Thursday, 21 July 2016

QK Archives: The day the music died

Newsbeat May 2003


The Day the Music Died


By Amir Mohammad Khan

The MMA administration's drive against obscenity in the Frontier targets the cinema and music industry.


Gaudy colours, blood-stained daggers, hip-swirling heroines, Kalashnikov-wielding heroes with rage and anguish writ large on their faces on giant billboards outside cinemas in the NWFP have all of a sudden been replaced by just the name of the movie and its stars. The transformation of the "tasteless" hoardings is part of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) government's drive against obscenity in the Frontier.

The ban on the display of pictures of the heroines has adversely affected the cinema business, says Mohammad Shafi, manager of Capital Cinema, Peshawar. The number of cinegoers has decreased by more than 70 per cent, he complains. "Buying a new movie is no longer viable. We have been showing old films for a month," he adds.

The ban was ordered by the MMA government in mid-December. Initially, the NWFP inspector general of police (IGP), Muhammad Saeed Khan, personally conducted raids on cinema houses to remove posters and billboards of female actors. Subsequently, police station headquarter officers were asked to take steps against obscenity and vulgarity in society and make sure that cinemas did not display any obscene pictures.

"The majority of cinegoers are illiterate. They cannot read the name of the movie. They are attracted by posters and pictures, which are not allowed anymore. In the absence of posters and signboards, they have assumed that films are not shown any more and have stopped coming to the cinema," says Abdul Qayyum, manager of the Falaksair cinema in Peshawar.

Cinema is not the only thing affected by the MMA administration's drive against obscenity. Singers and recording companies have also been at the receiving end. In his maiden policy speech in the assembly, NWFP Chief Minister Akram Durrani issued directives for banning the playing of music on public transport. He claimed that playing music in passenger vehicles not only causes accidents but also becomes a bone of contention between those who like it and those who don't, leading to clashes at times.

As if to prove that the MMA meant business, the religious coalition government went a step further by ordering a ban on the public display of musical instruments. The police raided Peshawar's Dabgari Bazaar, which is known for its musicians and musical instruments, in mid-January and arrested 10 artists for displaying drums in front of their shops and balakhanas (second-story rooms). The raid was preceded by a warning against the display of musical instruments in public. Many artists also claim they face police harassment when they return home late at night after performing at weddings or other functions.

The campaign is definitely taking a nasty turn for musicians. On January 25, the cantonment police raided a wedding party at the Greens Marriage Hall and arrested renowned Pushto singer, Gulzar Alam, for performing at the function. According to Alam and other eyewitnesses, the police SHO pushed down the harmonium, slapped his face and dragged Alam along to a mobile van, without explaining why he was doing so. The mike and harmonium were also damaged in the process. After a couple of hours, Alam was released when Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Chairperson, Afrasiyab Khattak and some journalists contacted the NWFP IGP, Saeed Khan, and other senior officials. The news did not make headlines in the press because newsmen had been asked to refrain from splashing the story. "The police should not humiliate artists. If there is a ban on music they should inform the people. I would prefer not to perform at functions and avoid humiliation," says Gulzar Alam. The incident with Alam has sent a shock wave through the artists and they seem increasingly insecure.

Next in line were the video shop owners. Around the same time, video shop owners of Cinema Road and Kabuli Bazaar voluntarily destroyed thousands of porno videocassettes, CDs and posters following directives of the provincial administration. Dozens of shop owners collected almost 6,000 porno videocassettes, CDs and other items and voluntarily gave them to the administration for destruction. The cassettes were gutted in the presence of police officials and religious leaders.

According to Peshawar city police chief, Tanvir Sipra, the drive was launched at the directive of the provincial government. "There are certain moral limits. The police will take action if these limits are crossed, even if there is no MMA government," he says.

The owners of video shops have reportedly signed a written agreement with the SHO of the police station that they would not permit students and minors to enter their shops in school hours. They also promised that their shops would remain closed during these hours.

"If the government wants to ban music it should give alternate jobs to the people. Musicians have their dependents; they too need food and shelter," says Shahjehan, father of a musician at Dabgari.

The MMA government has its own justification for its move against cinema billboards. "Cinemas don't display pictures outside even in the United Kingdom. They exhibit the name of the movie only," says NWFP Senior Minister Sirajul Haq. There are other restrictions abroad as well, he adds. No cinema can be opened within a one kilometre radius of children's school. "Here cinemas exhibit movies near schools, which is not good for education."

The senior minister's views on music, are, however, entirely negative. "Music is neither productive, nor is it a beneficial business. There are other jobs available that can be done by the musicians," Sirajul Haq says.

The implementation of the recommendations of the Islamic Ideology Council has been an electoral manifesto of the five-party MMA. The NWFP government has also formed a committee to finalise its report for implementation of the recommendations that come under the sphere of the provincial government, in accordance with the 1973 Constitution. This could bring more jarring changes, but this is how the MMA has been expected to behave since its unexpected victory in the 2002 general election.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

QK: Archives: A Threat to honour

Newsline Special published June 2003

A License to Kill

Pakhtun notions of honour continue to sanction violence against women.

by Samar Minallah


A Threat to Honour
Bride For Sale

Zaman, a resident of a squatter settlement in Peshawar, did not bother even to have a glimpse of his only daughter, Sara, born after four sons. Neither did he decide on a name, as the very future of the newborn girl seemed bleak, at least in the father's mind.

On Friday afternoon, when men were thronging the mosques to offer prayers, Zaman entered the small courtyard of his house where his wife was nursing her newborn child. Pulling the child out of the mother's lap, Zaman barged out of the wooden door, expressionless, without uttering a word.

Swiftly, he carried the huddled infant to a secluded area, away from people. Squatting on the ground, he frantically placed the newborn in his lap, while his huge coarse hands tried to get the perfect grip of a fragile neck that was still warm and soft. Aggressively, he squeezed the life out of his own daughter - a fragile, powerless soul, who could neither plead for her life nor struggle against the physical prowess of her father. Eventually, his strength triumphed over the silent pleas of a nameless child.

On returning home, without any sign of remorse, he placed the limp body back into the mother's arms, declaring, "I was too 'weak' to protect her 'honour' for the rest of my life!"

The only sign of feeling expressed by him was when he ordered a tombstone for her tiny grave, with the name 'Ayesha Bibi' etched on it.

Zaman was powerful enough to take his four-day-old daughter's life, but powerless in front of a giant named 'honour'. He snatched from her the right to live, out of fear of not being able to live up to the high expectations of honour set by his people and society.

'Honour' and ' killing' are contradictory terms, yet in a Pakhtun society they go hand in hand, complementing one another. The merciless killing of a girl in the name of 'honour' can actually make an individual 'honourable' in the eyes of society.

'Honour', according to rawaj (the set of rules practiced by Pakhtuns), knows no boundaries, age or class. Being born a Pakhtun is enough to enforce compliance with the rules and regulations stipulated by Pakhtunwali, according to which honour is to be protected at any cost. Numerous killings take place in the name of honour throughout the rural areas, but most of them go unreported as an honour killing is seen as a private concern.

Pakhtunwali, which is the code of conduct practiced by Pakhtuns, is predominantly based on preserving honour and conforming to the culture's behavioural expectations. Although men are considered to be the custodians of honour, the burden of upholding it lies on a woman's shoulders.

Practicing it could be so trying, that people prefer not to have daughters - they are perceived as the embodiment of the honour of their family that needs to be guarded and protected. The birth of a boy is welcomed in most rural areas as a Pashtu proverb goes, 'Day haluk zairay khog eee dhroon eee kaanrey bootee pay khoshaala ee ' (The news of a boy's birth is sweet and respectable, even stones and trees rejoice upon hearing it).

