Total Pageviews

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Rise of Religious Extremism in Pukhtunkhwa

The Rise of Religious Extremism in Pukhtunkhwa

By Fatima Ahmed

1. Most minds today, especially in our region are overwhelmed with the fear of a deadly conflict following the developments in world politics and particularly some recent events in our region. The theory of Clash of Civilization and clash of religion has gained currency and is used to define the ongoing conflict. There is growing discontent based on development of feelings that Muslims are under threat from the Non-Muslims, especially the US and westerners.

2. Following the event of 9/11 and the ongoing War on Terror, a perception has developed that Clash of Civilization, a controversial theory of Samuel P. Huntington, is well underway. The clash of Civilizations is a controversial theory which says that people's cultural / religious identity will be the primary source of conflict in the post cold war world. Academically, this theory has been criticized a lot and given the substance of the theory it is clear that the civilizations, which Huntington has identified as distinct civilizations, do not even exist. The Muslim world is severely fractured along ethnic, sectarian and political lines with Kurds, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Indonesians, Indians etc all having different world views. Moreover the criteria of the proposed delineation are not clear. Neither are the western powers including the USA fighting a global war on the pretext of promoting their religions - Christianity or Judaism. Given the situation there is a dire need of understanding that it is not a war between religions or faiths but a struggle for political power and vested economic interests that is being played out in our homes, villages and cities.

3. Now let us come close to our own region. We can not escape the fact that events in Afghanistan and Pukhtunkhwa east of the Durand are closely inter-linked. In the aftermath of 9/11, the USA attacked Afghanistan with the aim of overthrowing the brutal Taliban regime and Al-Qaeeda. This was followed by the establishment of a legitimate and elected government in Afghanistan. Ever since some vested interests groups and regional powers are advocating the theory of clash of religions. The sole aim seems to be destabilizing the peace process in the region. This campaign is launched to mislead the masses, indoctrinate them and prevent our land and people from benefiting from the fruits of education, development, democracy and peaceful life with a control over our own destiny. These vested interest groups and states for their own illegitimate interests are portraying the belief that the current state of affairs in world is a war of religions and our people and land has been converted into a battleground in this war. Despite the fact that most of our regional and local leadership clearly understand the hollowness of this theory, why is this clash of religions being used to give a blanket cover to the conflict in our region? Why is the peace of our land being destroyed using these hollow slogans? Why are our poor and simple people being misguided in the name of religion? Why are we being termed as terrorists and fundamentalists? Why are we being driven back to the cave age? Why are our region and our people the main target? The answer to these questions is both simple and complicated. Partly it is due to our geographical location, our backwardness, illiteracy, and our conservative religious orientation, but more than that it is because of our ignorance of the world affairs and politics.

4. It is said that if we don’t know our past history, we can not become masters of our future. Therefore, we must turn to history to find answers to the problems we face today. Today we are the biggest victims of religious extremism, yet we are considered as the perpetrators of religious extremism. We are being killed in the name of religion everywhere and on both sides of the divide. We the Pukhtuns are today being portrayed as fundamentalists, extremists, blindly religious, violent and terrorists all around the world. Yet a slight look on our history reveals that religion has never been the basis of our politics and identity. The use of religion and extremism is a recent phenomenon and worse still it is not indigenous to us. Pakhtuns never fought their wars on religious grounds till very recently. We have deep traditions of living in harmony and seldom has violence occurred based on religion and culture till quite recent times. The aim of this paper today is to look back in history with a view to understand the real causes and reasons for the current problems and how history can help us to regain our peace and harmony.


