Wednesday, 29 June 2016

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

Published by ET

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

“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 ۔

Monday, 20 June 2016

QK Archives: Interview Hamid Karzai

Newsline Exclusive December 2013

"Terrorists are getting support in Pakistan"

- Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

From Zahid Hussain in Kabul

Visitors to the Gul Khana Palace in Kabul, where President Hamid Karzai has his office, have to pass through three security cordons manned by members of the newly organised Afghan army as well as US soldiers. The president's office, surrounded by heavily armed American guards, is situated in a recently renovated part of the once grand structure which was badly damaged by two decades of war and civil strife.

Mr. Karzai's movements have been restricted after last year's attempt on his life in his hometown, Kandahar. But the Pashtun leader, who was installed as president after the rout of the conservative Taliban regime by the US-led coalition forces two years ago, dismissed suggestions of any major threat to his government. In a wide-ranging interview with Newsline at the Gul Khana Palace, the Afghan leader spoke of the achievements of his two-year-old administration and the challenges he continues to face as president of Afghanistan.

"The situation in the country is far more stable and we are fully capable of dealing with any threat," he maintained, waving aside the suggestion that more coalition forces needed to be deployed. "We do not need more troops, but a better intelligence network to deal with the issue of terrorism."

President Hamid Karzai contended that Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of the ousted Taliban regime, could be hiding in Pakistan's border city of Quetta which, in his opinion, has become the base for launching terrorist operations in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai asked President Musharraf to restrain hardline Pakistani Islamic groups from providing sanctuary and support to the "terrorists" who were responsible for the recent upsurge in violence in Afghanistan which has left more than 400 dead over the last four months. "Afghanistan is affected by terrorism mainly from outside the country," he said, demanding that the Pakistan government take immediate action, particularly against clerics who, he alleged, were openly recruiting volunteers from madrassas in Balochistan and the NWFP which are governed by pro-Taliban radical Islamic groups. Mr. Karzai alleged that the killers of a French UN worker were paid 50,000 rupees by militants operating from Pakistan.

Although he disagreed with the contention that the war in Iraq had distracted the United States and the international community from Afghanistan, he admitted that the financial support pledged by the international community for the rebuilding of his country was slow to arrive. "The efforts to rebuild Afghanistan would have moved faster if we had enough assistance," he said.

The Afghan leader identified terrorism, narcotics and warlordism as the principal challenges to his administration. Afghanistan has reemerged as the biggest producer of poppy and the west's main supplier of drugs. He accused the Taliban of using drug money to finance their guerrilla operation. "A direct link exists between terrorism and narcotics, and there is need for an international effort to deal with this menace," he said.

With the loya jirga (grand assembly) scheduled to meet in two weeks to debate the draft constitution, factional war among pro-government warlords is becoming increasingly worrisome for Mr. Karzai. The ratification of the draft document, which envisages a presidential form of government and is seen as a compromise between pro-west liberals and the conservative Islamic elements, would pave the way for general elections in June next year. Mr. Karzai, who intends to stand in the election for president, is well aware that the ratification of the draft is crucial for his political future. But the factional strife may create a serious hurdle in its passage. "I will stand in the election only if the loya jirga approves a system in which the president is the sole power centre," he declared.

Mr. Karzai had conciliatory words for supporters of the Taliban, saying they were Afghans as well, entitled to live in their homes peacefully. "The Taliban also belong to Afghanistan and are part of this country," he said. "There is a difference between terrorists and the Taliban. Those indulging in narcotics and encouraging destruction are terrorists and not the Taliban." He confirmed that Abdul Wakil Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister who was freed by the American forces in Afghanistan last month, has offered to cooperate with his government.

Over to President Karzai...

Q: It has been two years since you came to power after the fall of the Taliban regime. Are you satisfied with the way things are moving in Afghanistan?

A: I am satisfied with some aspects and not satisfied with certain others. I am very happy with the economy. Last year we had surplus wheat production. And never before have so many Afghan children attended school. Twelve million children have been vaccinated against measles, six million against smallpox. The country is experiencing democracy and Afghanistan has now become a home for all Afghans. There is complete freedom of press. In fact, our press is probably much more free than some of our neighbours'. We are in the process of formulating a constitution and have met all the deadlines set by the Bonn process. Also, reconstruction has picked up very well this year. We are inaugurating one of the major roads from Kabul to Kandahar. The currency is stable and the inflation rate almost zero.

But we have problems too. Afganistan is still affected by terrorism coming mainly from outside the country. It is increasingly affected by narcotics production, which is partly an Afghan problem, partly an international problem. Afghanistan is still plagued by warlordism which is entirely an Afghan problem. We still do not have a capable administration which can deliver services to the country efficiently. There is corruption in the bureaucracy. We do not have institutions to replace those that were destroyed. What we must immediately address are the problems of terrorism, narcotics, factional fighting and warlordism.

Q: The international community had promised to help rebuild Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. Have those promises been fulfilled? Do you think the war in Iraq has shifted the world's attention from Afghanistan?

A: We are quite happy with the attention that Afghanistan has received. It may not be enough in monetary terms, but the international community has been very kind to us in the past two years. We have received tremendous encouragement from all over the world - from America, Europe, Japan. The United States has just given us 1.8 billion dollars more and that is a good thing. I don't believe Iraq has distracted US attention from Afghanistan: it has remained focussed on Afghanistan. And President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have both given me assurances that Afghanistan will continue to be given attention.

Perhaps we can question whether we have had enough assistance to rebuild Afghanistan quickly. But we are happy with whatever we have received so far.

Q: How serious is the Taliban-led insurgency in parts of Afghanistan?

