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Friday, February 26, 2010

The New February 2010 issue of SAHAR Magazine.

Sahar The Voice of Pashtun.Feb, 2010.
Azra Nafees
Dear Friends, The February issue of SAHAR-The Voice of Pashtun can be accessed on the website of khyberwatch. Please do find some time to have a look at it and share your valued feedback with us. SAHAR is your mag and we encourage you to write for it and be part of the team. Happy Reading Editor

Remembering Ajmal Khattak – by Harris Khalique

Remembering Ajmal Khattak – by Harris Khalique

Sunday party

In the darkness and apathy that surround us, the passing of another great man, scholar, poet and politician, Ajmal Khattak, was yet another blow to his comrades and disciples who believe in creating a modern, progressive and humane society in this country. A man of impeccable character, Khattak struggled all his life for what he stood for – a socialist, secular, democratic and enlightened Pakistan where fundamental issues of class and nations inhabiting the state are fully resolved and everlasting peace is established in the subcontinent and Afghanistan.

I always find it hard to express condolences to the bereaved family or close friends and it becomes harder when someone larger than life passes away. As it was mentioned once before in this column, no one lives forever and people die in every society but sooner or later their place is taken over by some able successors. Our tragedy is different. Great people who leave us are seldom replaced. We are losing our major intellectuals and politicians of integrity at an alarming pace. It is a kind of a social deforestation where large trees with thick foliage protecting us from scorching sun are falling down and since no saplings were planted, watered and nurtured by society for years, this is fast becoming a barren land. But we must refuse to give up hope and as long as someone continues to believe in the same ideals and professes, preaches, struggles to realise these ideals, things will eventually change.

We remembered Ajmal Khattak at Abdullah Jan Jamaldini’s place last week when we saw his picture on the cover of Nawa-i-Bolan, a magazine with meagre resources but a lot of drive and substance. Each Sunday, literati, academics, journalists, political activists and youth gather at Baba Abdullah Jan’s place in Sariab, a suburban part of Quetta. They call it Sunday party. Baba is virtually the last of the Mohicans in strife-torn Balochistan. He is sad at what is happening to Balochistan and fully supports the struggle for Baloch rights but his innate humanity does not make him revengeful and bitter. The sagacity that he espouses is rare, simplicity is the hallmark of the thinkers of his generation and the magnanimity he exudes touches his audience in an eternal way. At 87, his memory is as sharp as a knife and being physically paralysed for years has failed to affect his cerebral powers. When his son Dostain lit up a cigarette and handed it over to him, he looked at me with a smile and humbly said, “I just smoke on Sundays when friends come to meet me. I enjoy the conversation and take a puff or two while being educated by these learned men.”

He told me stories about his stay in Karachi in the 1950s and 60s, his association with the Communist Party and other progressive writers, thinkers and activists, experiences with the stooges of the oppressive state and literature written in those times. He fondly recited lines from a poem titled Vaadi-e-Bolan (The Valley of Bolan) by Sajjad Zaheer who he called Bannay Bhai. This was written by Zaheer when he visited Quetta or perhaps when he had to go in hiding in Balochistan. He also shared his views on the issues of higher education in Balochistan in particular and Pakistan in general. He taught for many years and retired from the University of Balochistan after making significant contribution towards developing curriculum and promoting research. May he live long!

The writer is a poet and advises national and international institutions on governance and public policy issues. Email:

Source: The News

Tarana at Nishtar Hall

Students Presenting Pashtun Qami Tarana (National Anthem) At Nishtar Hall Peshawar.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

