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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Analysis: Assaulting the Pakhtun culture by Farhat Taj

analysis: Assaulting the Pakhtun culture by Farhat Taj
Daily Times , Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Pakhtun culture is reflected in Ghaffar Khan’s non-violent movement, in the mysticism of Rahman Baba’s poetry and in the romanticism of Ghani Khan’s poetry. This is a society that produced hundreds of anti-Taliban lashkar leaders all over Pakhtunkhwa who were target killed because they insisted that Talibanisation is the antithesis of Pakhtun culture

Essentialism means that people have an intrinsic ‘essence’ that never changes. Social scientists agree that all human relations and activities that come under the socio-cultural realm are open to changes in accordance with the changing requirements of time and circumstances.

The Pakhtun have been assaulted with essentialism in literature and media. A latest example is Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed’s article ‘The 1947-48 Kashmir War’ (Daily Times, March 16, 2010). Dr Ahmed’s writes: “The tribal warriors quickly forgot the mission they were supposed to achieve, and succumbed prey to a vice deeply rooted in their culture and history — looting, pillaging and raping.” I was surprised to read these comments because recently he wrote another piece ‘Ghaffar Khan, Islam and non-violence’ (Daily Times, January 26, 2010) in which he says: “Those who want to find practical guidance on the Islamic philosophy of non-violence in contemporary times should study the life of Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the activities of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement.” The two articles leave one wondering what is Dr Ahmed’s real understanding of the Pakhtun culture, the one embodied by Ghaffar Khan and his mass-based movement or the “looting, pillaging, raping tribal warriors”, especially given the fact that Bacha Khan’s movement is well rooted in the tribal area?

I am not denying the fact that the tribal fighters did indulge in human rights violations in Kashmir. They should never have gone to Kashmir for that so-called jihad in 1947-48. It is also a fact that the entire tribal population of FATA never joined them. Only a tiny fraction of the population went for ‘jihad’. How can the activities of that fraction be labelled as ‘rooted’ in the culture of the entire population? Seemingly, many more Muslim Punjabis killed, pillaged and raped non-Muslim Punjabis and vice versa during the partition in 1947. I have yet to see any Pakhtun saying on a national level public forum like the Daily Times that all that savagery is rooted in the Punjabi culture.

Secondly, the tribesmen were encouraged and facilitated by the state to go to Kashmir for ‘jihad’. It was the responsibility of the state to have disciplined them. I am not ready to believe that indiscipline too is rooted in the Pakhtun culture. If so, how come the Pakistan Army has disciplined so many Pakhtun soldiers in their rank and file, including those from the tribal areas?

It is now well documented that soldiers of the Pakistan Army did commit rapes and murders during the 1971 crisis in the East Pakistan. But I have not come across any documents saying that the Pakhtun soldiers of the army ‘outshone’ their Punjabi colleagues on the occasion due to cultural reasons.

Some among the “looting, pillaging and raping” tribesmen were not averse to heed reason during the ‘jihad’, as indicated by Frank Leeson, a former khasadar officer (1945-47) in North Waziristan. He saw with his own eyes the tribesmen transported to Kashmir. In his book, Frontier Legion, he narrates this incident. Some tribal fighters, mostly Mehsud, attacked a convent. They were lining up the nuns for summary execution when another tribesman, a young Afridi officer of the Azad Kashmir Army, who had apparently been educated in a convent, rushed to the spot and argued with the Mehsuds to spare the lives of the nuns. Eventually, he managed to persuade the Mehsuds to leave the convent in peace.

Moreover, Frank Leeson also informs that the Faqir of Ipi, the man who led the resistance in Waziristan against the British in the 1930s and 40s, stopped the Waziri tribesmen from the Kashmir jihad, although some renegade Waziris did defy his instruction.

Raping can disrupt normal social and even economic life in any human society. Therefore, every society has laws and norms in place to stop it from occurring. It is certainly the case in the tribal culture. Even today, thousands of households in FATA do not have clean drinking water in or close to their houses. It is the young able-bodied women who fetch water every single day from sources in the mountains that may be several kilometres away from their homes. Like other parts of Pakistan, women in FATA too contribute in agriculture. Moreover, many men are labour migrants in Karachi or the Middle East, leaving behind women to run the households, which necessarily entails countless engagements in the public sphere. There are also tribal women who participate in the formal job market. How could women perform all those duties in the presence of a culturally rooted tradition of raping?