A: There are no insurgent Taliban. There is no insurgency. There is terrorism. For example, the two terrorists who killed the French UN worker in Afghanistan were given money to commit that crime. The man who pulled the trigger received 50,000 rupees. For 50,000 rupees they killed the best aid worker, one who wanted to be buried in Afghanistan. Other Afghans wanted to burn the killers' houses but we stopped them. The sad thing is, Afghanistan is so vulnerable that those who want to hurt Afghanistan can use this [money]. Poverty is still rampant and there are people who would commit crime for money. We are affected by terrorism. Afghans dislike it. People are extremely angry with the terrorists. Our brothers in Pakistan should do more to stop this menace. They are getting support in Pakistan. I cannot say they are getting support from Pakistan, but they are getting support from people who are enemies of President Musharraf and Pakistan. They are enemies to both of us. Everybody knows that terrorists are being recruited from the madrassas in Pakistan. We want the government of Pakistan to put a stop to this.

Q: You had a developed a very good chemistry with President Musharraf. What has happened now?

A: I still have this chemistry with President Musharraf. I spoke to him only day before yesterday. My wife called Begum Musharraf to convey Eid greetings. We have a very good and close family relationship. I have called him very often and we have been exchanging gifts. We want Pakistan to recognise that those who are trying to hurt Afghanistan are also going to hurt Pakistan. Their actions will have immediate repercussions for Pakistan. Terrorists are nobody's friends. If terrorists are bent upon destroying Afghanistan's reconstruction, stability and peace, [this, in turn, would] also destroy Pakistan' stability and economic progress. That is why we want Pakistan to take much stronger action against the clergy involved in recruiting militants from madrassas with the cognizance of local authorities.

Q: Does President Musharraf realise this?

A: President Musharraf recognises this danger and he spoke to me about it. He realises that if this situation continues, it might invite the anger of the international community as well, and hurt Pakistan too.

Q: Where are Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden now?

A: We got a call about ten days ago from our sources in Quetta that Mullah Omar was seen at a mosque near Saleem complex in the city. This is the first time I have said this publicly. I know where the Saleem complex is. I have lived in Quetta myself for many years.

Q: Does al-Qaeda still pose a threat to Afghanistan?

A: No, terrorism has no base in Afghanistan. It came from outside
Afghanistan and was sustained from without. The threat is still from outside Afghanistan.
Q: Afghanistan's draft constitution is going to be debated by a loya jirga next month. Are you happy with the draft document?

A: This draft constitution has been widely debated and reviewed by many people. First there was room for a prime minister also in the constitution, but after a lengthy debate it was decided that this would create two power centres and not be conducive to stability. A constitution should be built around one power centre. The draft will now be placed before the loya jirga. The response for the elections to the loya jirga has been tremendous. Khost, for example, had the highest turn-out, with about 95 per cent participation.

Q: Are you going to stand in the election for president?

A: If the loya jirga approves the presidential system, yes, I will stand in the elections.

Q: Are you confident of victory?

A: I am not sure about that. Let's see how the Afghan people feel about me, whether they vote for me or not.

Q: How safe do you feel about travelling in Afghanistan, particularly since the attack on your life in Kandahar?

A: I feel very safe. I have had many narrow escapes during the struggle against the Soviet forces.

Q: The infighting among the warlords has led to a huge number of casualties. How are you going to deal with this issue?

A: Yes, the infighting has been terrible. It's long-term issue, but we have initiated certain steps that are being implemented one by one. Institution-building is much better now than it was a year ago.

Q: How is the disarmament campaign proceeding?

A: Disarming the warlords is our highest priority. The campaign has been very succesful in several places. We have undertaken disarmament in the north and in the south. Next it's going to be Herat. But I am not happy with the pace so far. It should be speedy and more effective.

Q: Do you want more international troops to be deployed in Afghanistan to deal with terrorism and insurgency?

A: More troops will not help. We are not in a state of war. We are facing terrorism, and that can be tackled with better intelligence and better coordination with Pakistan.

Q: The insurgents have started targeting international aid workers and the UN has suspended its operations in several areas after the French UN worker was killed. How has relief work and reconstruction been affected in the wake of such attacks?

A: The main objective of the terrorists is to disrupt reconstruction. But they have not been successful.

Q: Do you believe the Taliban still pose a threat to your government?

A: What do you mean by the Taliban? Ordinary Taliban are also people of Afghanistan. They have emerged from the madrassas but they are our people. They are part of this country. They can go back to the madrassas and resume their religious studies. We respect them. But there is a vast difference between terrorists and the Taliban. Those who are indulging in narcotics trade and terrorism, those are the terrorists, not the Taliban.

Q: Are you in contact with former Taliban foreign minister Abdul Wakil Muttawakil after he was freed last month?

A: He sent me a letter and offered reconciliation. He is an Afghan like all other Afghans. I meet my countrymen every day and probably one day he will come to see me too. He is welcome. Those who do not want to take part in terrorism, those who do not want to hurt Afghanistan, those who want to see Afghanistan prosper, are welcome. But those handful who have committed crimes against our country are not welcome.

Q: How hopeful are you about Afghanistan's future?

A: I am very hopeful.