د سپرغۍ مقالې

د سپرغۍ مقالې

دې بربادۍ يو لوئي مثال زمونږ په ورځني ژوند کې د هر چا مخې ته دى. چې دولسم نه فارغ پښتون ځوان ته د پښتو څه ليک ورکړه نو هغه زر ووائي " مړه په دې زۀ نۀ پوهېږم". بيا ورته په اردو کې د څۀ ليکلو ووايه نو داسې اردو به وليکي چې يوه پښه به ئې يو طرفته روانه وي او بله بل طرفته. د اردو د تذکير او تانيث سره به هغه هغه لوبې وکړي چې اِنا لِلهِ وَ اِنا اِلَيْهِ راجِعُون وئيلو ته به دې زړۀ وشي. يعنې نۀ پښتو نۀ اردو. په نورو ټکو کې نۀ د دين نۀ د سادين. د دې سلسلې يوه دلچسپه خبره هم راته راياده شوه. تقريباً څلور کاله وړاندې يو ځل زۀ د کراچۍ نه پېښور ته راغلى وم. يوه ورځ مې تصادفاً د بي بي سي پښتو سرويس سهارنۍ خپرونې سره د پښتونخوا د تعليم د وزير مولانا فضل علي مرکه اورېدله. هغو ورځو کې د پښتنوخوا "مولانا حکومت" اردو د صوبې سرکاري ژبه اعلان کړې وه. په دې هکله د بي بي سي او د نوموړي وزير ترمينځه داسې سوال ځواب وشول:بي بي سي: تاسې اردو ولې د صوبې سرکاري ژبه اعلان کړه؟د تعليم وزير: د دې دپاره چې صوبه د تعليم په ميدان کې ترقي وکړي او د نړۍ سره سياله شي.بي بي سي: نړۍ سره د سيالۍ لپاره خو ضروري ده چې تاسې انګليسي ژبه سرکاري کړئ ځکه چې انګليسي د سائنس او ميډيا ژبه ده او په ګرده نړۍ کې ويل کيږي؟د تعليم وزير: انګليسي ژبه ده علم نۀ دى. او د ترقۍ راز دا دى چې تعليم په خپله مورنۍ ژبه کې وکړاى شي. د مثال په توګه فرانس، جاپان، جرمني، چين او روس خپلې ټولې تعليمي سلسلې په خپلو مورنيو ژبو کې کوي او همدا د هغوئ د ترقۍ راز دى. د يو کامياب نظامِ تعليم لپاره ضروري ده چې هغه په مورنۍ ژبه کې وي. بي بي سي: نو ستاسې او ستاسې د صوبې مورنۍ ژبه خو پښتو ده؟وزير تعليم: (په لږ وارخطايۍ سره) نه، نه، زۀ په عالمي کچ د ترقۍ خبره کوم.بي بي سي: نو په عالمي کچ خو انګليسي د تعليم، سائينس او ميډيا ژبه ده؟بس نو وزير صيب بيا ځواب نۀ درلود. اخر ئې په غوسه ځان خلاص کړ.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Always true to poetry, politics

Always true to poetry, politics

A freedom fighter and a born rebel, Ajmal Khattak died on February 7, 2010

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

Fans of Mohammad Ajmal Khattak's poetry and prose used to say that he would have given a lot more to literature had he not spent so much time doing politics. They are probably right, but then he would not have become so well known.

Ajmal Khattak the politician contributed to the fame of Ajmal Khattak the poet and vice-versa. Otherwise, there are scores of Pashto poets and writers who deserve fame and appreciation, but who remain unsung and die largely unknown.

By the time he died at the age of 85, Ajmal Khattak had proved his versatility. He began his career as a teacher at a government school and then moved on to journalism. But his true vocations were poetry and politics. He was barely 13 when he read his Pashto poetry at a mushaira and earned applause. And he was still a teenager when he took part in political processions during the Quit India Movement against the British colonial rule and got rusticated from his school. Later in life he completed his education by qualifying for his master's degree in Persian.

Ajmal Khattak led such an eventful life that it is difficult to keep track of all his activities. He composed poetry and wrote prose in both Pashto and Urdu. He did active journalism in dailies such as Anjam and Shahbaz and wrote columns on political and social issues. For a time he served as a scriptwriter at Radio Pakistan Peshawar. During this period, he had to follow the state-run radio station's policy and write scripts critical of the Afghan government. But then a time came in the 1970s that Ajmal Khattak, while living in self-exile in Afghanistan, championed the Pakhtunistan cause and made speeches from Radio Kabul criticising the Pakistan government.

Some of his critics have mentioned these examples to show the contradictions in his life and political career. He was also accused of raising false hopes among the Pashtun youth by promising them that he would come from Afghanistan with a "red dholi." It meant that he would lead a red revolution from his exile in Afghanistan and influence events in Pakistan, particularly among the Pashtuns.

However, these accusations failed to dent Ajmal Khattak's popularity. His sacrifices, honesty, simplicity and dedication to the cause of the poor and downtrodden endeared him to his people. He was a freedom fighter and a born rebel who suffered imprisonment, torture in custody and financial losses. Despite remaining a member of the National Assembly and the Senate, he continued to live in his three-room house in his hometown Akora Khattak. Unlike other politicians who often make money after getting elected to the parliament and find lucrative jobs for their children and relatives, he didn't indulge in such vices and instead focused on his work as lawmaker and devoted time to political causes and literary pursuits.

The leadership of the late Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's Khudai Khidmatgar movement and its successor organisations such as National Awami Party and Awami National Party had remained in the hands of Bacha Khan and his family, represented subsequently by Khan Abdul Wali Khan and now Asfandyar Wali Khan. But such was the family's trust in Ajmal Khattak and so high was his status as a clean and committed politician that he was chosen to lead the party twice as president. And Ajmal Khattak was welcomed back into the ANP when he mended fences with Wali Khan after having broken away along with a group of party activists in 2000 to form the National Awami Party Pakistan. It is said General Pervez Musharraf encouraged Ajmal Khattak to form his own party in a meeting that created waves as he was the first politician whom the military ruler had met after staging the coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government in October 1999.

