Saturday, 29 March 2014

Pashto Poetry: Zaanzani Shaamaar (The Dragon of Self)

By Dr. Syed Bahauddin Majrooh

This poem is Translated from Pashto by Faraz Jamil Kakar

It is said,
Far away, somewhere was a big city
Famous for its beauty
In that city lived a famous man
The wisest of the wisest in the city
To think and imagine was his work
To explore the mysteries of life and universe
In libraries, pages and books
One day, he said:

''Till the end of this earth and sky ... Hell for humans will be humans''

I doubt this to be true
I have seen many countries
Traveled long distances across deserts
Explored some few realities
And have brought some true news

One is:
What is this life?
But an endless sea
And the way to the end of this sea
Passes through hell

Second is:
''Hell is not somewhere far, hidden in another universe
Hell for humans is hidden within themselves''

This journey of return to self
Come and hear the story of this journey...

Dr. Syed Bahauddin Majrooh was a Pashto Poet. ''His father, Shamsuddin Majrooh, had served as minister of justice under Zahir Shah and had been a member of the committee that drafted the 1964 constitution, which introduced democracy to Afghanistan. Majrooh himself had served as governor of Kapisa Province under Zahir Shah before returning to Kabul University, where he was a dean and professor of philosophy and literature.''  (A quote from the book ''Before Taliban'' ). In addition to his tenure at Kabul University in the 1960s and 70s, he also served as diplomat during King Zahir Shah's government. Post Soviet invasion, Majrooh moved to Peshawar where he was associated with the Afghan Information Centre. He was assassinated in 1988 in Peshawar. At the time he was killed in Peshawar, he was said to be organizing or at least sympathizing with the monarchists. Even some Parchamites were favorable to him at the time. A fairly accurate obituary of Dr. Majrooh was published in LA Times. (Details on Dr. Majrooh provided by Dr. M. Taqi & Faraz Jamil Kakar).

Faraz Jamil Kakar is from Pishin, Balochistan. He presently works as a Detention Doctor with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He translates Pashto poetry into English in his free time and has translated some work of famous Pashto poets such as Ghani Khan, Bahauddin Majrooh and Bari Jahani.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Pashto Poetry: Sartoor Malang (The Insane Sufi)

By Dr. Syed Bahauddin Majroh

This poem is Translated by Faraz Jamil Kakar. Original Pashto poem is from Syed Bahauddin Majroh's book "Na-Ashna Sandari" (Stranger's Songs).

Dr. Bahauddin Majroh's Na-Ashna Sandari

Youth does not know
That there exists an old Hakeem of wisdom – the insane Sufi
Poem: Sartoor Malang  (page 1 of 4)
He exists and that is why – battle with ignorance continues
He is that mighty Hakeem…
Who destroyed tyrants like Changez
Who survived the bloodthirsty fist of Hitler
And confronted dark terror of Stalin
Entered prisons and dark dungeons
Freed himself from this dark terror
Yet this lover
Followed his love – Freedom
Did not surrender
To tyranny, injustice and power
Followed his love to burning hell

Be there kings or mighty Emperors
Hitlers or Stalins
All have one rival
This one mighty Hakeem of wisdom

His wisdom brings him troubles always
Restless dreams, worries and distress

Youth never tries
To find and listen to old stories
Poem: Sartoor Malang  (page 2,3)
Wise Hakeem says:
When there is youth and youthful spirit
When human face has humanity behind it
When there is compassion, tolerance and kindness
When there is freedom and sympathy
When there is sanity and rationality
Then blind obedience does not exist
No need for acting or pretending
No class or status

Once a great power rose
That made its presence felt everywhere
Erected big palaces
Brought down old idols
This great power was – critique and wisdom
It started a new era
Awakened the deep asleep
Cured the sickness of superstition

And when the old blind obedience…
Was left dumb and speechless
It went on to make new idols
While elsewhere people
Questioned and researched
The foundations of old knowledge
Poem: Sartoor Malang  (page 4 of 4)
But here…
Blind faith, bias, racism…
Souls deep asleep
It would say:
Forget old Sufis and their shrines
There are new leaders
With magical powers
And new books
So close your eyes, bow in prostration
Accept, obey and do not question

From Zoroaster, Buddha to Brahman
In past and present
These custodians of blind faith
Leaders and chieftains
With their logic, speeches and songs
Only preach blind obedience, closed eyed prostrations
But do not allow questions…

And I walk towards the ocean
With these old forgotten stories, tales and songs To sink them all

Dr. Syed Bahauddin Majroh is a Pashto Poet.

Faraz Jamil Kakar is from Pishin, Balochistan. He presently works as a Detention Doctor with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He translates Pashto poetry into English in his free time and has translated some work of famous Pashto poets such as Ghani Khan, Bahauddin Majroh and Bari Jahani.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Pashto Poetry: A Letter from Fareedon’s Mother

By Ghani Khan

This poem is Translated by Faraz Jamil Kakar. The original Pashto poem is on page 23 of Ghani Khan's book, "Da Pinjarey Chighaar" (The Cry of Cage) accessible here.

15 June 1951 – on the 12th anniversary of my marriage, my one and only son Faredoon Rustam Jang was born. His mother was admitted in a hospital in Peshawar. And far away in a prison in Hazara, I was lying sick. An ugly guard with rifle in his hand would guard the door of my cell at all times. The entire world was black and dark. The despair of soul like the illness of body was touching its limits when this news came. I said, ''O Ghani, its good. You are lost but not without a heir.''

I can’t explain the pain and happiness of that day. For both pain and happiness are very exhausting. And then as I closed my eyes from this conscious world, I saw Fareedon’s mother standing in front of me. She placed a letter on my hand...

From a handful of sand, I made for you, life and a new world
My love carried me such, I made another beloved for you
As I entered the world of insanity, so full of light
I brought a gem, the most beautiful of all gems
This gift of my pride, is the answer to all your complaints
Complaints that you whispered in my ears every evening
This is proof of my love, faith, and faithfulness
As my soul lightened, his eyes blinked
He is the picture of my life, some smiles and some cries
The feather of Eagle, the soft head of bulbul
The proof of King’s love, of freedom of the slave
The most beautiful reward, a colorful glass of wine
Your dream into being, the face of my desires
A shadow of you, sketched by me
A red sheet of roses spread in the desert
In his every breath have I written the love of my love

Ghani Khan (1914-1996) is one of the most famous Pashto language poets of the 20th century. Read more about Ghani Khan here.


