well as a college.) Militating with the jirga the NGO was successful in getting Rs1.3/- million earmarked for the restoration of the exhausted forest. This was easier said than done because for most people trees were only meant to be cut. Their regeneration was God's work with man having no part in it. The jirga and the community were convinced only after a good deal of SESWA effort and the money was put away in a bank account.
In 1995 after the last of the old trees on Kharamar had been cut down by timber contractors, the men of SESWA began planting chir (Pinus longifolia) trees on their part of the mountain. A total of over three hundred thousand saplings were planted. Though all of them may not have survived, the northern flank of Kharamar today fairly bristles with young pine trees. In the years since they were planted, they have grown to a height of over five metres. Also planted, besides chir, are a large number of Phulai - Palosa in Pashto - (Acacia modesta) and sanatha (Dodonaea viscosa) - all indigenous species.
In June as we stood under the lee of the hill shading our eyes against the setting sun, the evening air was filled with the call of partridges. Above the skyline a raptor, dark against the pale sky, hung on fluttering wings in pursuit of its quarry. The hillside was literally awash with greenery. Three hundred thousand trees are an awful lot. Though I have no way of verifying if that is the number I saw, I can at least say I saw a good deal of pine trees. In stark contrast, the southern flank of the hill, owned by two other villages, is bare save for a stand of the pestilential eucalyptus near its base.
In 1996 the men of SESWA had first told me the story of the selling of the Kharamar forest. I was livid for I did not believe their projected rehabilitation of the forest would ever take place. I railed at them condemning them with all I had. In the intervening years every time I drove past Kharamar (and I did over a dozen times), I silently cursed SESWA and the jirga that had ravaged an entire ecosystem. I could not be blamed for the road skirts the southern flank of the hill and I had no idea of the change taking place on the far side.
Having utilized only the mark-up and kept the principal sum safe, SESWA now has capital to hire forest guards. Today four armed guards take turns to thwart any attempts to damage the regenerating forest. Moreover, a strict control on grazing on Kharamar is in place. Fodder collection and the grazing of cows and buffaloes are permitted in selected areas of the hill. Goats and hunting or trapping are expressly forbidden and assiduously enforced: the chorus of partridge calls was testimony to this enforcement. A close examination would surely have revealed hedgehogs, pikas, perhaps even foxes.
Kharamar, the hill sacred to the memory of Yusuf Khan and Sher Bano, had all but died in the mid 1990s. Now, with only a little money and a good deal of right thinking and commitment it has been resurrected.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

‘Realism’ brings the MMA down

Realism’ brings the MMA down
Daily Times.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The split in the MMA has finally burst like a carbuncle and it would be a fig-leaf job if the clerical alliance were still to go on brandishing the common flag. Realism has dawned twice on the JUI in quick succession. First, its leader and secretary general of the MMA, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, had problems with going along with the strategy of the MMA president, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, of resigning from the assemblies and then taking to the streets against President Pervez Musharraf. He stated instead that he favoured the policy of remaining in power in two provinces and in parliament and then going into agitation mode. But that, too, was not finally possible. Now the Maulana has made it public that his party is not ready to even come out and protest via any ‘million march’. The JUI was not supposed to be in the vanguard of the protests scheduled for Punjab and Sindh in the last week of January 2007; but it was supposed to come out in strength in Balochistan and the NWFP where it packed its punch. But the MMA Balochistan president, and ever the realist in a political theatre of short-term thinking, Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani, is of the opinion that agitations in Balochistan and the NWFP will harm the governments of the two provinces.

Needless to say, Maulana Shirani’s view is not far removed from the way Maulana Fazlur Rehman thinks. Shirani has talked politics, not morality or religion which is the strong suit of the Jamaat-i-Islami simply because it is not in power and is a spoiler par excellence. The MMA supreme council, after having decided on the countrywide agitation in tandem with the other opposition parties, has had to suffer the humiliation of eating its words. What does this denote for the future of the alliance?

First of all, Qazi Sahib is to blame for pressuring the alliance beyond its point of maximum agreement. He knew that the other big party in the MMA was reluctant to act radically; why did he push it to a premature crunch moment? For practical purposes the alliance is no more, no matter if Mr Liaquat Baloch asserts that the Quetta and Peshawar ‘million marches’ have been put off because of the feared snowstorms in the two cities in January next.