Bus Bibi (stop lady), Balanishta or Naurina, which is sometimes deliberately pronounced as 'Noray-na' (literally meaning, 'No more girls'), are names sometimes given to Pakhtun girls by their families to symbolically ward off the birth of yet another girl.

While the birth of a boy is marked with gunshots, the birth of a daughter goes unmarked. No matter how tiny she is, she is perceived as the family's sharam (honour) and purdah (shame) that needs to be guarded against any outside threat.

At the birth of a girl the parents receive greetings like 'Khuday day sharam parda o satee' (May God preserve your honour), 'Sar toray mashay' (May you never lose your veil or purdah) and 'Naik bukhta day shee' (May she grow up to be pious).

In the Mahmund tribe, two friends, Hashim and Sahibzada, made a pledge that when their children were born, and if one of them was a boy and the other a girl, they would be married to each other. After having a son, Hashim went to inquire about the sex of Sahibzada's newborn. Having second thoughts about the pledge, Sahibzada denied the birth of his daughter, and said that he too had had a son. Suspecting that his friend had gone back on his jabba (word), Hashim went to the zaango (cradle) of the newborn to confirm Sahibzada's statement. The moment he unwrapped the baby girl's suzni (swaddling cloth), Sahibzada, considering it a shameful act, shot his friend, who, however, managed to survive. Later, the jirga gave a verdict against Hashim by stating that he had no right to touch or probe a female infant, even if she was just a week old.

Right from her birth a girl can conveniently be used as an instrument in building alliances or ending age-old animosities. As a child, she might be betrothed by her father to someone as a part of a move in family politics or as part of an exchange deal known as swarra.

As a child she enjoys freedom - but for a very brief span. Referred to as someone's daughter, sister, wife or mother, she soon learns the art of modesty and endurance. Muffled by the code of honour, she is expected to be demure and retiring.

It is not easy to penetrate the high walls guarding the lives and honour of a Pakhtun woman, who remains inaccessible and obscure, living a culturally demanding life behind the four walls of her home.

Outside the walls of her home - unless it is for gham (sorrow) or khaadi (joy) occasions, or for her daily household chores such as washing clothes at a nearby stream, collecting water etc. - she has no status of her own. She is subject to someone else's authority in order to gain acceptance.

Home, whether her father's or her husband's, is the place where her honour rests. The more out of sight she is of strangers, the more out of trouble she stays. As a Pashtu proverb says, 'Khazay la , ya kor, ya gor' (For a woman, either home or grave).

In a tribal society, the criterion for survival does not depend on a woman's biological fitness, but solely on her morality, which truly assures her existence. A woman with a blemish-free character is the one who can live her life fearlessly in a tribal society.

As an old proverb goes, Day khazay chay poza pa makh na ee, no pa kando kay ba mordaree khoree. (One who does not have a 'nose' - honour - will die of misery in desolate places).

A woman's honour is seen as a family or qom's (community's) honour, and she must control her behaviour at all times, as it is judged harshly by the community. The woman's honour is, in fact, linked not just to her immediate family but to the whole clan or tribe. Only culturally appropriate behaviour assures success in a society where others are constantly interpreting one's actions. This self-awareness and self-control continues throughout the life cycle of a woman. Even a small blemish on one's code of honour can have an exaggerated effect.

Ideally, a woman is expected to be ajuza (helpless/powerless) in her behaviour. To quote a Pushtu proverb: Khaza kho ajuza daa (A woman is helpless/powerless).

Tore is an offence in which a woman or a man are either proven or are suspected of a sexual liaison or relationship, and even mere suspicion can lead to tragic consequences. 'Honour' and Pakhtu are seen as synonymous. Whoever fails to act according to the Pakhtun code of conduct is seen as not worthy of being called a Pakhtun. Tribal Pakhtuns accept no law but their own. According to the rawaj, seeing a woman speak to, or hearing of her association with a stranger, is enough to arouse a man's passion and saritob (manhood).

Whether the existence of a liaison can be proved beyond doubt or not, the accused have to be killed in most cases.

Evidence of an illicit relationship or even flirtation is not required. Perceived violation and disrespect of rawaj is enough to invite dire consequences.

In a tribal agency, most disputes are decided in accordance with rawaj (Pakhtun code of conduct). Although the civil administration can, in certain cases, intervene directly with the use of force, the role of the jirga (tribal assembly) remains undisputed.

In the case of 'moral' crimes, all matters are decided according to the rawaj by a group of elders of strong lineage or the spingiray (white-bearded), whose social status and experience entitles them to an honourable place in the council.

The tribes of Bajaur have their own degrees of punishment in a tore case. Some straight away kill the sinner, even for an unintentional mistake, whereas some are ready to acquit the accused, provided they atone in the form of a nanawatay (refuge/repentance), jora (reconciliation), naik or bakhana (forgiveness).

In the Utmankhel tribe, if a woman is accused of tore, not only she, but also all those who act as abettors are to be put to death. The number of individuals shot dead in a single tore case, could range upto six or seven individuals. For instance, if a woman elopes with a man and later due to certain reasons marries someone else, the second husband would also be considered an enemy.

Amongst the Mahmund tribe, despite serious consequences, tore cases are on the rise, one of the reasons being the unaffordable amount of sar paisa (bride price) which has gone up to 80,000 to 100,000 rupees, making it improbable for a lot of young men to find brides. In the Mahmund tribe, not only the wrongdoer, but his entire family have to leave their native land. Except for the accused persons, the rest of the members of their families may return one by one after paying a heavy fine. In Swat and Dir, swarra (the exchange of women) and naik (monetary fine) are both accepted in tore cases.

A woman accused of tore can rarely get away with it. As Bizarjana states, "Killing a girl is easy because she is like a kukra chargha (a hen sitting on eggs)." According to a tribal tradition, a woman accused of tore is to be shot by her father. Before being shot, a woman kneels down and asks for forgiveness by uttering the following words in a faltering voice, 'Zama day salaam wee' (a 'salaam' cum apology). The father is expected to carry out the execution in order to uphold his and his family's honour.

In case he shows any sign of hesitation or mercy, the woman's in-laws put an end to her life, as their honour is at stake too. The funeral is attended only by a handful of relatives, in order to deprive the deceased of respect and funerary rites. Nobody goes for laas niwa or condolence. In fact, the girl's father is congratulated by everyone for having preserved his honour.

A girl who is accused of tore is deprived of mercy and forgiveness till the very end. The whole process of killing her mercilessly, sometimes publicly, is to set a precedent so that no one shows defiance when it comes to acting according to the code of Pakhtunwali. Depriving a woman of funerary rites is also symbolic. It is to show that even death does not put an end to the suffering of tore. As a curse, one can often hear people say, 'May you die a death of tore.'

Amongst some tribes of Bajaur, reconciliation can take place if the tore issue concerns an unmarried girl. However, any moral issue, minor or major, regarding a married woman has to be dealt with sternly. If she is a matiza (one who has eloped), the woman would be hounded the world over, until her dead body is displayed, as proof that 'honour' was preserved. Unless she escapes and abandons her village, a married woman can rarely escape the fury of tore.

In Bajaur, if a malala (an unmarried girl) is teased by a stranger and the incident becomes known publicly, no one will marry her. There is a term, tekray agheestal, (snatching of veil) which men/boys carry out as revenge in order to symbolically make a girl 'impure' in the eyes of society. However, sharam or monetary compensation is sometimes accepted in moral offences such as insulting a woman, or not honouring the veil.

Although, the perpetrator after committing such offences might eventually get away with his head held high by giving away a goat or some money as compensation to the girl's parent, the girl continues to experience social ostracism for a crime she had never committed.