5. Before dwelling deep into the subject of religious extremism in our region, it would be appropriate to understand how the geography has affected the religio-political balance and created tensions in this region. Pakhtuns occupy a mass of land, which has been of great geo-strategic importance in the past and will remain so in the future as well. Pakhtuns, basically a Central Asian stock, are living at the crossroads of Chinese, Indian, Russian and Persian civilizations. Pakhtunkhwa lies on the south eastern edge of Central Asia bordering at South Asia. Practically forming a gateway to Indian sub-continent, this region had been continuously trampled by waves of invaders and conquerors who were heading towards the "treasures" of India. These including figures like Alexander the Great, Mongols, Moguls and so on. For centuries this factor has proved to be of decisive importance in charting the course of life in Pakhtunkhwa and it has left an indelible imprint on the national character of Pakhtuns. Politically these areas have always been linked with Central Asia with deep ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social links. It was only in the 18th and19th century, when the Sikhs and eventually the British seized parts of Pukhtunkhwa, that this area developed political links with South Asia. Geography has thus played such an enormous role in shaping the history of Pakhtunkhwa that it is very difficult to find any parallel to it in world history. The Great Game’ rivalry of the world powers has not ended, rather it has resurfaced with renewed ferocity in the recent past.


Decline of the Durrani Pukhtun State

6. Although the Pukhtuns have a history which is 5000 years old, the first formal Pukhtun national state emerged in the 18th Century under Ahmed Shah Abdali. This state extended from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea Coast in Balochistan. Towards the end of the 19th century the Durrani Pakhtun State was on the decline because of colonialist machinations and outright aggressions. The most severe blow to the unity of Pakhtunkhwa in the 19th century came from the north-west ward expansions of the British colonialists in the Indian subcontinent.

The Great Game in the 19th Century

7. Britain's "Great Game" began with the first Afghan War (1838-42) and continued for over a century. British invasion of Afghanistan in 1838 was a first step to conquer Central Asia and to put an end to the south-ward march of Russia. The tough resistance put by Afghans, coupled with European pressures stopped the onward British march into Central Asia (or the so-called Forward Policy), but the British did not give up this ambition altogether. To get themselves entrenched into the borders of Central Asia, the British colonialists occupied and divided the lands of Pakhtuns by imposing, through an unequal treaty, "The Durand Line" on Afghanistan, a division that remains as unnatural today as it was at the end of the 19th century when it was first imposed.

8. The colonial administrative division of the lands of the Pakhtuns and the decline of the traditional international land trade through Pakhtunkhwa led to socio-economic and cultural stagnation and decline. The clamping of Stalinist Iron Curtain over Central Asia contributed to the socio-cultural alienation of Pakhtuns from their Central Asian roots, pushing them towards Indian subcontinent where they naturally faced the crisis of identity. This crisis of identity and historical roots persist to this day. The colonialists utilized this opportunity to perpetuate their oppression and exploitation of Pakhtunkhwa. But the Pakhtun masses did not put up with this situation even for a single day.

9. The passes and valleys of Pakhtunkhwa echoed the gunfire of freedom fighters as generations after generations of Pakhtuns kept the flame of resistance alive. Pashto literature, particularly Pashto poetry provides a very powerful depiction of the heroic struggles of Pakhtuns. When the British discovered that the Pashtun were virtually impossible to defeat in battle, they focused on intensifying discord among feuding clans in an effort to weaken resistance.

10. But the most interesting feature of this struggle spanning over a period of more than a hundred years culminating in the departure of the British and the creation of Pakistan is the fact that religion was not a motivation for waging war - nationalism was. History is witness to this fact. Despite fighting a no of battles against the British as late as 1940s; there was no religious coloring to these battles. This struggle was purely for political reasons and aimed at achieving independence for the people from the British, based on tribal or local cultural and ethnic identity. Winston Churchill testifies to this fact in his Book ‘The Story of the Malakand Field Force’ which he accompanied as a young journalist in 1897.

The World Wars

11. History is witness to the fact that our region and people have never fought their wars on religious grounds and religious violence was non-existent in these areas. Afghanistan, predominantly inhibited by Pakhtuns and being a national state of Pakhtuns remained neutral in the worst political circumstances of World War-I as well as World War -II. During both the World Wars our people inhibiting the areas under the control of British Empire fought alongside the British in the British Indian army in far off battlefields like Gallipoli, Sinai and Palestine, Mesopotamia and East Africa etc. Their religious identity or affiliation didn’t impede them from fighting alongside the people who were not affiliated to them religiously. The stories of their bravery during the World War- 2 as part of the British Indian Army in such far off places like East Africa, North Africa, Middle East, Malaya, Singapore, Burma and Italy are written in golden words in history books. It is important to note that their religious identity never came in their way for fighting on behalf of the people opposed to their own faith.

