Friday, February 15, 2008



There is no reference to Jandakhels of the Khyber Agency in this enumeration---B.Raman
AbdaliLiving in Qandahar District of Afghanistan
AchakzaiA large tribe of Pashtuns; majority of them live in Quetta, Qilla Saifullah, Qilla Abdullah and Pishin Districts of Pakistan and in Qandahar District of Afghanistan
AfridiMajority of them live in Khyber and Orakzai agencies of Pakistan's Tribal areas bordering Afghanistan
AlakozaiAlako was the brother of Popal and Barak. (Popalzai and Barakzai). His offspring is known as Alakozai's. Their traditional home is the Arghandab Valley north of Qandahar
Bannuchis New
BetaniLiving in Lakki Marwat District and Waziristan Agencies of Pakistan
BangashLiving in Kohat, Kurram and Orakzai Agencies
BaboriOriginating in the Suleiman Mountains between NWFP and Balochistan, the Babori (or Babar's) are widely dispersed
Dolat Khel
Dolat Zai
Ghoria Khel
Ghilji/GhilzaiOne of the most famous tribes of Afghanistan. They are large and widespread and occupy the high plateaus north of Qandahar (Qalat-e-Ghilzai) and extend eastwards towards the Suleiman Mountains westwards towards the Gul Koh range, and north of the Kabul River
MarwatSettled mostly in Lakki Marwat district. Large populations also live in Peshawar (Migrated), Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Bannu District.
Muhammad Zai
Niazi New
Qais Abdul Rashid BabaQais Baba is considered the father of all Pashtuns. It is said that Qais Baba was a companion of the Prophet PBUH and that he married the daughter of Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed RA. He also participated in many Ghazvats (Battles) and was very well known for his bravery. His tomb is in Zhob district of Balochistan.
SwatiThe biggest land ownin group of Mansehra and Battagram districts. In the times of Muhammad Ghauri, they came to Swat from Shalman in Afghanistan and defeated the Hindus to establish their rule in that valley.
Utman KhelPredominantly live in Bajaur Agency and adjacent Swat districts.
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Khyber Agency
Khyber Agency has an area of 991 square miles. The majority of the tribes in this agency are Afridis, of which there are eight major sections. However, there are important pockets of Mallagoris (Mohmand) Shilmanis, and Shinwaries. Shinwaries live on both sides of the Pakistan Afghan border but are predominantly in Afghanistan. The Afridis are famed as the tribe that control the Khyber Pass and also as the inhabitants of what is still one of the most inaccessible areas, Afridi Tirah. This strategic situation has enabled the Afridis to force every conqueror in history passing through the Khyber to come to terms with them. They have a formidable battle record for strategy and tenacity in the mountains. They once annihilated an entire Moghul army of Aurangzeb's.
Khyber is a Hebrew name of a fort. It was in the battle of Khyber near Madinia Munawwarah, where Hazrat Ali (RA) showed great chivalry and that is why, Khyber was founded in the present Khyber Pass by the Pathans, on settlement in 8th century A.D. Similarly, Ali Masjid was founded in the memory of Hazrat Ali (RA).
Khyber Pass has very rich history, Buddhism spread through this pass to Afghanistan and the stupas at Ali Masjid and Sphola bear witness to it. Many a battles were fought here by the Afghans against the invading armies. Amir Taimur built a prison in the pass, which is visible from Michi Post. Akbar the Great built a fortress at Kafirkot, near Charbagh. The Mughal Army of Aurangzeb was massacred near Landikotal in 1672 AD. The Sikhs built a strong fort at Jamrud where General Hari Singh Nalwa was killed in 1837.
The agency headquarters are in Peshawar in winter when the tribes migrate to the comparatively warmer Khajuri plains just beyond the Bara market town (5 miles from Peshawar). New water schemes on the Bara River are converting the semi arid and barren Khajuri Plains into valuable land for cultivation and habitation. Brick houses are appearing at a rapid rate. The summer headquarters are in Landi Kotal on the international border. Jamrud (deriving its name from the Iranian emperor Jamshed who ruled here some 2000 years ago) sits at the mouth of the Khyber Pass about ten miles from Peshawar. A Sikh fort that looks remarkably like a battleship still dominates the Jamrud area. The Kuki Khel Afridis live here. Shahgai fort, ten miles from Jamrud, with its squash courts and swimming pool, is one of the best maintained and striking on the frontier. Ali Masjid (Hazrat Ali, the son in law of the Holy Prophet is said to have prayed here) is the highest point and key to the pass.
The Khyber agency is the only afghan outpost to be annexed by the british. Its recorded history is long and colourful and begins with the arrival of the achaemenians, followed by the greek legions of Alexander the great, who were in turn succeeded by a series of invading hordes who thundered through on their way to the lush valley of Peshawar, tapering off with the british Indian expeditionary forces who marched in so bravely and stumbled out so disastrously. Numerous memorials were carved on the rock faces to the british Indian regiments who gradually wrested the pass from the Pathans and the afghans.
The Afghan border at Torkham is 56 kilometres (35 miles) from Peshawar, about an hour?s drive. The road runs west from the cantonment and through University Town, after which the fields on either side of the road are covered with refugee camps. After the camps are the compounds of Pakhtoon tribesmen, their high mud walls furnished with turrets and gun slits, their entrances guarded by huge corrugated-iron gates.
Places to See
Jamrud Fort
Jamrud Fort, 18 kilometres (11 miles) from Peshawar and at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, is as far as a visitor can go without a permit. To proceed further, foreigners require a permit. This permit is free of charge and can be obtained by applying at the Political Agent?s offices. Let alone foreigners, even Pakistanis have to apply for this permit if they need to visit. Jamrud Fort is visible from a distance like an old battleship. Looking ruggedly majestic with its jumble of towers and loop hole walls, the fort contains the grave of its builder, the famous Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa, who died here in action against the forces of the Amir of Kabul in 1837 AD. The fort; coarsely constructed of stone daubed with mud plaster, was built by the Sikhs in 1823 on the site of an earlier fort. The modern stone arch spanning the road dates from 1964.
The Khyber Pass
The most famous pass of the world, the Khyber Pass, is 16 km from Peshawar. It has been, throughout history, the most important gateway to the plains of the South Asian sub-continent both for migration and invasion. Starting from the foot-hills of the Suleiman Range at the Jamrud; 11 miles from Peshawar, it extends beyond the border of Pakistan at Torkham, 36 miles away and it gradually rises to an elevation of 1,066 meters above sea level. The pass is 1 ? km at its widest and only 16 meters at its narrowest.
It is not the view but the idea of the place that attracts so many people to the Khyber. The Khyber isn't at the border of Afghanistan but it stretches through the Suleiman Hills for miles on both sides. In Peshawar, you're in Government administered land. The area behind the Smuggler's bazar gives way to the Khyber Agency, one of the seven agencies which make up the Tribal areas. Signboards appear by the roadside warning motorist snot to wander off the main highway because in these Tribal areas, Pakistani Law gives way to Tribal law a few metres off the main road. Hence visitors must be accompanied with an armed escort at all times.
The pass itself is about 25 miles long. The Tatara range dominates the entire pass and is clearly visible from Peshawar and its environs. The first political officer was Major Cavagnari, appointed in 1879 and the first Political Agent, Major G. Roos Keppell (1902).