Despite his political responsibilities, Ajmal Khattak found time to author 24 books. His first book of Pashto poetry, "Da Ghairat Chagha" (The call of honour), was published in 1952. And his last book, again a collection of his Pashto poetry, was published in August 2009 when he was ill. It was titled, "Da Spin Ghar Da Sara" (From the top of the White Mountain. He authored five books in Urdu, wrote dramas in Pashto, and penned a history of Pashto language and literature. Some of his Pashto poetry was translated into Urdu by late Urdu and Hindko scholar Prof Khatir Ghaznavi. Ajmal Khattak's poetry and prose is highly rated and critics praise his contribution as path-breaking because he was among the first Pashto poets who wrote about the plight and rights of the peasants and workers and highlighted the need for a revolution.

It was on March 23, 1973 that Ajmal Khattak decided to leave Pakistan and escape to Afghanistan after the opposition's public meeting in Liaquat Bagh was fired at and several NAP workers were killed before his eyes. On that fateful day, he felt it was no longer possible for Pashtuns and members of other smaller nationalities to live as equal partners in Punjab-dominated Pakistan. For the next 16 years, he lived in self-exile in Afghanistan. However, times changed and Ajmal Khattak not only returned home and reconciled with the Pakistani state, but was also subsequently elected to the parliament and performed his role as a patriotic lawmaker.

Ajmal Khattak: The revolutionary dervish

Ajmal Khattak: The revolutionary dervish

Dr. Mohammad Taqi

“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them”.

He was a true polymath – a poet, journalist, broadcaster, linguist, scholar and a politician. However despite all his patrician qualities this Renaissance man was a plebeian at heart.

Despite his capability to – and opportunities available to him for – upward social mobility, Ajmal Khattak chose to live and die in his dignified poverty. In a polity where comprador bourgeoisie, feudals and their quislings were rising to power, Ajmal stood head and shoulders above that upstart crowd, relying solely on his intellectual and political acumen. He was a giant in a political landscape dotted with pygmies.

For the Pashtuns he was the voice of their voiceless angst, expression in the muted humiliation and their freedom cry for the subjugated human dignity. Ajmal Khattak was a man of letters who, in the tradition of the warrior-poet Khushal Khan Khattak, also unfurled the standard of struggle for Pashtun unity.

Whereas Bacha Khan and his colleagues like the late Hussain Bakhsh Kausar conceived the idea of modern Pashtun unity, it was Ajmal Khattak who eventually provided the ideological backbone of this thesis.

In his book on Bacha Khan, late Farigh Bokhari had noted that by Pashtunistan, Ghaffar Khan merely meant a renamed province within Pakistan. Narrating to this scribe the discussions leading to the Bannu Declaration on Pashtunistan, Hussain Bakhsh Kausar corroborated Bokhari’s assertion. Kausar had added though, that for many, including him, the idea was much more than renaming a province – it was a thesis proposing the reunification of the Pashtun irredentas.

Ajmal Khattak provided the modern theoretical basis for the idea of the Greater Pashtunistan. Well-versed in the Marxist-Leninist theory - prevalent and ascendant at the time- Ajmal Khattak deployed it to strengthen the case for the right of self-determination for the Pashtuns.

In this, Ajmal Khattak put Afghanistan on notice as well. In 1969 the Afghan government had published a Pashtunistan postage stamp on which Pashtunistan included only the areas of FATA, the NWFP and Balochistan. As a claimant to the mantle of Mirwais Hotaki, Aimal Khan and Ahmad Shah Durrani, Ajmal Khattak was not pleased with this not-so-subtle gimmick of the Afghan state excluding the Pashtun territories under their control from Pashtunistan.

On the Pakistani side, Ajmal Khattak and the Pashtun nationalists were up not only against the establishment but also large sections of the Pakistani Left, who considered secession a dirty word. According to the socialists of West Pakistan it was sufficient to believe the unverified cliché that “scientific socialism would automatically solve all problems, including the national question”.

In this context Ajmal Khattak relied heavily on Lenin’s writings, such as: “The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation. Specifically, this demand for political democracy implies complete freedom to agitate for secession and for a referendum on secession by the seceding nation ….”

Though a fixture in the Kabul political circles of the 1970s and 80s, self-exiled Ajmal Khattak never toed anyone’s ideological line – not even Moscow’s. At the height of their intervention in Afghanistan, the Soviets solicited input from the Pakistani leftists. Out of the two opposing proposals submitted by the pro-PDPA politicians of Pakistan, the Soviets adopted the one calling for restraint as against the one proposing broadening the scope of their operations to drain the guerilla swamp in Pakistan.

Upon his return from exile in 1989, this scribe put this question to Ajmal Khattak during a discussion in Peshawar and asked him if he and Wali Khan were the ones who opposed the Soviet intervention in our side of the Durand Line. He deflected the question.

Incidentally, after the discussion he and this scribe were supposed to travel in the same vehicle driven by the son of the host, a mutual friend. This scribe had already taken seat in the rear, when Ajmal sahib entered and sat on the front seat. Not realising that the scribe was in the car, he leaned over to the host’s son and asked if the youth who asked about opposing the Soviets belonged to a certain political group (which he did name). I whispered in his ear that indeed I was and that my father (Malik Rahat Ali) was proud of having remained his sub-editor during their days at the dailies Shahbaz and Anjam and then deputising for him as the news editor when he and Qalandar Momand were jailed. He asked me to step out of the car and hugged me. But he still didn’t answer the question.