Friday, 17 June 2016

بلوچستان کا مسئلہ (2)۔ از برخور دار اچکزئی

بلوچستان کا مسئلہ (2)۔ از برخور  دار  اچکزئی

 اس دن جو کہانی سنائی وہ بلوچستان کے بلوچ علاقوں کی تھی۔ آج بلوچستان کے شمال اور شمال مغرب میں واقع پشتون علاقے کی بات ہوگی۔ جنہوں نے بلوچستان دیکھا ہے وہ جانتے ہیں کہ بلوچستان پشتون اکثریتی صوبہ ہے۔ اور میں افغان مہاجرین کو نہیں گن رہا۔ سردار اختر مینگل صاحب کی تقریر ریکارڈ پر ہے کہ بلوچ اتنے ہیں نہیں جتنا پشتون افغان پچھلے تیس سال میں مرا ہے۔ اور محمود خان اچکزئی کی تقریر بھی ریکارڈ پر ہےکہ مردم شماری کر لو اگر ہم (پشتون) ایک کروڑ ہوے اور آپ دس لاکھ تو بھی ہم صوبے کی حق حکمرانی میں برابر کے شریک ہونگے۔
 کچلاک کوئٹہ شہرسے 14 کلومیٹر کے فاصلہ پر ایک بڑا قصبہ ہے، پنجاب اور خیبر پختونخوا اور افغانستان کےلیے جنکشن کی حیثیت سے کافی اہمیت کا حامل۔ یہاں اکثریت کاکڑ قبیلے کی ہے۔ اور آنجہانی ملا اختر منصور اسی قصبے میں ایک مدرسہ کے مہتمم تھے۔ کچلاک میں آپ کو ایسے لگتا ہے جیسے آپ ہلمند یا روزگان میں گھوم رہے ہوں۔ جدھر دیکھو اچھے طالبان۔ موٹر سائیکلیں، کمبل اور کلاشنکوف۔ یاد رہے کہ کوئٹہ کی سیکورٹی پچھلے گیارہ سال سے ایف سی کے حوالے ہےکچلاک تک۔ اگر آپ پاکستانی شہری ہیں، پہنچنے میں آپ کو کم از کم 12 چیک پوسٹ پر اینٹری کرانی پڑتی ہے۔ لیکن ان اسلحہ برداروں سے کوئی نہیں پوچھتاپشین میں بھی کم و بیش یہی صورتحال ہے لیکن شہر سے دور۔ اس سارے علاقے میں ہر جگہ طالبان،اور شیعہ کافر کی وال چاکنگ آپکو نظر آئیگی ۔ حالانکہ پچھلے چودہ سو سال میں یہاں شیعہ آبادی کبھی رہی نہیں۔

 پشین کے بعد قلعہ عبداللہ آتا ہے اور اس میں ہماری تحصیل گلستان۔ یہاں کی کہانی بڑی دلچسپ ہے۔ کبھی گلستان کے سیب مشہور تھے آج کل افیم اور کرسٹل میتھ۔ چرس اور بندوقوں کی بھی کافی تعریف کی جاتی ہے۔ کبھی گلستان کے میلے مشہور تھےآج کل نیٹو کے کنٹینرز سے لوٹے گئے جوتے۔ ہماری بہت تھوڑی آبادی ہے۔ جو قیامت خیبر پختونخوا میں طالبان کے ہاتھوں بپا کی گئی اور نوے کی دہائی-وہی نوے کی دہائی میں ہماری تحصیل میں مجاہدین کے ذریعے مسلط کی گئی۔ میں نے اپنے بچپن کا زیادہ حصہ مٹی کے بنکرز میں گزارا ہے۔ لوگوں کے گھروںکو جلایا گیا۔ کم و بیش 90% آبادی بے گھر ہوئی۔ لوگوں کے پیاروں کی تشدد زدہ لاشیں ان کے گھروں کے سامنے پھینکی گئیں۔ اور وہ گلستان جو کبھی تعلیم،جمہوری سیاست اور معیشت کا منبع تھا،منشیات، اسلحے اور اغوا برائے تاوان کا حب بن گیا ۔ گلستان بازار کو میں اسلحہ اور منشیات کی وال سٹریٹ  کہتا ہوں۔ یہاں اگر ایف سی کے ایک ہزار جوان تعینات ہیں تو دوسری طرف افیم اور کرسٹل میتھ کے درجنوں کارخانے۔ ایسا گھر نہیں جس میں راکٹ اورمارٹر کے گولے نہ لگے ہوں۔ گورنمنٹ گرلز ہائی سکول گلستان، جہاں میں پڑھتا تھا، میں ہر سال آٹھ دس مارٹر اور 95 ایم ایم کے گولے ضرور گرتےاور اسی سکول میں قومی ترانے کے بعد ہم سے تین بار 'میں پاکستانی ہوں' کا حلف نما نعرہ لگوایا جاتا۔ ان حالات میں ہمارے اپنے گاؤں کی خواتین نےپہلے خود پڑھا پھر ڈنڈے کی زور پر ہمیں پڑھایا، انسان بنایا۔ افغانستان دنیا کی 90% افیم سپلائی کرتا ہے۔ اس 90% کا 75%پاکستان کے راستے دنیا تک پہنچتا ہے۔ یہ کام چمن سے متصل افغان بارڈر پر ہوتا ہے۔ کس کی نگرانی میں ہوتا ہے تو آپ خود ہوشیار ہیں۔

کہنے کو تو ابھی اور بھی باتیں ہیں۔ وہ پھر کھبی سہی ۔

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Qissa Khwani archives: Omar Asghar Khan


Farewell Comrade
Newsline July 2002

A pillar of society, and a committed humanist, Omar Asghar Khan's tragic death leaves a huge vacuum.

By Mazhar Arif

In 1999, OAK (Omar Asghar Khan), as he was known among his colleagues, and Sungi were facing tough resistance from the well- entrenched clergy in Hazara Region, particularly the areas dominated by Pashto- speaking tribes. Sungi's development projects in remote villages of Hazara were, and still are, focused on sustainable agriculture, conservation of forests and empowerment of people, particularly women, at the grassroots.

On May 29, the day I joined Sungi, I found OAK and the organisation in a predicament. The Kissan Conference, scheduled to begin that day in a village of Pashto-speaking District Batagram, had been banned by the local administration under Section 144 as the religious elements of the district were agitating against it. They were alleging that Sungi and its leader, Omar Asghar Khan, were "agents of the Jewish lobby," spreading western culture and obscenity and asking women to defy their husbands.

There was a crisis-like situation as the participants - more than one thousand from all corners of the country - had already started pouring in, and were not being allowed to enter the village Shamlai, or Batagram town. The armed extremists were taking out processions in the city threatening to attack Sungi's zonal office, where OAK along with some colleagues and guests, was holding the fort despite pressure from the local administration, and threats to either leave the city or face arrest.

It was in this situation that I saw a determined and resolute young man - the scion of an upper class family, born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth - fighting for the weakest sections of society. Consequently, on a few hours notice, the venue of the conference was shifted to Abbottabad. It was a huge task as Sungi's management suddenly had to accommodate more than one thousand participants for three days. In spite of that, the conference was a success because of the determination, commitment and skill of the man at the helm and his loyal followers.