The eastern end of the pass is wide and flat, bounded on either side by low, stony hills. Every small hillock in the area is capped with a picket manned by the Frontier Force. The road zigzags up, passing two viewpoints that look back into the Vale of Peshawar, until it reaches Shahgai Fort, which was built by the British in the 1920s. It then starts down into a small valley in which stand fortified Pashtun houses and the Ali Masjid. Perched high above this mosque on a commanding spur is the Ali Masjid Fort, which overlooks the entire length of the pass and guards the gorge that is its narrowest point. The road here hugs a narrow ledge beside the river bed in the shadow of high cliffs on either side. Until the way was widened, two laden camels could not squeeze past each other, and even now the road is one way. The return road and the railway follow separate ledges higher up on the opposite cliff, affording a less exciting view of the gorge. Throughout the way, little stone army forts & scattered concrete "Dragon's Teeth" act as a reminder of WWII fears by the British of a German tank invasion of the subcontinent.
You will rarely see any women apart from the nomadic tribeswomen, who are usually dressed in red or maroon. The black and grey tents of the nomads bnug the snad, while camels wander around grazing on the sparese vegetation. You will also see children, young shepehers and shepherdesses and their flocks of sheep and goats. Except for the nomads, all the men appear to be literally armed to the teeth.
Khyber Pass has been a silent witness to countless events in the history of mankind. As one drives though the Pas at a leisurely pace, imagination unfolds pages of history, the Aryans descending upon the fertile northern plains in 1,500 BC subjugating the indigenous Dravidian population and settling down to open a glorious chapter in the history of civilisation, the Persian hordes under Darius (6th century BC) crossing into the Punjab to annex yet another province to the Achaemenian Empire; the armies of Alexander the Great (326 BC) marching through the rugged Pass to fulfil the wishes of a young, ambitious conqueror; the terror of Ghanghis Khan unwrapping the majestic hills and turning back towards the trophies of ancient Persia; the white Huns bringing fire and destruction in their wake; the Scythians and the Parthians, the Mughals and the Afghans, conquerors all, crossing over to leave their impact and add more chapters to the diverse history of this sub-continent.
Ali Masjid
Near the narrowest point of the pass, about 15 Km from Jamrud is Ali Masjid and a large fort and a british cemetry. The valley walls bear insignia of British regiments that have served here. In the cemetery here are the graves of British soldiers killed in the Second Afghan War of 1879. This was the famous battle of Ali Masjid. Regimental insignia are carved and painted on to the rock faces at several places along the road, with the Gordon Highlanders, the South Wales Borderers, and the Royal Sussex, Cheshire and Dorset regiments standing in one doughty group. After the gorge, the pass opens out into a wide fertile valley dotted with Pashtun villages. True to form, however, these villages look more like forts, with high, crenellated mud walls running between watch-towers pierced with narrow gun slits.
The Ali Masjid Fort is located at the narrowest portion of the Khyber Pass, through which only a loaded mule or Camel could pass till as late as the mid nineteenth century. The fort was built by the British in 1890. The ruins of a Buddhist Stupa can also be seen in the area. There is also a mosque and a shrine in the memory of Hazrat Ali (RA), who visited this place according to a local tradition. There is also a huge boulder which carries the marks of a hand believed to be that of Hazrat Ali (RA). Even Khyber was named after the Khyber of Arabia, where Hazrat Ali (RA) accomplished a great deed of valour.
Shpola Stupa
Shpola Stupa, a Buddhist ruin dating from the second to the fifth centuries AD, stands to the right of the road and above the railway at the village of Zarai, 25 kilometres (16 miles) from Jamrud. The Stupa has a high hemispherical dome resting on a three-tiered square base. Some beautiful Gandharan sculptures were found here when the site was excavated at the beginning of this century. Some of the finds are now in the Peshawar Museum. The side of the Stupa lacing the road has been restored.
Landi Kotal
Landi Kotal, at the end of the railway line and eight kilometres (five miles) from the border, is a smugglers? town. It is 7 km away from Ali Masjid and is situated 1200 m above sea level. Electrical goods, cloth and drugs are the main commodities in the bazaar below the road to the left. However, with the growth of the Smuggler's Bazar near Peshawar, this area lost its status of contraband city. But it is still full of shops selling weapons along with electrical goods, etc at unbelievable low prices. The road forks here: right to the Khyber Rifles? headquarters, left to the border. A viewpoint beyond the town looks out across tank traps of closely packed cement pyramids to the border post at Torkham (Also known as the 'Dragon's Teeth'), the last oasis of green before the barren brown of the Afghan plain.
Michni Post
The last point "tourists" are allowed to go to is the Michni Checkpost where journalists and VIPs get briefed. Just beyond Michni Checkpost at a journey time of around half an hour is the Border at Torkham, which leads to Afghanistan.
Torkham Checkpost
The immigration and customs checkposts are at Torkham; the border town here, which has shops, hotels, cafes, restaurants, banks, bakeries and government offices, most of the buildings are low roofed and seem to huddle together as if for security. A barrier consisting of a waist high barbed wire fence with an opening is now part of the scenery in landti Kotal. There was also numerous signs including a welcome to Pakistan sign a warning to get to Peshawar by nightfall and a small lboard on the afghani side with a few propaganda posters plastered on it in urdu.
Kafir Kot
On a hilltop to the left of Torkham is the ruined Kafir Fort, a Hindu relic of the ninth century AD. On this ridge in 1919, the British and Afghans fought one of the last engagements of the Third Afghan War. The top of the hill is now Afghan territory, with a commanding view down on Pakistani installations and forts.
The Khyber Train
For rail enthusiasts, the Khyber Railway from Peshawar to Landi Kotal is a three-star attraction. The British built it in the l920s at the then enormous cost of more than two million pounds. It is said that when the British built the railway, the tribesmen used to travel free whereas others had to pay. It passes through 34 tunnels totaling five kilometres (three miles) and over 92 bridges and culverts. Total length of the track is 42 km. Two or three coaches are pulled and pushed by two oil fired engines. At one point, the track climbs 130 meters in little more than a kilometer (425 feet in 0.7 miles) by means of the heart stopping Chungai Spur. This is a W-shaped section of track with two cliff-hanging reversing stations, at which the train wheezes desperately before shuddering to a stop and hacking away from the brink. The Pakistan government has dubbed it as 'The Khyber Steam Safari Train'. Tourists in bundles apply for the ticket which is booked by appointment only. Groups of 20 to 45 passengers can book one bogey for an all day outing to Landi Kotal and back; a ride lasting ten to eleven hours.
The Khyber train currently runs only by appointment. Groups of 20 to 45 passengers can book one bogey for an all day outing to Landi Kotal and back, a ride lasting ten to eleven hours, for US $ 1,000. But you can easily see the train at rest at Peshawar Station.
Warsak Dam
The gignatic multi-purpose Warsak Dam is situated 30 kms north-west of Peshawar in the heart of tribal territory. It has a total generating capacity of 240,000 kw and will eventually serve to irrigate 110,000 acres of land.