Faraz Jamil Kakar is from Pishin, Balochistan. He presently works as a Detention Doctor with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He translates Pashto poetry into English in his free time and has translated some work of famous Pashto poets such as Ghani Khan, Bahauddin Majroh and Bari Jahani. In the last decade, under the pretext of 'war on terror', constant efforts have been made and are underway to project tribal Pashtuns as religious fanatics in an attempt to demonize the entire nation. He believes that the literary work of great scholars like Ghani Khan is the best resource to counter this misguiding propaganda. His interest in Ghani Khan lies in the fact that Ghani Khan's work symbolises and carries forward the centuries old tradition of mystic poetry of the Pashtun society.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The 1930 Civil Disobedience Movement in Peshawar Valley from the Pashtoon Perspective: Part III

By Syed Wiqar Ali Shah

This is the final part of a three part series adapted from Syed Wiqar Ali Shah's article "The 1930 Civil Disobedience Movement in Peshawar Valley from the Pashtoon Perspective", published in the journal: Studies in History. Part I can be accessed here, Part II here, and click here for the original article.

Peshawar, which was both in shock and fear, was put under the army. Armed troops were seen on patrolling duties to keep the situation under control. As Rittenberg correctly argues, though the riots were limited to one particular locality their repercussions were tremendous. For all practical purposes, the administration was paralyzed in three out of five tahsils of Peshawar district.72 The Government was more sensitive to the refusal of the Garhwalis to follow the orders of their officers. They wanted to stop the recurrence of such incidents at all costs since it would have a negative effect on the morale of the Indian troops in general. This led to another drastic decision in the late evening. Panicking at the possibility of serious questions being raised regarding the reliability of all Indian troops following the Kissa Khani incident, they suddenly decided to withdraw all soldiers from the city.73 Only at a few selected spots, were some policemen visible. Within three days, the locals resumed their routine but were amazed to see hardly any policemen on duty. This was criticised by the locals and perceived as tantamount to leaving the people of Peshawar to the mercy of plunderers and dacoits. The local Congress and other traumatic volunteers decided to execute the police duties and helped the citizens to regain their confidence. They were seen performing the traffic police duties, controlling traffic to avoid untoward accidents.74

Meanwhile, the civil administration also went through some sweeping changes. Sir Norman Bolton, the Chief Commissioner, was immediately recalled and replaced by Sir Courtney Latimer, the then Revenue Commissioner, as the acting Chief Commissioner.75 Almost all sources agree that Bolton had a nervous breakdown and left the province on 28 April. Sir Evelyn Howell, the Foreign Secretary of the British Indian Government was also directed by Lord Irwin to go to Peshawar to help the local administration to restore normalcy to the province. The tragic news of the firing in Kissa Khani and massacre at a level never imagined before infuriated the Pashtoon tribesmen. The commotion in the tribal areas reached such an extent that the Afridis, settled around Peshawar, raided the city to avenge the killing of 23 April. However, they were repulsed by the British troops.76 Haji Sahib of Turangzai, another anti-British religious figure, antagonized by the atrocities on innocent people, recriminated the colonialists for oppressing blameless Pashtoons, and organized his disciples in Mohmand area, threatening the edges of Peshawar. The British were alarmed at the movement of Haji Sahib’s lashkar77 and in retribution started aerial bombardment of the Mohmand area to defuse the threat and stop their advances towards Charsadda.78

On 4 May, Peshawar was re-occupied by the troops. Congress Committees and all its affiliated bodies including the local chapter of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha were declared unlawful. The offices were raided, papers, cash furniture, etc. either seized or burnt. It was followed by a general crackdown on the political workers. Mr Latimer took impetuous decisions to bring Peshawar under control and was successful at least for the time being because all kind of political activities seized. However, the situation was not the same in other parts of the Peshawar Valley, in particular in three tahsils which were dubbed the centres of Khudai Khidmatgar activities.

The arrest of the leaders provoked the people in general and it raised the number of the Khudai Khidmatgars to thousands. The whole outlook of the majority of Pashtoons changed. In the face of British atrocities and maltreatment of the locals, the pertinacity of the Khudai Khidmatgars and their adherence to nonviolence, more people were allured to the nationalist movement. They started enrolling themselves in the Khudai Khidmatgar organization en masse and although no accurate figures are available according to a careful estimate the enrolment reached more than one hundred thousand, a figure unimaginable few months previously.79

According to Rittenberg, ‘Civil disobedience plunged much of Peshawar Valley into turmoil. Volunteers paraded daily in military formation; meetings drew audiences as large as 10,000 people; and liquor and foreign cloth stores were subjected to constant picketing’.80 Soon the area was declared as unruly and difficult to control. Sir Steuart Pears, the new Chief Commissioner, informed Lord Irwin, the Viceroy that ‘Peshawar District itself, as far as the Charsadda, Mardan and Swabi tahsils were concerned, was being overrun by bands of ‘red shirts’ holdings meetings everywhere and moving across country to different centres everyday…’.81