The Pakhtun culture is reflected in Ghaffar Khan’s non-violent movement, in the mysticism of Rahman Baba’s poetry and in the romanticism of Ghani Khan’s poetry. This is a society that produced hundreds of anti-Taliban lashkar leaders all over Pakhtunkhwa, including FATA, who were target killed because they insisted that Talibanisation is the antithesis of Pakhtun culture. This society produced hundreds of thousands of citizens, including the tribesmen and women, who are well integrated in the state structure of Pakistan. It is the same culture that has hundreds of thousands of hard working and law-abiding labour migrants abroad. Like any human society, the Pakhtun society is a mix of good and bad and so this is the society that produced Mullah Omar, Fazllullah, Baitullah and the whole lot of the Pakhtun Taliban and the tribal warriors of the Kashmir ‘jihad’. So my question is: what is the culture of the former group of people, if the activities of the latter group represent the ‘deep-rooted’ Pakhtun culture?

This article must not be seen as disrespect to Dr Ahmed. I believe his writing is an important contribution towards the much-needed deconstruction of the discourse of violent jihad and religious obscurantism in our country. I would just request him not to attribute essentialist ideas to the Pakhtun culture in the tribal or any other area of the land. Such essentialism demonises that society and contributes to justifying the ongoing killing of the Pakhtun.

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

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Listen to the Pashtun By Zubair Torwali

The fact that Pashtuns living on both sides of the Durand Line are bearing the brunt of terrorism and the War on Terror is an obvious truth. As scapegoats for the last three decades, sometimes in the name of a ‘Jihad’ against the communist regime of the former USSR, sometimes in the name of strategic depth against contending neighbors, and now in the name of the so-called war on terror, the voices of the Pashtuns have not been adequately heard.

In this game the major players never bother about the actual people of the region. What has happened in the region, and what is happening now, is the result of the conflicting of agendas between the major players involved. In this mess, the neighbors of the Pashtun region – between the Oxus and the Indus – are as responsible as the big powers. Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Russia and the USA all have their own plans for the region at the cost of the destruction and genocide of the Pashtuns. Specifically, these states have designs which are irreconcilable with each other. Pakistan has always wanted a dependent regime in Kabul, one which would have no connection with India. Iran and Saudi Arabia have colliding agendas in the region, mainly based on sectarian grounds. Similarly China and the USA have their designs as well. But the most regretful and astonishing aspect of this game is that these players have never regarded the Pashtun people of the region as human beings. On the contrary, they have tried to make these people mere scapegoats. The realization of this crucial game is now greatly felt by the Pashtun intelligentsia on either side of the Durand Line.

For the last two months this writer has been engaged in an online discussion with many of the Pashtun intelligentsia. The discussion covers topics from politics to the phenomenon of global jihad. In this article some of the main concerns are given.

First, the Pashtun see the famous policy of ‘strategic depth’ as a deep grave for the Pashtun people. They are not reluctant about expressing their conviction that the Punjabidominated establishment of Pakistan has made the Pashtun people scapegoats for the ‘survival’ of Pakistan. They contend that what is happening in the region after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan in the late eighties has its roots in this “strategic depth policy”; and in this Pakistan has been helped by the Wahabi state of Saudi Arabia. To further this policy, they first produced the Mujahideen who were used against the Soviet Union. When this failed to achieve anything, the Taliban were installed in Afghanistan, who brought the peace of the graveyard into Afghanistan through the use of brute force against those who did not support themedieval version of Islam they wished to impose. Initially, the United States was happy with what was going on in Afghanistan, After 9/11, things took a serious turn. After the USA’s direct intervention in Afghanistan, the strategic depth policy dragged the war to the eastern side of the Durand Line and into the settled areas of the Pashtun population.

Second, the Pashtun intelligentsia sounds off on its grievances against the mainstream media, particularly in Pakistan. In spite of the brutality that the Taliban has inflicted upon women, children, the general public and the security forces, elements in the media still remain who support the militants and their version of jihad.

Besides that the media provide more space to pro-strategic depth and anti-Pashtun eleelements. People who spout the waging of jihad on neighbouring states are given extra space on the electronic media, whereas those who talk sense, keeping ground realities in view, are labeled as being treacherous or unpatriotic. Further, the media has continued to harp on issues for which it seems they are paid by some hidden forces. For example the media hype against the corruption of a single individual who happens to be the president of Pakistan. Thus the media ignores the core issues of security and Pashtun genocide.

No section of the media raise voices of protest against the banning of coverage during the South Waziristan operation. The talkshows, which mainly mould the opinions of viewers, do not give due space to the Pashtun scholars and leaders. Instead they often invite ‘analysts’ who do not even know the geography of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Thus the Pashtun intelligentsia has started to think this selective and exclusive approach in the mainstream media is a threat to the national integrity of Pakistan, thus ringing memories of the exclusion of Bengalis before the partition of Pakistan.