(FROM "DAWN" OF FEB.15,2008)

LANDI KOTAL, Feb 14: As search continued for Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin who went missing in Khyber Agency on Monday, the political administration launched a crackdown on the agency’s Jandakhel tribe.Officials, meanwhile, said the administration had found a clue that could lead to the recovery of the diplomat, his driver and a security guard.An official said 11 people of the tribe had been arrested and five vehicles impounded under the territorial responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation. He said the men had gone missing in the area of the tribe.NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani told journalists in Peshawar that the scope of the search operation had been extended to the entire area and several teams had been constituted.He said there were speculations that the kidnappers might have shifted the ambassador to Orakzai Agency.Officials in Khyber Agency said the diplomat was possibly still their area although they had claimed that his vehicle was last seen in Orakzai Agency.“The Jandakhel tribe has been targeted because some of its elders disappeared after the abduction of Ambassador Azizuddin,” an official said. “This aroused suspicion about their possible involvement in the kidnapping.”Jandakhel tribesmen blocked the Peshawar-Torkham highway for about one hour in protest against the arrests.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Waziristan and world’s Romanticism
Said Muhammad Mahsud
It is, perhaps, too easy to romanticise Pakistan's tribal areas in general and Waziristan in particular, as the tribesmen live by an ancient code and their fierce defiance has secured famous victories against powerful enemies. The tribal areas are arid, dusty and cold. It is a rugged country and the mud-built houses, each one surrounded by high walls, are like forts. Nothing grows there and since they cannot farm, the tribesmen scratch a living from smuggling. They call it cross-border trade. Tribal culture still rests on principles that have been in place for centuries: revenge, honour, hospitality and a distinctly old-fashioned view of women. It is tempting to think that having preserved their way of life for so long, the tribesmen will resist change in the future. In truth, it is remarkable it has survived so long and as some of the more enlightened tribal leaders now accept, in a world of modern communication, their way of life is increasingly unsustainable. Many educated tribal men believe that drastic reforms are needed to bring the tribal areas up to par with the rest of the country. Recently, the government launched a new body, Fata Development Authority, for fast-track development. Meanwhile, human rights groups are pressing for changes to the judicial system. For the past 4 years or so, Waziristan has had the misfortune to be a very active frontline in America's war on terror. Under US pressure, the Pakistani government has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and used aerial bombing to flush out a few hundred al-Qaeda suspects and foreign militants who found sanctuary there. After our president’s reassurance to U.S, that campaign looks set to continue for good. However, already the response has been ferocious. The local Taliban, fully supported by young Mahsuds and Waziris , have killed hundreds of Pakistani soldiers. The tribal elders in Waziristan can do little more than make forlorn appeals for negotiations. But the young Waziristani do not want to talk. Inspired by the local mullahs, they are vowing to fight. Songs now available in the markets in Waziristan spells out the danger of the army's decision to use force in there. "Waziristan has been broken into thousands of pieces," it says, "and each piece will raise the banner of Islam." The wheel has come full circle in South Waziristan. It has been a little over four and a half years since the launch of the military operation in areas dominated by the Mahsud tribe after the government had used similar tactics to force tribal militants to submit to state authority and expel foreign militants. Little wonder then that the military finds itself sucked into another operation in South Waziristan. The government has imposed a debilitating economic blockade on the Mahsud tribe and very little is coming out of the embattled zone in terms of information. It has caused the displacement of a large number of Mahsud tribesmen, including women and children, who had to walk on foot for miles to reach the relative safety of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. They have left their homes unlocked just to get a safe refuge and while moving to safer place many have been imprisoned by the authorities and many have been facing serious problems. How these poor families live in different refugee camps, how many social or governmental organizations are helping them is a pathetic shameful story that will be discussed some other time. The battle for control in South Waziristan is critical. It is described as one of the most important frontlines in the fight against Islamic extremism, a new proxy war. It has implications both for the stability of President Musharraf's government and for the struggle for dominance in Afghanistan. Urged by the United States, which is increasingly alarmed by the situation, the Pakistani authorities are expanding their military forces there. But any gains on the ground will be hard won. Militants in the area are drawn from a cluster of local tribes and embedded in local communities. Waziristan was seen as a key place of refuge for many Taleban fighters, displaced from Afghanistan. There is still regular cross-border exchange of people, skills and weapons. So control of Waziristan is key to attempts to control Afghanistan. In the past, the Pakistan government cut deals with these tribal militants. But many now say that just gave the militants time to gain strength. The current military campaign though is proving very high risk. Pakistan's army is struggling with low morale. Many are dispirited by the loss of life - and the constant threat of ambush, kidnap and suicide attacks. Their disillusionment is dangerous for President Musharraf - who needs the army's support. A rising number of suicide attacks elsewhere in Pakistan - generally blamed on pro-Taleban militants - is also undermining public confidence in President Musharraf's handling of the crisis. It will be foolish if we consider Waziristan vulnerable. It has a rich history and has defeated every invader tried to invade. In 1842, a 17,000-strong British force was marching through the snow from Kabul to the Khyber Pass when the tribesmen struck. Legend has it that only one Briton, a doctor called William Brydon, got out alive. More recently, when the tribesmen fought in Afghanistan, they humbled the mighty Soviet Union for years, using little more than Kalashnikovs against helicopter gun ships. And they have also resisted interference from their own, Pakistani, government. Pakistani law applies only on the main roads in the tribal areas. Step off the road and your fate is decided by traditional tribal rules interpreted in a jirga, or meeting of tribal elders. If Pakistan army wants to take control of Waziristan (the burning paradise) it has to revise its strategy, the policy of force and war that will bring no fruit but ultimate destruction and trouble to the whole country. This war has never been a struggle for Pakistan or Islam but for some personal gains with some old notions. It is the time for both Mullahs and Military to maintain peace and stop terrorizing innocent people as they both are responsible for securing our geographical ideological borders otherwise we will go to dogs, having no name on the surface of this planet. Today every Pakistani is in catch-22 situation and has been pushed to a cul-de-sac. As Matthew Arnold says, “Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008




Wednesday, 14 March 2007

THE politics of the Pathan centre round gold and power, hunger and ambition, just like yours. As he has more blood in his veins and more bubbles in his head than you have, he is inclined to make them rather lively. Politics today do what religion did five hundred years ago. They are merely a system men have developed, whereby they pay for their stupidities by giving crafty wise men and earnest fools the power to rule them. For every man must rule or be ruled. There is no third way unless you are a poet or a lunatic.

Being direct and rather thick between the ears every Pathan imagines he is Alexander the Great and wants the world to admit it. The result is a constant struggle between cousin and cousin, brother and brother and quite often between father and son. This has proved his sole undoing through the ages. They have not succeeded in being a great nation because there is a Jinnah in every home, who would rather burn his own house than see his brother rule it.

A violent temperament, a domineering nature and abysmal ignorance are his only sources of inspiration. When he cannot be the Lord Mayor of Delhi, he develops a great contempt for Delhi and a great love for his two and a half acres,, where he can and does function as Lard Mayor as Lord Mayor, he loves his own freedom, but hates to give freedom to anyone else. A true democrat. He thinks he is as good as anyone and his father rolled into one and is stupid enough to try this sort of thing even with his wife. She pays for it in youth and he in old age.

He suffers from a pronounced lack of tact and a distinct excess of practical self-expression. He would rather shoot his way out of a problem than get a headache thinking about u. He has great ambition and no patience; that is why he usually dies rather young. He has a great heart and a thick head; that is why he makes a charming friend and a fine host. He has a proud head and an empty stomach; that is why he is a great dacoit.

When he has to choose between ransom and alms, he chooses ransom because he is a man and not a worm. He looks at the torn clothes of his beautiful young wife and the hungry eyes of his child. He picks up his rifle and grits his teeth and goes into the jaws of death to procure a yard of cloth for the one and a mouthful of food for the other. When a social system fails to provide for his dear ones, he tramples it down under his grass sandals.

When a political arrangement decides to starve him and overfeed another he shoots holes into it.That is a quality in him which I admire He would rather steal than beg. So would I. He would rather face the anger of God and man than the shame and disgrace of poverty. He would rather look into the frightened eyes of a kidnapped merchant than the sad accusing eyes of his ill fed wife and the hungry, hopeful glance of his wretched children.

I would rather see a man hang for dacoity than see him crawl along a pavement with outstretched palms, asking for alms from those who have found generous buyers for their souls. The Pathan loves to steal because he hates to beg. That is why I love him, in spite of his thick head and vain heart. He would rather break his head than sell it with that genteel submission so common in civilised man.

These hundred years the British have bribed and corrupted him. They bought up his priests and Khans and Faqirs. They purchased the tin-gods he worshipped, paid him with Indian gold in the service of English folly and asked him to put out his eyes and his spirit. It worked in bits and for a while.

Just to give you an idea of the gentle Christian mind I would like to tell you a story of Tirah. Tirah is a land of strange stories and stranger customs. It is the house of the Afridis.The tribesmen have so many living moving and colourful facts to talk about that they do not have to draw on fiction to light up their humdrum darkness with artificial light. Here is a true story.

Tirah has a large, wide-awake and virile population of Muslim Sunnis and a small, intelligent and clever minority of Muslim Shias. Both the sects are pure Afridis by stock and blood. They lie between India and Afghanistan and pay for it. When Amanullah Khan perked up a bit, and behaved like the Pathan he was, heedless, go-ahead and careless, the white Sahibs objected. And while Amanullah Khan and his Queen danced in the capitals of Europe, jealousy and ambition and hunger and ignorance were marshalled together into a battalion of destruction by Christian gold in the capital of Afghanistan.The Shias of Tirah were more intelligent than their neighbours. Amanullah was broadminded and tolerant of the various sects in Islam. The Shias of Tirah loved him and supported him. they were willing and ready to thrust from the sout-west and defend the young monarch. But lo and behold, simultaneously with the resentment of the priests in Afghanistan, there appeared eloquent priests not mong the Shias but the Sunnis of Tirah.And while in Afghanistan the learned beards and heavy turbans shook in pious rage to denounce the Christian ways and un-Pathan and un-Islamic ethics of the young king, in Tirah they shook to denounce the Shias, the murderers of Usman, the beloved son-in-law of the Prophet.