The Government responded by crushing the civil disobedience movement with an iron fist. Every kind of brutal method was adopted to suppress the movement. Many villages, including Utmanzai, the home town of Abdul Ghaffar Khan were besieged and the inhabitants tortured. Their homes were searched, people beaten, the grain stores were plundered and grains like wheat, oat, lentils etc were scattered on the ground and kerosene oil poured over them to make them inedible. Standing crops were destroyed while bedsheets and other clothing were torn to pieces and crockery broken. It was reported that cattle were prevented from going outside for grazing while hujras82 were burnt and libraries destroyed. Many deaths from starvation were reported from these villages. The villagers inhumanly treated; the sanctity of the four walls violated and in many cases they were stripped naked and subjected to all kinds of humiliation.83 On one such occasion, Dr Khan Sahib issued the following medical certificate highlighting the British atrocities in Pashtoonkhwa:
This is to certify that I admitted eighty patients to a special hospital which was arranged by public subscription at Peshawar. These were the Khudai Khidmatgars from Charsadda Tahsil who were beaten by the police at picketing at a liquor shop in Charsadda. Several of them were very cruelly treated; most of them had more than thirty marks on their body caused by lathis. The majority of them could not lie straight in bed, their buttocks being a mass of bleeding red flesh. I was surprised by those cases specially, who suffered from swelling of the testicles which were squeezed and twisted by a British Officer according to the statements of the patients. In my opinion these poor people were treated even more cruelly than the wild beasts.84
One of the noteworthy features of the civil disobedience movement was the observance of non-violence by the Pashtoons during the whole span of the movement. To all kind of brutalities, the Pashtoons did not retaliate and bore all the atrocities with forbearance and patience. They adopted non-violence as a creed and remained loyal to it during the whole time. According to The Frontier Tragedy,
The Government, on one hand, did its worst to make the people leave the path of nonviolence. In all sorts of ways, they were goaded, persecuted, insulted, somehow to make them resort to violence. This would give the Government some semblance of justification to resort to still more bloodshed. The people on the other hand, bore all this calmly and quietly without raising a finger in retaliation. They based their breasts to British bullets and laid down their own lives rather than resort to violence. Their property was looted. To the Pathan nothing is as dear as the sanctity of his four walls which are a symbol for the honour of the women folk. This sanctity was violated in order to poke him at his most sensitive point. Nevertheless he was true to Nonviolence. Many were stripped stark naked—another great personal insult to a Pathan. Many were roughly handled in their private parts—a brutality perhaps unknown to the history of repression and an ingenuity of the Frontier official. But not a hand went up in active resistance.85
The Kissa Khani massacre (23 April) was followed by another brutal firing incident in Peshawar on 31 May 1930. A peaceful funeral procession of the two children shot dead by an English soldier was not allowed to proceed to the cremation ground. Despite requests from Hakim Abdul Jalil Nadvi and other noted citizens of Peshawar then accompanying the procession, they were not permitted to proceed towards Gorkhatry. The thirty six British soldiers under the command of Olaf Caroe, who came from the opposite direction, i.e. from the Clock Tower side, opened fire upon the procession without any provocation resulting in the death of twelve people and injury to more than twenty two people.86 On 26 May, the prominent Khudai Khidmatgars of Baizai area, Mardan were arrested in Takkar and Pathay, two villages considered to be a stronghold of the Khudai Khidmatgars. Prominent among them included Shamroz Khan, Shahzada Bacha, Malik Masim Khan, Khan Bahadur and a few others. Local people decided to accompany their leaders in a procession to Mardan jail. Near Gujar Garhi, a strong contingent of troops stopped the people from proceeding further. Mr Hay, Assistant Commissioner of Mardan, started negotiations for a peaceful dispersal of the procession. Meanwhile, Mr Murphy, a notorious police inspector, initiated the lathi charge and used abusive language against the people, offensively castigating their leaders. He was knocked down by an anonymous person and shot dead. On getting information of Murphy’s death, the police resorted to violence and used every kind of force under their disposal to disperse the mob. It was followed by a siege of Gujar Garhi. The next few days were like a nightmare for the local population. To avenge the murder of Murphy, they were subjected by the troops to the worst indignities. The whole village was fined and the security forces let loose to deal with the ‘rebellious population’ on their own ‘free’ will. It was followed by a general massacre at Takkar, the village the imperialists had targeted from the beginning. The forcible entry of the troops and their indiscriminate firing upon the unarmed innocent people without any prior warning resulted in the death of about twenty people; many more were wounded. The hujras of Malik Masim Khan and Malik Amin Jan, two noted Khudai Khidmatgars were burnt to ashes.87 The story of repression in Baizai area did not culminate there; it went on unchecked in other villages of Swabi and Mardan including Yar Hussain, Marghuz, Mainey, Kota, Maneray, Tordher, Jalbai, Sawal Dher and Lund Khwarh. In addition to the Peshawar Valley, the recrudescence of violence and the reign of terror was also extended to other parts of the province such as Kohat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan in southern Pashtoonkhwa. However, the worst kind of atrocities was perpetuated in Bannu where on 24 August a protest meeting of unarmed and non- violent people from Hathi Khel led by the local Waziri tribal leaders was fired upon in Spin Tangi; more than seventy people were killed and the number of wounded was in hundreds.88 The local authorities did their best to keep the number of dead and wounded concealed. Visits to and from the province were under the strict vigilance of the Government. It was rumoured that the Frontier authorities were bent upon declaring the Khudai Khidmatgars as agents of the Bolsheviks in Russia, who were given the task by the communists to create anarchy and dissension in India to destabilize the British Indian Government.

In the absence of frontline leaders, the command passed on to the second tier of leadership. Interestingly, despite apprehensions from the authorities, none of them was found involved in preaching or practising violence. The protesters almost in all cases remained non-violent. Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s preaching of non- violence prior to their participation in the civil disobedience movement had its impact upon the inhabitants of the Frontier Province. Despite the worst kind of atrocities committed by the authorities and all kind of provocation, the Pashtoons did not retaliate. They knew that laying down their own lives rather than taking someone else’s is the real test of their forbearance and courage. They were ready to sacrifice everything they possessed for the sake of the liberation of the country from foreign yoke. Some scholars working on the area misunderstood the nature of the leadership during the civil disobedience movement. The presence of a large number of smaller potentates or Khans struggle to get their leadership recognized through the Khudai Khidmatgar movement has been traditionally viewed as part of their insatiable desire to get more benefits from the government to counter the influence of the big Khans. While this might be true for some particular cases, it cannot be implemented as a general rule. If one looks at the various stages of the civil disobedience movement, it is evident that there were many persons at the forefront of the movement who belonged to the professional classes. Abdul Ghaffar Khan emphasized from the beginning upon the participation of these professionals, known as Qasabgars89 in the local society, and gave them important positions in the organization. They had roots within the masses who decided en masse to join the Khudai Khidmatgar movement which provided it with a boost. The British Government, on its part, utilized the services of a few big landlords, title holders and Jagirdars to suppress the movement. The authorities tried to convince the big Khans, the traditional allies of the Empire, to control these people, who mostly belonged to ‘menial’ castes. If not checked, according to the Government circulars, these people would deprive the ‘traditional leaders’, that is, the big Khans, of their influence in the Frontier. These big Khans, on their part, adopted all kinds of draconian methods to torture these people but such tactics eventually came to naught. The oppression prevailing under British rule further provided a boost to the movement enhancing the prestige of these people in the eyes of the masses. It also resulted in greater sympathy for the Khudai Khidmatgars and the civil disobedience movement. Some officials of the Raj misunderstood Pashtoon psychology. In several places, the Raj official’s mistreatment and rough handling of the situation provided more members to the Khudai Khidmatgar organization. In Utmanzai, after the violent crackdown upon the Khudai Khidmatgars, whose belongings had been destroyed and offices sealed, a colonial official publicly claimed that they were finished and challenged the audience to show their sympathy with them or face his wrath. On hearing these remarks regarding the Khudai Khidmatgars, Abbas Khan, a cousin of Abdul Ghaffar Khan who was not on good terms with him, turned up along with a large number of his servants and tenants and declared openly his support for the leader and the Khudai Khidmatgars. Though this can be interpreted as an act of a single individual it offers us a glimpse into the manifestation of the aspirations of the general public regarding Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his cause.