Suspicion finds mercurial powers in tore. A woman must explain and prove the source of all her belongings. Anything that has not been given to her by her husband or her parents is suspect. She can be killed over a mere handkerchief or some fruit whose source cannot be satisfactorily explained. In order to emphasise the role played by suspicion, a story is often narrated. Not every family can afford a separate hujra (men's section) in their house. Once, a guest was spending the night with a family in Barang Valley, in their single-room house, enjoying the hospitality showered upon him. In the morning, the host noticed a black louse creeping on the guest's neck. After fabricating a story in his stirred-up mind, based on the groundless supposition that a black louse could only belong to a woman, he shot the guest and his wife.

In another incident, Naheeda Bibi of Kharkano was found guilty by her husband, of being in possession of a packet of dry fruit, which was suspected to be a gift from a paramour. Without hearing her side of the story, the husband shot her dead on the basis of mere suspicion. A famous Pushtu saying goes, Pa khaza, us, aao pa toora, sa itebaar dae? (How can one rely on a woman, a horse and a sword?)

Despite a verse from the Holy Quran that says, 'Should any of your women commit to some sexual offence, collect evidence about them from four (persons) among yourselves,' women are butchered by the husbands on the basis of suspicion alone and slaughtered over minor breaches of etiquette, in the name of 'honour' and 'Pakhtunwali.' A Pakhtun woman will always be judged from a Pakhtun perspective that is based on age-old cultural notions.

In the urban areas, some murders of women who had shown defiance to their cultural norms were conveniently camouflaged as 'provoked murders,' thereby justifying these as killings that were 'deserved' or 'asked for' by 'women who were not in control.'

Judges pass lighter sentences where murders of women have been rationalised in this manner. Ironically, in most cases the murder is pre-planned and not at all sudden. However, there is not only a kind of complacence towards perpetrators of such crimes, they are, in fact, perceived as victims who at that particular moment, were 'provoked' or forced to resort to such an action.

Saz Mohammad Malik's daughter Shazmin, mother of six, was emotionally traumatised by being reminded constantly by her husband of how much he abhorred her, and that his precious youth was being wasted on her. Weary of her presence in the house, he shot her dead during a domestic quarrel. It is a popular belief that if one is innocent, the face of the deceased glows - as did Shazmin, the villagers testify. She is still remembered by them as a shaheeda (martyr). Her husband, who later brought a nanawatay (apology) to her father's house, stated that he shot her as he had become mad with rage during the quarrel. His apology was accepted by Shazmin's father, as he had no other choice, belonging to a weak family.

Gulnaz, from Bajaur, was residing with her in-laws, as her husband was employed in Karachi. She wanted to visit her father's house, but was denied permission by her brother-in-law. However, she continued to plead her case. Enraged, the brother-in-law emptied the bullets from his pistol into her frail body. The girl's father protested against the atrocity but the jirga gave a verdict that in the absence of her husband, the brother-in-law was the master of the house. Thus, it was her primary duty to obey him. The murderer paid 3,000 rupees, a tin of cooking oil, a bag of wheat and a lamb as nanawatay and was 'honourably acquitted.'

No matter how unbearable a woman's marital life is, the word divorce remains taboo in the rural setting of the NWFP. A woman will repeatedly be maltreated by her husband in front of her children, who, bearing in mind the Quranic verse that, 'Paradise lies underneath the feet of a mother,' watch in desperation the desecration of this venerated creature of God. An option given by the Holy Quran is, 'If a woman fears ill-treatment or desertion on the part of her husband, it shall be no offence for them to seek a mutual agreement, for agreement is best.' However, the sole choice granted by the rawaj is endurance. Lifelong separation or even polygamy is seen as a practical substitute for divorce.

Scared of pighore (taunt), the parents accept an abandoned daughter with reluctance. In Bajaur, some women are left with no choice but to take refuge with some of the influential families and offer their services as marawaray (maid-servants, literally meaning 'unhappy') for the rest of their lives.

Zarmin belonged to a village called Manoo Derai. Her husband would mistreat her, but would not divorce her. Eventually, he claimed that he could no more put up with a mentally ill wife and sent her back to her father's house. Living with her parents, she used to help with the household chores, which included fetching water from a nearby spring. A post of a certain security force overlooked the spring. The security guards of the post also used to fetch water from the same spring, but at a different time of the day. Once, Zarmin disappeared for almost 24 hours. Stories started circulating, linking Zarmin with the incharge of the security post. Finally, when Zarmin did come home she did not say a single word in reply to all the questioning that took place. The men of the family, asked the authorities to hand over the security guard to them. The guard was soon transferred to South Waziristan agency. However, Zarmin could not escape the fate in store for women in similar situations.

Villagers will tell anyone who might ask that a naked electric cable was wound around her body and she was given electric current shocks for half an hour. She pleaded with her brother to put an end to her agony, which he finally did. She was shot for a 'sin,' which till today no one knows for sure whether she had committed or not.

Since divorce is not common in the tribal areas, on numerous occasions a clever stratagem is employed. A man would simply shoot his wife dead and announce that she had a liaison with a certain person, who, in actuality, had to be eliminated. Since no proof is demanded in such cases and mere allegation suffices, the enemy or rival falls unawares into a trap.

For a girl or woman to choose a marriage partner for herself is not only seen as undesirable but also as an act that brings shame to the family. It is common for the male relatives to bring charges against daughters who have married or are intending to marry a partner of their choice.

Most of the women lingering in the jails of NWFP have been convicted because their family or parents have brought criminal charges of zina against them.

Samia Sarwar, daughter of Sarwar Mohmand, a prominent industrialist of NWFP, was killed in the name of honour at her lawyer's office in Lahore. Samia's family felt their honour was being threatened by her disobedience in seeking divorce from an abusive husband.

The blatant murder of Samia passed by like a swift wind, leaving the perpetrators untouched and guiltless of a grisly crime. A precedent had been set by the state, judiciary and civil society that 'honour killings,' would continue to remain above the law, human rights and religion.

In the dingy barracks of Peshawar jail sat Noreen, still unaccustomed to the hostile environment around her. Her parents filed an F.I.R against her under the Zina Ordinance as she had refused to marry the partner her family had chosen for her. She had expressed her desire to marry someone else instead.

Her disobedience has not only landed her behind bars but also shattered her trust in her own family members whom she always looked up to. She knows that if she steps out of jail, they would kill her for the defiance she has shown. To her, the soiled bars of the prison symbolise life whereas freedom for her could actually mean death.

The deputy superintendent further confirms, "Many girls/women convicted of zina, are killed by their own family members, once they leave the jail premises."

Another girl, Shahida, from Matanee, refuses to step out of jail with her brothers because she knows that beyond the large iron doors of prison, the only thing that awaits her is death. Her husband, who mistreated her, refused to divorce her. She developed a liking for an Afghan boy. Once, while talking to him outside the door of her house, she saw her brothers and other male members of the family heading towards her with guns in their hands. She was forced to run away with the Afghan boy out of fear.

She and the Afghan boy have ended up in jail. However, the penalty does not end here. The brothers are trying their level best to secure her release, so that they can take her back and kill her in order to regain their lost honour.

The stigma associated with such crimes is, by itself, a heavy penalty. Most of the women prisoners, not having any legal awareness, are unable to provide surety. Mostly, girls/women who have been imprisoned at the instigation of their own family have no other choice but to ask the complainants for surety. Therefore, even if they are freed, and the family decides to spare them, they would continue to live a life of misery and social ostracisation.

The community or society at large act as partners in crime by standing by as spectators, and not protesting the fact that someone is setting a precedent that would encourage other potential 'criminals of Pakhtunwali.'

Monday, 4 July 2016

QK archives:Interview Maulana Fazlur Rahman

From 2003-2004

Interview with Maulana Fazlur Rahman
Rahimullah Yusufzai

Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the head of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and secretary general of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), is the most influential leader of the six-party religious alliance. Never far from controversy, he generated more controversies due to his statements and actions during his recent visit to India. Back home, he led the MMA into fresh talks with the PML-Q-led federal government on long-standing constitutional issues and is close to clinching an agreement. The TNS interviewed him in the Frontier House, the home of his hand-picked NWFP chief minister Akram Khan Durrani in Peshawar, on matters arising out of his visit to India and the MMA's ongoing negotiations with Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali and his PML-Q team.