Most of these lovers of Usman were from the settled districts, the area under British rule. Heaven and houris were promised to those who killed the Shias. the AFridis listened. The gold offered and the houris promised proved too much for them. they picked up their rifles and went in search of Heaven.Then followed a most frightful destruction not only of the Shias but of their cattle and trees as well. Valleys where the Shias lived were laid desolate - millions of fruit trees, hundreds of years old Chinar plantations were sawn down. the Shias were too broken and distracted to come to Amanullahs help.They paid for their wisdom with blood and tears, and Amanullah paid for his with crown and kingdom. For daring to assert his freedom, he lost his only kingdom and the Afghans their only king. And for daring to help an ideal, the Shias lost their children and orchards.

A masterpiece of cold, efficient planning and brilliant, ruthless execution. I would leave you to decide who profited by this bloodshed and horror darkness and hatred. This is only one of the thousands of such stories of the Tribal Territory. Every word of it is true. some sunnis may not know who drove them, but the Shias know who struck them. Some Pathans may not have been able to save Amanullah, but they know why they could not save him.

The sole role of the political department of the Government of India under the British was to try to teach the hawks of Khyber the wretched ways of the crow and the vulture. It seduced the lowest and the greediest of the tribe and gave them importance and bought influence for them. A tool must be important and influential. All influence in the tribes belonged to the Khan and the Priest - one is the lord of this world, the other claims the lordship of the next.

The Political Service supplied the tribes with divine-looking priests, who put on the uniform of Allah's servants to serve the devil. They perverted the tribesmen's intense devotion to God into an intense hatred of his brother, they used his childish faith and honesty in the service of deceit and corruption.

The British succeeded beautifully. The Pathans were too busy cutting one another's throat to think of anything else. There was blood and darkness everywhere. The Empire was safe and the Pathan damned.

But then something happened, to know what that something was, we must leave the tribesmen and their hills and come down into the rich valleys of the so called Settled Area, the North West Frontier Province for it was in a little village in the prosperous Peshawar valley that the first Khudai Khidmatgar was born.He was the fifth child of a tall, beautiful, blue-eyed woman and an honest and sturdy blue-blooded old Khan.His father, Behram Khan, had no feuds - a unique distinction for a Khan, because he had forgiven all his enemies. Behram Khan never told a lie, he did not know how to. He liked the British who ruled him though he could never remember their names. He loved horses but was a poor rider. He was optimistic to a fault and consequently possessed a fine sense of humour. He was painfully honest; therefore the people loved him.

Behram Khan lived and farmed and laughed and cursed merrily up to a ripe old age; his two daughters were well married. His eldest son was a Captain in the British Army. He had enrolled from his college in London and fought bravely all through the war.

His younger son had refused a First World War commission and taken to farming and religion. Behram Khan did not understand this sort of thing, but then he had given up trying to understand his younger son. Being the youngest child he was his mother's pet. The boy was kind and clean and six-foot-three. He loved his old father and always gave strange, noble reasons for doing things. The old Khan forgave him everything, even refusing a commission in the Army. Besides, his beautiful old mother supported the boy. She seemed to understand him better than he. She understood everything the child did. And if she said it was all right it must be so. So Behram Khan gave him a village to manage, married him to the girl he wanted to marry and hoped he would give up his strange notions and settle down.

The young man adored his wife a whimsical, lovable, generous creature, well bred and from a fine old family. But still he wandered. He worshipped his children, two sons, but very often when he sat by the fire he would stop cuddling them and a far-away look would come into his eyes. His lovely wife knew these moods and hated them. For every woman likes to possess all of a man. She realised that there was something in this strong, handsome husband of hers that made him forget her beautiful eyes and the twitters of her children by the fireside.She did not live long to see those long silences and dark moods turn into strength and action. She died before she was twenty-five. They covered her with flowers and took her to the burial ground in her wedding robe. She left behind two baby boys with a bewildered, terrified look in their eyes. They sensed the horror of death though they did not understand or know what it meant.

Abdul Ghaffar Khan's restlessness increased. The European war had brought to India a hypocritical promise of advance at its beginning and an influenza epidemic in the end. He left his children in the tender care of his old mother and drowned his sorrow in work and service.He had found his profession in life. He had found a new love - his people. Pathans must be united, educated, reformed and organised. He started to talk to them, to draw their attention to the misery and darkness of their lives. He tried to make the Pathans think. He succeeded rather too well for his own neck.

In the beginning, the simple Khans of Hashtnagar collected in a big mosque and said he was their king - "Badshah." The local representative of his Britannic Majesty lost their sense of humour (that wonderful English sense of humour that you always see in Punch but seldom in an Englishman's eyes). The Assistant Commissioner arrived with soldiers and artillery, surrounded the village, disarmed the inhabitants and fined them sixty five thousand rupees. He gave them a lecture in broken and ridiculous Pushto on the British might and carried away sixty respectable old Khans as hostages until the fine was paid.

This crowd included Behram Khan who was then about seventy-five years old and had been a confirmed and loyal friend of the British. The others too were as innocent of any serious rebellion as he was. But they all hated the insult. They resented their helplessness. They felt the bonds of slavery for the first time.

Being Pathans they did not try to clear the misunderstanding; anyway they were too angry to do anything except curse. They just grit their teeth, and told the Englishman. "All right, if you think we are rebels, well then we are. You can do your worst and to hell with you".

Abdul Ghaffar Khan narrowly escaped the gallows. This incident gave him his pet name "Badshah Khan" which means the "King Khan" - the name by which the Pathans have since known him. Far from frightening him it made him braver. It gave him a sympathetic following and a greatEven old Behram Khan began to curse the English and liked his son for getting on their nerves.

The Badshah Khan opened a school. He made an association called "Pathan Reformer." Its aims and objects were purely social. It was non-political and purely missionary. And yet he was arrested and sentenced to three years hard labour. When he pleaded with the rulers that education was no crime, that he was merely helping the Government, the reply given was, "Yes. But if you are allowed to organise the Pathans for social reform, what is the guarantee that this organisation will not be used against the Government and its interest?" "You must trust me," said Badshah Khan. "No," said the high and mighty. "You must apologise and give a security that you won't do it again and you will be set free." "Give a security that I will cease to love and serve my people?" asked Badshah Khan aghast, for he had read in a mission school and had many illusions about Christian justice and charity."This is not service. It is rebellion, " said the high and mighty, more to ease his conscience than to instruct Badshah Khan.

This magic sentence condemned Badshah Khan to three years of torture and entitled the high and mighty to a higher grade of pay and a title next year. In the meanwhile the school flourished and the society remained organised and active, the three long years finished, Badshah Khan came out of jail, frail and worn out. But his spirit was like steel. His Blue eyes were proud of their suffering and determined and cold. He put his arms around his motherless sons and caressed with trembling fingers, their warm, excited cheeks.

Behram Khan was in great good humour. He poured out tea for thousands of visitors and said little complimentary things about Englishmen and their grandmothers. Pathans by the thousand rushed to Badshah Khan to welcome him home. Boys looked at him with admiration, girls sang songs about him.

The Pathans had found their greatest outlaw. The nation of fighters had discovered their leader, thanks to the British. The British master was furious. How dare these damned Pathans worship that rebel! They must be taught a lesson soon, but before that this stupid big man must be removed at once.

Badshah Khan was always an easy person to arrest and sentence because he was too big and too brave to use subterfuge and camouflage. He did everything in the open and dared the British and the devil to do what they could about it. They shut him up in a prison again and hoped he would know which side this bread was buttered. He suffered the tortures of damned-solitary confinement, heavy chains on his hands and feet, dirt and filth and lice and hunger, and most of all insults and kicks, jeers and sneers from the lowest and the most loathsome of British lackeys.

He ground his forty pounds of corn daily with the handmill and never complained. He was a model prisoner always. He never complained of the worms in his vegetables. He treated his captors with an aloof contempt that almost resembled respect. He was kind in spite of his strength and gentle even with his enemies. He forgave everything to everyone, and possessed unlimited patience. He always covered his sorrow with a smile and his pain with a joke.