The JUI’s realism is based on the past performance of the alliance in a similar situation of over-valuation of strength and great clerical bragging. In January 2005, after President Musharraf refused to remove his uniform, the MMA announced its ‘million marches’ in all the big cities of the country. But practically no one turned up. Around 300 MMA supporters showed up in Peshawar; another 400 people attended a rally in Multan. Similar rallies were held in Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. The rallies failed miserably in Karachi and Lahore, where the ARD did not join in. In Islamabad, both the big leaders of the MMA were in the city but did not go out to address the meagre crowd for fear of losing face.

Realism is the attribute of a man who desires survival for the sake of his assets. Its opposite is the attribute of the man who has nothing to lose. Clearly, the MMA is divided between two kinds of attitudes. In politics, the ‘spoilers’ always outnumber the ‘fixers’ and the MMA has been damaged badly by its spoilers. The JUI has a stake in the present setup and wants to survive in better shape in order to live another day. Radical action always attracts those who want change without thinking too much about how they will fix the damage brought about by change.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad is not a cleric like Maulana Fazlur Rehman and those who are committed to the JUI know this fact. They also know that Qazi Sahib’s successor, Liaquat Baloch, is simply Mr Liaquat Baloch and will have a tough time increasing the Jamaat’s outreach outside Lahore and Karachi, while in Lahore much of the Jamaat thunder has already been stolen by the PMLN. The only way to go for the Jamaat was its radicalism with which it constantly rebuked the JUI.

The crunch time was brought on by President Musharraf when he signed the Women’s Protection Bill (WPB) after the MMA had threatened him with dire consequences. Already greatly put off by the public support which the debate over the Hudood laws had garnered for President Musharraf, the MMA supreme council inclined to the extreme position taken by Qazi Sahib. But if the MMA thought it could get out of this through muscle power it was mistaken. It did not have that muscle. And the WPB was actually a death knell, a change of the central dogma that no one had attempted in the Islamic world.

Unless he wants the MMA dead, Qazi Hussain Ahmad will have to cool down a bit. The MMA knows it cannot win many seats without the clerics getting together. Qazi Sahib will want to win some seats in the 2007 elections and he knows the MMA may not get as many as it did in 2002, but it will still be a better option than going it alone.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Have a Dream......

I have one great dream, one great longing. Like flowers in the desert my people are born, bloom for a while with nobody to look after them, wither and return to the dust they came from. I want to see them share each other's sorrow and happiness. I want to see them work together as equal partners. I want to see them play their national role and take their rightful place among the nations of the world, for the service of God and humanity." Bacha Khan

"I had to go to prison many a time in the days of the Britishers. Although we were at loggerheads with them, yet their treatment was to some extent tolerant and polite. But the treatment which was meted out to me in this Islamic state of ours was such that I would not even like to mention it to you." Bacha Khan, Budget session of Assembly on March.20, 1954
"There is nothing uprising in a Muslim or a Pathan like me subscribing to the creed of non-violence. It is not a new creed, it was followed fourteen hundred years ago by the Prophet (PBUH) all the time he was in Makkah, and it has since been followed by all those who wanted to throw off an Oppressor's Yoke. But we had so forgotten it that when Gandhiji placed it before us, we thought he was sponsoring a novel creed." Bacha Khan

"A revolution is like a flood. A nation can prosper by it, and it an perish by it as well. A nation that is wide awake, that cultivates brotherhood and national spirit, is sure to benefit through revolution." Bacha Khan

"Our fault is that our province is the gateway of India. Because we live there the government calls us the gate-keepers. If we give them anything India will go out of our hands. We were born in the Frontier Province. And this is why we were doomed. They (the British) wanted these people should go on fighting among themselves and remain in the ruined and destroyed condition so that they might rule our country without feeling any anxiety." Bacha Khan

Pak-Afghan peace jirga

Pak-Afghan peace jirga

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Friday decided to further extend their cooperation in the fight against terrorism and agreed to work on the common objective of promoting peace, security and prosperity in the region.
According to a joint declaration issued following formal talks held between Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri and his Afghan counterpart Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta in Kabul, it was decided that Pakistan will establish an appropriate mechanism to interact with the Afghan Commission appointed by President Hamid Karzai with a view to promote peace and security in the area.
Both foreign ministers expressed the hope that the process would develop mutual trust and lead both nations, as well as entire region towards security, peace, social and economic prosperity.