Many years later he confided to a vice-president of his National Awami Party Pakistan (NAPP) that indeed he had written a strong critique of any proposed Soviet intervention into Pakistan. He was being treated at a Moscow hospital when a senior Soviet official came to see him and chided him about his opposition to spilling-over of hostilities into Pakistan. He stood his ground. Ajmal Khattak stood his ground based on his reading of Lenin who concluded at the end of the aforementioned quote that: “… this demand (secession), therefore, is not the equivalent of a demand for separation, fragmentation and the formation of small states. It implies only a consistent expression of struggle against all national oppression.”

He, therefore, was neither a secessionist nor was contradicting himself. To him the right of self-determination was an evolutionary stage, not just of politics or modern statehood, but of humanism.

Indeed, Ajmal Khattak’s poetry is humanism personified and transcends time and frontiers. Sa’adi Shirazi wrote that stones have been chained while dogs are let loose (sung-ha ra bastand o sugaan ra kushadand) and Faiz’s adaption of the same is well-known. However, Ajmal Khattak’s rendition of this thought in his poem - cherta che baran da Khudai da qahar waraidalay de (where it has been raining the wrath of God, is indeed my home, it is your home), makes the contrasts and ironies of our society clearer than ever to the common reader and the activist alike.

Like many leaders of his time, Ajmal Khattak was deeply influenced by Abul Kalam Azad and almost took Azad’s persona – in journalism, literary pursuits, politics, and indeed looks.

Arguably, Bacha Khan was the most influential person in Ajmal Khattak’s life. While he could not be cowed down easily, the son of Hikmat Khan Khattak, at times would succumb to Ghaffar Khan, the son of Behram Khan. Fond of psychoanalysis, including his own, Ajmal Khattak has mentioned this “weakness” of his in verse as well as personal conversations. He would allude to Bacha Khan as genius.

What is clear though is that the literary genius in Ajmal Khattak brought the Pashto poetry in sync with the modern times. He not only experimented with and improved on the prevalent forms as ghazal (sonnet) and ruba’ee (quatrain) but introduced the progressive political thought in his nazm, with a vigour and craft that puts him on par with Pablo Neruda, Sahir Ludhianvi and Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

Though cognizant of his political and literary stature, Ajmal Khattak remained down to earth till his death. At a friend’s house during hot summer days, he would sleep without air-conditioning or even a fan. This was at a time when the ruling General of the era would have gladly given him anything he asked for. But contentment was the wealth that Ajmal Khattak had amassed over the years and he would not squander that for something petty, for he was the revolutionary dervish.

Author teaches and practises Medicine at the University of Florida, USA and can be reached at

A Pakhtoon revolutionary remembered

A Pakhtoon revolutionary remembered
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
By By Shahid Husain

In the death of Ajmal Khattak, who passed away on February 7, Pakistan in general and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in particular lost one of its best sons.

Born on September 15, 1926, in Akora Khattak, a small village in NWFP, Ajmal Khattak emerged as one of the finest Pashto poets, journalists and political leaders who suffered immensely at the hands of civilian and military dictators.

I met Khattak in 1970 when I was a student of B.Sc (Honours) first year at the University of Karachi. Erstwhile, the National Awami Party (NAP) was having its central committee meeting in Karachi and top NAP leaders were in the city.

Maulana Jawad-ul-Asghar, a scholar who taught at Sirajuddaulah College, Karachi, arranged a public meeting in Ancholi Society, Federal ‘B’ Area, in honour of Khattak. I was very anxious to meet him after reading a column in “Jang” by (late) Raees Amrohvi in which he had stated that Khattak was not only a poet and politician but also a psychic.

As people were gathering at the Ancholi playground where one finds a park today I saw Khattak talking to a group of political activists and introduced myself as a member of the leftwing National Students Federation (NSF). I asked him if it was true that he was a psychic. I was puzzled when he said, “He had called me,” although he didn’t know me at that time, nor had I heard his voice.

Then I met him at a dinner hosted by (late) Dr Nayyar Aziz Masoodi, an NSF leader at that time who later emerged as a scientist and a professor of physiology at the Sindh Medical College. Masoodi lived in Azizabad and had hosted a dinner at the rooftop of his house. NAP stalwarts, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Khair Bux Marri, Ataullah Mengal, Mahmood-ul-Haq Usmani, Prof. Muzaffar Ahmed, Ajmal Khattak etc, were present there.

However, I came close to Khattak a year later in 1971 when Gen. Yahya Khan and his coterie had unleashed genocide in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the Press had been put in chains. Communist leader Jam Saqi had issued a statement against atrocities in East Pakistan and I was entrusted by my seniors to take a bundle of that cyclostyled statement to Khattak in Peshawar.