Q. You were referred to as the "Father of the Taliban" in India. How did you feel with this tag and is it true that you fathered the Taliban?

A. I knew that the Indian media had picked this up from the Western media. I think I managed to overcome this image during my 10-day visit to India. By the end of the visit, the media was saying that I was more of a politician than a Maulana. They were also writing that I was softliner rather than a hardliner. I must say that the Indians and their media is largely unaware of our stand on issues and the role of our elders in the struggle for freedom in the pre-Partition days. They don't know that the JUI has been part of every democratic movement in Pakistan and has struggled for human rights and rule of law. They are unaware that our party wants a negotiated solution of Kashmir, that it backed Vajpayee's Lahore visit on bus for peace. I kept telling the Indians that we surely backed the Taliban because they were a continuation of the Afghan mujahideen who fought against the Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan. We considered Taliban freedom-fighters like the Palestinians and Chechens but at the end of the day they were Afghans and we are Pakistanis and we operate in different situations.

Q. India's defense minister George Fernandes claimed that the recent deadly attack on Indian army headquarters in Jammu & Kashmir was a protest on your remarks on the Kashmir issue and your alleged acceptance of the Line of Control as an international border. What is you response to all this?

A. There is sketchy information about this attack. The Shuhada Brigade that reportedly launched the attack hasn't been heard before. It is possible that a group with vested interest wanting to spoil our goodwill mission to India planned the assault. It was certainly based on wrong information because I never accepted the LoC as an international border. I intend to meet politicians in Azad Kashmir including those belonging to the JUI soon to clarify the misperceptions and explain by India visit.

Q. You sidestepped the issue whenever you were asked in India if the uprising in Jammu & Kashmir was "jehad." Your critics allege that you pandered to the wishes of your hosts from Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH) and, therefore, failed to highlight the Kashmiri cause.

A. We support the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people and this a national cause of Pakistan and not of any government. I told the Indians that what you call terrorism is struggle for freedom in our eyes. I maintained that there is a dispute on Kashmir and it needs to be resolved through dialogue. As I was on a peace and goodwill mission I refrained from highlighting controversial issues in India. As for toeing the line of JUH, let me remind everyone that a resolution supporting the right of self-determination of Kashmiris was adopted in our Deoband conference in Peshawar in presence of a JUH delegation.

Q. Your peaceful overtures surprised the Indians and some people in Pakistan. Some even hailed you as a statesman. Was your reconciliatory tone an attempt to disguise your radical image or a deliberate act on the advise of the Pakistan government?

A. I was misquoted on three points and as I said earlier most Indians weren't aware of JUI's stress on the need for a peaceful dialogue to solve contentious Indo-Pak disputes. I was wrongly quoted for accepting the LoC as an international border and for supporting the idea of Akhand Bharat. Besides, my backing for a bilateral dialogue with India was construed as a general rejection of any third party mediation including the US on Kashmir dispute. Though I do feel that there is a window of opportunity for Pakistan and India to bilaterally resolve their disputes. Moreover, I knew our government's stand on issues of concern for Pakistan and India because I had asked for a briefing by foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar before my visit. I promoted Pakistan's national cause during my stay in India and stressed the need for confidence-building measures such as starting the bus service, Samjhota Express train, airlink between our countries, allowing overflying rights to each other, easing visa restrictions and strengthening trade ties. I believe we politicians achieved more during our visit for promoting peace between Pakistan and India than what the Pakistan government and diplomats could have gained. I feel political must be involved in the peace process but the decisions ought to be taken by the two governments who know more about the intricacies of the issues. The Indian media also tried to quote me out of context when I spoke about the Simla Pact, Vajpayee's Lahore Bus trip, and Agra Summit.

Q. It is said that your conciliatory tone in India and stance on Kashmir upset the Jamaat-i-Islami but Qazi Hussain Ahmad kept quiet to save the MMA? Any comments?

A. The MMA's founding declaration says that the Kashmir issue should be solved on the basis of the UN resolutions through negotiations and in keeping with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. My utterances were based precisely on this declaration. There could be differences on priorities among us but the MMA stance on Kashmir is unanimous. I briefed the MMA leadership on my India visit and every component of our alliance expressed satisfaction on our stand and achievements.

Q. Was the MMA constrained to strike a deal with the federal government to save its government in NWFP and Balochistan and to avoid disqualification of its legislators for having "sanads"?

A. We want to pull the country out of the constitutional crisis, hence our flexibility on certain issues. But won't compromise on the LFO, on the supremacy of parliament, on the National Security Council, and on clause 58/2 (B) of the constitution. We also have no intention of joining the federal government and would instead remain in the opposition. Some of the allegations against us are being made by the ARD but we don't want to enter into a verbal sparring match with our opposition colleagues from the ARD. We still want the ARD to join the national dialogue to overcome the constitutional crisis confronting the country. Also those accusing us of buckling under pressure must realize that we had almost opted out of parliamentary politics and decided to pursue a movement to reach our Islamic goal. We have sacrificed power in the past also by resigning from the government and even now we were ready to sacrifice our governments in the NWFP and Balochistan. What sacrifices the ARD is willing to make to uphold its democratic credentials?

Q. It is alleged that your party, JUI, was impatient compared to the Jamaat-i-Islami to strike a deal with the federal government as it had a greater stake in the status quo. Also that the MMA's imminent deal with the PML-Q has divided the combined opposition and strengthened President Musharraf's hands?

A. The MMA is united on all issues and there is no rift between our party and the Jamaat-i-Islami. We agreed to allow General Musharraf to wear his army uniform for another year after making him agree to drop his demand for five years in uniform. It is our political victory. Also I must say that the ARD, or the PPPP and PML-N, are less principled in their attitude than us. In fact, we are moderate in our conduct despite our portrayal as extremists. We have always joined the secular parties in every democratic movement and showed tolerance towards them. It is the secular parties that refuse to tolerate us and an evidence of it is the non-stop criticism of Benazir Bhutto of the religious parties.

Friday, 1 July 2016

QK archives: Exquisite sandals of Charsadda

Exquisite Sipali of Charsadda 
By Raza Rahman Khan Qazi
Originally published circa 2004 

PESHAWAR: The oriental dressing traditions have a charm and attractiveness of their own. It is said that footwear is an essential part of one's dressing. Every culture has its own standards of dressing and these standards are based on certain utility. In Pakhtoon culture the footwear called "Siplai" or "Chappal" in Urdu has a special significance. Siplai is most commonly used among the Pakhtoons. Whenever someone talk of Siplai Charsadda automatically comes to one's mind. Today Charsadda, the town famous for influential political families like Walis and Sherpaos and Pakhtoon nationalist movement, boasts of some 600 shoe-making shops. The craft has thriven by leaps and bounds since the first craftsman started the skill some 60 years ago. Charsadda made Siplai has its own elegance and look.
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Now when Charsadda made footwear makers have become purely commercial still there are certain craftsmen who purely stick to the tradition and whose occupation is not only to earn livelihood but also to keep alive a tradition. Haji Tamash is perhaps the only surviving footwear specialist among the three most famous artisans Charsadda produced. Old and feeble Haji Tamash has made shoes for almost half a century. Nowadays he does not work any longer for long hours. However, he is fortunate enough to have transferred the skill to one of his son, Saifullah, who is undoubtedly one of the most skillful craftsman presently in Charsadda. When in mood Saifullah nimble fingers churn out such splendid pieces of footwear that are no second to an artist-made handicraft. When on feet they give such an exquisite look that adds to the aggrandizement of one's personality.


