Tag Archives: Farhat

Taliban are Pak Army proxies, not Pashtun nationalists – By Farhat Taj

One of the media and academia’s axiomatic constructions about Pashtun is that Taliban are Pashtun nationalists. This construction is based on distorted one-sided information and selective references to the Pashtun history that too are misrepresented to concur with the notion that Taliban are Pashtun nationalists. Drawing upon the current Pashtun ground realities and history, I will argue that Taliban, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are mere proxies of the Pakistani state to wipe out forces of entho-nationalism among the Pashtun as well as temper with Pashtun cultural identity on both sides of the Durand line in the state pursuit of the foreign and domestic policy objectives set and controlled by the military establishment of Pakistan.

Let me say on the outset that the Pashtun experience of having been assaulted with state proxies in garb of religion is not new. In the past the Mughal and the British states have done the same in order to force the Pashtun to behave in line with the states’ strategic interests. There are basically three big pan Pashtun nationalist movements in the Pashtun history. All the three movements were perceived as clashing with the contemporary states’ interests. Thus all the three were assaulted with states’ proxies and propaganda skillfully camouflaged with religion.

The first movement was initiated by mystic, Bayazeed Ansari, from Kaniguram, South Waziristan. He was called ‘Pir-Rooshan’ (the saint of light) by his followers. He lived during the reign of the Mughal Indian Emperor Jalaludin Akbar (1542-1605). The Mughal emperor imposed a ban on him and his followers. Above all the supposedly secular Mughal ruler, Akbar, tasked mullahs to launch a politically-motivated religious campaign against the teachings of Pir-Rooshan. Prominent among the those mullahs are Akhund Darveza (a mullah of Tajik origin) and another Pir Ali Tirmizi (of Uzbek origin). These two state sponsored mullahs declared him Peer-Tareek (the saint of darkness) and assaulted his movement with a sustained malicious propaganda apparently rooted in Islam.

The second Pashtun nationalist movement was launched and led by Khushal Khan Khattak, well-known Pashtun poet, political leader and warrior. The nationalist movement led by him was fully supported by two other influential Pashtun tribal leaders, Darya Khan in Khyber agency and Aimal Khan in Mohmand agency. Arguably, Khushal Khan can be regarded as the founder of modern Pashtun nationalism. For the ethno-nationalist inspiration of future generations of Pashtun, Khushal Khan, also known as lord of pen, has left volumes of his Pashto poetry that is full of Pashtun nationalistic motivation, aim and expression. In one of his well-known couplets, he says this: ‘Drast Pashtun la Kandahara tar Attoca sara yo da nang pa kar pat ao ashkar, pa yowa zhaba wail sara Pashto kro walay nashoo la yo bal khabardar’ ( All Pashtun from Qandahar to Attock speak Pashto language (and) are (socio-culturally) one and the same, but are (politically) oblivion to one another). Khushal Khan’s movement was suppressed by the most bigoted Mughal ruler of India, Aurangzeb Alamgir (1618-1707). One of the Khushal Khan’s couplets in which he condemns the Mugahl ruler’s atrocities is this in. ‘Che pa noom Pakhtanay ghuseegi pray khawkheegi, Aurangzeb dasay badshah de da Islam’ (He (Aurangzeb) derives pleasure from massacre of Pashtun, such is Aurangzeb’s kingdom of Islam).

The third great Pashtun nationalist movement was launched by Khan Ghafar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan. A prominent difference between Khushal Khan and Bacha Khan is that the former ran his movement with sword in form of armed struggle against the Mugahl army led by a fanatic Muslim ruler and the latter’s movement was non-violent. Essentially, Bacha Khan’s movement was for mass-scale social reformations in the Pashtun society in order to cleanse it from socio-cultural practices that hindered wide spread human development in the society, such as revenge or the inhibition towards modern education.

The British-Indian and the successor Pakistan states used religious proxies to oppress Bacha Khan’s movement. Wali Khan’s book, Facts are Facts, contains interesting research about the role of mullahs against the Pashtun nationalist movement under the British Raj. Both the British-Indian and the Pakistani states never allowed Bacha Khan to enter the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) although despite all the states’ opposition, his movement did inspire countless people across FATA, including many parents who sent their children to the schools established by Bacha Khan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa areas on the border with FATA.

Linked with Bacha Khan’s movement was the mass scale social reform and state building agendas of Amanullah Khan, the great Pashtun King of Afghanistan (1919-1929). The king made arrangements for compulsory education for all Afghans and gave right to vote to women. Pashto was declared the official language of Afghanistan. He began to build a strong Afghan armed force, including the air force with help of the Russians, and initiated a process of industrialization. He tasked the Russians to build a road linking Tashkand with Kabul and Khyber agency in FATA. The king regularly used to read Pakhtun, a Pashto language magazine launched by Bacha Khan, and used to advise other people in Afghanistan to do so. The Pashtun, although divided by the British drawn artificial Durand Line, had turned their faces towards progress, development and ethno-national unity.