Earlier, OAK had been confronted and attacked by the timber mafia and their agents. But he continued to strive for change, both social and political, in an area which is under the control and influence of various mafias and obscurantists. OAK won support and respect from people at the grassroots level because he engaged with them at their level and worked tirelessly for their socio-economic uplift. He once said, "Alliances need to be built with those at the periphery so as to create space for them alongside those at the core." He would travel hundreds of miles, many times on foot, to meet the people in remote mountainous villages of the Hazara region.

We spent endless nights in those far flung areas with Omar, along with the villagers in their mud houses. And we were not always welcome. Often conflicts arose, which were largely instigated by extremist religious elements or other vested interests including members of the timber mafia and local influentials who felt threatened because of Sungi's work for the awareness and enlightenment of the deprived communities.

OAK took the opposition in his stride, expressing the view that "raising consciousness and stimulating action to redistribute power enabling fair access and control over resources and opportunities is a primary objective of right-based civil society organisations. As they create space for the non-elite to assert their rights, the power elite exerts counter pressures to reclaim this space and maintain the status quo. Conflict is intrinsic to this engagement."

When the state renewed its attempts to introduce invasive legislation to control the country's NGOs, Sungi was at the forefront of the battle against such measures, even though it was already facing resistance from other quarters.

Despite the intensity and scale of the hostility, OAK endeavoured to promote the concept of people's assemblies. He believed these would enhance the understanding of, and support for, right-based advocacy organisations and mobilise collective action to remove the inequities that marginalise large sections of the population.

Before joining the military regime, Omar consulted with the Programme Management Committee (responsible for running Sungi's affairs), board members and friends in other civil society organisations several times. Interestingly, after the military takeover, members of intelligence agencies had visited Sungi's head office in Abbottabad during a night raid and made enquiries about OAK's personal character, belongings, relations etc., and we had naturally felt threatened by their interrogation. The next day Omar received a message from GHQ, Rawalpindi, that the military authorities wanted to see him.

He held a number of meetings with General Aziz and other officials, and was eventually offered a seat in the federal cabinet as minister for oil, gas and natural resources. However, Omar was interested in the ministry for local government and rural development so that he could pursue, and if possible, implement his ideas of development and local governance. For two or three days, there was no communication between OAK and the military regime. We all assumed that the authorities had thought better of their offer. Then came the message that Omar could have the ministry of his choice. OAK thus became a federal minister in the military government.

Surprisingly, while many of OAK's friends in various civil society organisations supported the idea of Omar's joining the military regime, many others who respected, revered and loved him were disappointed. In my humble opinion, this decision tarnished his otherwise impeccable credentials. Yet, even during his stint with the military government, Omar remained committed to democratic norms and remained a staunch supporter of people's rule.

Thousands of people from almost every nook and corner of the country and particularly from the rural areas of the Hazara region - including many women - attended his funeral in Abbottabad. There was such a large crowd of mourners that it was impossible to get close to his coffin, or see his face. Not a single person in the crowd of thousands present accepted at face value the cause of death advanced by the police. Suicide? Omar, the fighter, the champion of right, brave and upright as he was, committing suicide - not possible.

OAK's mysterious, tragic death is a huge loss for his family, for his nascent political party, for Sungi, for the people's movement, and for a progressive, secular, just society. Mostly perhaps, it is a loss for the wretched whose cause he so passionately espoused throughout his life. Personally, I feel as if I have lost a dear friend.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Qissa Khwani archives: Wali Khan

In Memoriam
Originally published February 2006 Newsline magazine.

Fight well Fought

Khan Abdul Wali Khan made a commitment to the goal of national freedom and his entire life was a struggle to attain this goal.

By I. A. Rehman

Khan Abdul Wali Khan, who died on 27 January 2006 at the age of 89, was the best known freedom-fighter in Pakistan who was obliged to continue fighting for his people's rights for more than half a century even after their independence had been proclaimed. The story of this struggle offers valuable insight into the tribulations of the Pakistani people and the factors contributing to it.

The second son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the undisputed organiser of the Pakhtun people's socio-political awakening, Wali Khan grew up in one of the most momentous periods in the sub-continent's history. The first two decades of his life witnessed the agitation against the Rowlatt Acts, the Jallianwala massacre, the Khilafat agitation, the development of the Gandhian strategy of peaceful political struggle, the heroism of the revolutionary youth (dubbed terrorists by their oppressors), the rise of the Red Shirts as a political force and their slaughter in Qissa Khwani bazaar, and the preparation of the final British constitutional plan (Act of 1935) for pre-1947 India. These developments defined the conscious youths' role in terms of an unswerving commitment to the goal of national freedom and their resolve to offer whatever sacrifices the cause demanded. Wali Khan's greatest achievement was that once he had accepted this role he never gave it up. Some observers even think sacrifice for one's cause became an end in itself with him.

He was prominent among the nationalist politicians who spent the first few years of their country's independence in prison, largely because while the state had chosen to move further away from its foundational charter, they firmly believed its promise to the provinces of self-governing status was non-negotiable. For this 'crime,' Wali Khan had to return to prison again and again, and his fellow party workers had to face not only a ban on their organisation more than once, but also an aerial attack on their assembly that left hundreds dead. That he had to fight for what are generally and not quite correctly described as provincial rights not only cast Wali Khan's political career in the mould of a tragedy, it also constitutes the core plot of the Pakistani people's tragedy in that they have not been able to settle a matter that could have been resolved in a few years, if not a few months.

The long period of imprisonment, denial of any political space to the Khudai Khidmatgars, and the dismissal of Dr. Khan Sahib's ministry introduced in Wali Khan's thinking a streak of bitterness that turned into rancour whenever he faced a fresh round of state hostility. Among other things, this affected his vision.