Despite of its beauty the habit of wearing Siplai is on the decline. "It is because people have started wearing ordinary or casual chappal," said Saifullah. So keeping up with rising demand most of traditional footwear makers have started making casual wear sleepers. 


This has given a blow to the business. The goodwill of Charsadda made footwear was a bit stigmatized by preparing substandard shoes and selling them even on credit to dealers from Karachi, Lahore, Abbotabad. However, mostly the standard of Charsadda Siplai makers has been maintained. 


Most of the exports of shoes from Charsadda has been to Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Arab countries besides to UK and Germany. Mostly, the orders for exports are received in international exhibitions held by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). Many shoe-makers told that though the EPB had decided to distribute orders among shoe makers but nepotism is practiced in this connection and thus many deserving manufacturers are unable to get any share in exports.

The profit margin for good shoemakers has come down considerably and Saifullah said that it is now 15-30 percent hardly.

Footwear makers of Charsadda also have a genuine fear that the art may die. "The reason of this is the absence of any support from the government. Though government has established a leather institute in Charsadda but the fate of it is like other government institutes. According to many craftsmen the said institution is of no practical utility.

The wearing of Charssadwal made footwear may be on the decline but to wear it is a tradition among the gentry of Pakhtoons; while to majority of folk's feet suit no other footwear. 

QK Archives: License to kill

Newsline Special June 2003
By Samar Minallah

A License to Kill

Pakhtun notions of honour continue to sanction violence against women.

A Threat to Honour
Bride For Sale
Zaman, a resident of a squatter settlement in Peshawar, did not bother even to have a glimpse of his only daughter, Sara, born after four sons. Neither did he decide on a name, as the very future of the newborn girl seemed bleak, at least in the father's mind.

On Friday afternoon, when men were thronging the mosques to offer prayers, Zaman entered the small courtyard of his house where his wife was nursing her newborn child. Pulling the child out of the mother's lap, Zaman barged out of the wooden door, expressionless, without uttering a word.

Swiftly, he carried the huddled infant to a secluded area, away from people. Squatting on the ground, he frantically placed the newborn in his lap, while his huge coarse hands tried to get the perfect grip of a fragile neck that was still warm and soft. Aggressively, he squeezed the life out of his own daughter - a fragile, powerless soul, who could neither plead for her life nor struggle against the physical prowess of her father. Eventually, his strength triumphed over the silent pleas of a nameless child.

On returning home, without any sign of remorse, he placed the limp body back into the mother's arms, declaring, "I was too 'weak' to protect her 'honour' for the rest of my life!"

The only sign of feeling expressed by him was when he ordered a tombstone for her tiny grave, with the name 'Ayesha Bibi' etched on it.

Zaman was powerful enough to take his four-day-old daughter's life, but powerless in front of a giant named 'honour'. He snatched from her the right to live, out of fear of not being able to live up to the high expectations of honour set by his people and society.

'Honour' and ' killing' are contradictory terms, yet in a Pakhtun society they go hand in hand, complementing one another. The merciless killing of a girl in the name of 'honour' can actually make an individual 'honourable' in the eyes of society.

'Honour', according to rawaj (the set of rules practiced by Pakhtuns), knows no boundaries, age or class. Being born a Pakhtun is enough to enforce compliance with the rules and regulations stipulated by Pakhtunwali, according to which honour is to be protected at any cost. Numerous killings take place in the name of honour throughout the rural areas, but most of them go unreported as an honour killing is seen as a private concern.

Pakhtunwali, which is the code of conduct practiced by Pakhtuns, is predominantly based on preserving honour and conforming to the culture's behavioural expectations. Although men are considered to be the custodians of honour, the burden of upholding it lies on a woman's shoulders.

Practicing it could be so trying, that people prefer not to have daughters - they are perceived as the embodiment of the honour of their family that needs to be guarded and protected. The birth of a boy is welcomed in most rural areas as a Pashtu proverb goes, 'Day haluk zairay khog eee dhroon eee kaanrey bootee pay khoshaala ee ' (The news of a boy's birth is sweet and respectable, even stones and trees rejoice upon hearing it).

Bus Bibi (stop lady), Balanishta or Naurina, which is sometimes deliberately pronounced as 'Noray-na' (literally meaning, 'No more girls'), are names sometimes given to Pakhtun girls by their families to symbolically ward off the birth of yet another girl.

While the birth of a boy is marked with gunshots, the birth of a daughter goes unmarked. No matter how tiny she is, she is perceived as the family's sharam (honour) and purdah (shame) that needs to be guarded against any outside threat.

At the birth of a girl the parents receive greetings like 'Khuday day sharam parda o satee' (May God preserve your honour), 'Sar toray mashay' (May you never lose your veil or purdah) and 'Naik bukhta day shee' (May she grow up to be pious).

In the Mahmund tribe, two friends, Hashim and Sahibzada, made a pledge that when their children were born, and if one of them was a boy and the other a girl, they would be married to each other. After having a son, Hashim went to inquire about the sex of Sahibzada's newborn. Having second thoughts about the pledge, Sahibzada denied the birth of his daughter, and said that he too had had a son. Suspecting that his friend had gone back on his jabba (word), Hashim went to the zaango (cradle) of the newborn to confirm Sahibzada's statement. The moment he unwrapped the baby girl's suzni (swaddling cloth), Sahibzada, considering it a shameful act, shot his friend, who, however, managed to survive. Later, the jirga gave a verdict against Hashim by stating that he had no right to touch or probe a female infant, even if she was just a week old.

Right from her birth a girl can conveniently be used as an instrument in building alliances or ending age-old animosities. As a child, she might be betrothed by her father to someone as a part of a move in family politics or as part of an exchange deal known as swarra.

As a child she enjoys freedom - but for a very brief span. Referred to as someone's daughter, sister, wife or mother, she soon learns the art of modesty and endurance. Muffled by the code of honour, she is expected to be demure and retiring.

It is not easy to penetrate the high walls guarding the lives and honour of a Pakhtun woman, who remains inaccessible and obscure, living a culturally demanding life behind the four walls of her home.

Outside the walls of her home - unless it is for gham (sorrow) or khaadi (joy) occasions, or for her daily household chores such as washing clothes at a nearby stream, collecting water etc. - she has no status of her own. She is subject to someone else's authority in order to gain acceptance.

Home, whether her father's or her husband's, is the place where her honour rests. The more out of sight she is of strangers, the more out of trouble she stays. As a Pashtu proverb says, 'Khazay la , ya kor, ya gor' (For a woman, either home or grave).

In a tribal society, the criterion for survival does not depend on a woman's biological fitness, but solely on her morality, which truly assures her existence. A woman with a blemish-free character is the one who can live her life fearlessly in a tribal society.

As an old proverb goes, Day khazay chay poza pa makh na ee, no pa kando kay ba mordaree khoree. (One who does not have a 'nose' - honour - will die of misery in desolate places).

A woman's honour is seen as a family or qom's (community's) honour, and she must control her behaviour at all times, as it is judged harshly by the community. The woman's honour is, in fact, linked not just to her immediate family but to the whole clan or tribe. Only culturally appropriate behaviour assures success in a society where others are constantly interpreting one's actions. This self-awareness and self-control continues throughout the life cycle of a woman. Even a small blemish on one's code of honour can have an exaggerated effect.

Ideally, a woman is expected to be ajuza (helpless/powerless) in her behaviour. To quote a Pushtu proverb: Khaza kho ajuza daa (A woman is helpless/powerless).

Tore is an offence in which a woman or a man are either proven or are suspected of a sexual liaison or relationship, and even mere suspicion can lead to tragic consequences. 'Honour' and Pakhtu are seen as synonymous. Whoever fails to act according to the Pakhtun code of conduct is seen as not worthy of being called a Pakhtun. Tribal Pakhtuns accept no law but their own. According to the rawaj, seeing a woman speak to, or hearing of her association with a stranger, is enough to arouse a man's passion and saritob (manhood).