Thirdly, the drone attacks on the Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts of the in the Pakistani territory of FATA are seen by the Pashtuns not as an infringement of sovereignty but as a precise weapon which has to this date killed some of the top leaders of Al-Qaeda and Taliban. This hype in the name of sovereignty is an effort by the pro-Taliban segments of the media who want to protect them as strategic assets.

Fourth, the Pashtun intelligentsia is very sensitive about their identity issue. They think the North West Frontier Province should be given a specific name. They would like the province to be named Pukhtunkhwa, but a number of them also see Afghaniya as an applicable alternative.

These concerns and grievances are not baseless, since the Pashtun are the direct victims of terrorism and counter-terrorism. The Pakistani designers of foreign policy, the media and civil society need to listen to the Pashtun, as should the international community as well.

The writer is a freelance analyst and social activist based in Swat, Pakistan, and coordinates the Center for Educationand Development there. Email:

Saturday, March 06, 2010

We strongly Condemn arrests of Amn Tehrik leaders

We strongly Condemn arrests of Amn Tehrik leaders,

Governer NWFP should be removed immediately.

Members of Amn Tehrik and Students Federations, Student Societies leaders locked up who opposed Zaid Hamid entry into Islamia College university.Zaid Hamid a Pro-terrorists Pakistani who had come to Islamia College university Peshawar today was forced to stop his way into college premises by the Pro peace movement Students Federations. The federation is having secular program and promote peace and fight against terrorism and extremism in region. It was alleged that Governor Pukhtoonkhwa owais Ahmad Ghani have given permission to Zaid Hamid to deliver a lecture in Islamia College University. The administration of University were ignorant about his arrival an the University. 13 Students belonging to pro peace federation and Student Societies were arrested, prominent among them were Tariq Afghan, Majid Khan, Riaz Marwat,Imtiaz Wazir, Ayaz Khan, Zohaib, Dosat Mohammad these students opposed to militant Agenda in region. The students were in lock up of the university police station for more then 8hrs and finally were released by intervention of Amn Tehrik . Amn Tehreek leader rush to Islamia College University and protest against Zaid Hamid and their supporters, chanted slogan against the administration, Governor NWFP . Amn Tehrik Convener Idrees Kamal, Dr.Said Alam Mahsud, Qaiser khan Advocate, Arbab Tahir, Asad Mayar, Zahid Buneri, Gulzar Khan, Tariq Khan, Aziz Buneri participated in protest in Islamia college University. Students of Islamia College University chanted slogan against administration. Amn Tehrik demanded of the federal government to dismiss the governor who favored a terrorist religious cleric who is engaged promoting an agenda of terrorism and extremism in region especially among students of the Schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan with strong support from the secret Agencies and Pakistani establishment. Amn Tehrik and these federation will hold a joint Press conference in Peshawar Press Club on Monday.

Issued by:- 1.Amn Tehrik

Bad day for Zahid Hamid in Islamia College Peshawar

Zaid Hamid faces tough resistance in Peshawar
Zahid Buneri KWN
This was really a bad day for Zahid Hamid in Islamia College Peshawar when he was fully resisted by workers of Amn Tehrik and both fictions of Pakhtun Students Federation.Zaid Hamid arrived today will full VIP protocol to address youth at "Takbeer Hall" of Islamia Colege Peshawar. Young children from Islamia Collegate school and some handicaped girls students were also present on the occasion.He started the show with a video show of Hamid Gul and some Jihadi stuff but soon the program was suspended as Pakhtun studen'ts leaders start asking the questions of the purpose of his visit but these boys were arrested on the spot.Later some young emotional boys opened fire on the spot.The news arrived at the a local hotel whee senior members of Amn Tehrik were planning peace program. They kept the program a side and rushed towards Islamia College where they chaunt slogans against those who are disturbing peace process at Pakhtunland. This group was led by Dr. Syed Alam Mehsud, Idrees Kamal and Qaisar Khan.The said Hall of Islamia College was fully covered by security men and zaid was setting inside the hall and Pakhtun students were rising slogans like;Monga Nor Maree Na ghwarooZaid Hamid was sent back with full protocol to the Governor House.It is learnt that the permission was given to zaid Hamid by Governor of the province and he was accompanied by annonymous and strange people who were observed as highly trained people.Later, Qaisar Khan, Said Alam Mehsud, Idrees Kamal, Zahid Buneray, Aziz Khan, Gulzar Khan went to police station and they hold dialogue with SSP UoP and they refused to go back without those who were arrested. Late at the evening, all the arrested boys alongwith those of People's SF were released.

Hoti for Mega Projects in Katlang

Hoti for Mega Projects in Katlang
Mardan: Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has said that the coalition government of ANP and PPPP in the province is committed in environment of mutual trust for establishment of peace in the province, attainment of provincial rights and prosperity together with provision of basic facilities to the people. This mutual trust and cooperation between the two parties will be maintained in future. He was addressing a large public gathering at Ghundo Grid station after laying the foundation stone of Baizai Irrigation scheme at Katlang. ANP Acting District president Engineer Abbas chaired the gathering. Other speakers on the occasion included; Senior Provincial Minister and PPP leader Rahim Dad Khan, President ANP PF-28 constituency Kher Nawab Kaka, and General Secretary PF-24 Javed Yousafzai. MPAs Ghani Dad Khan and Ahmad Khan Bahadar, and Political Secretary to Chief Minister Syed Masoom Shah Bacha were also present on the occasion. The Chief Minister said “we will answer our critics with services to the people, our performance and development and construction of our province”. Baizai Irrigation Scheme was a long standing demand of our elders and people of this region have rendered enormous sacrifices in releasing scuffles of the British Empire. The coalition government of ANP and Peoples Party is committed for redressing of these grievances and the commencement of practical work on Baizai Irrigation Scheme supports this argument. The Chief Minister said that he believed in practical work and the provincial government is steadily moving towards achievements of its goals, however, small differences did occur even in homes which should be settled with ease and mutual understanding. He said that two years of our government completed successfully with unity and cooperation and mutual cooperation rather will take part in the next election with such spirits he maintained. The Chief Minister said that this major project will irrigate 25 thousand acres barren land of the area adding that Katlang has already been upgraded to tehsil level while establishment of Girls Degree College in the area has also been approved. He said construction work on Katlang Buner road is also moving swiftly while work on Express way from Chakdara via Katlang will also start soon. Like wise developmental schemes on large scale will be completed in all Union Councils of the area in the coming financial year. Small projects worth million rupees have also been completed in the area last year. The chief minister said that Prime Minister of Pakistan had requested him to pin point one mega project for the province adding that he requested him for commencement of work on Chashma Left Canal project and the Prime Minister has approved the Chashma Left Canal Project for irrigation of thousand acres of land of the southern districts upon his requests. He said that the prime minister is a courteous person and we hold his support regarding the development of the province. He also thanked the support and guidance of senor provincial Minister Rahim Dad Khan in this connection. The Chief Minister said that developmental schemes on large scale will be completed through out the province and construction of 11 under passes, another major hospital, children hospital; Burn and Trauma Centre in Peshawar, construction of southern By-pass and project of provision of clean drinking water from Warsak for Peshawar have also been approved. Khan Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Bacha Khan Medical College, Benazir Bhutto Children Hospital, Reconstruction of DHQ Hospital in Mardan, and modern facilities of health and educated in Mardan Medical Complex Phase-III will be available to the people. The Chief Minister said that establishment of peace in the province is our prime objective and our party workers, leaders and MPAs have rendered sacrifices of their lives for this purpose. He lauded the spirits of pukhtunwali of the people of host districts Mardan, Charsadda, Nowshera and Peshawar who ensured respectable return of the affectees. The attainment of net hydel profit under NFC award is the success of the provincial government and the phases of change in name of the province and provincial autonomy will be completed with support of the people adding that these successes are meaningless without support of the people. He lauded the spirit and sacrifices of the people of the province in the war against terrorism and the provincial government will continue serving the people of the province with such spirit. He assured that difficulties of the people of Katlang regarding payment of utility bills will be eliminated soon. He appealed the people to monitor the ongoing developmental schemes in their respective areas. Earlier the chief minister formally laid the foundation stone of Baizai Irrigation Scheme at Katlang Mardan on Friday. He said that the scheme will not only fulfill agricultural self-sufficiency of the province but will also cement the economy of the province. Project Director Sajjad briefed the chief minister about the structure and capacity of the project and informed that the project will be completed within three years costing 1.79 billion rupees. The project will irrigate 20 thousand acres of Mardan and 5 thousand acres Malakand and electricity will be produced through small dams on 40 kilometers lengthy canal. The completion of the project will usher new era of agricultural development. He was further informed that land of Sarobi area is also included in the project. Javed Khan of ANP while addressing the gathering said that Baizai Irrigation Schemes was the long standing demand of the people of the area adding that the young chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has won the hearts of the people by materializing the project. He also lauded the efforts of ANP district General Secretary Mian Tahir, Himayat Ullah Mayar and Project Director Sajjad in this connection. President ANP PF-28 Kher Nawab Kaka in his speech said that today the dream of Bacha Khan is fulfilling and Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has raised the heads of Khudai Khidmatgar with pride. He also thanked all the guests.