Political Struggle for Independence

12. In the beginning of the 20th Century, the nationalist struggle against colonialism started taking birth worldwide. The Muslim Elite in united India had to seek recourse to religion to demand independence and ensure their political dominance, being overwhelmed by the Hindu majority in a post colonial democratic India. The people of our region had no such compulsion. Our elders like Haji Sahib Turangzai and Bacha Khan thus based their struggle for independence on secular and liberal ideas and not on religion or communal hatred. In short religious identity was a problem of Indian Muslims and communal politics was a tool to secure political power for them. For the Pukhtuns religion was something for-granted and not a cause of conflict with others. Religion did not require to be emphasized and hence a religious identity was not necessary. This resulted in the divergence in political opinion to use religion for political means. The same has been the reason for the mistrust of Pukhtuns in Pakistan which continues even today.

13. Politically our people fought their struggle against colonialism in shape of non-violence moment and there was no religious coloring to these endeavors. These fights were purely based on the principles of their fundamental right to freedom and these movements never appealed to the religious sensitivities of the population. The legendary freedom fighter of Pukhtoons, Fakhr-e-Afghan Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan who led the political freedom fight against the British was an ardent believer of the principles of non-violence and did not believe on use of religion for this struggle because he was a visionary and understood the implications which we are witnessing today in the shape of religious extremism, fundamentalism and terrorism. Ghafar Khan was opposed to communal politics and advocated the independence of a united, multi-ethnic and secular India. To achieve this end, he founded the Khudai Khidmatgar Movement during the 1920s. The oath which this great Pakhtuns leader used to administer to his followers joining the Khudai Khidmatgar Movement is a shining example of tolerance, self control and non-violence. The oath runs as under:

In the name of God who is Present and Evident, I am a Khudai Khitmatgar.
I will serve the nation without any self-interest.
I will not take revenge (badal) and my actions will not be a burden for anyone.
My actions will be non-violent.
I will make every sacrifice required of me to stay on this path.
I will serve people without regard to their religion or faith.
I shall use nation-made goods.
I shall not be tempted by any office.

14. Even more wonderful is the lesson of non-violence that he gave to his followers using religion for peace not for war.“I am going to give you such a weapon that the police and the army will not be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it.”

British communal politics and its Impact on this region

15. The British colonial power played a dominant role in fuelling religious passions in the Sub-Continent for its own vested interests. The reasons for this were obvious. Briefly these can be summarized as under,

a. Towards the end of the World War 2, the British Empire was greatly weakened and the proverbial Sun on the British Empire was finally going to set.

b. Western colonies were on the decline and Colonialism as a force to rule the world was loosing ground fast.

c. The British Empire was already loosing its outposts in South East Asia, Africa and Middle East.

d. The movement for independence in South Asia was gaining momentum fast.

e. Communist USSR had already absorbed much of Central Asia and threatening to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

f. USSR had also occupied most of Eastern Europe and erected client states elsewhere like Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Laos and many more.

g. A socialist/communist movement in China was about to take over the country.

h. West was particularly fearful of the communist expansion to southwest in the Middle East with its vast oil reserves.

l. South Asia, due to the socialist leanings of Indian National Congress, was likely to align with USSR on independence; whereas South East Asia was already comfortably in the Soviet Camp.

16. To cut the long story short, by the end of World War -2, Communism had replaced Nazism as an opposing ideology for the Western imperialism. Islam as an ideology opposed to communism could provide a barrier against communist expansion. Therefore the British played a major role in bringing religious and communal politics to serve their own interests in the region. This was particularly applicable in South Asia where the religious fault lines already existed due to the Colonial principle of ‘Divide and Rule’. An Islamic state at the junction of South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East afforded the capability of serving as a frontline state against the communist expansion southwards to the Indian Ocean. The ‘Great Game’ was to be only temporarily postponed to be taken up another day. Once again geography had played a role to shape our future.