However, the democratic struggle against one unit, which subsequently merged into a broader struggle against Ayub Khan's rule, provided Wali Khan with opportunities for playing a large role in national politics. He not only campaigned vigorously in support of Miss Fatima Jinnah in the presidential election, but also persisted in campaigning for restoration of democracy, in spite of frustration at the attitude of a strong section of the party. The same commitment to democratic ideals enabled him to oppose military operations in East Bengal.

The '70s proved to be a difficult period for Wali Khan. The setback to progressive forces caused by the separation of East Bengal affected Wali Khan. Under an understanding with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the National Awami Party was allowed to share power in Frontier and Balochistan, and Wali Khan made an extraordinarily significant contribution to the finalisation of the 1973 Constitution. It is no secret that the adoption of the parliamentary form of government and a somewhat better deal for the federating units was due to the pressure of the opposition under the leadership of Wali Khan. During the second half of the '70s, the conflict with the Bhutto government and the latter's decision to launch the trial of NAP leaders at Hyderabad drove him away from his democratic path and the country paid dearly for his approval of Zia-ul-Haq's anti-democratic expedition. These years also marked the completion of his withdrawal from the national scene, particularly after a criminal attack on his party's public meeting in Rawalpindi.

It is too early to make an objective assessment of Khan. Abdul Wali Khan's place in Pakistan's political history. One of the reasons is the fierce controversy his political creed generated, not only among the custodians of power, but also among the new beneficiaries of state policies and patronage. In any event it will be impossible to deny Wali Khan's large contribution to whatever little democratic traditions Pakistan can lay claim to. He did not run after office and chose to withdraw from active politics when voters from his traditional constituency did not repose confidence in him. He was a man of public meetings, and when the process of tabooing political activity began he was deprived of the environment in which he could work. Still, the determination with which he remained committed to democratic politics, federalism and standards of integrity will constitute one of the brighter chapters in the country's history.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

QK archives: Nawab Khair Bux Marri: the Leninist legend

By M.Taqi
Originally published 19 June 2014 by the Daily Times

Nawab Khair Bux Khan Marri is no more. Nawab Marri was the chief of the largest Baloch tribe and arguably the father of modern Baloch nationalism. He inspired not just three generations of Baloch activists but countless political workers across ethno-national boundaries. His name ignited a spark in many a leftist worker’s eye in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi or London, as it did in his native Kohistan-e-Marri. He was a tribal Sardar who was adored as much for his political theory and practice as for an altruistic decision to abolish several of the chief’s taxes on his tribesmen. Nawab Sahib became a Leninist legend in his lifetime among the progressive nationalists. His was a long and arduous political journey from a privileged young man educated at pre-partition Aitchison College, Lahore, to parliament, to under the shadow of the gallows, into exile and then back. His dormitory mate and a fellow Baloch, Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari notes that during his time at Aitchison College, he was “an intense pacifist who would remove insects from his path so that neither he nor anyone else would step upon them”. As Nawab Sahib stated himself, he led a rather carefree life then. Sardar Mazari wrote that he was “fond of clothes”, particular about his looks and that “cinema was an obsession with him as was everything else connected with America”. Nawab Marri’s early transformation into the supremely intense politician that he became was somewhat astonishing for his other colleagues as well. But there should really be no surprise as he was born Khair Bux II, named so after his grandfather Khair Bux the Great, a nineteenth century Baloch chieftain who fought the British colonial regime. Nawab Sahib’s father Mehrullah Khan Marri had also taken on the British.

More importantly perhaps, Nawab Marri gained an early firsthand experience of the machinations of the Pakistani junta under General Ayub Khan. He was the deputy opposition leader against Ayub’s handpicked king’s party in the National Assembly from what was then West Pakistan. He was removed as the chief of his tribe and later imprisoned for two years. His two Baloch peers, the late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal had been similarly deposed and jailed before him. This toppling was not for the sake of any reforms. The regime appointed Nawab Bugti’s young son and Sardar Mengal and Nawab Sahib’s ageing uncles as the chieftains to run the tribes in their lieu. The Baloch leaders were punished for opposing the Ayub regime, especially its ‘One Unit’ policy. Not too long before that the state had betrayed the Baloch guerrilla leader Nauroz Khan, using his own nephew, and then arrested him. The Baloch leadership quartet — the late Ghaus Bux Bizenjo being the fourth — was becoming persuaded that Pakistan would offer their people only the short end of the stick. Nawab sahib would go on to morally, and perhaps materially, support another wave of Baloch Parari guerillas taking to the hills for their rights in the 1960s.

Nawab Sahib, labelled as obstinate and haughty by his opponents, was not an irrational leader. He had an excellent command of western politics as well as mastery over Marxist theory. He admired Chairman Mao Zedong but was particularly fond of Vladimir Lenin. It is well known that he would wear a Lenin lapel pin to parliamentary sessions and political meetings. But his was not just an infatuation with the Marxist-Leninist model. Nawab Marri was a formidable theoretician who saw the Leninist theme of a national democratic revolution and emphasis on dual rights of self-determination and secession as the basic framework without which the amorphous Baloch patriotism a la Nauroz Khan risked being reduced to tribalism. An alternative predicament was the Baloch national character or Balochiyat becoming subsumed into the state-sponsored Islamo-ethnic Pakistani identity designed to buoy the Punjab’s interests at the expense of other nationalities. Nawab Sahib desired the recognition of the Baloch by others as equal and without any preconditions. He was not averse to the idea of a political solution of the Baloch national question and in fact gave parliamentary politics — not paramilitary tactics — his first and best shot.

On the eve of the 1970 elections, Nawab Sahib was the Balochistan chief of the leftist National Awami Party (NAP). He won the National Assembly (NA) elections from Quetta-Chaghai, securing over 100,000 votes — a feat never repeated since in Balochistan. The way the Baloch mandate was stolen by dismissing NAP’s Balochistan government and then the Supreme Court’s infamous decision banning the party, ultimately convinced Nawab Marri that the deck was stacked against non-Punjabis. The fourth Baloch armed struggle of the modern era was to then receive his blessings in the 1970s. He was incarcerated for five of those years. It was perhaps the Baloch ordeal at the hands of then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his political manoeuvring, not just the military atrocities, rape and pillage, that made Nawab Marri state categorically that the Pakistani state and its beneficiaries would never give the Baloch their rights through peaceful and constitutional means.