Pakistan and Afghanistan also emphasized the need to holding peace jirgas/gatherings (Jirgaha-e-Amnn) that were proposed and agreed during the last trilateral meeting, which took place amongst the presidents of the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Washington.
Both sides despite having different system and mechanisms also agreed on the common objective of promoting peace, security and prosperity.
Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri who visited Kabul on December 7 and 8, held talks with Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta and called on President Hamid Karzai.
The visit was within the proposed Quarterly Meeting Framework, where bilateral subjects, regional economic cooperation and matters related to Afghan refugees were also discussed.
Keeping in view the linkages between Central Asia and South Asia, both the countries agreed to facilitate and cooperate with each other for strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation. Both sides expressed their resolve to continue their efforts to fighting terrorism, to stop the cross-border activities and narcotics.
Addressing a joint press conference with Afghan Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri said both the countries cannot make any headway by blaming each other.
"We have to find the solutions to our problems and for this purpose it is necessary to build trust between the two countries," he added.
Kasuri regretted that if any act of terrorism occurs in Afghanistan, accusation is leveled against Pakistan. "We feel hurt when any accusation is leveled against us," he said.
The foreign minister said the same terrorists are involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan.
He called for peace and stability in Afghanistan adding that instability would have negative impact on Pakistan.
Kasuri said there are strong religious, cultural and ethnic ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan and added stable, peaceful and strong Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan.
The FM said, "Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are suffering from terrorism, if there are acts of terrorism or suicide bombings in Afghanistan, the same is happening in Pakistan."
He endorsed the remarks of Afghan foreign minister that linkages between the central and south Asia are not possible without the active cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
To a question, he said, efforts should be made to bring back three million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan with honor to their homeland.
On the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, he said Pakistani leadership had discussed it with the US administration.
Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta mentioned Pakistan's efforts in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and measures to bring peace in the region.
Later, talking to newsmen upon his arrival at Chaklala Airbase, after completing his two-day visit to Kabul, Foreign Minister Kasuri said he had a very useful interaction with President Karzai.
Kasuri said during his meeting with President Karzai he also apprised him about the measures taken by Pakistan in curbing terrorism and the agreement signed with the tribals to bring peace to the bordering areas.
About his meeting with Younis Qanooni, President Afghan Lower House, he said the meeting was frank and open and matters of mutual interests came under discussion

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pashtuns want an image change

Pashtuns want an image change
Saturday, 02 December 2006
Source: BBC, UK

Pashtuns feel they are being demonised wrongly

Since 11 September 2001, Pashtuns feel they have become the most vilified ethnic group in the world.

They are angry, frustrated and now want to reclaim their identity from being lumped with the Taleban and as perpetrators of terrorism and suicide bombings.

Most Afghan prisoners held by the Americans in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or at Bagram air base near Kabul are Pashtun.

Those who have emerged from these - and Afghan and Pakistani-run jails are also Pashtun.

So are the thousands of civilian casualties who have been bombed by mistake or carelessness in southern Afghanistan by US and Nato pilots during military operations since 11 September.

US soldiers who knocked down doors and interrogated women, alienating the population, did so largely in the Pashtun south, where American forces have been accused by locals of treating all Pashtuns as the enemy - an association that Nato is now trying to change.

Around the world we are accused of being terrorists, but tolerance is in our blood Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Pashtun politician.

All the 80 dead victims of the Pakistani air force bombing of a madrassa in Bajaur tribal agency in Pakistan in late October were also Pashtun.

The pace of promised development, reconstruction and money spent by Western donors is slowest in Afghanistan's Pashtun south.

Pakistan's Pashtun belt is one of the most deprived regions in the country, even though it holds immense resources and generates nearly 50% of the country's hydro-electric power.

Cross-border movement

The tragedy for the Pashtuns has been their association with the Taleban.

The Taleban were a majority Pashtun cross-border movement which, in 1994, enlisted support from Pakistan's 40 million Pashtuns and Afghanistan's 10-12 million Pashtuns.

Their bitter, brutal war against the non-Pashtun former Northern Alliance helped create long-lasting ethnic feuds in Afghanistan.

Pashtun mourners

Pashtuns mourn the death of their kin in the recent Bajaur bombing

But it was the Taleban's association with Osama Bin Laden and the protection they gave al-Qaeda after 1996 that first associated the Taleban with terrorism in the eyes of the international community.

Even then many Pashtuns resisted the Taleban.