All this was too much for the British rulers of India to bear because it was happening in the area that the British had assumed their buffer zones vis-a-vis Russia. Their first buffer zone, Afghanistan, and their second buffer zone, FATA, along with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formally NWFP) seemed going out of the British control coupled with a possible tilt towards the Russians. The British had to act to eliminate the reforms undertaken on both sides of the Durand Line. The British knew they could not do it militarily. It could have brought the British face to face with the Russians that the British never wanted. Secondly, the harsh experiences of the three Afghan wars had taught them that military intervention in Afghanistan is pointless. Thus they unleashed mullahs on Bacha Khan and King Amanullah Khan to rob their reform agendas of religious legitimacy. In case of the king the British lowered themselves to such an extent they made fake photos of his wife, Queen Soraya, showing her half naked. The photos were distributed in Afghanistan with the malicious propaganda that the king is not a Muslim in his personal and political life and hence cannot be king of the Pashtun, who are Muslim. Deadly chaos was created in Afghanistan in which Bacha Saqa took power who did with Afghanistan what the ISI backed Taliban did during their reign (1996-2001). Girls’ schools were closed down, Afghan Shias were massacred, the state building agenda was rolled backed and Kabul was ravaged. Similarly, mullahs were also unleashed by the British to discredit Bacha Khan’s movement as well.

King Amanullah Khan’s agenda for social reforms, imposed from above, was very vulnerable to conspiracies by anti-Pashtun forces, who exploited the vulnerability to the full. Contrary to this, Bacha Khan’s movement for social reforms was firmly rooted in people’s confidence that he and his followers had successfully won through direct interaction people in villages and towns. Thus his movement could be never rolled backed despite severe and prolonged oppression by the British-Indian and Pakistani states. Nevertheless, the implantation of the social reforms that both Bacha Khan wanted was thwarted by the successive states’ oppressions. Imagine where the Pashtun as nation would have been today if the reform agendas undertaken on both side of the Durand Line had been carried forward.

To be continued

Courtesy: The Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120330&page=8

ANALYSIS: JI did it again! – Farhat Taj

The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground

Some time back, an Islamabad-based think tank, Jinnah Institute (JI), published a report, ‘Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan: Perceptions of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Elite’. This report was criticised by some writers in the media for its justification of Pakistan’s security policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan. The well-known pro-military establishment journalists tried hard to defend the report. In the process, they exposed their own pro-establishment biases, in addition to have failed to address the valid objections on the report raised by the critics.

Now, the JI has come out with another report, ‘Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2010-2011’. The key reason why the report is misplaced is that it is mainly based on — as stated in its methodology (pg 6) — reports from English and Urdu media in Pakistan. But most of the Pakistani English and Urdu media is neither independent nor abides by any professional or ethical standards in reporting on matters that are the exclusive domain of Pakistan’s military establishment, such as policies about Afghanistan and India. These policies are closely interwoven with religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, the issues that this JI report seeks to look into. The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground.

To elaborate my point, I will comment on one of the essays in the JI report, ‘Turning the Schools to Stones’, to highlight its bias. What the writer of this essay is saying about the bombing of schools in the Pashtun areas — FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even in Afghanistan — is this.

Read more » Daily Times

via – Twitter

Shia Pashtuns of Parachinar may invite foreign intervention to get themselves rid of a brutal military state

Editor’s note: Departing from collective silence in Pakistan’s mainstream media, Daily Times is the only outlet in English and Urdu media which has published at least two articles highlighting the 17 Feb 2012 Shia massacre in Parachinar in which 47 Shias Muslims were massacred; at least 12 of them were killed by live firing by Pakistan’s paramilitary forces (FC) deployed in Kurram Agency. In the following op-ed Farhat Taj notes that what is phenomenal is that so many Shia tribesmen have managed to stay cool-minded despite the trauma they have to live with as shown by the Shias who rescued the Sunnis. Taj also notes that Kurram Shias have a stronger case to invite a foreign power (United Nations, Afghanistan, NATO etc) to get themselves rid of Pakistan’s military state and society that places no worth on their blood and sufferings.

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Pushing Kurram to invite foreign intervention — Farhat Taj

Read more » LUBP

The sham operation in Kurram – Dr Mohammad Taqi

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people, making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks

On July 4, 2011, the Pakistan Army announced that it has launched an operation in the Central Kurram Agency with the primary objective of clearing the ‘miscreants’ and opening of the Peshawar-Thall-Parachinar Road (why Tal has become Thall in the English press beats me). The geographical scope of the operation is rather circumscribed, if the army communiqués are to be believed, and its focus, ostensibly, would be on the Zaimusht, Masozai and Alizai areas. But speaking to the Kurramis from Lower, Central and Upper Kurram, one gets a different sense.