I was given Rs75 as my traveling expenses by my seniors. I told my mother that I was going to Peshawar on a study tour along with my classmates but my mother became suspicious and sent my uncle, (late) S.M Jaffar, to say goodbye to me at the railway station. Obviously, he caught me red-handed because I was all alone at the railway station, but he kept his promise when I requested him not to tell my mother.

After arriving at Peshawar Cantt. I took a Tonga and went to the spacious NAP office where Khattak lived. He also published daily “Shehbaz” from there. He was a bit disturbed, however, when I handed over the bundle of Jam Saqi’s statement to him and immediately concealed it somewhere in the office.

I requested Khattak that I wanted to meet leaders of the Pushtoon Students’ Federation (PSF), an ally of the NSF, but he somehow evaded my request. However, we would chat for hours and I was served “Chapli Kebab” and green tea with the well known hospitality of the Pushtoons.

After two or three days, trade union leader, (late) Dr Aizaz Nazir, and my friend, Mir Thebo, then-general secretary of the Sindh National Students Federation (SNSF), also arrived there. Khattak knew them very well and asked them about me privately. After becoming satisfied he told me he had become suspicious if I was the real guy because the situation in Peshawar was very tense and NAP office was under surveillance round-the-clock.

The next day a NAP activist and poet Aasi escorted me to the pharmacy shop of (late) Dr Sher Afzal Malik who was an NSF leader in the 1950s and 1960s and probably the most dedicated student leader the NSF had ever produced. Dr Sher Afzal had retired from student politics and ran a pharmacy shop in the heart of Peshawar city. While I was chatting with him, I noticed that he would look at the prescription of every buyer and then tell him that the medicine was not available. After about an hour I asked Dr Sher Afzal Malik that his shop seems to be well stocked but strangely enough he was telling his every client that medicine was not available. Dr Sher Afzal, who I was meeting for the first time, laughed heartily and said, “A comrade has come from Karachi. Should I talk to him or sell medicines?”

Aasi then took me to Peshawar University where we had a meeting in its lawn with the leaders of PSF. We also had dinner at the university’s cafeteria.

I vividly remember that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrived in Peshawar clandestinely and wanted to have a meeting with NAP President Khan Abdul Wali Khan who bluntly refused to meet him and retired in his ancestral village Wali Bagh. However, after much persuasion he agreed to meet Bhutto and came to the NAP office and narrated a strange story. Wali Khan told us that Bhutto said that Yahya was now in a mess in former East Pakistan and if NAP started a movement in NWFP and Balochistan and the PPP in Sindh and the Punjab, his government could be toppled. But Wali Khan told him that he had earlier given a statement that there were only three forces in Pakistan: Awami League of Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, the PPP and the army, and since Awami League was in trouble and NAP stands nowhere, therefore, if he wanted to topple Yahya’s government he should do it on its own. A couple of days after this meeting, Wali Khan left for London.

The week I spent with Khattak at the NAP/Shehbaz office in 1971 made us good friends and I would meet him whenever he was in Karachi. He would stay at the servant quarter at the bungalow of NAP General Secretary Mahmood-ul-Haq Usmani and sleep on a mat, while Pushtoon workers thronged the room. He was very simple, affectionate and loving.

Khattak went into self-exile in Kabul after a public meeting at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi, was fired upon on March 23, 1973, during the era of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and several political activists were killed. We lost touch.

He, however, never forgot me. When the Sour Revolution occurred in Afghanistan in 1978 and Nur Mohammad Taraki became the prime minister of that country, my journalist friend Mujahid Brelvi went to Kabul to interview the Afghan leader. Mujahid was anxious to meet Taraki but was not sure if he would get an appointment. I told him to contact Khattak and give my reference although I was not sure if he remembered me. On his return Mujahid told me that Khattak spoke about me fondly, and said: “Kis Ka Naam Le Liya, Aesay Laga Jese Bahaar Aagayee.”

Khattak returned home in 1989 and again became active in politics. I remember in 1990 when I was working for Daily News, I called him for an interview. He was staying in Gulshan-e-Iqbal with some party worker and immediately gave me an appointment. However, I became angry after I had to wait there for half an hour and left the place. Khattak came out barefoot and said that a journalist from another newspaper was interviewing him and he wanted to get rid of him so that we could talk at leisure.

Khattak is no more with us but his simplicity and affection will continue to inspire political activists and people of letters alike for years to come.

analysis: Zaid Hamid and strategic depth — Farhat Taj

analysis: Zaid Hamid and strategic depth —Farhat Taj
Daily Times Feb 13,2010
What are we first of all: Muslim or Pakistani? Is our ultimate commitment with Pakistani citizenship or a global Muslim brotherhood? What kind of Pakistan should we aim at: a progressive multi-ethnic social democracy or some kind of medieval caliphate?

FATA continues to be
used and abused as a strategic space by the security establishment of Pakistan in violent pursuit of strategic depth in Afghanistan. In short, strategic depth means Pakistan must have a pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan by any and all means. People of FATA have suffered more than people in any other part of Pakistan due to this policy. They dread and hate ‘strategic depth’.