When he came out this time he started his first political agitation, a demand for full reforms for the Frontier. Ninety-eight per cent of the Pathans are illiterate, a written piece of paper says nothing to him. So Badshah Khan went from village to village talking to them. His companions found that their white clothes got easily dirty. So they decided to colour them. One of them took his to the local tannery and dipped them in the solution of pine bark prepared for the skins. The result was a dark browny red. The rest did the same.

When next the group went out, the unusual colour attracted the eye at once. People left their ploughs in the fields and came to have a look at the red-clad men. They came, saw and were conquered. Badshah Khan adopted the colour for his new workers, whom he called Khudai Khidmatgars. Their aim was freedom: their motto service.

I have given you a rather long sketch of Badshah Khan because he really is the politics of the Pathan. He understands the Pathan and the Pathan understand him. And you cannot understand either unless you are a Pathan. Badshah Khan is an old man now. He has a silvery white beard and long beautiful hands. When you see him next look into his kind blue eyes and you will know more about Pathan politics then I could tell you in a thousand chapters. For the holiest and the finest in a man is as inexpressible as stardust and moonlight. Love and kindness cannot be imprisoned in letters any more than in an English prison.

Badshah Khan has discovered by practical experience that love can create more in a second than the atom bombs can destroy in a century, that the kindest strength is the greatest strength, that the only way to be brave is to be right that a clean dream is dearer than life and the soft eyes of your children. These are the things he has taught the Pathan.


I HAVE come to the end of my story. I hope you enjoyed hearing it as much as I enjoyed telling it. Reading is the civilised form of listening, and writing a complicated way of talking.I have tried to tell you of my people. Not from a cold, unbiased, unprejudiced point of view, because I am not a stone, which is the only thing that may be described truthfully as unbiased.Thought is an expression of prejudice. Inspiration is above prejudice and therefore above thought. Prejudice and bias is mother's milk to man. The sooner you admit it the better.

When I see a judge of the High Court, with his serious face and his noble wig, dispensing "unbiased justice," I always want to laugh. No. I won't do that. I am a Pathan and must be honest, so I will frankly admit that I am prejudiced in favour of my people. Indeed I would hate myself if I were not.I have given you my picture of them. How could I give any other ' I love them in spite of their murders and cruelty, ignorance and hunger. Because he kills for a principle and cares not who calls it murder. He is a great democrat. "The Pathan." he says, "are rain-sown wheat - they all came up on the same day - they are all the same".

In our Red Shirt movement when we put the pips of a general on the shoulder of a Pathan butcher or weaver he grins, he does not blush. However dirty and coarse his hand he will stretch it to a king for a hand-shake. However meagre his meal he will invite an emperor to share it. "Look at the warmth in my eyes," he tells his guest, "and not the hardness of the corn bread before you.But the chief reason why I love him is because he will wash his face and oil his beard and perfume his locks and nut on his best pair of clothes when he goes out to fight and die. The dear child wants the houris to like him. He thinks God will dislike a dirty face as much as he does himself; so he washes it. He says AllahIs good and sweet To him who laughs And sings and dies. He says the cowards Weep and work, But fighters go To Paradise.I am definitely prejudiced in his favour. I hope by now you too are prejudiced.



Swat:From Tourism to Terrorism

Wednesday, 06 February 2008
Shaheen Bunairee

Maulana Fazlullah[Swat] Swat, peaceful beauty, land of color, roses and gushing rivers, rich in history, home to myriads of Buddhist stupas, idyllic spot for glorious Pashtun traditions of love, peace, and hospitality, until recently. Once a paradise on earth — now all is lost. "There was a time when women and girls from the valley traveled from Mingora town all the way by foot over the high and legendary Mountains of Elum to the mausoleum of the famous saint Pir Baba in downtown Buner, there to offer prayers for finding a sweetheart or to sing sad songs telling of separation. We were poor but happy then. God only knows who cast an evil eye on our land and turned it into hell", said Shaukat Sharar, a local intellectual from Mingora town, capital of the scenic Swat district in northern Pakistan, a mist clouding his eyes with nostalgia.

TNSM-the First Pro-Taliban Movement:

Swat Valley, which fell to pro-Taliban fighters in July 2007, and became a valley of death and destruction, was the most beautiful and scenic valley in southern Asia. The people were liberal in attitude and way of life. They had culture, traditions, and above all—hope.

It seems like yesterday that the people of Swat worked in their orchards and rice fields, reaping enough corn and money to live with honor and dignity. There was a street called Music Street, where beautiful Swati girls once danced to the tune of artistically rich Pashto music for the greater delight of visitors. Even the former Wali (ruler) of Swat State married a famous dancer to bless her community with respect for the richly traditional Pashtun society.

Then in 1992 Maulana Sufi Muhammad, an extremist cleric, launched the "Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi Movement" (TNSM or Movement for the Enforcement of the Islamic Legal System) in Malakand region. His followers occupied government buildings and schools as a means of pressuring the government to accepting their demands. His supporters blocked the main Peshawar-Mingora highway and killed a member of the provincial assembly and scores of people in adjoining districts.

In 1994, Benazir Bhutto’s government curbed the movement, but to appease the people, introduced the "Nizam-e-Adal Regulation" (an Islamic judicial system) in Malakand. However, TNSM leaders suspected the government’s decision and persisted in their struggle to introduce "a true Islamic order" into the region.

On September 6, 1998, the TNSM threatened to attack American property and abduct American citizens in Pakistan unless the United States apologized to the Muslim world for the August 1998 missile strikes on Afghanistan. "When the U.S. attacked the Taliban government in neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 the hardline clerics in the TNSM leadership started recruiting people for jihad against the infidels (the U.S. and its allies) on Afghan soil. Some 10,000 people with old-fashioned guns in their hands were taken to the border to fight the high-tech war planes of the United States", recalled Shah Dauran, a local resident.

Qazi Ihsanullah, a TNSM spokesperson, said in Bajaur on October 27, 2001: "We will resist if the authorities try to stop us. The jihad (holy war) will start here…Initially Mullah Omar advised us to wait and come to Afghanistan only when necessary, but we have told them that we will stay in Afghanistan as a reserve force."

Muhammad Iqbal, a 40-year old leader of the movement, said that when Maulana Sufi Muhammad gave the call, supporters collected 60 truck-loads of food and clothes and 1.7 million rupees to give to senior Taliban commanders in Qandahar, Afghanistan. But Sufi Muhammad's fighters were untrained and ignorant in the ways of modern warfare and most of them were killed or arrested by the Northern Alliance forces. With some other TNSM leaders, Maulana Sufi Muhammad was arrested by Pakistan security forces in January 15, 2002 and sent to jail.

After seven years in prison he was released recently by the government and admitted to hospital in Peshawar for treatment of diabetes. President Pervez Musharraf’s government has also banned the movement, which it defines as a terrorist organization. Though TNSM has been dormant for the past seven years, its leadership formed another armed movement under the leadership of Maulana Fazlullah, Maulana Sufi Muhammad’s son-in-law, who is a strong opponent of western socio-political ideals.

From Tourism to Terrorism:

Following the arrest of his spiritual leader and father-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, 31, gave the movement new impetus in a novel and effective manner. He launched a network of illegal FM radio channels throughout the Swat Valley and began broadcasting fiery speeches denouncing education for girls, prophylactic anti-polio drops, music shops, and the pro-American policies of President Pervez Musharraf.

In a June 2007 interview, the firebrand cleric told me that following his advice people had burnt TV sets, VCRs and computers worth a million rupees. “This was the first blow to the region’s liberal values and the first step towards obscurantism", Khurhsid Khan, coordinator of a local NGO said. The radio broadcasts gradually spread to a radius of 40 kilometers and thousands of people used to listen to it with great veneration after their night prayers.

Harnessing the air waves like this brought change. Parents stopped sending their girls to school. The illiterate women of the region, who saw Maulana Fazlullah as a true leader of Islam, donated their gold jewelry to build Imam Dheri a religious seminary on the bank of the River Swat. The use of anti-polio vaccine for children was also accused of being “un-Islamic” by Maulana Fazlullah.