Among them was Abdul Haq - who was gunned down by the Taleban for leading a revolt in 2001 - and Hamid Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, secular and democratic-minded Pashtuns have long resisted the idea that the 3,000-year-old Pashtun culture and language should be Talebanised.

Now, for the first time, hundreds of political leaders and tribal chiefs from the Pashtun tribes inhabiting Pakistan's border with Afghanistan have held a Pashtun Peace Jirga, or tribal council, demanding an end to Taleban violence in both countries.

Restore traditions

They accused Pakistan's military regime and its intelligence agency, ISI, of giving clandestine support to the Taleban and other extremist groups and demanded an end to it.

Clean-shaven tribal chiefs with large turbans, religious scholars with long scraggly beards and young political activists sat together in a large hall in Peshawar in late November demanding that the peaceful traditions and values of the Pashtun tribes be restored.

"The world is asking 'who are you Pashtuns?'" said Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the leader of a moderate Pashtun party in Balochistan province?

"Around the world we are accused of being terrorists, but tolerance is in our blood - it is taught by our mothers. We do not hate people just because their noses are long or they speak in foreign tongues. We demand all the world respect our values, culture and the dignity of our people," he added.

Hamid Karzai

Mr Karzai is a Pashtun who has always resisted the Taleban

The jirga was organised by the Awami National Party (ANP) - a democratic, secular Pashtun nationalist party that has been marginalised in the past decade due to its strong criticism of Pakistan's military regime and the wave of Islamic extremism that has flooded the Pashtun tribal belt on both sides of the border.

However, the ANP and other democrats are now regaining popularity because of deepening fears within the tribes about the Taleban enforcing their writ among all Pashtuns.

"The Taleban are not the creation of Pashtun society, but the creation of the Pakistan army," said Afsandyar Wali, the head of the ANP.

"Pashtuns stand united for peace, but the fire of war is burning our land and we have to find the means to extinguish it. We are caught in the middle of warmongers, extremists and militants," he added.

The Jirga also heard from Taleban supporters such as Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a cleric who heads the radical Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam party that is presently ruling the two border provinces of Balochistan and the North West Frontier and openly aids the Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Drowned out

Rehman claimed that the Taleban were resisting foreign occupation and aggression.

But for the first time, such appeals to violence by a Pashtun mullah were drowned out by voices which said that the Taleban were a threat to peace and a total negation of Pashtun values.

Part of the problem is the army and the ISI.

Before 11 September, when Pakistan openly supported the Taleban, the intelligence services (ISI) literally re-wrote Afghan history.

The Taleban were largely illiterate, but a special ISI cell wrote articles and books, and paid for seminars in an attempt to show that the extremism of the Taleban was part-and-parcel of Pashtun identity.

Afghan Pashtuns such as Mr Karzai, Abdul Haq and former King Zahir Shah resisted this, but they were voices without access to the Pakistani media.

Pakistani Pashtuns who resisted this labelling were called traitors and anti-national by the ISI.

Now democratic Pashtuns say that in recent statements, President Pervez Musharraf is also trying to demonise Pashtuns.

"Musharraf is describing us as barbarians who shed blood and that the Pashtun are violent," Mr Achakzai told the jirga.

Much of the debate focused on defining the two traditional centres of Pashtun values - the masjid, or mosque, and the hujra, or the seat of the tribal chief.

In other words, the power of religion and secular political power.

While clerics defended the Taleban saying they had united the two, others insisted they must be kept separate if the Pashtuns were to survive as a nation.

The debate on Pashtun identity has just begun and it will be further enhanced when a grand Pashtun jirga is held among both the Pakistani and Afghan Pashtun tribes next spring.

by Ahmed Rashid

Source: BBC, UK

Mixed Marraiges

"Is It Ok for Pashtoons to marry Non-Pashtoons"

Source:S J.
There was this interesting topic caught me in a forum.
"Is it ok for a pukhtun to marry non-pukhtun?"
Most of the members were pukhtun and Here are some of the views:

HI Guys
I think this is avery intertesting topic.
Personally I am totaly against pashtoon marrying non-pashtoon. I think this analogy would explain my point. If you take milk, just ads a drop of lime juice....and guess what happens!!! I mean a Little bit of containment is enough!!!!!!!!
So whenevr peoples from different cultures are blended with pashtoons it causes many negative impacts on the pashtoons. Thats why we have people who calls themselevs pashtoon but they don't have the true charcteristics of a pashtoon and tehy will try to change tehir identity becasue tehy feel insecure of thier identity.

Hope thats no too much racisim but I have to say this I am NOT a racist!!!!!!!!!!! but when itv comes to marriages between nonpashtoon and pashtoon then I have to say this because its not good for anyone.
I'm in shock...

I've just read through this entire topic, and can't believe that anyone
would write (or even think!) some of the things written here.

There seems to be a general sway towards believing that Pukhtoona are
somehow better/superior to other people due to their 'cast' (whatever
that may b). There is no such thing as 'cast', it's a word that
originates in Hindu belief, and is completely wrong. To irresponsibly
use this word in such a demeaning manner (to Pukhtoona as well as
others) is very dangerous indeed.

Whats all this about not marrying outside your own little tribe? How on
earth are we suppoed to integrate and learn about people if we don't
step outside our 'cosy' little worlds.

Islam only holds one condition (where inter-cultural marriages are
concerned), that both partners be Muslim. Anything other than that is
just superficial c*r*a*p. As long as the two individuals concerned are
willing to make a go of it, they should be supported by their families
and close community (one shouldn't find ways to discourage them and try
to put enmity between them). After all, it's their marriage, not anyone

As far as 'mixed' children are concerned, the way I see it, they are the
most beautiful individuals I have ever set eyes on. Most of the time,
these kids turn out with the best physical features from both ethnic
backgrounds. As well as this, due to having grown up with two cultures,
these kids are well rounded individuals. Which is what we need in todays
multi-cultural society (not narrow minded biggots). These kids may be
half Pathan/ half English, but they are fully human, they deserve to be
treated with the same respect you would give to someone from your own
ethnic background.

The village that I come from (and indeed my own family) has people from
lots of different backgrounds in it. We have Danes, Chinese, Malysians,
Brits, indians, Punjabees, Chache Pathans, Turks and Arabs. And thats
not just the men marrying 'foreign' women, our women have married men
from outside our 'tribe.

If we continue to marry within our own familes, we will just end up as
inbred idiots. The whole idea of reproduction is to initroduce new genes
to the already existing gene pool, to allow for more varied offspring.
this reduces the chances of illnesses being passed on within families.
You end up with 'stronger' and better offspring.

Well, thats all I have to say for now, I have to get up early tomorrow,
so I'm off.

This lady wants to tell us that all Pashtuns should give their daughters
and suisters in marriage to others ..and that ethnicity, culture,
values, and nationhood have no meanings...that pashtuns should forget
about their distinctiveness/individuality...and that they should forget
their identity.

The prophet hilmself preferred Quraish over others and considered them
the noblest of all. After his death, when one ansar claimed candidacy to
Khilafat, Hazdrath Abu Bakara and Hardath Ummar said that only Quraish,
by virtue of their nobility, have the right to Khalifath. Hadrath Ummar
had made it forbidden for Arab women to marry non-Arabs because he
considered Arabs to be a superior/master race.

However, if your circumstances are such that you are living in England
and cannot find a person of your own race to marry, then you can twist
Islam to address your circumstances. However, then your kids wouldn't be
called Pashtuns. Even then by giving your self this allowance to marry
outside of your race, you would never marry a balck or a poor person.
All in all you would go for superior white genes and for wealthy people.
I know this Islamic crookedness. There are a lot of Sayeds here, the
descendents of prophet, who don't give their daughters in marriage to
the low ones.

There is one leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, leader of Jumaath Islami. This
hypocrite wanted to have the daughter of Choudri Shujaath Hussain, one
of the wealthiest and influential polticians of Pakistan, married to his
son. But when Choudri Shujaath regretted, he got his son maaried to a
female from a very influential bureaucratic family of Kohat (Malak Saad
family, the famous bureaucrate). Now obviously, this bastard didn't want
to have the daughter or sister of a martyred Kashmiri/Afghan Mujahid
married to his son. And he recruited a lot of people to fight Jehad in
Kashmir/Afghanistan in the name of islamic brotherhood.

Anyhow Pashtuns should marry Pashtuns to preserve their race and
ethnicity and to struggle for survival. Compatibility of values and
culture is another point. However, individual choices and preferences
must have priority.

Pakhtoon guys marrying non Pakhtoon girls, this results in their
children speaking the language of their mother instead of Pukhto, thus
Pukhto is dying. One should refrain from marrying a non pukhtun.

Some people talked about "Love". [Ignore them they are just crazy and
blind, cant be bothered to flush their feelings]


"Dude, you should be out on hunting Imran Khan."

Its ok for a pukhtun male to marry a non pukhtun girl but not the
otherway around. Reson: Its just how it works.

"Warning: Mixed marriages can produce non-ethenic kids." [How true, I
heared people saying, "I am pathan but I dont speak Pashto." Is it just
about Pashto? Thats ok. Where is your Pukhtunwali?"

Personal Opinion..personal choices.. bla bla bla... [All that stuff, you
know it and you must would have heared it before]

"So what about me? I met this indian girl and shes Pathan! "

A muslim can marry any muslim!

[Now this one is pretty "funny?"]

"Pukhtoon women marrying into non Pukhtoon families and especially into
Punjabi families is rare however the rare cases can be attributed to the
Indian movies and their influance on the young generation. I think these
movies are doing more damage to our culture then those Pakistani freaks
in Islamabad.The same is the case with gys they see someone walking on
the street who looks like some famous Indian actress most likely that
girl will not be a Pukhtoon because Pukhtoons have Aryan features and do
not have anything common with the Indian race thus the flabergausted Dum
ass Pukhtoon runs presumes him self to a part of an indian movie hero
and tries his best to find an ugly duckling of Indian origin. "

[And this one]
"I know one pakhtoon his wife is white (angreaz) and they have 8 kids.
:D" [Typical]

If you mix Milk with Alcahol - Its neither Milk nor Alcahol any more.
And have you ever seen a donkey with a monkey?

I have seen non-pukhtun dont want to marry Pukhtun too for whatever

These days people look fer the profession of the guy..and as it is
obvious our pakhtun boys arnt dat much interested in studies compared to
the non- pakhtuns. So buckle up boys ;)

The whole idea of reproduction is to initroduce new genes to the already
existing gene pool, to allow for more varied offspring.

My opinion:
It varies from person to person, family to family and tribe to tribe.
And its a huge huge topic. But I dont want my kid saying, "I am half
pukhtun, quater irish, a little bit of pakeha, traces of arab,...".
However a pukhtun male can marry a non pukhtun girl but not the other
way around. Why? More on this later in edited version

Quote from Isayan

The village that I come from (and indeed my own family) has people from
lots of different backgrounds in it. We have Danes, Chinese, Malysians,
Brits, indians, Punjabees, Chache Pathans, Turks and Arabs. And thats
not just the men marrying 'foreign' women, our women have married men
from outside our 'tribe.
------------------------I am sorry to ask but why there is no Black
Jamican, African or Sumalian in your village? did you forget to write or
are they not human being?

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Only jirgas can bring peace to tribal areas, says ANP

PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) said on Friday that peace jirgas, at all levels, were the need of the hour to restore peace in the tribal areas.

“Afghan President Karzai and President Musharraf agreed in their last meeting to hold peace jirgas. The Afghan government made initiatives and contacted political leaders, including ANP President Asfandyar Wali, to solve problems through dialogue,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, ANP NWFP Secretary General, while welcoming two women district councillors who announced joining the ANP at the Peshawar Press Club.

“However, the Pakistani government did not show any seriousness and did not contact any leaders to find a way out,” he added.

Hussain said that if a state failed to carry out its responsibilities, then nationalities made decisions on the basis of their traditions. “And this is exactly what the ANP is doing by holding peace jirgas to solve problems, as a military option is not the solution to Pakhtun problems,” he said.

The ANP leader said a women’s convention would be held on December 9 in Peshawar to debate peace in the tribal belt. “The women’s peace jirga is a continuation of the Pakhtun aman jirga the ANP held recently,” he said, adding that women should also play their due role towards restoration of peace.

He said the Political Parties Act should be extended to the tribal areas to raise political awareness among people.

Iftikhar rejected the construction of the Kalabagh dam, saying it was “a dead issue” and that there was no need to discuss it again. “We don’t accept the Kalabagh dam. Neither do the other two provinces. It’s only Punjab that is in its favour.”

District Councillor Naseem Riaz, who quit Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), said she joined the ANP because it respected women and accorded them a higher status. District Councillor Nasreen Bukhari, an independent councillor who also joined the ANP, said it was a good party and her family members had associated with it for a long time. ANP leaders Zahira Bibi, Imran Khan, Tajuddin Khan, Aqil Shah and MPA Farah Aqil Shah were also present at the ceremony. staff report