Some people of FATA drew my attention towards Zaid Hamid, who, they said, is a new charm offensive of the military establishment to popularise the notion of strategic depth among the youth from affluent families in the big cities of Pakistan. He is frequently given air time by the electronic media, also an evidence that the media, especially the Urdu media, is not free and has to toe the establishment’s line in security matters. Show biz celebrities have joined him. Those who oppose the strategic depth, especially the Pakhtun, who are the biggest casualty of it, are never given so much media attention.

The main concern of the people of FATA vis-a-vis Zaid Hamid is his use of a particularly narrow interpretation of Islam that proposes a belligerent agenda for the Pakistan Army and drawing on controversial Islamic literature. Thus the authenticity of the hadiths — sayings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) — on Ghazwa-e-Hind that he often refers to in terms of the ultimate defeat of the Indians at the hands of the Pakistan Army is highly questionable.

Zaid Hamid claims in his speeches to young people that God determines the destiny of Pakistan. Pakistan will become a grand Caliphate. Pakistan army will cut India down to the size of Sri Lanka. Pakistan will lead the entire Muslim world and its army will be deployed in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and Afghanistan. The corrupt judicial system, consisting of the lawyers and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, will be replaced by an Islamic judicial system that would ensure — Taliban style — speedy and cheap justice. He claims that the current elected set up in Pakistan is implanted by the CIA and prophesies that the current rulers in Pakistan will have their dead bodies hanging on poles in Islamabad, an indirect appreciation of what the Taliban did in Afghanistan with the dead body of Dr Najibullah, the then Afghan president. He openly threatens the nationalists, especially the Pakhtun and Baloch nationalists, for their aspirations. The Taliban government in Afghanistan, he declares, was Pakistan-friendly and condemns its removal by the US in the post-9/11 attack on the country. He glorifies the biggest mass murderer of the Pakhtun — General Zia, the former dictator of Pakistan.

Judging by the obscurantist message that he communicates, Zaid Hamid does not seem to be a new invention of the establishment. He is an addition to the long list of people who have been handpicked to promote an anti-people agenda in the name of religion and hate of India, like the people from the Jamaat-e-Islami. What seems to be new is his apparent ‘tolerance’ of the ‘un-Islamic’ lifestyle of the urban youth and in this context there are some interesting discussions about Zaid Hamid on some blogs and mailing lists. One blogger writes that Zaid Hamid is using a new strategy to communicate the same old conspiracy theories to young people. The strategy is that unlike classical Islamic scholars, joining Zaid Hamid’s group does not necessarily require the youth to shed their sophisticated lifestyle and adjust to hijab, a ban on music and gender segregation. The only thing they have to do is to glorify the Pakistan Army, including its pursuit of strategic depth, and hate Jews, Americans and Indians.

A writer on one of the mailing lists argues that Zaid Hamid is a Pied Piper for our youth from the prosperous sections of Punjab who have no dreams to be proud of. Zaid Hamid sells the dreams of conquering the world, though they are nonsense, yet still work for the youth who are now caught up in an identity crisis, continues the writer. The writer understands that the fault lies with the leftist intellectuals who have lost direction by joining NGOs and leaving the anti-imperialist struggle open for people like Zaid Hamid or Imran Khan.

Zaid Hamid, in his show, sets a dangerous agenda for the youth of Pakistan; the very same youth who are living a comfortable life in poverty-stricken Pakistan. They lack any ambitions in life to give it some purpose. This lack of goals is rooted in the identity crisis being faced by the Pakistani youth. The crisis is expressed in questions like these: what are we first of all: Muslim or Pakistani? Is our ultimate commitment with Pakistani citizenship or a global Muslim brotherhood? What kind of Pakistan should we aim at: a progressive multi-ethnic social democracy or some kind of medieval caliphate?

Secondly, one has to strive very hard for ideals. If the ideal is the former (multi-ethnic social democratic Pakistan), the youth from affluent families will have to share their riches with the poor, downtrodden fellow citizens. This is very hard for this class of people, otherwise I would at least have seen them working for bringing normalcy in the shattered lives of the people of FATA, who have been living in deplorable conditions in refugee camps for over two years now. In the latter case (caliphate) they can placate their conscience by attaching themselves with the higher ideal without having to give up something from their comfortable lives. The only thing they have to do is to support the belligerent agenda of the military establishment and their poor fellow Pakistanis can go to hell. Zaid Hamid’s campaign is like opium for the young that makes them run away from reality, i.e. Pakistan is a class-based multi-ethnic society that cannot be held together with mere Islamic rhetoric and military ambitions.