In Search of Friends

Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the frontline leaders of the Khudai Khidmatgars were imprisoned in the Gujarat Special Jail. Mian Jaffar Shah Kaka Khel and Mian Abdullah Shah of Qazi Khel, Charsadda, two prominent leaders, were still out of prison. They went to Gujarat Jail in disguise, met Abdul Ghaffar Khan and apprised him of the gravity of the situation in the Province. According to some reliable sources, they also conveyed to him the message of Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qaiyum Khan, a prominent Pashtoon elder, enjoying confidence and respect in government circles, who had secretly advised them to affiliate the Khudai Khidmatgar movement with an all-India organization because the local British administration was bent upon declaring them as Bolshevik agents in India. This association, according to Sir Sahibzada, would save them from further annihilation at British hands.90

They discussed the matter and on the advice of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the two aforementioned leaders met Malik Lal Khan, a prominent leader of Gujranwala whom Jaffar Shah knew since the days of the Khilafat movement. Through him he contacted other prominent Muslim leaders including Malik Feroz Khan Noon, a Muslim Leaguer and Mian Fazli Hussain of Muslim Conference, a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. The present author had the honour of asking Abdul Ghaffar Khan personally about the names of Muslim leaders whom the Khudai Khidmatgars met and was very kindly provided with these names. Jaffar Shah narrated the whole ordeal of the Frontier people and requested them to provide help and support in this particular connection. However, to their utter surprise, the Muslim leaders showed their inability to help the Frontier people against the Raj. Since a majority of them were ‘loyalists’, it was almost impossible for them to support the Pashtoons’ cause against the British imperialism in South Asia.91 However, for Rittenberg their denial of support was because these parties were weak and fragmented. Moreover, they had their special reservations on the declaration of immediate independence and also were opposed to the civil disobedience movement launched by Congress under Gandhi.92 Probably they were also afraid that any step weakening the British authority in South Asia would indirectly bolster the Congress cause.

The dejected leaders came back to Gujarat and informed Abdul Ghaffar Khan of the refusal of the Muslim leaders in providing help and support at that critical juncture. The whole matter was discussed in detail and it was decided to approach the Congress which was also on the warpath with the British Indian Government. The envoys went around the country, met Congress leaders and sought their help in this regard. ‘As a drowning man tries to catch hold of any straw’ commented Abdul Ghaffar Khan, ‘—being thwarted by the Muslim League—we requested the two colleagues to seek help from the National Congress. When they met the Congress leaders, they readily agreed to help us in every way, provided we joined them in the struggle for India’s freedom’.93 As both had the same agenda, so without reluctance the Congress leaders immediately responded positively to the request of the Khudai Khidmatgars and declared them as part of the Congress national movement94 and allowed them to retain their separate identity.95

Jawaharlal Nehru, while paying special tributes to the Frontier comrades, mentioned particularly the great sacrifices rendered by them in the cause of the Indian freedom struggle. He stated that he ‘have read with amazement and admiration the record of their doing and their sufferings...’ and the Pashtoons who ‘are known to be brave fighters but they have shown that even in our non-violent struggle they can take the lead and set an example which is not easy to emulate’.96

He further stated that,
There used to be in past years talk of pretty reforms in the Frontier Province. Today we are not fighting for reforms but for independence. Our comrades of the Frontier have shown in the fire of suffering what metal they are made of. Out of our common suffering we shall fashion free India, in which all of us, including the Frontier Province, will be equal sharers. The men and women of the Frontier Province have purchased by their blood and suffering a full right to this freedom. For the brave no gift can be too much, and those who know how to die know also how to live as free men. Men and women of the Frontier, you have written a golden page in Indian history! That will be an inspiration for us and we shall remember it in the long days to come. India cannot forget those who helped to make her free.97
Abdul Ghaffar Khan was castigated by some of his close associates and friends for merging the Khudai Khidmatgar movement into Congress. To them the Pashtoons would lose their identity and the Hindu-dominated Congress would least care for their welfare. They had the bitter experiences of always supporting the political and social organizations of India but those people did not care for the Pashtoons and never uttered even a single word in their favour when they were in crisis. They always preferred their own interests and never supported the Pashtoons previously. Abdul Ghaffar Khan was not apologetic. Responding to these recriminations, he made it clear in an acrimonious way that they needed support and help from any organization at an all-India level. Their first choice was obviously their co-religionists the Muslim leaders but to their chagrin they disappointed the inhabitants of the Frontier. They made the same kind of request to the Congress party who welcomed the Pashtoons to their fold. Since both were struggling in the same direction and the main objective was the same, that is, getting rid of the British imperialism, both would supplement each other in the freedom struggle.98 He cited examples from the life of the Holy Prophet of Islam who entered into certain pacts and agreements with the Jews and other non-Muslim tribes in Medina to thwart the threat of the Quraish.99 According to him he did no harm to the Pashtoon movement by affiliating it with the Congress, as they would safeguard the rights of the Frontier people in future.

The merger was beneficial for both: Congress got its firm footing in an overwhelming Muslim majority province and refuted all future allegations against it by its opponents in terming Congress as a Hindu body. They cited examples of the Frontier Province with its solid support for the Congress politics throughout the remaining years until the Partition of India. Congress claimed to be a representative organization of all Indians irrespective of their belonging to any religion, caste or creed. The Khudai Khidmatgars on their part were saved from further Government repression. As mentioned earlier, it was rumoured that the Frontier administration would soon declare the Khudai Khidmatgars as the agents of the Bolsheviks who were deputed by the Communists to stir the rebellion in India. Even some individuals in the Political Department were busy in collecting evidences against the Khudai Khidmatgars in this particular connection. The peculiarly strategic location of the Frontier Province provided the Frontier administration extra powers to deal with the locals in their own way. Various regulations were implemented in the province to keep the inhabitants under the tight control of the British authorities. To thwart the ‘evil’ designs of the Tsarist Russia in the Indian direction was the major policy consideration of the British Indian Government. This provided unchecked power to the administration and they were fully confident that whatever they do with the Khudai Khidmatgars on the pretext of being Bolshevik agents, they will get the required support from the Government both at home and in London. After the merger of the Khudai Khidmatgars with the Congress, it was now almost impossible for the Frontier officials to declare them Bolshevik agents. The Khudai Khidmatgar leaders made it clear that the main objective of the Congress was identical to theirs: getting rid of British imperialism from South Asia. They denied their links with foreign powers including the Russians. Moreover, by merging their movement in Congress, the Khudai Khidmatgars, hitherto a provincial organization, achieved popularity and fame at a national level. The Khudai Khidmatgar leader, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, came closer to the Congress leadership and enjoyed the confidence of all including Mahatma Gandhi. The sincerity of the Khudai Khidmatgars to Gandhian non-violence which they accepted as a creed earned them such reverence and veneration that their leader under Abdul Ghaffar Khan was affectionately called by the majority of Indians as Frontier Gandhi, a title enjoyed by none other.