Whether the existence of a liaison can be proved beyond doubt or not, the accused have to be killed in most cases.

Evidence of an illicit relationship or even flirtation is not required. Perceived violation and disrespect of rawaj is enough to invite dire consequences.

In a tribal agency, most disputes are decided in accordance with rawaj (Pakhtun code of conduct). Although the civil administration can, in certain cases, intervene directly with the use of force, the role of the jirga (tribal assembly) remains undisputed.

In the case of 'moral' crimes, all matters are decided according to the rawaj by a group of elders of strong lineage or the spingiray (white-bearded), whose social status and experience entitles them to an honourable place in the council.

The tribes of Bajaur have their own degrees of punishment in a tore case. Some straight away kill the sinner, even for an unintentional mistake, whereas some are ready to acquit the accused, provided they atone in the form of a nanawatay (refuge/repentance), jora (reconciliation), naik or bakhana (forgiveness).

In the Utmankhel tribe, if a woman is accused of tore, not only she, but also all those who act as abettors are to be put to death. The number of individuals shot dead in a single tore case, could range upto six or seven individuals. For instance, if a woman elopes with a man and later due to certain reasons marries someone else, the second husband would also be considered an enemy.

Amongst the Mahmund tribe, despite serious consequences, tore cases are on the rise, one of the reasons being the unaffordable amount of sar paisa (bride price) which has gone up to 80,000 to 100,000 rupees, making it improbable for a lot of young men to find brides. In the Mahmund tribe, not only the wrongdoer, but his entire family have to leave their native land. Except for the accused persons, the rest of the members of their families may return one by one after paying a heavy fine. In Swat and Dir, swarra (the exchange of women) and naik (monetary fine) are both accepted in tore cases.

A woman accused of tore can rarely get away with it. As Bizarjana states, "Killing a girl is easy because she is like a kukra chargha (a hen sitting on eggs)." According to a tribal tradition, a woman accused of tore is to be shot by her father. Before being shot, a woman kneels down and asks for forgiveness by uttering the following words in a faltering voice, 'Zama day salaam wee' (a 'salaam' cum apology). The father is expected to carry out the execution in order to uphold his and his family's honour.

In case he shows any sign of hesitation or mercy, the woman's in-laws put an end to her life, as their honour is at stake too. The funeral is attended only by a handful of relatives, in order to deprive the deceased of respect and funerary rites. Nobody goes for laas niwa or condolence. In fact, the girl's father is congratulated by everyone for having preserved his honour.

A girl who is accused of tore is deprived of mercy and forgiveness till the very end. The whole process of killing her mercilessly, sometimes publicly, is to set a precedent so that no one shows defiance when it comes to acting according to the code of Pakhtunwali. Depriving a woman of funerary rites is also symbolic. It is to show that even death does not put an end to the suffering of tore. As a curse, one can often hear people say, 'May you die a death of tore.'

Amongst some tribes of Bajaur, reconciliation can take place if the tore issue concerns an unmarried girl. However, any moral issue, minor or major, regarding a married woman has to be dealt with sternly. If she is a matiza (one who has eloped), the woman would be hounded the world over, until her dead body is displayed, as proof that 'honour' was preserved. Unless she escapes and abandons her village, a married woman can rarely escape the fury of tore.

In Bajaur, if a malala (an unmarried girl) is teased by a stranger and the incident becomes known publicly, no one will marry her. There is a term, tekray agheestal, (snatching of veil) which men/boys carry out as revenge in order to symbolically make a girl 'impure' in the eyes of society. However, sharam or monetary compensation is sometimes accepted in moral offences such as insulting a woman, or not honouring the veil.

Although, the perpetrator after committing such offences might eventually get away with his head held high by giving away a goat or some money as compensation to the girl's parent, the girl continues to experience social ostracism for a crime she had never committed.

Suspicion finds mercurial powers in tore. A woman must explain and prove the source of all her belongings. Anything that has not been given to her by her husband or her parents is suspect. She can be killed over a mere handkerchief or some fruit whose source cannot be satisfactorily explained. In order to emphasise the role played by suspicion, a story is often narrated. Not every family can afford a separate hujra (men's section) in their house. Once, a guest was spending the night with a family in Barang Valley, in their single-room house, enjoying the hospitality showered upon him. In the morning, the host noticed a black louse creeping on the guest's neck. After fabricating a story in his stirred-up mind, based on the groundless supposition that a black louse could only belong to a woman, he shot the guest and his wife.

In another incident, Naheeda Bibi of Kharkano was found guilty by her husband, of being in possession of a packet of dry fruit, which was suspected to be a gift from a paramour. Without hearing her side of the story, the husband shot her dead on the basis of mere suspicion. A famous Pushtu saying goes, Pa khaza, us, aao pa toora, sa itebaar dae? (How can one rely on a woman, a horse and a sword?)

Despite a verse from the Holy Quran that says, 'Should any of your women commit to some sexual offence, collect evidence about them from four (persons) among yourselves,' women are butchered by the husbands on the basis of suspicion alone and slaughtered over minor breaches of etiquette, in the name of 'honour' and 'Pakhtunwali.' A Pakhtun woman will always be judged from a Pakhtun perspective that is based on age-old cultural notions.

In the urban areas, some murders of women who had shown defiance to their cultural norms were conveniently camouflaged as 'provoked murders,' thereby justifying these as killings that were 'deserved' or 'asked for' by 'women who were not in control.'

Judges pass lighter sentences where murders of women have been rationalised in this manner. Ironically, in most cases the murder is pre-planned and not at all sudden. However, there is not only a kind of complacence towards perpetrators of such crimes, they are, in fact, perceived as victims who at that particular moment, were 'provoked' or forced to resort to such an action.

Saz Mohammad Malik's daughter Shazmin, mother of six, was emotionally traumatised by being reminded constantly by her husband of how much he abhorred her, and that his precious youth was being wasted on her. Weary of her presence in the house, he shot her dead during a domestic quarrel. It is a popular belief that if one is innocent, the face of the deceased glows - as did Shazmin, the villagers testify. She is still remembered by them as a shaheeda (martyr). Her husband, who later brought a nanawatay (apology) to her father's house, stated that he shot her as he had become mad with rage during the quarrel. His apology was accepted by Shazmin's father, as he had no other choice, belonging to a weak family.

Gulnaz, from Bajaur, was residing with her in-laws, as her husband was employed in Karachi. She wanted to visit her father's house, but was denied permission by her brother-in-law. However, she continued to plead her case. Enraged, the brother-in-law emptied the bullets from his pistol into her frail body. The girl's father protested against the atrocity but the jirga gave a verdict that in the absence of her husband, the brother-in-law was the master of the house. Thus, it was her primary duty to obey him. The murderer paid 3,000 rupees, a tin of cooking oil, a bag of wheat and a lamb as nanawatay and was 'honourably acquitted.'

No matter how unbearable a woman's marital life is, the word divorce remains taboo in the rural setting of the NWFP. A woman will repeatedly be maltreated by her husband in front of her children, who, bearing in mind the Quranic verse that, 'Paradise lies underneath the feet of a mother,' watch in desperation the desecration of this venerated creature of God. An option given by the Holy Quran is, 'If a woman fears ill-treatment or desertion on the part of her husband, it shall be no offence for them to seek a mutual agreement, for agreement is best.' However, the sole choice granted by the rawaj is endurance. Lifelong separation or even polygamy is seen as a practical substitute for divorce.

Scared of pighore (taunt), the parents accept an abandoned daughter with reluctance. In Bajaur, some women are left with no choice but to take refuge with some of the influential families and offer their services as marawaray (maid-servants, literally meaning 'unhappy') for the rest of their lives.