In October 2006, Pakistan's air strike on a religious seminary in Bajaur Tribal agency, which the locals believed was carried out by U.S. forces, killed 82 people including its administrator Maulvi Liaqat Ali. Laiqat Ali was very close to Maulana Fazlullah whom he called his brother. After the incident, Maulana Fazlullah very openly embarked on a campaign arousing the people to join him fight the invading U.S. forces. "We will teach them a lesson. We will avenge them for killing our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and Bajaur Agency", he said in one of his broadcasts straight after the incident.

In July 2007, when the Pakistan government launched Operation Silence against the Hafsa Seminary in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Maulana Fazlullah seized it as an opportunity to strengthen his support base and called on the people to take arms and fight the U.S. and its allies. Explosive detonations in girls’ schools, shops selling CDs, and suicide attacks on police and security forces became the order of the day.

Maulana Fazlullah’s "Shaheen Force", commanded by Siraj-ud-Din and supported by foreign fighters, took over schools, hospitals, and government offices in the upper Swat valley. The Pakistani flag was replaced by the black and white flag of the movement. The caretaker government at the time dispatched 25,000 regular army forces to confront Maulana Fazlullah fighters in Swat. Pakistan’s central government officials said that prior to this the ruling six-party religious alliance of North West Frontier Province had opposed military action, but was now determined to fight until the valley was cleared of militancy.

Paradise Lost

This is believed to be the first time Maulana Fazlullah's picture has been published. In the clash that followed the security forces suffered massive casualties and more than 13 Pakistani security personnel were beheaded by armed men in the Matta and Charbagh areas of the district. Of the valley’s 1.5 million population some 400,000 were displaced by the fighting. Tellingly, in Jehandabad, the fighters blew up a 700 year-old statue of Buddha, symbol of peace and humanity.

Zahid Khan, president of the Swat Hotels Association said that 1200 hotels had closed down in the area with owners suffering losses of 4 billion rupees. The government claimed the area had been cleared of rebels and the infamous FM radio station of Maulana Fazlullah shut down. But, after a few days break, Maulana Fazlullah was back to broadcasting, and threatened security forces with dire consequences for killing his men and occupying the seminary he had built at a cost of 8 million rupees. "They say we are hiding. That is wrong. We are not hiding; this is just a war strategy. We will teach them a lesson as our brothers did to the forces of the USSR in Afghanistan", he announced boldly in his new radio broadcasts.

The past five months of fighting between Pakistani security forces and the extremists have rendered the whole area a virtual hell, where fear prevails and the locals have serious reservations about the military action. They say the government has proved itself unable to nip the evil in the bud, "First they allowed Maulana Fazlullah to recruit and train people. He was a minor leader then, but the government allowed him to become a monster. Now they are not able to rein in him", Sher Ali, a college professor in Mingora said.

Zia-ud-Din, Secretary of the Swat Private Schools Association said that thousands of students were not attending class due to the school closures. "They are frightened, lost, and utterly confused. Many of the children are suffering from psychological trauma", he reported.

Local people want to see something positive come out of the military operation, which has led to the deaths of many civilians and destroyed the local infrastructure. However, realities on the ground indicate that this lyrical, scenic valley, home to the Gandahara civilization is lost forever. The current wave of violence in other parts of the country is darkening the gloom still further.

Is the United States Planning to Attack Pakistan?

The spread of terrorism by pro-Taliban fighters from Waziristan to the Swat Valley has prompted the U.S. to attack Al-Qa'ida targets in Pakistan. In 2007, Frances Townsend, Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush, told CNN that if the United States had "actionable targets, anywhere in the world," including Pakistan, "we would pursue those targets." "There are no options that are off the table," she said.

Responding to U.S. officials’ concerns about Pakistan nuclear installations and the spread of militancy, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf warned in an interview that any unilateral attacks by the United States against Al-Qa'ida and Taliban fighters in his country's tribal areas would be treated as an invasion.

Political analysts say that U.S. attacks on Al-Qa'ida targets in Pakistan would exacerbate the already volatile situation in the region and send current opponents of militancy into Al-Qa'ida’s arms. In Pakistan, the religious political party alliance, Mutahida Majlas-e-Amal (MMA), won a landslide victory in the last elections by exploiting anti-American sentiments in Balochistan and North West Frontier Province. Now it would act to strengthen militancy even further.

"Any such act would further inflame the situation. It would destabilize the whole region. Peace efforts in Afghanistan would be derailed if the U.S. attacks Pakistan", says Khadim Hussain Amir, a political analyst and professor at Bahria University in Islamabad. Khadim Hussain added that the United States has economic and strategic interests in the region and that the Pakistan military wishes to protect these interests. "President Bush says that Al-Qa'ida's war is against American freedom and democracy while Al-Qa'ida and Taliban say that the U.S. war on terrorism is actually a war against Islam. On the other hand, nationalist forces think the aim of the current war is the genocide of the Pashtun (ethnic Afghan) people. These are the ideological foundations of the present crisis. In my view this war is against the people and their resources just to promote capitalist interests. Militancy and militarism both end in the large scale sufferings of the already marginalized people", says Khadim.

In Khadim’s opinion, political parties, especially secular and progressive parties, can and must play a role to advance the peoples' agenda by creating the space for negotiation and dialogue among all stake holders — including the U.S.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Taleban betrays commander to Pakistan over his MI6 contacts

By Jerome Starkey in Kabul;The Scotsman, Feb. 12, 2008

A SENIOR Taleban commander was wounded and captured in a three-hour shoot-out yesterday, amid claims he was betrayed by his masters for talking to British spies.Mansoor Dadullah was clinging to life after Pakistani commandos attacked his hideout in a remote tribal area close to the Afghan border.The insurgent was mastermind behind dozens of attacks on British troops in Afghanistan's lawless Helmand province.But he was allegedly sacked by the extremists' spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, for negotiating with MI6. He was also blamed for losing Musa Qala, a Taleban stronghold in Helmand, which fell to British and Afghan troops last year.

Pakistani officials admitted they received an intelligence tip-off ahead of the raid. The local police chief, Saud Gohar, said: "We had reports of his presence from intelligence sources. He was hiding in a house in the village."It is thought Mansoor may have been double-crossed as part of a deal between the hardline "neo" Taleban in Pakistan, and local security forces.It comes less than a fortnight after a senior al-Qaeda commander, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed by an American rocket attack in Pakistan's northern Waziristan province.

Terrorism analysts believe Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, may have passed the United States details of Libi's whereabouts to relieve US pressure on Islamabad over insurgent activity.Pakistan denies international claims its border is a safe haven for religious extremists, who use it to launch attacks against Nato troops in neighbouring Afghanistan. But the operation against Mansoor came a day after Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned that sanctuaries in the tribal areas pose a direct threat to Islamabad.

A spokesman for Pakistan's army claimed Mansoor was seized as he sneaked across the border from Afghanistan. Major- General Athar Abbas said Mansoor refused to stop at a checkpoint. He said: "Security personnel returned fire. As a result, all of them sustained injuries and all of them were captured. Dadullah (Mansoor] was arrested alive, but he is critically wounded."

Mansoor was in charge of Taleban operations across southern Afghanistan. He took over from his brother, Mullah Dadullah, who was killed by British special forces in Helmand last year.Mansoor said in a phone interview in January that he remained a Taleban commander and had asked Mullah Omar, to dispel "rumours" of his dismissal.He also claimed that he had met with al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, a few months ago. He said Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters in Helmand were fighting alongside each other and sharing tactics.

At least five other militants were also wounded and captured during the operation yesterday, security officials said.The arrests coincided with a rare announcement from Mullah Omar. In a statement, published in the Afghan Islamic Press, he said: "We want legitimate relations with countries of the world and we are not a threat to anyone."If foreign troops leave Afghanistan, that will be a victory for the people of Afghanistan."



Two issues forced the government’s hand in North Waziristan: first, the two main tribes, Wazir and Dawar, are involved in militancy against security forces; and two, the continued army operation and heavy bombing and shooting have shifted loyalties from the government to the militants. “All sub-tribes are involved in militancy against security forces,” former FATA security chief Brigadier (retd) Mehmood Shah told TFT in Peshawar.