What is even more dangerous is the fact that Zaid Hamid is glorifying the same Taliban that the people of FATA hold responsible for their massacre at the behest of the military establishment of Pakistan. Case in point, Jalaluddin Haqqani who occupies North Waziristan. I would invite the young fans of Zaid Hamid to take a tour of FATA, or at least FATA IDP camps in various parts of the NWFP, to observe firsthand what the Taliban and the military did to these people. I would remind the youth that people all over FATA hold the generals of the Pakistan Army more than the Taliban responsible for the death and destruction in their area. They view the Taliban — all Taliban, good, bad, Afghan or Pakistani — as a creation of the intelligence agencies of our country. How much more do the people of FATA need to sacrifice for strategic depth in Afghanistan? The never-ending human sufferings in the area could transform into widespread anti-state sentiments. The youth around Zaid Hamid must know that the current pursuit of strategic depth may turn into — as rightly described in this paper’s editorial ‘Strategic death’? (Daily Times, February 3, 2010) –’strategic death’ for Pakistan rather than securing a friendly Afghanistan.

The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Oslo, and a member of Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy. She can be reached at\02\13\story_13-2-2010_pg3_4

Monday, February 08, 2010

Fatiha Khwani for Great Pashtun Nationalist leader and Revolutionary poet Ajmal Khatak

Fatiha Khwani and recital of the Quran-i-Majeed For Great Pashtun Nationalist leader and Revolutionary poet Ajmal Baba, would be held at Al-Shams Res Hotle Dubai,8:00 pm,on Tuesday,9th Feb,2010. Pashtuns living in UAE are requested to participate.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Da Ghairat Chagha poetry of Ajmal Khattak اجمل خٹک دا غیرت چغہ

Da Ghairat Chagha poetry of Ajmal Khattak اجمل خٹک دا غیرت چغہ

Ajmal Khattak's poem: "Jannat, or Paradise


Here is an English translation (by Aziz Akhmad) of one of his Pashto poem titled Jannat (Paradise). The poem is more relevant in today’s Pakistan than, perhaps, when it was written many years ago.

Ajmal Khattak's poem: "Jannat, or Paradise. "

I asked a mullah, what do you think is Paradise like?

He ran his fingers through his beard and said

"Fresh fruits and rivers of milk"

A talib (student) was sitting nearby

I asked him, what do you say?

He put aside the book of Zulekha he was reading, and said

"Beautiful women with (tattooed) green dots on their cheeks"

A shaikh stood nearby, rolling his tasbeeh (rosary)

He stroked his beard and said (questioning the talib):

"No, it's not like that!"

"Paradise is beautiful servant boys and heavenly music."

A khan raised his head from a lengthy sajda (prostration in prayer)

What is your opinion, Khan Sahib? I asked

He adjusted his turban and said

"The luxuriously furnished and perfumed mansions"

Nearby, a labourer stood in his tattered clothes

I asked him, do you know what Paradise is?

He wiped the sweat from his brow and said

"It's a full stomach and deep slumber"

A man, in dishevelled hair, passed by, lost in his thoughts

I asked, what do you say, philosopher?

Smoothing his hair, he said:

"It's nothing but dreams conjured up to please man"

Source: Adapted from an article published in The News on 14 October 2009

Ajmal Khattak passes away

Ajmal Baba Starge pate krre....Inna Lillah e wa Inna alehe raji'on

PESHAWAR: Veteran ANP Leader Ajmal Khattak passed away on Sunday evening in a local hospital after a protracted illness, DawnNews reported.

Khattak had a long career in both the anti-imperial movement against the British in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan as well as part of the National Awami Party (NAP) in its various incarnations in Pakistan.

Political career

His early political career began during the Quit-India movement after he came under the influence of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement. He was forced to leave school due to his involvement in the said movement.

He was elected as a member of the NWFP provincial assembly and served as a provincial minister in the cabinet of Mufti Mehmood's NAP - JUI government in 1972. After the resignation of the NWFP cabinet in protest against President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's dismissal of the Balochistan government led by Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Ajmal Khattak became the Secretary General of NAP.

He was the organiser and stage secretary at the United Democratic Front (UDF) rally held at Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi on March 23, 1973, when shots were fired at the UDF leaders, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan.

Self-imposed exile

Since Ajmal Khattak was a prominent figure in the National Awami Party, he was wanted by the Federal Security Force as part of the general crackdown on NAP. In order to avoid his arrest and possible torture, he fled into self-imposed exile to Afghanistan and stayed there for 16 long years.

During his years in Kabul, Ajmal Khattak was a close confidant of Badshah Khan, and also enjoyed excellent relations with leaders of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, including President Nur Muhammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal and Dr. Mohammad Najibullah.

He ended his exile in 1989 after the Awami National Party (ANP), the successor of the NAP, entered into an electoral alliance with Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-led Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).

In the general elections of October 1990, Ajmal Khattak was elected from his home district of Nowshera to the National Assembly of Pakistan, defeating Tariq Khattak of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). These elections also signalled the retirement of (late) Khan Wali Khan after his electoral loss to Maulana Hassan Jan of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Ajmal Khattak was then elected as the president of the Awami National Party when Khan Wali Khan, who was also his close friend, stepped down from the post.