Independence of Pakistan

17. Ghaffar Khan and the majority of Pukhtuns were strongly opposed to the partition of India on religious grounds. The Red Shirts were willing to work with Indian politicians from Congress Party representing the predominant Hindu majority. When The Congress party refused last-ditch compromises to prevent the partion, like the Cabinet mission plan and Gandhi's suggestion to offer the Prime Ministership to Jinnah, Bache Khan and his followers felt a sense of betrayal by both Pakistan and India. Bacha Khan's last words to Gandhi and his erstwhile allies in the Congress party were: "You have thrown us to the wolves.” This is a clear proof that the people of this region believed in liberal politics and were averse to politics based on obscurantist and extremist ideals.

18. When Pakistan came in to being in 1947, Jinnah’s speech of 11th Aug envisioned it to be a modern, democratic and liberal state where every body will be free to exercise their faith. Bacha Khan took the oath of allegiance to the new nation of Pakistan. Shortly afterwards he addressed the Pakistan constituent assembly and announced his support for Pakistan, while at the same time his Khudai Khidmatgar movement pledged allegiance to Pakistan and severed all links to the Congress Party.

19. After the creation of Pakistan people accepted and lived peacefully in the state of Pakistan with no religious tensions in this area. It is worth mentioning that unlike other parts of Pakistan , there was no religious tension in these areas during the ‘Ahmadi/ Qadiani ‘ crisis which engulfed most of Punjab/Sindh in the 60s and 70s.


Social Values and Culture

20. At the outset it is important to understand that the Pukhtun society does not require religion to play a dominant role in organizing the social life of the people. The reason being that our society over the centuries has evolved a reasonable balance between religious values and national /ethnic values or code of conduct. Thus there are well established norms of behavior and areas of influence of both HUJRA AND MOSQUE in our society.

21. The Pukhtoon social structure that has attracted the attention of many a scholar is mainly governed by conventions and traditions and a code of honor known as "Pukhtoonwali". This un-written code is the keystone of the arch of the Pukhtoons' social fabric. It exercises a great influence on our actions and has been held sacrosanct generation after generation. The Pukhtoonwali or the Pukhtoon code of honour embraces all the activities from the cradle to the grave. It imposes upon the members of the Pukhtoon society four chief obligations. Firstly Nanawatey or repentance over past hostility or inimical attitude and grant of asylum, secondly Teega or a truce declared by a Jirga to avoid bloodshed between two rival factions, thirdly Badal or obligation to seek revenge by retaliation and fourthly Melmastiya or an open hearted hospitality which is one of the most sublime and noble features of Pukhtoon character. In broad sense hospitality, magnanimity, chivalry, honesty, uprightness, patriotism, love and devotion for the country are the essential features of Pukhtoonwali. The history of Pukhtoonwali is as old as the history of the Pukhtoons and every individual of Pukhtoon society is expected to abide by these age old traditions. Given this the notion of religiosity in pukhtoon society is a farce and pukhtoons have no relevance with extremism despite the fact that they love their religion.

22. Pukhtunkhwa thus has been historically peaceful – culturally, ethnically, socially and religiously. Despite the presence of significant pockets of non-muslims in parts of this area, there have been historically no religious tensions and our religious identity never came in to play as a political tool. The reasons for this are twofold: firstly a very strong, dynamic and potent Pukhtun identity and culture obviates the need for an alternative religious or sectarian identity and secondly the absence of any threat from a competing religious ideology means complete religious harmony.