The Wazir tribe lives mostly along the border while Dawars are spread from Miranshah to Bannu district. Compared to other Pashtun tribes, the Wazir have historically been able to evolve a system where internal feuds are dramatically reduced. Among most Pashtuns, a murder is to be avenged in such a way that the family or clan members of the murderer could be killed in revenge, setting off a longstanding feud among families. Among the Wazir, however, this does not apply and only the actual culprit is punished.

“With this one change in customs, the Wazir have been able to greatly decrease vendettas that once begun go on for generations. This custom has also ensured that the Wazir are more united as a tribe,” says a historian.

The Dawar are locally called “administered Wazir” because during the British Raj, they were known for striking deals with the colonisers; they have also been nicknamed “bazaari Qabils”, which means “untrustworthy tribesmen”. On the other hand, the Utmanzai Wazir were more rebellious and generally kept a distance from the British. Their areas, even then, were regarded as “no-go” zones. Dawar are also not known to have the same amount of “tribal integrity” that the Wazir are famous for.

But today, says a history teacher at a state-run college in Miranshah, jihadi sentiments are more dominant among the Dawar than the Wazir. “It is the Dawar who are more uncompromising,” he said.

The Madakhel sub-tribe of the Wazir, however, is also notorious for militancy both across the border and against Pakistani security forces. Its location on both sides of the Touchi River gives it strategic edge over other tribes and hence it is also able to facilitate militants in crossing over into Afghanistan, says one insider.

A government official told TFT the border could have been secured with the help of the Wazir “had General Safdar (Hussain) not pounded their areas before talks”. “This situation needed political handling. The government could have gone to the Wazir and asked for their help against militants but now the tribe is completely against us,” he said. “The Wazir are good negotiators and it is ironic that the government did not win them over,” he added.

Brigadier (retd) Mehmood Shah says another problem is that the tribal youth in North Waziristan is no more under the elders’ influence and are being completely indoctrinated by their Islamic teachers. “Even where elders of a particular tribe ask their youth to leave madrassas, they don’t listen anymore; tribal authority has, in this way, eroded and stands below the authority of religion and religious teachers,” Shah added.

This shows that the tribal structures, which the government was thinking of using to push back the Taliban, are now too weak in the face of new Islamic thinking. Under the circumstances, while the deal might have given some respite to government troops in the short-term, it is unlikely to play to Islamabad’s advantage in the long term.



US responsible for the situation in Pakistan

Irfan Khan Momand UK

The recent suicide attack on Awami national Party rally in Charsadda was certainly a very shameful act. We condemned this suicide attack and everywhere we are against every kind of violence and hatred. We have seen and observed in several such suicide attacks that the coward groups are using innocent children for the suicide attacks. Such coward people have no religion, have no culture and have no respect for the humanity because Islam doesn’t say for the suicide attack. The attackers and their coward planners are certainly the enemy of our Pushtoon nation, they are the enemy of our Pushtoon culture, and they are the enemy of our pushtoon norms and Pushtoon non-violent politics which we learnt from our great leaders Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan Baba and Khan Abdul Wali Khan. The enemy of Pushtoon cannot bear our peaceful politics and they are targeting our leaders, our elders and children in their own homes. We have already known our enemy and they are the coward establishment which is not only the enemy of Pushtoon but also the enemy of every democratic nation living in Pakistan because they cannot accept the democracy in this region. The present cartoon government is certainly fully responsible for the recent bomb attack in charsadda because the government agencies know the so-called jihadis organisation in Punjab and in Kashmir and the agencies have already their full biodata of every person belong to those organisations but the so-called administrators sitting in Islamabad have no interest of peace, stability and democracy in Pakistan. They are just enjoying their posh life in their villas and they earn money by blackmailing the whole Pakistani nation. This corrupt mafia know that if there start the process of peace and democracy in Pakistan then there will be no chance for their corruption, and for this purpose they had harboured several kinds of criminal groups and stationed them in Pakistan especially in our Pushtoon region which are Arabs, Chechens and Kashmiri in the name of so-called Jihadi groups. They had been trained for these nefarious activities to blackmail the whole Pakistani people in every time. The sectarian violence in Peshawar, in Quetta and in Kurram agency and the destability in Karachi are the preplanned nefarious activities in which these organisations are used. They have been certainly given the task to postpone the election which is to be held in the coming days. Here I would like to mention also that the American agencies are also fully responsible for the destabilizing and the unrest of our region and our people. Pakistani people have no food to eat and the Americans are coming to help our corrupt cartoon government by providing them their sophisticated weapons. They are just introducing and purchasing their modern weapons in our Pushtoon region and nothing else. We will be compelled to say clearly that the American establishment also don’t want the real democracy in Pakistan because the American establishment have already a bad experience with the Democratic governments in India because there is always a real and pure democratic system in India and the American establishment have very difficulty from the Indian governments to fulfil their motives and therefore I can say that the American establishment don’t want to work with a real democratic government in Pakistan. And for this purpose the American policy makers had introduced the Washington’s sponsored Jihad in our region. They have always worked with the dictators and they have been supporting the dictatorship in Pakistan. I request to my Pakistani people especially our youth men and women that they should start working for the real democracy in Pakistan because the establishment don’t want to educate the people about the politics and about the establishment policies. Everybody should take part in politics that what is going on around us. We should have complete knowledge about our regional situation. There is no war for Islam. The harboured criminals groups are just using the name of Islam. If we take part in politics then we can win our democracy and our rights. No one can snatch Islam from us. Our uneducated people have been used for these religious sentiments for long time starting from general Zia.we have to fight against our poverty, we have to fight against our missiries, we have to fight for our rights as a respectable nation in the world. We have to throw those corrupt elements and foreign religious extremists in the Arabian see. We have no place for the American guests which is al-Qaeda. Here I will also request to the American people that they should have some know-how about their agencies and their establishment before they go to vote and to elect a new government in USA that what are they doing in Afghanistan and why even the Opium cultivation in Afghanistan is more then ever? If the American start servicing like other respectable nations members of NATO in Afghanistan then there will be certainly peace and stability otherwise the situation will be worst for our Pushtoon nation.



deeper conspiracy

The despicable Charsadda terrorist bombing of the ANP election rally snuffed out precious 27 lives, leaving scores of others gored. Heavens know how many women the evil deed left widowed, how many children it orphaned and how many extended families it deprived of their lone breadwinner, as did an earlier contemptible suicide bombing of ex-Interior Minister’s election gathering in the area, which felled at least 53 innocent people and wounded many more. Instantly, the thuggish act was denounced by all and sundry, as was the earlier one, as indeed the various terrorist assaults elsewhere in the country in these times, as vile attempts to sabotage the upcoming poll and to destabilise the polity. Surely, these are, unquestionably and doubtlessly. But there is more to the wickedness of the terrorists in this part of the country than meets the eye. It, arguably, is part a deeper conspiracy to divide up the Pakhtuns and set them at one another’s throat. Of course, the entire land is in the vile sweep of these evil savages. They have been assaulting now civilian and military targets alike, lethally and fatally wherever and whenever they want; and in one deadly attack they brutally killed PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and nearly three dozens of other innocents after her election rally in Rawalpindi. But the focal point of their thuggery is visibly the Pakhtun-dominated regions, especially in the NWFP where they have been not only slaughtering the innocent Pakhtuns with suicide assaults and remote-controlled bomb blasts but also blowing up their homes, schools, businesses and shops. Irrefutably, their sources of abetment, funding and arms lie outside the country, forming part of a grand conspiracy against the Pakhtuns, which is no lesser reflective from the painful reality that even as they themselves are the worst victims of terrorism they are being painted worldwide as terrorists. But the regret is that when the configuration of this conspiracy is so palpably evident there is no manifest realisation of it on the part of the Pakhtun leadership so as to put its act together to face up to this mischievous threat to their solidarity and cohesion . Instead, it remains embroiled in divisive squabbling and fracas. Political or miscellaneous differences come natural to a living community. A people sans diversity of views, thoughts and ideals are indeed a dud, stagnant and impotent community, which the Pakhtuns definitely are not. They are a people full of vigour, vitality and life. But a people with diversity but no unity among its ranks is a community on the way of decay, decadence and disintegration. This is the lesson of history, which the Pakhtun leadership across the spectrum should have imbibed zealously and voluminously but seems to have not at all. As the conspiracy to drive sharp wedges among the Pakhtuns and create unbridgeable schisms among them is blowing so furiously and so bloodily, this leadership shows up not even a slight sense of concern and unease. It keeps up with its own divisive ways puritanically. After the terrorist assault, the ANP has vowed not to deviate from Baacha Khan’s sublime principle of non-violence and to remain unflinchingly committed to peaceful struggle for attainment of its goals. This is good. Given the grave threat presently confronting the Pakhtuns to their solidarity and cohesion, this principle should now necessarily percolate down to all strands of Pakhtun political, intellectual and religious leadership. Had indeed this happened earlier, no outside powers would have dared to conspire against them and no natives would have ventured to become their agents. And the fanatics would have stood marginalised from their mainstream, not hogged the centre-stage as have they now, relegating even the religious leadership to coop up in safe havens for their own lives. If even now the Pakhtun leadership across the spectrum doesn’t create unity among its diversity, the community is surely in for more harrowing times. The unfolding conspiracy against the Pakhtuns is evidently very fierce, very ferocious and very vile; if this leadership doesn’t forestall it now, it will sweep the community, from one to all, to a destiny unknown but unmistakably grievous to all, without any exception. All must know this.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Swat after the operation