Nawab Sahib was not interested in what he described as mere crumbs for the Baloch. The focus of his struggle moved from self-rule and autonomy via ballot and pen if possible, to independence through the bullet from a mountain den, if needed. His unassuming demeanour could not hide his steely resolve any longer. The soft-spoken Baloch patriarch was pithy and unsparing in his criticism of the Pakistani state keeping the Baloch under its heel. Unlike several Baloch and almost all Pashtun nationalists, Nawab Sahib could not come to terms with making peace with Islamabad on its terms. As he would often say, he was not interested in handouts. The post-1947 Pashtun nationalist movement perhaps does not have an equivalent of Nawab Sahib, who called for the right of self-determination, clearly and overtly. He was peerless both among and outside the Baloch. Nawab Sahib was effectively the political bridge that connected the four previous armed struggles by the Baloch to the present one, provided an ideological answer to the Baloch national question, and served as a comradely sanctuary for his lieutenants. He preserved and passed on to future generations everything that has been good about the Baloch and their untiring struggles; it is up to them now to cherish and build on what this Leninist legend has bequeathed them. RIP Nawab Sahib, you will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

The writer can be reached at and he tweets @mazdaki

Thursday, 9 June 2016

QK archives: Thinking like a Pathan

ARTICLE: Thinking like a Pathan
Originally published by Dawn circa 2002
By Dr Ali Jan

The credit for undertaking the most comprehensive work on Pushto language accomplished by any author during the colonial period goes to Henry George Raverty who was a military lieutenant of the Bombay Army. While serving in Peshawar in 1849-50 he was taught Pushto by a learned linguist, Maulvi (later Qazi) Abdur Rahman Khan Muhammadzai of Hashtnagar, translator of the Old Testament from Hebrew and John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress into Pushto, among other notable literary works.

Abdur Rahman had also taught the legendary Sir Richard Francis Burton when he was serving as a lieutenant in the East India Company (Burton was a multi-lingual explorer, writer and under cover military spy for the British who later translated the famous classic Arabian Nights from Arabic into English in his much publicized adventurous life and also became one of the few non-Muslims ever to perform Haj in Makkah under the guise of a Pathan in 1853.)

H.G. Raverty had abundant experience in documentation related work. Moinuddin Khan, a well-known scholar of library sciences, in an article, "Bibliographical Landscape" (Dawn, B&A 2001) states:

"Raverty set the tradition of compiling district gazetteers. He wrote and illustrated an account of the district of Peshawar (1849-50) when he was stationed with his regiment. He was an administrator-turned-writer who entered the services of East India. In his administrative capacity he participated in the Punjab campaign (1849-1850) and took part in the first Frontier expedition (1856) against the tribes of the Swat border. He was also assistant commissioner of Punjab from 1852-1859)."

Raverty published his first Pushto book on grammar in 1855, A Grammar of the Pukhto, Pushto or Language of the Afghans (2 vols) He also compiled a dictionary, A Dictionary of the Puk'hto, Pus'hto, or Language of the Afghans (1860). This comprehensive hardback Pushto-to-English dictionary had over 1100 pages. Each Pushto word was written in Pushto script and then romanized, with definitions and easy to read printing. At a time when there was insufficient written literature except for a few diwans and largely oral poetry, Raverty studied old Pushto texts and published two books. Following the trend of other authors of that time he gave his first book an oriental name, The Gulistan-i-Roh: Afghan Poetry and Prose (1860). It was a selection of ten poetical and six prose works that he had compiled from antiquated manuscripts in his personal possession which included authors like Akhund Darwezah, Babu Jan, Abdur Rahman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak, etc. Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century (1862) was his other significant work.

In the preface to Gulistan-i-Roh (Second Edition, 1867), Raverty admits to the difficulties faced by him in compiling these texts due to insufficient written Pushto material and other hardships:

"Pushto manuscripts of any antiquity have now become scarce, even amongst the Afghans, whose language it is. This has, doubtless, been caused by the numerous civil convulsions which Afghanistan has undergone during the last sixty years, in which period the cultivation of the Afghan language has, comparatively, declined. Hence the few works now to be met with are generally full of errors, from the fact of the katibs, or copyists, being, with rare exceptions, persons wholly unacquainted with the Pushto language, and not Afghans, who are, generally, indifferent writers."

French interest in Pushto is evident by the publication of Chants Populares des Afghans (Da Pakhtunkhwa dah sher haar o bahar), compilation work of Pushto poetry and songs in two volumes by James Darmesteter in 1877, which was financed by the French government. The key emphasis of the French literary circles, however, remained on Persian in that period. 'Pakhtunkhwa' was then a non-politicised term and is used naturally in the title to describe the region where Pushto is spoken.

The name of Mir Ahmad Shah Rizwani figures prominently in the latter half of the 19th century among Pushto literary figures. Textbooks for Munshi Fazil and Adeeb Fazil classes of the Punjab University courses were written and compiled by him, according to Dr Sher Zaman Taizi.

Rev T.B. Hughes' Ganj-i-Pukhto (1897), whose English translation was rendered by Trevor C. Plouden, became the official textbook for the lower standard examinations in Pushto and Kalid-i-Afghani (including Tarikh-i-Mahmud-i-Ghaznavi) for higher standard.

Pushto language manuals provided learning aids for those new to the language. Pushto Manual (1880) by H.G. Raverty, Khazana-i-Afghani, Sawal-o-Jawab and Pushto Guide all by Maulvi Muhammad Ismail Khan, 1000 Pashto Idioms and Sentences (1899) by Capt E.H.S. Boxer, Lessons in Pakhtoo Prose Composition (1900) and First Pukhtoo Book (1901) by G.W. Gilbertson and first (1901) and second Pukhtu Manual (1907) by G. Roos-Keppel, are some of the earliest guide books on colloquial Pushto worth mentioning.