Relations with Non-Muslims

23. Historically non-Muslims masses have lived in our region in complete harmony, enjoying absolute religious freedom and even protection from any external threats. Hindus and sikhs in Buner, Swat, Hangu, Dir, Peshawar and Charsadda have lived with fraternity. Even now non-muslims pockets in our society exist. They conduct their lives with peace and harmony and enjoy economic and social security. Hindus and Sikhs are running their own businesses in Barikot, Swat, Buner, Peshawar, Mardan and other parts of our land. Christians are also leading their lives in complete harmony and enjoy religious freedom. They are respected as Ahle-Kitab and close to Islam and even inter-marriages with them are allowed according to our religious belief. Moreover, their services towards our society in the form of missionary schools and hospitals have made them dearer to us. Their services in health and education sector of our people are worth appreciation.

24. The situation however changed towards the mid of 20th century. In the middle of the 20th century the Muslims of South Asia (Sub-Continent) being a minority, felt a need for asserting their religious identity to acquire political power in the post colonial world. Our region being linked to South Asia through the illegal occupation by the British thus assumed this overwhelmingly religious identity when Pakistan came in to being. In other words it can be argued that religion has not been a cause of tension/conflict in Pakhtun society before its association with the state of Pakistan. This is a phenomenon that has been forced on our society and not indigenous to it. The Pukhtun society was a fairly balanced, peaceful and tolerant society till the Jihad factor came in due to the Afghan War in the 80s.


Disturbance in Socio-Political Balance

25. Inherently Pakhtuns society was balanced due to the religious affair being the duty of the mullahs/ religious leaders and the secular and temporal affairs were in the hands of elders of society like community elders, Maliks and Khans. Jihad factor disturbed this balance, concentrating both the religious and temporal affairs of society in the hands of mullahs. Ever since 1947, when Pakistan got independence, both Pakistan and Afghanistan did not develop friendly neighborly relations due to the historical baggage of Durand Line which they inherited from the British. Thus intervention in the affairs of each other started resulting in destabilizing attempts against the regimes in Kabul. The people of our area being Pakhtun with deep ethnic and linguistic links across the Durand were naturally not considered to be loyal and hence could not be used for this purpose based on nationalism. Therefore the religious card was the only tool in the hands of establishment, which could serve their purpose.

26. Let us see a case study how religious extremism was introduced into district Dir which is the hub of religious parties in NWFP. In order to destabilize the government of Afghanistan during Sardar Daud's regime in Kabul, the area and people of Dir were used. An effort was made by arranging an uprising in Kunar province of Afghanistan against Sardar Daud. Obviously, a launching pad and human resource was required for the purpose. This part of Pukhtunkhwa, Dir District afforded the best option with close geographical proximity with the Kunar area. Moreover the simple and poor masses were ideally prone to religious manipulation. For this purpose JI was supported and virtually installed in Dir District which provided the requisite support for the uprising by manipulating and misguiding the simple people in the name of religion. This resulted in the development of religious obscurantism and extremism in this area which continues even today. Afghan forward policy is even now advocated by the JI as the well-merited tool for the service and betterment of the Pakhtun people of our region. Looking a bit back into the recent past, it is worth mentioning that from whole of Pakistan JI has only won elections from this District consistently. That is how religion was introduced in to Pakhtun politics.

Development of Religious Extremism

27. The war in Afghanistan further exacerbated the situation. USA and the west required an ideology against the spread of communist ideology in Afghanistan. Pakistan afforded the potential to serve the interests of the capitalist block. Pakistan was also looking to solve its border disputes with Afghanistan once and for ever in addition to the flawed myth of gaining strategic depth in Afghanistan against the arch rival India. So instead of using Pakhtun nationalism which had defeated the British Empire before, religion was used and the war against USSR was termed as Jihad. Pakhtuns were used for defeating communism on their own land with their own blood for the benefit of the West and the local powers. Different states including USA and the Gulf Arab States started funding the militant groups created by the intelligence agencies. A large number of people having different ethnicities including Arabs, Indians, Kashmiris, Chechens, Sudanese, and Algerians etc were brought to this land. Religious indoctrination started and huge literature was printed for convincing people to fight this war as a religious war. The money from the Gulf countries was instrumental in the mushrooming of madrasas in our areas. These madrassas provided these parties with hundreds and thousands of religiously motivated activists along with a growing network of mosques used as a political platform of the religious parties. The mushroom growth of religious sanctuaries / madaris in our area also provided fighters and mercenaries for this war. Meanwhile, sectarianism also gained currency in the region with the clandestine support of various states. Their obvious purpose was promoting their own culture and increasing their own influence in our areas in an atmosphere where religion was being used as a blanket cover for geopolitics. For example Iran supported the Shiites and Saudi Arabia promoted Wahabism in the region. Its obvious effects were the increase of extremism, obscurantism and religious bigotry which we can witness very vividly today across the Pakhtun lands.