References and Footnotes

72 Rittenberg, Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Pakhtuns, 79.
73 Ibid., 79–80.
74 Shad, Deed wa Shuneed, 148.
75 The Frontier Tragedy, 32.
76 Full details can be seen in Shad, Deed wa Shuneed, 192–201.
77 Literally, a tribal armed gathering for battle.
78 Noor Mohammad Nowshervi, Mujahid i Sarhad: Jangnama da Ghazi Sahib da Turangzo (Pashto)(Peshawar: Mian Brothers Book Sellers, n.d.), 64–74.
79 Khaleeq, Da Azadi Jang, 70; Rittenberg, Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Pakhtuns, 82.
80 Rittenberg, Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Pakhtuns, 80.
81 Ibid.
82 In Pashtoon areas the term hujra refers to a separate place/house, with a big court yard having two, three or more rooms, meant for the male members of the community where the women are strictly prohibited. Usually it is a central place in the village where men gather in the evenings to discuss the daily affairs, politics, drink tea and smoke the chilum or hookah. In olden times people used to enjoy listening stories and poetry also in hujras. The unmarried members of the village community usually slept in the hujra. Every clan, tribe and family has their own hujra. In contemporary times it function is also akin to a guest house where visitors are provided free food and lodging. It continues to play an important role in community life, particularly in initiating the youth into Pashtoon norms and values.
83 Further details of the atrocities perpetuated on the inhabitants of Pashtoonkhwa can be seen in The Frontier Tragedy, 39–55; Ahmad, Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek, 201–465; Shah, Ethnicity, Islam and Nationalism, 32–33; and, Mukulika Banerjee, The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition & Memory in the North West Frontier (Oxford: James Currey, 2000), 111–20.
84 The Frontier Tragedy, 55.
85 Ibid., 16–17. ‘Of all the remarkable happenings in India in recent times,’ commented Bakhshi, nothing is more astonishing than the way in which Abdul Ghaffar Khan made his turbulent and quarrelsome people accept peaceful methods of political action, involving enormous suffering. That suffering was indeed terrible and has left a trail of bitter memories; and yet their discipline and self-control were such that no act of violence was committed by the Pathans against the Government forces or other opposed to them. When it is remembered that a Pathan loves his gun more than his brother, is really excited, and has long had a reputation for killing at the slightest provocation, this self-discipline appears like short of miraculous. Bakhshi, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, 129–30.
86 Shad, Deed wa Shuneed, 191; Statement of Lachaman Das (Witness No. 53), Peshawar Enquiry Committee, 240–41.
87 Ahmad, Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek, 241–54; The Frontier Tragedy, 45.
88 Shah, Ethnicity, Islam and Nationalism, p. 33.
89 Deriving from qasab meaning craft, the term literally refers to occupational groups such as barbers and carpenters.
90 Mian Atauddin, Memoirs (Pashto), (Nowshera: unpublished memoirs), 18; Khaleeq, Da Azadi Jang, 89–90.
91 Abdul Ghaffar, Zama Zhwand au Jaddo Jehad, 386–87.
92 Rittenberg, Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Pakhtuns, 83.
93 Tendulkar, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, 75.
94 Abdul Ghaffar, Zama Zhwand au Jaddo Jehad, 387–89; Khaleeq, Da Azadi Jang, 89–90; Akbar, Da Pukhtano Barkha, 109–10.
95 Mian Atauddin, Memoirs, 18–19.
96 Jawaharlal Nehru’s Message to the North–West Frontier Province, 16 October 1930, Mussoorie, S. Gopal, ed., Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru Vol. Four (London: Orient Longman Ltd, 1973), 401.
97 Ibid., 401–02.
98 Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Pukhtun, 1 August 1938, 19–23.
99 Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Pukhtun, June–July 1931, 5–10.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Ancient Art of making Gurha (Jaggery)


By Zeenath Jahan

Winter is the time for gurha. As a child I remember it was always served after meals. My grandfather used to say it made the breath sweeter after eating radishes and onions; it also satisfied his forbidden sweet tooth, but that was another matter. An all-time family favourite has always been `SHRHEENZA', a halva made of gurha, wheat flour, homemade butter and lots of aniseed. To keep us indoors on rainy days, my grandmother kept us occupied with taffy pulling competitions for which gurha was cooked with a generous dollop of butter. Pulling the lumps of goo, we often forgot to eat it in our grim efforts of making it whiter!
Juice extraction via generators in Mayrah, Nowshera © Abaseen Yousafzai

Villagers here still use gurha in place of sugar; they say it has a warming effect in winter. The season for gurha-making lasts from November to January, before the frost. Gurha made of frostbitten is slightly sour to the taste. When I was a child, one day was always set apart to visit the garhai'n (where gurha is made) on my grandfather's lands. Times have changed, and now there is no private garhai'n for me to visit. Yet, carrying on the tradition, each year I collect my grandchildren and we go searching for the tell-tale smoke, the crushed sugarcane set out to dry, and the swarms of village urchins hanging around the smoke-blackened hut of the garhai'n.

Recently, on one such foray in search of fresh gurha, I was confronted with an unusual and amusing sight. There was a portable TV in the garhai'n, and a young man was watching a cricket match while forming the balls of gurha. This was as sure a sign of the changing times as any I have ever seen! A true melding of the old and the new. While telling someone on the 'Net about my trip, I was surprised to discover that my cyber-friend had never tasted gurha. Needless to say, I rectified this void in his education by sending him some!

For the uninitiated, gurha is made from sugarcane juice. The main types of sugarcane are the TOTAY and MUNDA'AN. Totay are freshly planted sugarcane, and Munda'an are planted from pieces of the original cane; the crop being renewed every three to four years. Gurha is made from the munda'an variety as it is juicier than the fresh crop from totay.

Basically, gurha is brown sugar formed into little balls while it is still warm. When I was a child, a pair of blindfolded oxen crushed the cane. Now, although oxen are still used to extract the juice in some garhai'n, machines are fast taking their place. Yet, in many ways things have not really changed. A garhai'n is still a one-room `factory', and the crushed cane is still the only fuel used to cook the cane juice. With nothing wasted and nothing is added, it is a self-contained process.
Gurha or Jaggery at a village © Abaseen Yousafzai

This year I decided to find out more details about the gurha making process, and Abid discovered a garhai'n in Sherpao that we could go to. So one bright morning, (garhai'n do not function on rainy days), we set off with two of my grandchildren in tow. When we finally arrived, the oxen were earning a well-deserved rest having been working since dawn. The garhai'n owner was kind enough to yoke them to the crusher so I could photograph them.