Notable writers besides Raverty and Bellew who authored books on grammar included Lt Col John C. Vaughan 1864, Rev. E. Trumpp 1873 and Maj A.D. Cox 1911 etc. H.W. Bellew in 1870 had also compiled Dictionary of Pukkto Language. In this dictionary words were traced to their roots in Persian, Arabic and Indian (Sanskrit) languages.

The groundwork it would seem should have been sufficiently covered by the learning manuals written by Raverty, Bellew and Trumpp but they focused more on elementary and fell short of addressing complex matters of construction, syntax and idiom. To fill out this deficiency Major D.L.R. Lorimer, who whilst serving with the Khyber Rifles in Landi Kotal, worked on A Syntax of Colloquial Pushto (1915), which was published by the Oxford University Press, London. While explaining the need for a new learning book, Lorimer in its preface states:

"Both Raverty and Trumpp have based their work on Pushto literature, which is a serious drawback for the average student, who wants, as speedily as may be, to acquire a working knowledge of the colloquial language. This is hardly to be gained from a study of poetry or translations from the Persian, mostly two or three hundred years old, which are affected by Persian models or Persian originals, and which have had little influence on the speech of an unliterary and illiterate people."

Sir George Roos-Keppel's name has become synonymous with the Islamia College Peshawar, which also owes its establishment to the efforts of Nawab Sahibzada Sir Abdul Qayyum Khan and Haji Turangzai. Roos-Keppel had a long administrative association with the Frontier region. He served in the capacities of Political Agent in Kurram and Khyber and later Chief Commissioner (equivalent of Governor) of NWFP. At the turn of the 20th century, he was also president of Central Committee of Examiners in Pushto. He authored The Pashto Manual in 1901 and wrote a second impression in 1907 when he was serving as Captain in the Khyber. In 1901, he also produced his own editions of Rev T.B. Hughes' Ganj-i-Pushto and Tarikh-i-Sultan Mahmud-i-Ghaznavi with their English translations, which became standard textbooks for military officers replacing the older versions.

Roos-Keppel was well versed in Pushto and his command over the colloquial can be judged from an inaugural speech he gave in Islamia College, Peshawar, in 1913-14. A strongly built man of mixed Dutch-Swedish-English blood, he bore a thick Edwardian moustache. When Roos-Keppel came to address, he mesmerized the entire gathering by the rendering of his speech in perfect Pushto. (To give the reader an idea I must present a snippet exactly as narrated by late Dr M. Zarif of Nishterabad, the writer's maternal grandfather who was present in the audience). After the initial salutations and thanks in Pushto, he began:

"Yo wraz pah day lar teradum no zra kay may soach ooko, yarra Roos-Keppela dasay ba kha na-ee chih dalta keh yo taleemi idara jor kray shi?"

(One day while I was walking past this place, I thought to myself: my good fellow Roos-Keppel, wouldn't it be splendid to build an educational institute over this site?)

A hushed silence held the audience which was only broken when Roos-Keppel finished his speech. The echoes of 'Roos-Keppel Zindabad' followed a loud round of applause from the gathering as he received a standing ovation.

Here, it is important to point out that Roos-Keppel thought like a Pathan, for him to use the expression "yarra Roos-Keppela" - adding 'a' at the end of one's name - is significant, as it is unique to Pushto colloquial only. To hear him say that would have brought a smile on any Pathan's face and would have made the audience forget that he was a foreigner addressing them, but rather as 'one of their own.'

Sir Olaf Caroe, in The Pathans (1958) makes the following observation about Roos-Keppel:

"A very fluent speaker of their language, he could turn a proverb, point a moral, quote a poet, make a domestic allusion in perfect timing and in communion with those who heard him."

Further on, he concludes:

"More than any Englishman, if such he was, he is remembered still; he has been claimed as a sort of malik in excelsis, a Pathan among Pathans."

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

QK archives: Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari:King of Pushto Ghazal

Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari - King of Pushto ghazal

By Sher Alam Shinwari
Originally published by Dawn circa 2003

"When spring-time flushes the desert grass
Our Kafilas wind through the Khyber Pass
Lean are the purses but heavy the bales
When the snowbound trade of the north comes down,
To the market square of Peshawar Town." - (Rudyard Kipling)

The Khyber Pass is an integral part of Pakistan. This ancient caravan route - a corridor for invasions and the main trade route in the past between Central Asia and South Asia - is one of the most important passes in the world. It has had historic and strategic importance as a gateway to the subcontinent.

The sights and sounds of the Khyber reminds one of the conquerors who marauded India. But there is also the romantic side of this mountain pass which today attracts the tourists by the thousands. Foreign dignitaries love to visit this scenic spot when peace prevails. In this area was born a poet who made a name for himself in the annals of Pushto literature. He was the literary legend, Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, Baba-i-Pushto ghazal. Amir Hamza was born in 1907 at Landikotal, Khyber Agency, in village Khuga Khel.

The fifth of six sons of his father, Hamza did not have an easy life. His father was not in the good books of the Political Agent of Khyber, and the family had to face the brunt of the ruler's anger.

Hamza Baba was two years old when his mother died. Balkhi Khan, his elder brother, was like a mother to him, till his father remarried. Hamza's step-mother too was very kind to him. In 1930, Hamza Baba's father died and he was once again left in desolation.

In 1915, Hamza was admitted to a primary school at Landikotal One day, his teacher asked him to write his tables on a takhti. Instead Hamza happily drew some human figures for which he was punished severely. This unfortunate incident made Hamza a regular truant. He would not attend school, instead he would spend the day at his mother's grave. He was later admitted to the Islamia Collegiate School, Peshawar, in 1917 to the fifth grade, where he gradually adjusted to the school environment.