28. Once the Afghan war ended with the disintegration of USSR, the Western Powers and USA left. They left Afghanistan and our people high and dry for the Arabs and the regional powers to manipulate. The intelligence agencies and establishments fully used the situation of civil war in Afghanistan. In the resulted war-lordism in Afghanistan, intelligence agencies made various groups which fought among themselves paving the path for attaining the ‘strategic depth’. Meanwhile, the terrorist and militant religious groups established their influence on both sides of the Durand. Afghanistan became virtually an Arab colony. To give a final shape to the whole struggle the Pakhtun land was used for providing support to Taliban to install them at the centre in Kabul. Talibanization of this region was the natural consequence. The obvious result was the promotion of extremism. Afghanistan became a safe haven for the terrorists from all over the world. Here in our areas, movements like TNSM emerged and covered the whole Malakand division. Local administration is reported to have been involved due to the most probable extension of civil law to Malakand division. The local administration helped Sufi Muhammad and his organization to impede the extension of civil law. This attempt fortunately failed but its effects had to appear in the form of open support for Taliban regime in Afghanistan. This support led to the loss of the precious lives of hundred and thousands of our naïve and simple people mostly youth in 2001 at the advice of TNSM chief. The result was hatred against the West in the minds of people who lost their loved ones in the so called Jihad of Taleban.

The New Great Game

29. Another important development during all this time had been the break-up of USSR and independence of the new Central Asian states following the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. This changed situation a renewed interest of the world powers particularly the West in this region. The CAR states are sitting over the second largest oil and gas reserves in the world. Once again the Great Game was on. The big oil companies from the west like Unocol and regional players were once again looking to reach central Asia. They thus had no problem with the Taliban as long as they could do business with them. However things went wrong as they were distend to; as a natural consequence of support to extremism, fundamentalism and obscurantism. The Taliban embarked on an extremist path symbolized by their utter disrespect for the universal values of religious tolerance, human rights and established international norms of diplomacy and good international relation. This was anathema to the civilized world All this was toped by the emergence of Al-Qaeeda as the real threat to the West in the post cold war era with Osama bin Laden comfortably operating from Taliban led Afghanistan to the utter contempt of world powers including the United Nations. The sequence culminated in the attacks on the twin towers on 9/11, 2001.

30. In the aftermath of 9/11, Afghanistan again became an international issue and USA attacked to remove the Taliban in 2001 and establish a representative democratic government there. After losing control over Afghanistan, the establishment again manipulated political and electoral processes to manage a political comeback by pro-Taliban political forces in Pakhtunkhwa and Baloachistan. It would serve more than one purpose. The phobia of a threat from its western borders can be overcome only with the enforcement of a policy of containment. It was also expected to boost the morale of the remnants of Taliban who are resisting the new setup in Afghanistan. An added advantage would be the use of religious right by the ruling establishment as a lever for putting pressure on US and other Western countries to have a better bargain….more Dollars.