We were told that a pipe carries the juice into the garhai'n where it is strained and collected in a large wooden container called a SANDOOK. A sandook generally holds about 432 liters juice, which makes almost 85 kg of gurha. Below the sandook is a KARAHI or large iron wok, in which the juice is cooked. During cooking, the scum that collects on the surface is skimmed off with a large strainer or CHA'AN. When the juice begins to thicken it is stirred with a GO'NRHA'N, (a wedge-headed wooden pole), to keep it from sticking to the base of the karhai.

When we got there, the juice had already been cooking for about four or five hours. It was now thick enough and ready for the final process. Since the lighter the colour of gurha, the better its quality, some farmers add what they call `RANGKAT' at this stage. Naturally no one there knew `rangkat's' chemical name.

This treacly, semi-solid gurha is poured into the ATRA (earthen pans) with a SAMSA, or spoon-shaped utensil. Some farmers spray it with a little water at this stage. After about five minutes, a specially shaped trowel or RAMBAI is run through the mixture for about half an hour, to help it cool so that it solidifies evenly. As a delicacy, nuts and dried fruit may be added to the mixture at this time, this is called `masaladar' gurha. A few black pepper corns are the only additives needed to keep it fresh. This is also the moment the village children have been waiting for, their share of fun. Dipping sugarcane into the treacle-like gurha, they twirl it around until the mixture clings to the cane, and hey presto, you have an indigenous lollipop called CHEERH GURHA! the largest lollipop any kid could hope for. When my grandchildren were offered cheerh gurha, they eyed it suspiciously. Once they had been coaxed into trying it, they wanted more.

When the cooled gurha mixture is piled around the atra, everyone joins in to form it into little balls or CHAKKAI. Although gurha in every form is a treat, fresh, warm gurha is something else again!

In keeping with the legendary hospitality of the pathans, the farmers are very generous. They refuse to allow any one to leave their garhai'n empty handed, and offers of payment are taken as an insult. So Basma, Haroun, Abid and I came home after a lovely day at the garhai'n with lots of fresh gurha and an armload of sugarcane, for the rest of the family.

Friday, 21 February 2014

On the Road to Khyber Pass

As the USA withdraws from Afghanistan a look back at the massive economic impact of their 13 year stay in power can be seen from this 2006 article. Article copyright PakistanLink and Dr S.A Hussain republished with kind permission


By Dr. S. Amjad Hussain

June 30, 2006


Ten miles west of the frontier town of Peshawar on the road to Khyber Pass there is a collection of roadside commercial buildings commonly known as Bara Markets. These markets are just inside the tribal territory and hence outside the reach of Pakistani laws. The buildings, some modern looking three story shopping arcades, others one story plain and shabby brick and cement structures have one thing in common: they all sell smuggled merchandise and people from all over the country flock to these markets to buy foreign goods at reasonable prices. The latest twist in this shadowy world of smuggling is the availability of merchandise that is meant for American forces in Afghanistan.
While walking in the market and taking occasional pictures I was approached by two men with AK-47 assault rifles and asked to accompany them. Being in tribal areas where at times people shoot first and ask questions later I had no choice. I was led beyond the bustling market to an isolated gated compound and then into a well-appointed sitting area. There I was to wait the arrival of a man that oversees the running of the markets.
Tribal areas of Pakistan are the anomalous legacy of the British Raj. Historically the areas west of the Indus River, the present day tribal areas of Pakistan, had always been under the nominal control of the kings of Afghanistan. However in 1893 when boundary between British India and Afghanistan was demarcated these areas, because of their strategic importance, were incorporated within British India. But the tribes were allowed to retain a measure of autonomy where they govern themselves according to their own ancient tribal laws and customs. The relationship between the tribes and Islamabad has been that of an uneasy accommodation. Occasionally the tribes find themselves at odds with the government of Pakistan. In Wazirstan, a few hundred miles south of here, Pakistan army is locked in a bloody confrontation with Al Qaeda remnants and their tribal sympathizers. In comparison, thanks to the smuggling-related prosperity, this area is peaceful.
Accompanied by armed bodyguards Haji Qalandar Shah, the market boss, eventually showed up. A bearded young man in his early thirties he was polite and courteous but inquisitive about my taking the pictures of American merchandise in the shops. I assured him that I was doing that as a hobby. Would he be interested in looking at the pictures I took of these areas on my previous visits, I asked. The bluff worked.
He was concerned about the unscrupulous newspaper and television reporters who had given inaccurate reports about the American goods. His explanation was simple: The merchandise comes from Kabul where it is sold in the American-sanctioned department stores. Satisfied that I was not an unscrupulous reporter snooping around and sniffing for a story, he apologized for the inconvenience and let me go.
It was certainly not a close call but could easily have been. Many years ago during my younger days I found myself in a bitter confrontation with a shopkeeper over the sale of a Khyber knife. Timely intervention by another merchant on my behalf saved the day and I walked out of that tense situation and wrote about it (Guns of Darra Revisited: Toledo Magazine, The Blade, September 18, 1988). In these areas disagreements can turn into feuds and feuds, more often than not, are settled with the barrel of a gun.
Smuggling: a time-tested and time-honored business.
Afghanistan being a land locked country most of its imports pass through Pakistan. The goods are unloaded in the southern port city of Karachi and are then trucked to Afghanistan over land. No sooner these goods cross into Afghanistan they are shipped by human carriers and pack animals across the porous frontier back into Pakistani tribal territory where they are sold openly in such markets.
The array of merchandise in these markets is really amazing. From Japanese and Chinese electronics to English wools and bone china to plumbing supplies, bathroom fixtures, air conditioners, refrigerators and racing bicycles. There are also genuine and fake watches and pirated and counterfeit music CD’s, DVD’s. The prices are reasonable because the merchants do not pay any import duty. For an additional 10 to 15% of the sale price the merchandize can be delivered at buyer’s home any where in the country.
Now the American presence in Afghanistan has brought an interesting twist where some of the goods destined for American forces in Afghanistan end up in these markets. While the bulk of the merchandize that is sold in these markets is legally imported for Afghanistan and smuggled back into Pakistan, the availability of American goods is intriguing. How does American government-issued stuff end up in these markets? Or how do the secured containers in passage through Pakistan spring such a huge leak?
Some of the merchants in the market, unlike their boss Qalandar Shah, were candid about the process. The American containers remain intact in their 1200-mile journey from the southern port city of Karachi to Peshawar. At Peshawar the containers are placed on flat bed trucks for the next 270-mile ride to Kabul where they have to pass through the tribal territory around Khyber Pass. This is where the containers are pilfered and merchandize brought to these markets for sale. This was confirmed by government officials and also by Michael Spangler, the officer in charge of American consulate in Peshawar.
And what a wide variety or merchandise one can find here. These storefront mini Walt Marts sell everything that one would find in American super stores. There are canned and packaged food items from pasta to tuna to nuts to breakfast cereals all available at less than half the price that would cost in the US. There is government-issue office furniture, field telephones, folding shovels, vacuum cleaners, tents, cots and collapsible portable chairs the kind parents carry to their kids’ games in the US. Competing for space on the same shelf are feminine hygiene products and handy wipes with bags of rice and cans Idaho potatoes. And then there is the ubiquitous golf equipment that was destined for a country where there probably is only one golf course in Kabul and that too rather unsafe to swing a club. In short here in this bazaar one could equip a small army and have the fighting men and women live in style. There are no arms and ammunition sold in these bazaars. For that one has to go to another tribal bazaar at Dara Adam Khel about twenty miles south of here.
The American officials had in the past complained to Pakistani authorities about the theft but to no avail. The American diplomats have also met with the tribal leaders and the leaders were sworn to stop the pilferage but that has not happened either. Promises and loyalties in these mountains are as fleeting and unpredictable as the shifting winds through the Khyber gorges.
It was however an eye opener to see our hard earned tax dollars making some unscrupulous tribesmen very rich.
(An emeritus professor of surgery at the Medical University of Ohio S. Amjad Hussain is a columnist on the op-ed pages of the Blade. He was born in Peshawar near the Khyber Pass and has for over thirty years written about religion, culture and political dynamics in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Yusuf Khattak: A Frontier Leaguer

by Zeenath Jahan

My father died on the 29th of July 1991.

These words were not easy to write. The finality of death strikes with its full intensity, only when a loved one passes away, and my father was dearly loved by all who knew him.

Muhammad Yusuf Khan Khattak, my father, was born in Ooghi, (District Hazara) on 18th. November 1917. His father named him `Yusuf' because he said he was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen. My Grand-mother remembers that within minutes of his precipitous birth, he followed the lantern-light as it moved around the room.

All his life he had the same attitude of following the light, whether of truth, beauty or destiny. He was an optimist, and his optimism never failed him, even in the darkest hours of his life.

My father is on record as an honest and principled politician, who never wavered from his party, The Muslim League, in his fifty years of political life.

Yet, he was a difficult man to understand and to really get to know, because he was complex in his simplicity. I always found it hard to understand how a man of the world, could not comprehend why people are often liars and sometimes evil!

He was the worst judge of character, often trusting people and frequently making the wrong choices; as he was blind to the wickedness in others. When he put his trust in anyone, that person could do no wrong; and when he lost faith, that person could do no right!

I believe that like King Lear, he eventually died of a broken heart; when he could no longer deny the truth that was forced on him so brutally; that the hand that had stabbed him in the back, and sold him for `thirty pieces of silver' belonged to none other than the one he loved best and had put all his faith and trust in. They call it Senile Dementia in the medical books.

My father fought the last battle for his dignity, when the doctors put a catheter on him and forced a feeding-pipe down his throat. They held him down, screaming obscenities, and did to him what they had to do. The fight went out of him after that, and he waited quietly for the liberation of death.

Almost two years before he died, quoting Pushkin, he told me that he would rather die than lose his mind. His wish was not granted, as the tragedy of the disintegration of a great mind was already in progress.

He was brave and rash in his fight for The Right and The Good. He fought on, unconcerned and uncaring, when his closest comrades deserted him in the thick of battle, the battle for democracy. My father was unwavering in his principles, supremely impervious to the forces unleashed by political oppressors. He was a Statesman, with none of the smallness of mind and vision that mark many politicians of our country today.

Next to his family, the country that he had worked and fought for was his greatest passion. I have yet to come across anyone who could match his patriotism. When he was bed-ridden and very sick we spoke to him of Pakistan's need of him, her most distinguished son. We knew that if anything, his country's need of him, could pull him out of the apathy that he had sunk into. We were not wrong, "Pakistan Zindabad" was always his reply; even though, by then, he did not know his own children!

One of my earliest memories of my father of him gathering us around him, (with the first one to get there on his lap), to read poetry aloud to us. He often had us in tears when he read Stephen's poem of `The Rabbit in a Snare', or `The Last Testament of a Dying Soldier'. I still have the Bang-e-Dara from which he used to read out Iqbal's poems to us. Listening to his rendering of Shikwa and Jawab-e-Shikwa was an experience in a class of its own!

My father was in the habit of writing out verses and quotations that caught his fancy, he christened the notebook with Urdu and Persian verses `Atish-Qada'. Going through the earlier `Atish Qadas' is like reliving his emotional history. All the pain, the heartbreak and triumphs of his sensitive soul are laid bare by his choice of verses. He bequeathed all his `Atish Qadas' to me as he said I would value them the most.

He was always gentle and caring. I remember, once when my brother shot a squirrel and showed it proudly to my father. The hurt and pain on my father's face, and the lecture on the right-to-life of all God's creatures ended my brother's short-lived career as a fearless hunter!

Though a kind master, he once landed a well-deserved box on a servant's ear. He couldn't sleep that night for the guilt. The next day the servant was almost in tears when his Khan begged his forgiveness. His humility had won him a slave for life!

My father had a passion for plants. The ever-blooming bougainvillea was his favourite. I remember once when we were walking in the garden, an old gardener was pottering around, watering the plants. In passing, my father remarked that the old man had just got out of prison after serving a 14-year sentence for murder. I was horrified to hear that he had employed an ex-convict, and a murderer to boot! When I remonstrated, my father gently explained that the man had worked for him before he had committed the murder, and then, almost absentmindedly he added,

"It was a good murder", as though to exonerate the man. This description was too much for me!

What do you mean by a good murder? A murder is a murder, there is no such a thing as a good murder or a bad murder,' I said. Thoughtfully, looking into an archaic, primeval distance, my father answered that the old man had taken revenge for the murder of his brother, which was why it was a `good' murder. Aghast, I stared at him and realized that the Oxford education had not eradicated the Pathan code of honour. The soft spoken, sophisticated Gentle-man before me was not all that he seemed to be!

I think that was when I was first confronted by the contradictions in my father's character that made it so hard for anyone to really understand him.

Yes, he was gentle and kind; but, he could also be unforgiving to the point of callousness. Yet, it was not callousness that kept him from seeing another person's point of view, it was simply a blind spot in an otherwise intelligent and compassionate man.

I never heard my father raise his voice in an argument. He simply put forward his point of view. When he realized he was wasting his time, he would put an end to the discussion, as good natured as possible; but his opinion of the other's intelligence took a nose dive. After that, nothing could convince him that the other was not a complete idiot. But, when he was angry, even a full-blooded African lion could take lessons from him in cowing down its victim by a single, mighty ROAR!

