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Saturday, January 27, 2007

A very moving article / Like father, like son

Like father, like son
Makhdoom Javed Hashmi
My dear daughter Ma-moona: The death of Khan Abdul Wali Khan has left my heart achingand. Khan Sahib throughout his life struggled for democracy and did not know such a thing as compromising on his principles. He spearheaded the struggle for the independence of Pakistan. Hatred for the colonial rule ran in his blood and he used to say that “first we fought against the division of Hindustan and now are struggling against those who wants to divide Pakistan.” The great father of Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) considered the division of India a conspiracy by the Britishers but after the independence of Pakistan, he swore in the National Assembly loyalty to newborn country. The great Bacha Khan had also invited Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnnah to Peshawar and had arranged a very warm reception for him. But why was this visit cancelled? Bacha Khan is not the one to answer this. It was due to the cancellation of that visit of Jinnah that to this day Pakistani politics has been seeing its negative impacts. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan spent twenty eight years of his life in different jails of Pakistan and Hindustan. This imprisonment is a year more than the jail term served by Nelson Mandela. Khan Abdul Wali Khan was clapped into jail for the first in 1943 and the last time he was imprisoned in 1977 in Hyderabad. This makes it thirty four years of his going into and out of different jails. While Khan Abdul Wali Khan was imprisoned his wife Begum Naseem Wali Khan used to look after party affairs. The true leadership qualities of Khan Abdul Wali Khan came into limelight in 1977 during the struggle for democracy. He never considered imprisonment a hurdle to his struggles and now his son Asfandyar Wali Khan has become an icon of Pakhtoon politics. Wali Khan’s brother Ghani Khan too had spent some time in prison. In 1977 when we were in Hyderabad jail, Mian Mahmood Ali Qasoori told me that once during court proceedings he had asked Wali Khan to sign some document. Wali Khan started reading the paper very carefully, Qasoori told him jokingly “ Khan Sahib, its not divorce papers, so don’t read it so carefully,” Wali Khan replied in a serious tone “ Qasoori Sahib, if our women asks us for divorce, they are not to be blamed, because when I was born my father was in jail and my mother wished that her husband was with her in that hard time but instead my mother passed away while my father remained in jail. I saw my father for the first time when I was seven years old. And when Asfandyar was born, I was in jail and I saw my son for the first time when he was three years old. Asfandyar’s mother, my wife passed away while I was in jail, so we have only given pain to our women.” Bacha Khan’s through his “Khudai Khidmatgar” movement started to improve the lives of Afghans and asked the Pakhtoons to come out of backwardness, illiteracy, and to stop the tribal feuds with each other. Bacha Khan strongly believed in a peaceful world and his independence was dearer to him than his life. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Wali Khan, Begum Naseem and Asfandyar Wali Khan considers democracy as their faith and none of them have ever accepted any ministry or power. Once Mujeeb Ur Rehman Shami and I went to meet Wali Khan at Shahi Bagh. Wali Khan told us “we have even appointed your Muslim League member as governor of NWFP.” At that time Arbab Sikander Khan Khalil was the governor of NWFP, he had spent his entire life in ANP and his father was from Muslim League. By this statement of Wali Khan, one could very well understand the differences between NAP and the Muslim League. A person whose father was a Muslim League member and his entire life time association with NAP could not even get him the status of being a complete “Khudai Khidmatgar.” It was 1972, when I first got the opportunity to property see Wali Khan, he was leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and he use to completely dominate the assembly with his presence. His party had partial government in the two small provinces, just like MMA has these days. At that time Pakistan army had recently been defeated, ninety thousand of its troops were hostage with India and there was no sight of constitution. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto had created other hurdles for Wali Khan as well, which later became to be the reasons for dissolution of NAP’s governments. At that time Wali Khan truly proved to be a statesman. Wali Khan came out as a conqueror with regard to provincial autonomy issue, while Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto was leading towards individual style of government. Wali Khan was facing tough time during those days and he even comprised his provincial interests for the sake of Pakistan. In my opinion, Khan Abdul Wali Khan displayed more maturity then Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto with regard to having a national constitution and that is what had made Pakistan stronger and stable at that time. For opposition the attitude of Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto was intolerable and under the leadership of Wali Khan we all fastened our struggle for democracy. At that point, when racial war was about to take time, all the opposition parties formed a combined platform and I was appointed as Convenor. Wali Khan not only appreciated my appointment as Convenor but he had also used great words for the sacrifices which I had rendered for achieving democracy. I am very fond of Asfanyar Wali Khan but it not only due to his personality. It was my right to disagree with his elders on some political issues and even now in many issues our ideas are ways apart from each other, but one thing is for sure which can not be ignored and that is since the Independence of Pakistan, the attitude of Punjab towards smaller provinces has been very unfair and whenever somebody raises the issue of provincial autonomy, he is being victimized for being a traitor. And since I have been declared a traitor, others who have been declared traitors seems near and dear to me, but Wali Khan in particular was always very dear to me. When I contacted Asfandyar Wali Khan to condole the death of Wali Khan, he said “you know very well how much “baba” use to love you” after he had said that tears started flowing from my eyes. I remembered all those time when he was kind and courteous to me. Begum Naseem Wali also repeated the same words that “Khan Sahib use to love you a lot.” I consider the death of Wali Khan as passing away of my close family member and it is a fact that his death has brought about grief not only for his family and me but it’s a grief for the entire Afghan nation, a grief for all those with conscious and a grief for all those around the world who are struggling for democracy and freedom. Did Ghaffar Khan spend 28 years in prison for no reason? Did Wali Khan struggle out of his stubbornness? Asfandyar Wali who only owns a hundred kanal of land and having financial constrains is struggling without a goal? I believe in third world countries there is hardly any example of such a family, a family to whom their principles and values matter the most. Now all the responsibility lies on the shoulders of Asfandyar Wali Khan and my best wishes are with him. Once Wali Khan told me “Javed, keep the flag flying.” I had considered this a big honour for myself. Now I would like to say the same thing from my jail cell in Kotlakhpat that “Asfanyar; keep the flag flying.” In 1972, when I was being framed in a murder case, while sitting in Kotlakhpat Jail I was thinking, “what did I do wrong by participating in university election to in the president seat? Why am I being implicated in a case in which I could be hanged to death? I don’t want to live in this death cell all my life. I was thinking about running away from Pakistan. My love for the homeland had nose-dived.” But once my concept changed, I have stopped giving a certificate of patriotism to others. For half a century, Wali Khan and his family rendered sacrifices for the greater glory of Pakistan but simultaneously endured all trials and tribulations with stoicism, Have we taken a leaf out of their book in terms of patriotism? The question does beg an answer. Salam,
your father Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.

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