31. Now while looking to the future wearing the glasses of the past history, look at the propaganda of religious extremism which threatens to destroy the fabric of the Pakhtun society, economy, politics and social harmony and propagates the ideas of clash of religions in our land. Even a simple mind can easily understand that this is all for political reasons and not for any service to Islam. Some clear and obvious conclusions from history are,

a. Our region has never produced religiously extremist ideologies; they have been imposed on us from abroad.

b. The ideologies and roots of religious extremism and terrorism in South Asia lie far off across the Indus.

c. Currently there is no indigenous religio-idealogical centre in Pukhtunkhwa which promotes hatred and animosity among the human beings on the basis of religion.

d. All these influences come from South of Indus and are aimed at our region for their own regional and political interests.

e. Militant organizations like Lashkar-i-Tayiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Badr, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and even the Tablighi Jumaat, and all religious parties like Jumaat Islami etc have their head quarters outside Pakhtun lands and are run from there. They only use the blood of our youth and obviously the give us the name of terrorists.

f. The extremist philosophies are the product of Indian and Arab societies with a clandestine support from establishment of many countries and not the Pukhtun society.

g. For example, the Tablighi jumaat, being an Indian-oriented organization head quartered in Lahore has since its inception focused on Pakhtun areas paving the way for making the society religiously intolerant and in turn our people fall pray to the extremist organizations.

h. The religious parties, deeply involved in militant activities in Kashmir and Afghanistan bear their foundation from Indian society. These were openly supported by the establishment during the Afghan war. In early eighties due to the Afghan war, these organizations were more focused on our region with the result that leadership of these were also transferred to our region.

Why Our Region is Prone to Manipulation?

32. Given the situation, let us think why our people and land is prone to manipulation? Why different forces find it easy to use us for the promotion of their own interests with our blood and resources? The answer is simple as Iqbal says: Hai Jurm-I-zaeefi ki saza margai mufajat . The following are just a few reasons,

a. Our people are living in a tribal and somewhere in semi-tribal society having no awareness of the global and regional political circumstances prevailing around them.

b. As the masses at large are uneducated and illiterate, therefore they easily fall prey to different sort of exploiters who use them. They benefit from the traditional Pakhtun naivety and especially by their conservative religious beliefs.

c. Our tribal area, which has been used as a launching pad during the so-called Jihad in Afghanistan, has over a long period developed a war economy in people, which is largely self-sustaining.

d. Besides poverty and underdevelopment in our areas too is the main cause, which makes people more prone to manipulation.

e. With out having infrastructure for communication, businesses and for carrying out their economic activities, the extremist forces find it easy to influence and utilize the people for their own interests.

f. It is worth mentioning that, the sole psychological arm in their hands is religion, which in turn creates hatred and obscurantism in the minds of people making it a never ending game.

33. Although, whole of our country has never witnessed democracy even for a day in the true sense of the word, however the situation of our area is largely different form other parts of the country. As has earlier been mentioned, religion has been brought into politics for the purpose of diffusing the secular and liberal masses demanding their due share in government and control of resources, political parties based on religious basis have been promoted. These forces advocate the obscurantist ideas. Unlike the settled areas, the situation in our tribal areas is far worse. They are governed through the most infamous FCR, the black law that was introduced by the British colonialists, having no example of its kind in contemporary world. Having no representatives, which could speak for the people and represent their true inspiration they are at the mercy of a political agent appointed by the state. It’s a pity that the FCR today is worse than that existed during the British days. Having gained independence, what Pakistan did is that it simply corrupted the existing Jirga system in these areas and gave the influence to the clergy with the sword of religion in his hand.

34. This situation has resulted in the area and its people being dubbed as the hotbed of international terrorism. We are unable to establish our own media, which can represent our true aspirations and give the correct picture to the world. Media controlled by state and by other organizations portrays us as extremist and terrorists to the world. This in turn makes our people more alienated and reactionary. All this is resulting in misunderstanding about other religion and hatred toward others in the world on religious basis. Similarly, the world opinion about us is growing in a negative way, which brings us under fire from other forces in the world. No wonder today we the Pukhtuns are being killed by all, the US, the NATO, the Taliban and the Pakistani Forces and hated by all. In the end how true this saying of Bacha Khan seems to be today.

"O Pashtuns! Your house has fallen into ruin. Arise and rebuild it, and remember to what race you belong."

No comments: