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QK Archives: Mahmood Khan Achakzai

Originally published by THE NEWS on Sunday
30 April 2006

Mahmood Khan Achakzai

For a new constitution Pakistan must be a federation like Switzerland is -- where each nation is treated equally and all languages of nations have the status of national languages

By Raza Rehman Qazi

Son of great freedom fighter Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, Mahmood Khan Achakzai is a democrat in his own right. A brilliant speaker and diehard Pakhtoon nationalist from Balochistan, Achakzai is the Chairman of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP). He is the only Pakhtoon nationalist MNA in the present National Assembly after the rout of ANP in the last general election.

Senior politician and political opponent Sher Afgan pays him a compliment in these words, "Mahmood Khan is the only real democrat in the sitting parliament of Pakistan."

Mahmood Khan Achakzai received his B.Sc . Engineering degree in 1971 from Peshawar.

Achakzai can be credited for offering a scientific solution to the problems of Pakistan and its Pakhtoon population. Achakzai rarely talks to media. TNS got hold of him recently in Peshawar and talked about Pakhtoon grievances, overall nationalist politics, Kalabagh Dam and other water issues. Excerpts follow:

The News on Sunday: What is the aim of your 'solo fight' for Pakhtoon rights?

Mahmood Khan Achakzai: Ours is an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and democratic party. Our aim is that in the backdrop of peculiar problems of Pakhtoons, all Pakhtoon areas of Pakistan have to be united. We consider Pakistan a multi-ethnic state in which every nation is occupying its historical territory. The federation of Pakistan is a voluntary one where no nation is a slave of another. It is the century of equality of nations and democracy. We don't consider Pakistan a special state with a peculiar ideology. We are a part of the global village. After centuries of death and destruction, the collective wisdom of humanity has reached a consensus that military will have no role in politics. This is how it is in the civilised world. Similarly the civilised world and religions recognise the importance of mother tongues.

If political parties in Pakistan want to take the country out of crisis, they will have to agree that the armed forces and intelligence agencies will have no role in politics. Moreover, historically people comprising Pakistan are not one people. Pakhtoons and Baloch are basically Central Asians while Sindhis and Punjabis had been part of the subcontinent. The vicissitudes and tyranny of history has brought us together in one country.

Going by history, Pakhtoons are Afghans. I would not be wrong if I say I am an Afghan but a part of Pakistan. We were colonised by the British and made a part of Pakistan. We accept it. But Pakistan must be a federation like Switzerland is -- where each nation is treated equally and all languages of nations have the status of national languages.

Italian speaking territories of Switzerland have borders with Italy and likewise in the case of German and French territories of Switzerland . However, never does one hear supra-national claims or demands being made there. We don't have any such intentions either.

Some people say if Pakhtoons are given their rights they would decide to become part of Afghanistan. It is completely wrong. In 1940 Lahore Resolution the words used are 'sovereign states' that would form Pakistan. We want a federation on the basis of the 1940 Resolution -- whether bi-cameral or otherwise.

In the light of the bitter experience of Pashtoon parties' alliance with All India National Congress and after partition with other democratic forces in NAP, we decided to form a purely Pashtoon party -- to strive for the peculiar problems of our nation.

TNS: But what would be the status of the 1973 constitution?

MKA: Those who consider restoration of 1973 constitution the panacea for all maladies of Pakistan live in a fool's paradise. The 1973 constitution has institutionalised the division of Pakhtoon areas. It doesn't recognise my mother tongue and it has legitimised the ownership of others on my (Pakhtoon) resources. The 1973 constitution does not exist, what's left of it is a patchwork of the whims of dictators. This constitution legitimises the sins of three martial laws.

There is need of a new social contract between the nations of Pakistan. The 1940 Resolution provides the ideal solution. We would keep Pakistan intact on the basis of equality and humanity. The real power in the new social contract should be in the hands of the Senate. What good is the present senate if it does not have control over finances, appointment of judges, foreign and home policies? It can't even interfere in the affairs of semi-autonomous departments.
Defence, foreign affairs, currency and communication should be with the centre. Political parties should sit together and devise the formula for protection of the new constitution. In order to free Pakistan from the stranglehold of the military, it would not be a mistake if a clause is inserted into the new social contract that if the military again subverts, abrogates or violates the constitution, every federating unit would have the right to secede.

TNS: What do you think about unifying Pakhtoon nationalist parties?

MKA: I think his unification should not be symbolic. If any other party wants to make a front with PKMAP, it is welcome to do so. But this front must be purposeful and goal-oriented -- to address peculiar problems of Pakhtoons. Pakhtoon masses should be witness to the formation of the front that should present uncompromising resistance, nothing cosmetic.

Its first demand should be that all Pakhtoons of Pakistan are united in a single province. Secondly, there should be no contracts, relations, and connections with the army and intelligence agencies. Whatever decision the central committee of the front takes ought to be open. However, we would not enter into national level alliances.