To call my father an aesthete would be an understatement. He loved beauty in every shape and form, and filled his house with beautiful things. He had a great collection china, Gardner, Iranian carpets and of paintings by Gulgee, Safdar, Chughtai, Zubaida Agha, Raheel, Laila Shahzad, and many, many more. Safdar's painting of a Mohenjo Daro dancing girl was his favourite. It always hung on the wall opposite his bed, as he wanted it to be the last thing he saw before going to sleep, and the first when he awoke. He often said that he felt she was about to dance right out of the painting.

My father was the best dressed man I have ever met. Even at home he dressed in a three-piece suit. It used to irritate him if, on seeing his sartorial elegance, anyone asked him if he were going out,

"I dress for my own pleasure!" would be his curt reply.

He had rows upon rows of shoes, stacks of shirts (mostly grey) and innumerable suits. He once said it made him feel ashamed to own so many clothes, but he always found an excuse to buy more!

My father always used the same cologne, he said he wanted it to be his `signature', always associated with him. At one time, when the cologne that he had always used was not available anymore, he set about an earnest search for a new fragrance that was `him'!

One of the earliest signs of his illness was when he lost his sense of smell and stopped using colognes. He said that if he couldn't enjoy the perfume there was no need to use them anymore.

My father could be humble, yet he was also arrogant. He fought for the freedom of the nation, yet was an authoritarian at home. I can almost feel his horror at being called `arrogant' and `authoritarian', but then, it was he who encouraged me to be objective and honest in thought, word and deed.

He once told me that a character in a novel reminded him of me, he said it laughingly and slightly apologetically. Intrigued, I borrowed the book, and was appalled! Did he see me as that horrid, opinionated, self-righteous female? I quarrelled with him over it; but, I have often caught myself (sometimes just in time) while being most opinionated and self-righteous. So, thank-you Daddy, I don't believe I thanked you for the mirror you so wisely put up for me. It still rankles sometimes, but only in my most self-righteous moods!

My father loved music, both Western and Eastern, and had a melodious voice. He made up the tunes he sang and they all sounded alike! I asked him about it once and he was taken aback, as he hadn't noticed. Then, thinking over it, he remembered that Farida Khanum had pointed out that all the ghazals he requested her to sing were in Rag Aiman. Rag Aiman also happened to be the basic tune of all his songs.

I once asked him to help my daughter with her urdu poetry. He was very happy to oblige and took her into his study, while I waited in his bedroom for the class to be over. It was not long before I heard him singing the ghazals in the Matric course book at the top of his voice, all thoughts of the lesson forgotten!

Once, during his illness, knowing his fondness for music I played a video of some ghazals for him. He kept asking if I would rewind "Nain say Nain Melai na Banay" and finally said, "I almost want to burst into song. It's the first time I have wanted to sing since Zia came to power."

So we both sat there, father and daughter, rewinding the song and singing lustily along with it. When he was going home that evening he thanked me, and said that he hadn't enjoyed himself so much in a long time.

My father was a voracious reader, and remembered every book he read, including it's position on his book shelf and the page number of a phrase that had struck him. He was in the habit of underlining his books, but woe betide any unsuspecting person who turned down a `dog ear' on a page! Any one who has been caught at such a sacrilege would be able to explain my father's disgust and anger, and the lecture about how books were to be treasured.

"Books are to be cherished, not mauled", he always said.

As a child, my father always bought me hardbound books, because he said even children's books were precious. He never failed to come home, after his frequent trips out of town, with an armload of books for me, on every topic under the sun. Without realizing it, I picked up a wide range of knowledge, often against my will!

Waking up in the morning was always a problem in his youth, yet he had made it a point to get up early to go to Foyles (London) where Enid Blyton was signing books. He knew I was an avid fan and would be thrilled. It is beside the point, and quite in character, that he was late and Enid Blyton had left by the time he got there.

He once showed me a letter I had written him as a child, it started with " My Darling Daddy, I hope you are well and happy. Please get me the following books......." and then followed a long list of books, after which I had signed off "with lots of love". Embarrassed, I laughed and said that he couldn't have looked forward to my letters if this was a sample. He answered seriously that it always gave him great pleasure to see that I had inherited his love of books.

A great failing of my father's was that he had no idea of time. He travelled frequently to his constituency, to a meeting, or the National Assembly. In those easygoing, uncomputerized days, there was only one flight from Peshawar. P.I.A often delayed their flights by 5-10 minutes when they saw his name on the passenger list. Trains were not so bad, they were always late, anyway.

Once, I remember going to Havelian to receive him at the railway station and my disappointment knew no bounds when he did not get off the train. We later learned that he and his valet had overslept, and had woken up in Pindi! We thought it was very funny and joked about it. Finally he became quite annoyed and we never dared mention the episode again!

Any description of my father would be incomplete without the mention of sports, especially tennis, which he played regularly at the Peshawar Club. He insisted on all his children playing tennis, and ordered made-to-measure rackets for us. It was his dream that one of us would make it to Wimbledon some day.

My father had perfected the art of bending us, his children, to his will. While never explicitly forbidding us anything, with great subtlety, he never failed to bring us round to his wishes. Yet he always allowed us to believe that we were the moving force behind our decisions!

He was an epicure, and only his love of tennis kept him in shape. He ate slowly, chewing his food with pleasure, carefully picking out tomato skins and other itsy bitsy pieces, and sticking them on the side of his plate. My grandmother often scolded him for being so picky, but he laughed it off. He liked to be treated as a little boy, as there was a part of him that had never really grown up.

My father was a perfect mimic, and often had us in stitches at his realistic portrayals. To hear him tell a story was to relive it! He sometimes scared us too, when he would blank out his eyes and with a strangely eerie smile he would say,

"I am not your Daddy, How do you know I am your Daddy?"

Squealing with a delicious fear, that was always an excuse for us to snuggle up to him; enjoying the cold shiver up our spine, laughing and begging him to stop.

My father was both gentle and harsh, rejecting and nurturing. He could be exasperating. He could be endearing. He could be anything but mediocre and commonplace and anything but less than larger than life.

Yes, he was not perfect, he was only a man, but ----- "the elements were so mixed in him that Nature itself might stand up and say `THIS was a man!"

- Yusuf Khattak was an opposition activist against the Congress government in 1946, after partition was then elected Secretary General of the Provincial Muslim League, NWFP in 1949. He was soon elevated to the prominent position of Secretary General of All Pakistan Muslim League the same year thereby succeeding Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan as Secretary General of the League. He served as served as leader of opposition in Ayub Khan's parliament and was the only member of the PML-Qayyum league to be re-elected in the 1977 election.