In the 1993 general elections, Ajmal Khattak lost his re-election bid in Nowshera to the PPP candidate Major General Naseerullah Babar. As a leading critic of the PPP, it was important for the ANP-IJI alliance to have Ajmal Khattak in the parliament, and he was therefore nominated to the Senate of Pakistan in March 1994.

His two terms as president of the Awami National Party were noted primarily for his close alliance with former opponents, the Muslim League, after the alliance collapsed in January 1998 over the renaming of the province of NWFP to Pakthunkhwa and Khattak's role in leading the ANP briefly into joining an alliance known as the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM).

The decision to join PONM was made despite strong pressure from party critics who preferred the ANP to ally themselves with a federal party like the PPP. Eventually, Khattak succumbed to party pressure and the ANP left PONM, joining the Grand Democratic Alliance which included the PPP.

Life as a writer

Apart from his role in politics, Khattak also authored 13 books in Pashto and Urdu including 'A History of Pushto Literature' and Pakistan Main Qaumi Jamhoori Tehrikin (in Urdu) and Da Ghirat Chagha, Batoor, Gul auo Perhar, Guloona auo Takaloona, Jalawatan ki Shairee, Pukhtana Shora and Da Wakht Chagha in Pashto.

As a writer, he served as editor of various newspapers and periodicals, including Anjaam, Shahbaz, Adal and Rahber as well as script writer for Radio Pakistan.

He was ousted as ANP President in 2000, after a protracted power struggle with Nasim Wali Khan, triggered by accusations of his closeness to General Pervez Musharraf and his criticism of corrupt politicians in a press conference.

After taking a decision to leave the party, Khattak briefly led a splinter group called the National Awami Party of Pakistan. This party was routed in the 2002 general elections amidst the religo-political parties alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) sweep of the NWFP province.

The victory of MMA led him to rejoin the ANP, but he retired soon after and went back to live in his village home in Akora Khattak, Peshawar. –DawnNews

Veteran politician, scholar Ajmal Khattak dies,2/7/2010 10:32:54 PM

Veteran politician, scholar Ajmal Khattak dies,2/7/2010 10:32:54 PM

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Drone is anti-terrorist weapon, Mr. Nawaz Sharif

Drone is effective anti-terrorist weapon, mr Nawaz Sharif

By Zar ali khan musazai
Former Pakistani Punjabi Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he and his party have always opposed US drone attacks on terrorists in Pakistan. This statement further disclosed that Punjabis are averse to drone attacks and love to see terrorists (Arab and Punjabis) on Pashtun soil and to destroy peace in region and Afghanistan in particular. Punjabis political leadership along with military and mullah and Punjabi dominated Media of Pakistan are pro-terrorists and they do not take this important issue serious rather they all like to see Pashtun and Afghanistan in an eternal misery in which we are due to the satanic dreams and acts of the said negative forces. Nawaz Sharif says that in drone attacks the innocent souls are killed. This is 100% incorrect information he has collected from his sources and he is advised to get fresh and correct information regarding terrorism in our Pashtun areas including FATA. Those who give him information about drones should be punished because such incorrect and groundless information will lead him to be a laughing stock in international community which knows better than Nawaz Sharif and his Advisors regarding drones. Nawaz Sharif should try to get himself up to dated about such important information like drones. For the kind information of a Lahore-based Punjabi Politician it is said that drones have neither killed any innocent person nor will do so in future regarding FATA. Drone is actually the enemy of terrorists and those who love to see terrorists in FATA. We have said time and again that international community should not discuss our issues with Punjabi politicians and Media as they do not like to see us in peace. Pashtun in general and those living in Waziristan or have migrated from there due to terrorist activities say that only drones are the real treatment of the terrorists. Punjabi dominated Pakistani military is either unable or is reluctant to eliminate terrorists from FATA and to clear the area. For the last 9 years the Pakistan Army is engaged in FATA against terrorists but till this day they are unable to show that they have killed a high profile terrorist there. Absolutely they can not show. And drones can show that they have killed dozens of the terrorists in FATA including Baitullah Mehsud whom Pakistani media in last days of his life termed as pro- American terrorist but the claims of Pakistani media smashed at time when drone attacked him and killed. According to our latest and fresh information obtained form friends and political people that when ever drones are seen hovering in Waziristan our people are satisfied that only terrorists and their friends will be hit hard. But when we see that Pakistani Jet-fighter in air then we are afraid about the casualties of our poor, innocent and hostaged people. Few days back it was claimed by the terrorists in FATA that they had gunned down the drone. Pakistani newspapers reported in morning the other days that tribal people have gunned it down and they were jubilating over the drone incident (If ever has happened so). This is 100% absurd that tribal have done this job. How can the a tribesman do it when he has been standing in long queues to get few kilos of flour to feed his/her children who have been forced to migrate from their native villages and homes in FATA. Tribal are not opposed to drones and they know better than Nawaz Sharif that drone is anti-terrorist weapon not anti- Pashtun.
(The writer is Chairman Pashtun Democratic Council and can be reached on his email