At least one General has reportedly been heard saying during the recent operational meetings leading up to the military action that he intends to teach the Turis (in Upper Kurram) a lesson that they would never forget. The Corps Commander’s communication delivered to the tribal elders of the Upper Kurram literally ordered them to acquiesce in and sign on to the operation. But quite significantly, many other leaders among the Turis, Bangash and Syeds of Upper Kurram have vehemently opposed the military action as well as their own elders who seem to have caved in under duress.

The Turis and Bangash tribesmen are of the opinion that on the Thall-Parachinar Road, the only extortionists bigger than the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are the officers of the army — and they specifically name two colonels — who have made life miserable for the people of Parachinar. These security officials levy protection money even on the supply of daily provisions and medicine to Upper Kurram, resulting in jacked-up prices and in many instances unavailability of life-saving drugs, resulting in deaths that otherwise could be preventable.

The more ominous and geo-strategically important aspects of the current army operation are twofold and are interconnected. We have noted in these pages several times that the Pakistan Army has no problem securing Central and parts of Lower Kurram for its jihadist asset, i.e. the Haqqani terrorist network, who have essentially had a free reign in this region for almost a decade using the Sateen, Shasho and Pir Qayyum camps. The army has also helped the Haqqani and Hekmatyar groups set up humungous compounds on the Durand Line such as the Spina Shaga complex.

The problem the security establishment has faced is to secure a thoroughfare between Central Kurram and the assorted jihadist bridgeheads along the Kurram-Afghanistan border, including but not limited to the Parrot’s Beak region. The key hindrance to such movement is the resistance by the Turi and Bangash tribesmen, which neither the security establishment nor its jihadist proxies have been able to neutralise, coerce or buy off. Projecting the Haqqani network and Hekmatyar’s operatives into Afghanistan from Tari Mangal, Mata Sangar, Makhrani, Wacha Darra and Spina Shaga and other bases on the border is a pivotal component of the Pakistani strategy to keep the US bogged down in Afghanistan and for the post-US withdrawal phase. But with the recent wave of drone attacks on the hideouts of these groups, their vulnerability to the US/ISAF — buoyed by the OBL raid — has also become evident and hence the need for secure routes to retract the jihadists back when needed.

Several attacks on the Turi and Bangash, including by Pakistan Army helicopter gunships last year killing several Pakistanis, have not dented the resolve of the locals to fight back against the jihadists. I had noted in these pages then: “The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement [to relocate the Haqqanis to Kurram]. When the local population reversed the Taliban gains in the battle for the village Khaiwas, the army’s gunships swooped down on them to protect its jihadist partners” (‘Kurram: the forsaken FATA’, Daily Times, November 4, 2010).

The option that the army wants to exercise now is to disarm the Upper Kurram’s tribesmen, especially the Turis. The security establishment has told them that they will have to surrender their “qawmi wasla” (an arms cache that belongs to a tribe as a whole). To disarm and thus defang the tribesmen, who have held their own against the disproportionately stronger and state-sponsored enemy for almost half a decade, is essentially pronouncing their death sentence.

Without their weapons, the Turis and Bangash will be at the whim of an army that had literally abandoned Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala and Pir Samiullah in Swat and the Adeyzai lashkar (outside Peshawar). Afzal Khan Lala lost several loyalists and family members and Pir Samiullah was murdered, his body buried but later exhumed and mutilated by the Taliban, while the army stood by and did nothing. My co-columnist and researcher, Ms Farhat Taj has highlighted the plight of the Adeyzai lashkar several times in these pages, including the fact that it was left high and dry by the security establishment against an overwhelming Taliban force. And lest we forget, it was this same army that made Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) negotiate with Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban, with suicide bombers standing guard on each men and blocking the door along with muzzles of automatic rifles pointed into their faces.

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people (IDPs), making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks. Also, the establishment’s focus has been to ‘reorient’ the TTP completely towards Afghanistan. The breaking away from the TTP of the crook from Uchat village, Fazl-e-Saeed Zaimusht (who now interestingly writes Haqqani after his name) is the first step in the establishment’s attempt to regain full control over all its jihadist proxies.

The offensive in Central Kurram is not intended for securing the road; it will be broadened to include the Upper Kurram in due course, in an attempt to bring the Turis and Bangash to their knees. After their arms have been confiscated, it could be a turkey shoot for the jihadists and Darfur for the Kurramis. It is doubtful though that the common Turi or Bangash tribesman is about to listen to some elder who is beholden to the establishment, and surrender the only protection that they have had. The Pakistan Army’s track record of protecting jihadists and shoving the anti-Taliban forces off the deep end speaks for itself.

Pakistan’s security establishment can perpetuate on the US and the world a fraud like the hashtag de-radicalisation on Twitter and buzzwords like de-programming suicide bombers by trotting out the so-called intelligentsia whose understanding of the Pashtun issues is woefully flawed. But it is unlikely that Kurramis are about to fall for this sham of an operation that paves the way for their genocide.

Courtesy: → Daily Times