Zarmin belonged to a village called Manoo Derai. Her husband would mistreat her, but would not divorce her. Eventually, he claimed that he could no more put up with a mentally ill wife and sent her back to her father's house. Living with her parents, she used to help with the household chores, which included fetching water from a nearby spring. A post of a certain security force overlooked the spring. The security guards of the post also used to fetch water from the same spring, but at a different time of the day. Once, Zarmin disappeared for almost 24 hours. Stories started circulating, linking Zarmin with the incharge of the security post. Finally, when Zarmin did come home she did not say a single word in reply to all the questioning that took place. The men of the family, asked the authorities to hand over the security guard to them. The guard was soon transferred to South Waziristan agency. However, Zarmin could not escape the fate in store for women in similar situations.

Villagers will tell anyone who might ask that a naked electric cable was wound around her body and she was given electric current shocks for half an hour. She pleaded with her brother to put an end to her agony, which he finally did. She was shot for a 'sin,' which till today no one knows for sure whether she had committed or not.

Since divorce is not common in the tribal areas, on numerous occasions a clever stratagem is employed. A man would simply shoot his wife dead and announce that she had a liaison with a certain person, who, in actuality, had to be eliminated. Since no proof is demanded in such cases and mere allegation suffices, the enemy or rival falls unawares into a trap.

For a girl or woman to choose a marriage partner for herself is not only seen as undesirable but also as an act that brings shame to the family. It is common for the male relatives to bring charges against daughters who have married or are intending to marry a partner of their choice.

Most of the women lingering in the jails of NWFP have been convicted because their family or parents have brought criminal charges of zina against them.

Samia Sarwar, daughter of Sarwar Mohmand, a prominent industrialist of NWFP, was killed in the name of honour at her lawyer's office in Lahore. Samia's family felt their honour was being threatened by her disobedience in seeking divorce from an abusive husband.

The blatant murder of Samia passed by like a swift wind, leaving the perpetrators untouched and guiltless of a grisly crime. A precedent had been set by the state, judiciary and civil society that 'honour killings,' would continue to remain above the law, human rights and religion.

In the dingy barracks of Peshawar jail sat Noreen, still unaccustomed to the hostile environment around her. Her parents filed an F.I.R against her under the Zina Ordinance as she had refused to marry the partner her family had chosen for her. She had expressed her desire to marry someone else instead.

Her disobedience has not only landed her behind bars but also shattered her trust in her own family members whom she always looked up to. She knows that if she steps out of jail, they would kill her for the defiance she has shown. To her, the soiled bars of the prison symbolise life whereas freedom for her could actually mean death.

The deputy superintendent further confirms, "Many girls/women convicted of zina, are killed by their own family members, once they leave the jail premises."

Another girl, Shahida, from Matanee, refuses to step out of jail with her brothers because she knows that beyond the large iron doors of prison, the only thing that awaits her is death. Her husband, who mistreated her, refused to divorce her. She developed a liking for an Afghan boy. Once, while talking to him outside the door of her house, she saw her brothers and other male members of the family heading towards her with guns in their hands. She was forced to run away with the Afghan boy out of fear.

She and the Afghan boy have ended up in jail. However, the penalty does not end here. The brothers are trying their level best to secure her release, so that they can take her back and kill her in order to regain their lost honour.

The stigma associated with such crimes is, by itself, a heavy penalty. Most of the women prisoners, not having any legal awareness, are unable to provide surety. Mostly, girls/women who have been imprisoned at the instigation of their own family have no other choice but to ask the complainants for surety. Therefore, even if they are freed, and the family decides to spare them, they would continue to live a life of misery and social ostracisation.

The community or society at large act as partners in crime by standing by as spectators, and not protesting the fact that someone is setting a precedent that would encourage other potential 'criminals of Pakhtunwali.'

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Gold and guns: Abdul Qayyum Khan’s journey to the centre of the Frontier


Published by ET
07/31/14--14:07:

Gold and guns: Abdul Qayyum Khan’s journey to the centre of the Frontier


PESHAWAR:
“Everything is fair in politics. Whether it was the All-India National Congress or the All-India Muslim League, victory was always the destiny for me.”

Those are the words of Abdul Qayyum Khan, clearly defining his political existence, as quoted by Abdur Rauf Seemab. Qayyum is a man known for not only his iron-fist rule over what is now known as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or for his role in the fall of the definitive Khudai Khitmatgar movement but for banning his own book.

With strong nationalist undertones, Abdul Qayyum Khan’s Gold and guns on the Pathan Frontier (1945) is a scathing critique of British policy in the erstwhile North West Frontier which eulogises the Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek (KKT). He banned his own book soon after coming to power in the province in 1947 for a tenure which lasted five years.

The 77-page book was published by Hind Kitabs, Mumbai in 1945 and is divided into eight chapters. It is dedicated to Dr Khan Sahib, the elder brother of the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who is better known as Bacha Khan.

Gold and guns on the Pathan Frontier

The book starts with descriptions of the region and its people and then moves into more choppy political waters. As it dresses down the British, the book also lays into the Muslim League all the while taking great pain to explain the KKT and praise the Khan brothers.

Qayyum’s disdain for the British Raj is noted in what he calls their imperial hunger for the land, a hunger which forced Afghanistan to cede sovereignty over the tribal belt, which the Raj then annexed into India, a policy of “vivisection and emasculation of Afghanistan.”

During the 1857 uprising, Gold and guns goes on to state, it was the Pakhtuns who fought next to the British but the Raj locked them out of every scheme which was introduced in India. Qayyum also criticises the British for their portrayal of the Pakhtuns.

“It was repeatedly [stated] that the Pathan was a mad fanatic, almost a savage animal and if for no other reasons, at least for the sake of his neighbors in the Indus valley, he must be subdued,” he writes.

The policy of the British divided the region into tribal areas and settled districts, which Qayyum again terms as “vivisection.”

He writes the British appointed military officers in charge of the Frontier’s districts in addition to introducing repressive laws like the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). Section 40 of the FCR was heavily used against those suspected of having links with the Freedom Movement, reads the book.

Qayyum notes before the start of World War Two, the bulk of the Indian Army was maintained in various Frontier garrison towns called cantonments, recruiting heavily from the Pakthuns. Simultaneously, large funds were at the disposal of political officers to “civilise” the tribes by corrupting them, Qayyum stipulates.

“Gold and guns have been used in great profusion to tame and subdue these tribes,” he sums up the Raj’s policy, from which his book takes its name.

All shades of grey

In order to understand the journey of Gold and guns from being the first-of-its kind English literature on the Khidmatgar movement to its own author banning it, Qayyum’s own journey from the Khilafat movement to the KKT to the Congress and then to the Muslim League must be seen for context.

Syed Minhajul Hassan in his unpublished PhD dissertation, NWFP Administration under Abdul Qaiyum Khan, 1947-53 (2003) notes Qayyum’s parents had migrated to Peshawar from Kashmir, marking Qayyum’s ethnic roots. Qayyum was born in Nagar village of Chitral on July 16, 1901 where his father was serving as an assistant on behalf of the British Indian government.

Politically active since his time at Islamia College, Qayyum quit studies for a brief period, presumably distracted by the non-cooperation movement. By 1921, he was nominated to the position of general secretary of the movement in the province. However, he resumed studies after he enrolled at the London School of Economics from where he graduated with a degree in economics and political sciences. Before he returned to Peshawar, Qayyum had been called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn.

After he lost the Frontier Legislative Assembly elections as an independent in 1932, Qayyum joined the Congress Party. He lost elections for the assembly again in 1936 from the party’s platform, but his rise within the party was notable.

However by 1945, when many Congress leaders were incarcerated over the Quit India Movement, Qayyum and the party had fallen out of love.