TNS: How could legislative equality be achieved among ethnicities?

MKA: It requires good intention and everything under the sun is possible. Pakistan was made when it seemed an impossibility. Having a new social contract is not a big deal. The plan for restructuring Pakistan that we have presented would provide a lasting solution to Pakistan's problems. We want Pakistan to survive and it can be done as political minds understand it. In its present shape Pakistan can't function. Under which law does income from Punjab's cotton goes to Punjab while the duty on Pakhtoonkhwa's Virginia-quality tobacco goes to the centre?

Why are they compelling us to go to the International Court of Justice over every problem? If my father, Samad Khan Achakzai as an MPA signs an agreement regarding water, you make this a basis for usurping my water till doomsday. But when 50 Samad Khans pass a resolution against Kalabagh Dam you reject it. What sort of justice this is?

TNS: What is your party's stand on 1990 Water Accord?

MKA: We reject it unequivocally. First, Afghanistan should have been part of it because two of the big rivers emanate from there. It has the right over them being the upper riparian. Then how can you divide the water of NWFP's rivers. There is 113 MAF of water outflow near Attock in which we have been given just 85 per cent share. Under what formula? While Punjab would have 50 per cent share. Why? Even Attock, Mianwali and the adjacent areas are not traditionally Punjab's part and are inhabited by Pakhtoon majority.

The 1990 Water Accord was not approved by Council of Common Interests (CCI), joint sitting of parliament or NWFP provincial assembly. KBD dam is basically the result of this accord. Why don't we have the right to construct a Barrage on Khushal Garh to irrigate our very fertile but arid lands. Moreover, Pakhtoonkhwa produces hydel power several times more than its requirements and the per unit cost over it is 20 paisas. This electricity is given to the length and breadth of the country and resold to NWFP at Rs. 5 a unit. Why?

We don't get a share in the profits of Punjab and Sindh's industries run on our electricity. When we say give us our rights, we are told that Pakistan would disintegrate.

There is so much mass poverty among Pakhtoons that had it not been their honourable code of life they would tell every one of their hunger. We must educate our people that we don't hate anyone on the basis of language, colour, and religion. We don't seek alms from someone like USAID, or Arabs but want that our land's resources are used by our children.

TNS: Pakhtoons are labelled as terrorists. Why?

MKA: In the 3,500 years of recorded history you would find no instance of terrorism or sectarianism among Pakhtoons. On the contrary we have been subjected to continuous terrorism. The first perpetrator of which was Alexander.

TNS: You have comprehensive agenda for Pakhtoons but many non-Pahstoons live in Pakhtoon areas?

MKA: We know that some of our big cities like Peshawar, D.I. Khan, Abbottabad, Quetta etc are bilingual. But we are very clear about non-Pakhtoons and consider them as sons of the soil. If they speak a different language it does not make any difference. Even a down-trodden Afghanistan has decided that every child would be given education in his mother tongue. So, if Hindkowans, Hindko Academy and we have the authority we would facilitate them in every way.

TNS: What is the solution to the Waziristan crisis?

MKA: The Waziristan issue cannot be resolved until all aliens as well as Pakistan army have left the area. We have a firm belief that the Qaumi Jirga of Waziristan can resolve the problem. Again the solution lies in democratisation. What are foreigners doing there? Is it a resort?

TNS: It is said that Talibanisation is going on in the Pakhtoon belt of Pakistan?

MKA: Prayers, fasting, madrassa and talib are a part of society. But during Zia's martial, religious institutions of Pakhtoon areas suffered from a peculiar kind of interference. God knows for what purpose -- may be for Kashmir. In fact, the problem in Pakistan is that people have never been involved in its external policymaking.

TNS: What is your political philosophy?

MKA: I consider human needs sacrosanct; more sacred than any constitution or law.

TNS: How could a mass level political movement be successfully launched in Pakistan?

MKA: First, major parties have to agree that armed forces will have no role in politics. Second, the parties have to throw time-servers out.

TNS: Why don't the national democratic forces have their traditional strong manifestation among Pakhtoons now?

MKA: The reason is absence of transparent democracy. We are democratic people. We don't clamp restriction on people to vote for us. If my land's people vote for mullas instead of PKMAP, we welcome it. But not under duress or chicanery or maneuvering of intelligence agencies.

TNS: What could be done for industrialisation of Pakhtoon areas of Balochistan?

MKA: We could do industrialisation in Pakhtoon belt more easily than it could be done elsewhere provided we have power over our resources. We have the cheapest electricity in the world and now we have discovered large reservoirs of gas. We have raw material and educated and skilled workforce. Moreover, Pakhtoon areas have been centres of Buddhist civilisation. If these areas have peace, tourism industry could flourish and could earn us millions of dollars.
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