About the same time, he began to compose poetry in Urdu, and would get Maulana Abdul Qadir to correct his verses. Hamza also actively participated in sports such as football and hockey, but never took his education seriously. An incident in his childhood, when he was subjected to corporal punishment by his teacher, drove him away from school forever.

He versified the incident in the these words:

I am reminded of the flute of Israfeel!
When I hear the sound of the school bell.

Hamza loved watching stage plays and silent films and was equally fond of music. But after his marriage at a very young age, he developed an interest in mysticism. It was then that he happened to meet Syed Abdul Sattar Bacha who advised him to start composing poetry in his mother tongue.

Bacha Sahib was a saint and a spiritual guide. Hamza followed his advice and perfected the Pushto ghazal and came to be known as its 'king'. His ideas were innovative and pierced the soul of every Pakhtun like a two-edged sword. There was something kindly in the candid expression of his lofty thoughts. He Pakhtunized the Pushto ghazal completely, blending with it the courage and force of the sturdy Pakhtun. Hamza Baba's ghazal is the crystallized embodiment of a typical Pakhtun society, bemoaning and bewailing its misfortune down the ages.

Hamza was born with poetic sentiments in his soul. His experience in Pushto poetry are guidelines for poets of the younger generation. Not only was Hamza Baba the founder of the perfect Pushto ghazal, he also opened new vistas for Pakhtoon poets. He writes in a couplet:

Many colourful flowers bloom in the moor of Pushto language;
It is, now time, for opening our eyes.

The two prominent qualities of Hamza's poetry which rise above the rest are mysticism and Pakhtunwali - the Pakhtun code of conduct. At times it seemed that the scope of his mysticism was somewhat limited, as he was criticized for being a staunch Pakhtun mystic whereas mysticism transcends all ethnic, linguistic or racial boundaries. This aspect of his mysticism is evident in the verses:

O, Lord, I beg of You!

To provide me the wine of 'Yasrab' in a cup of Afghan.However, contrary to the perceptions of most critics, Hamza Baba widened the scope of mysticism with the introduction of the Pakhtunwali in his poetry, giving the Pakhtuns an identity which is unbiased, calm and dignified.

Qalandar Moomand, a scholar of repute, critic and a contemporary of Hamza Baba calls him a bridge between the conventional and the contemporary in Pushto poetry. "He was the last poet of the classical age in Pushto and was the first poet to introduce new subjects in Pushto ghazal," Qalandar Moomand comments.

Coming from a very humble origin, Hamza would take pride in confessing that he drew inspiration from Khushhal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba and other classical poets. Baba had the force and energy of Khushhal Khan Khattak, the humility of Rahman Baba and the sublime imaginative power of Kazim Khan Shaida. The genius of Baba does not lie in what he created but in the image of the very age that he sought to paint in Pushto verse. Ben Johnson, a contemporary of Shakespeare, had wilfully recognized the artistic greatness of Shakespeare, terming him a great poet for all times. Hamza too was fortunate to have had received the highest tributes from all of his contemporaries. He saw a huge bulk of his poetry published by the Pushto Academy and the university of Peshawar in the shape of his Kuliyyat.

Hamza Baba's ties with Urdu poetry were deep and profound. Raees Amrohvi writes, "I have come across thousands of people belonging to different walks of life - politicians, men of letters, bureaucrats, social workers, saints and journalists - but when I met Hamza Baba in 1962 in Karachi, he won my heart forever; he is a poet, philosopher, saint, man of letters, politician and a lot more."

Hamza Baba while visiting Karachi, would preside over both Urdu and Pushto mushairas. His contribution to modern Pushto poetry is equally recognized and "Jungadh" is a materpiece in this context. Quoted below are two stanzas from the poem:

Let us build a hut in the jungle
To have a world of our own union within this world.
In the silence of the flower, and the song of a nightingale
To produce the conflagration of laughter out of tears
To keep looking at each other till disappearing in our gaze
Let us build a hut in the jungle

The candle of our childlike sport may light up the evening
The beloved may fetch a cup from the redness of the evening sky
The stars may feel jealous looking at us
May there be a hide and seek of love in our gazingLet us build a hut in the jungle.

Dr Rajwali Shah Khattak, director Pushto Academy, university of Peshawar, said in a recent interview, "Being a versatile genius, Hamza Baba has not been fully explored and if his works are translated into other languages, I am sure, it will introduce an individual school of thought in Eastern philosophy".

Baba had tried his hand at almost all the genres of Pushto language. He translated Allama Iqbal's Armughan-i-Hijaaz and Javed nama into Pushto. He also rendered Rahman Baba's poetry into Urdu verse. Besides his poetry Hamza's prose carries equal weight and he wrote 250 plays from 1935 till after partition for the radio.

In 1941, Rafique Ghaznavi, a famous actor asked Baba to write the script, dialogue and songs for his first ever Pushto film 'Laila Majnun', it took Hamza two months to complete this work, for which he received Rs250. The film was released in Mumbai and all the Pushto-speaking areas of the subcontinent. It was widely acclaimed and its songs are remembered till today.

While in Mumbai he wrote a letter to Farooq Shinwari, Baba's close companion and a poet, narrating a very interesting incident. He wrote, "Farooq Sahib I participated in an Urdu mushaira in which all the major poets were present. When I went up the stage, everyone took me for an unruly and wild stranger. But when I began to recite my verses, the audience was stunned and threw bouquets of appreciation at me."


Important works of Hamza Baba

Poetry: Da zarrah aawaz, Ghazawooney, Baheer, Parey wooney, Saprlaey pa aaina key, Yoon, Szuand au yoon, Salgai and Naawey chapey (A travelogue).

Prose: Da Hijaz palour, (A travelogue in Pushto), Szuawer fikraunah, (Critical essays) Szuand, Wajood shahood, (Philosophical essays in Urdu), Insaan aur khuda (Urdu), Tajjliyat-i-Mohammadia (Pushto) and Insanee anaa au pooha (Pushto)