According to Hassan, it was Qayyum’s association with Bhullabai Desai, a Congress leader who had pushed for a Congress-League interim government after World War 1, which caused the party’s disillusionment with the politician.

It was around this time that Qayyum penned his 77-page ode to the Khan brothers and joined the Muslim League, a party he rages against in Gold and guns. Even though Qayyum uses the book as a way to patch things with the Congress, when the latter denied him the party ticket to contest the 1946 elections for the Central Legislative Assembly, Qayyum saw the moment opportune and switched to the League.

In his book, Qayyum calls the Muslim League a collective of reactionary and opportunistic groups looking to seize power by raising alarm over “Islam in danger.” Through this, he says, the League also secured its class interests. On the other hand, the “Pride of the place must go to Khan Brothers,” he writes of Bacha Khan and Dr Khan Sahib.

Rajmohan Ghandi in his Ghaffar Khan, the nonviolent badshah of Pakhtuns explains Qayyum’s departure not as disloyalty but a sort of political realism. He emphasizes the 1946 elections proved Qayyum correct in his calculation that the Punjab Unionist and KKT too would have to acknowledge the rising tide of “Political Islam”.

Hassan’s dissertation adds that Dr Khan Sahib formed the provincial government after the Congress won a majority in the Frontier Legislative Assembly elections in 1946 and his government was dismissed in 1947 by then Governor-General Jinnah by reinstating Section 93 of the Interim Constitution of Pakistan.

According to the dissertation, Qayyum played an important role in this by meeting Jinnah and convincing the governor-general that Dr Khan Sahib was planning to declare the Frontier, “Pakhtoonistan” an autonomous state under Pakistan.

Qayyum was then appointed the chief minister of the Frontier and promptly banned his book.

Analyst Khadim Hussain views the ban as an attempt to weaken the KKT’s ideology, as soon after taking over, Qayyum crackdown against the Khidmatgar workers to break their organisational infrastructure.

People called him a turncoat and probably to avoid that epithet, he banned his own book, said columnist Zalan Momand. “The ban on his book was never lifted as it is the case with most of the banned books in Pakistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2014.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

بلوچستان کا مسئلہ۔ 1

بلوچستان کا مسئلہ۔ 1۔
 از برخور  دار  اچکزئی
بلوچستان کا سب سے بڑا مسئلہ یہ ہے کہ کوئی بلوچستان کا مسئلہ ماننے کے لیے تیار نہیں ہے۔ اور شاید اس میں ان کا کوئی قصور نہ بھی ہو، کیونکہ میڈیا پر بلوچستان کے حوالے سے خاموشی (Media gag) ریاستی پالیسی کا حصہ ہے۔ لیکن ایسا نہیں ہے کہ اگر کچھ بولا نہیں جا رہا تو کچھ ہو بھی نہیں رہا۔

١.گمشدہ افراد اور مسخ شدہ لاشیں ایک حقیقت ہے، اور را ایک جھوٹ۔ ملا منصور ایک حقیقت ہے اور بھشن یادو ایک جھوٹ, کوئٹہ شورا ایک حقیقت ہے اور NDS ایک جھوٹ۔

٢۔ بلوچستان میں کسی طرف سے بھی داخل ہوں، کوئٹہ تک آپ کو درجنوں سیکورٹی چیک پوسٹ ملیں گے جن پر آپکو باقاعدہ شناختی کارڈ کے ساتھ اینٹری کرانی پڑتی ہے ۔ اور جب آپ اینٹری کروا رہے ہوتے ہیں تو آپ کے پاس سے اسلحہ بردار موٹرسائیکل سواروں کا ایک دستہ گزرتا ہے جن سے کوئی بازپرس نہیں ہوتی (اچھے طالبان)۔ کالی شیشوں والی گاڑیاں جن کی ڈیش بورڈ پر پاکستان کا جھنڈا لگا ہوتا ہے انہی چیک پوسٹوں پر گزرتی ہیں، کوئی نہیں پوچھتا۔

٣۔ جب سے پاکستان بنا ہے ۔ یہ ستر سال بلوچستان پر حالت جنگ میں گزرے ہیں۔ تو اسی حساب سے معیشت اور ترقی کا اندازہ بھی لگا لیں۔ کوئلہ اور دیگر معدنیات اگر فوج/FC کے کنٹرول میں ہیں، گیس اور اسکی رائلٹی تو وفاق بانٹتی ہے تو ابھی تک کیوں سوئی کے عوام کو گیس کی سہولت میسر نہیں؟ گوادر اگر اتنا ہی بڑا گیم چینجر ہے تو گوادر کے عوام کو اس گیم چینجر کا کوئی فائدہ کیوں نہیں پہنچا؟ 'سردار ترقی نہیں کرنے دیتے' والی دلیل غلط ہے۔ اگر نواب بگٹی کو آج مار سکتے تھے تو بلوچ عوام کی خاطر تب بھی مار سکتے تھے۔ لیکن وفاق کے لیے ایک سردار سے ڈیل آسان تھی بہ نسبت بلوچ عوام کے۔ اور اگر آپ سمجھتے ہیں کہ آغاز حقوق بلوچستان پیکج اس مسئلے کا حل ہے تو دعا ہی کی جاسکتی ہے۔گیس کی سہولت تو ایک طرف رہی گیس کی کچھ رائلٹی شاید اس سال ملے۔ کوئٹہ کے لیے پانچ ارب روپے نواز شریف صاحب نے دو سال پہلے اعلان کیا تھا، تاحال نہیں ملے۔ سی پیک کا مغربی روٹ بھی بلوچستان کے لیے گذشتہ اعلانات کی طرح ہی ایک اور اعلان ہے۔

ساتھ ہی ساتھ ایک اور بات کی وضاحت کرتا چلوں،آج کل ایک بات کا رواج چلا ہے کہ کچھ بولو تو کہتے ہیں کہ پنجاب کو گالیاں دے رہے ہو۔ اور نتیجے میں اہل پنجاب گالیوں پر اتر آتے ہیں۔ بھیا پنجاب کو کوئی گالیاں نہیں دے رہا۔ پنجاب کی سڑکیں، ٹرینیں اور پل پنجاب کو مبارک۔ گالیاں اس فوجی اور سول انتظامیہ اور ان سدا بہار سیاست دانوں کو پڑتی ہیں جو ہر آمر کی گود میں بیٹھ کر عوام کا استحصال کرتے ہیں۔ ہاں یہ گلہ اہل پنجاب سے رہے گا کہ کبھی بھی استحصال زدوں کے لیے آواز نہیں اٹھائی ۔ بلکہ بات سمجھنے کے بجائے اخروٹ، وحشی، نکما اور مٹروا جیسی پھبتیاں کسنے لگتے ہیں، یا دوسروں کی تکلیف سمجھے بغیر 'محنت کر حسد نہ کر' جیسے بے حس اور رکیک حملے۔ اور اگر آپ اس اشرافیہ کو پنجاب کا نمائندہ سمجھتے ہیں اور ان کی مخالفت کو پنجاب کی مخالفت تصور کرتے ہیں تو پھر آپ ان کے لیے۔ ہیں ہمارے لیے نہیں ۔
ابھی اور بھی باتیں ہیں۔ اسلحہ اور منشیات کا کاروبار، ایرانی تیل کی سمگلنگ۔ اور معدنیات پر بڑے بھائی کا کنٹرول میرے اپنے گاؤں میں آٹھ سال طویل جنگ۔ کچلاک میں طالبان۔ بڑے بھائی کے ڈیتھسکواڈز۔ عبیداللہ خٹک اور اس کے جیسے اور جنرل جو ابھی بھی اسی لیول کی کرپشن میں ملوث ہیں، ان کے قصے۔ پھر کبھی بات ہوگی ۔