By Khadim Hussain

(From the "Dawn" of Karachi of January 22,2008)

ON Jan 16, a military spokesman claimed that the Pakistan Army had restored peace to the Swat valley and would wrap up the operation within a few days. He further claimed that the armed militants had been successfully flushed out from the area, and that thenceforth peace would be maintained by the local residents and the police.But two days later, Swat’s local media reported that the operation was being reinforced and that it continued to be in full swing in the valley. House-to-house search operations were also taking place.

All this comes in the wake of a series of incidents of violence against some well-known personalities of Swat. Thus on Dec 27, 2007, Asfandyar Amirzeb, a former provincial minister and member of the royal family, was blown up in a bomb blast in Manglawar village near Mingora. He was a nephew of former governor NWFP Miangul Aurangzeb and also of former federal minister Gohar Ayub Khan.Another well-known person to be attacked was Mohammad Sher Khan, who had led a peace march with white flags soon after the military launched its operation in the valley. He narrowly escaped death. Bakhtmand Khan, known for his opposition to the activities of Maulvi Fazlullah, was also blown up.On Jan 13, Bakht Baidar, a popular political worker and a member of the ANP, was abducted from his house in Mamderhai reportedly by masked and armed Taliban and was later found murdered outside his village. The late Bakht Baidar was known for his progressive political work in the valley. His crime? He had been resisting Maulvi Fazlullah’s agenda from the outset. He was also known to have cooperated with security forces during their operation in the valley. The people of the village had alerted the local security post but to no avail.

When the government first launched a military operation in Swat almost three months ago, the people of the valley had high hopes that peace would soon be restored, and the valley would regain its position as a tourist attraction. It is a pity that a misleading impression is being created all over the country that peace has returned to the valley when the people there live in fear of suicide bombings and killings.

It is plain that the locals firmly believe that the armed militants who were the raison d’etre of the military operation are still at large. The core leadership of Fazlullah’s organisation is still intact and the well-known FM radio still disseminates sermons, threats and exhortations from militants. A number of civilians and security personnel were killed and wounded during the operation as a result of which the whole valley remains in the grip of fear and terror.

The armed militants have the capacity to successfully reach any target and accomplish their mission of terror. Both Asfandyar Amirzeb and Bakht Baidar were killed at a time when curfew had been clamped. A sub-valley of Kabal is still a no-go area for the local population and has been cut off from Mingora, the main hub of business. On the other hand, the security forces exhort the local people to maintain peace in their own villages.

Though the people have established peace committees in several villages, they seem to have lost hopes of seeing their valley as a cradle of peace once again.Most people feel confused and depressed. They seem to be unable to reconcile themselves to the reality of the destruction around them. Life seems to be paralysed for the people of the valley. Target killing is expected to become the norm. The ruthless manner in which the search operation is being conducted and the ensuing destruction of houses in the valley are creating a ripple of resentment among the people.

Shortage of flour and continuous load-shedding of gas and electricity have added fuel to the fire.The people face a severe socio-economic crisis as continuous violence has left most small and medium-sized businesses destroyed. Most of the 558 girls’ schools have either been pulled down or made non-functional. Hospitals, roads, bridges and houses have been destroyed. Though a package for the reconstruction of the valley has been announced by President Musharraf, the government has yet to draw up a proper plan.One can observe an increase in the rate of begging in different parts of the valley. Hotels alone have reported financial loss worth hundreds of millions of rupees. The people have serious doubts in the ability of the government to come to their rescue.Service delivery institutions in a large part of the valley are paralysed while the National Disaster Management Authority has banned international humanitarian relief organisations from working in the Swat valley. The people think that they are badly in need of instant relief. They wonder whether the NDMA will remove the ban on international humanitarian relief organisations so that they can help them cope with the disaster.

The general belief is that the fundamental issues which have caused and that will continue to cause resentment that feed militancy have still not been addressed. The issue of judicial reforms is considered to be the foremost. In the past, the people of the valley had the positive experience of a responsive judicial system and an efficient law and order machinery.While the constitutional status of Swat is yet to be defined, the people would like to have a simple and responsive justice system in place.

The development process that is at present based on the revenue record has to incorporate the sensibilities of the local population, if one of the major hurdles in the development process is to be removed. Socio-cultural institutions have to accommodate the marginalised and the emerging middle classes to prevent violence in future.Devolution and decentralisation of political and economic power in the governance structure have to be adopted as a policy by the federal and provincial governments to stop providing fodder for militancy and extremism. Institutionalisation of tourism, redefinition of the forest policy, management of the use of natural resources and power generation from the Swat River are other significant issues that the people consider essential to be resolved to mitigate the wave of extremism and militancy in the valley.

All fundamental issues could be translated into a holistic vision and could be presented to the 1.6 million people of the valley to bring lasting peace and prosperity to Swat. The people also expect the political parties, the media, civil society and the intelligentsia to come to their rescue to help them start living a peaceful and normal life once again.

The writer is a socio-political analyst based in


Ex-servicemen demand peace in South Waziristan

(From "News" of Pakistan dated February 11,2008)

Monday, February 11, 2008

By Mohammad AnisISLAMABAD:

Retired civil and military officers belonging to the tribal areas have demanded of the government to find a peaceful solution to the trouble in South Waziristan."The people of the tribal areas are peace-loving people and they have rendered numerous sacrifices for the country," said Lt Gen (retd) Alam Jan Mehsud while addressing a news conference here on Sunday.Earlier, General Mehsud also presided over a meeting of the Tribal Welfare Society (Waziristan Chapter) that discussed the situation in the area and the plight of the people there.The meeting observed that the military operation in South Waziristan was resulting in the multiplication of Taliban there and therefore, a peaceful solution of the problem should be found. The meeting was also attended by the chairman of the society Khamar Khan Mehsud, Director General (retd) Foreign Office Ayaz Wazir, Director Technical Education Saifullah Burki and Qasim Mehsud.The meeting also demanded that the Pakistan Political Parties Act be applied to tribal areas also which could be helpful in resolving many issues.Talking to newsmen, Lt General (retd) Alam Jan Mehsud said that the people of Waziristan had played a leading role in the liberation of Azad Kashmir and they also defended the borders of the motherland during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.He said the sacrifices of these tribal people not only brought peace and security to the region but also ensured stability and sovereignty of Pakistan. He said a large number of people had been displaced during the operation in Waziristan and now they were in very poor condition and they were not even allowed to carry their belongings with them as all roads leading to area were closed.He demanded of the government to arrange dispatch of food items on emergency basis like tents, blankets and quilts to the displaced people in Waziristan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008



By Fatima Ahmed and Batoor

(From Khyber Watch-- 5-9-2007)

In the backdrop of the Taleban resurgence in Afghanistan which has claimed more than 5000 lives so far and threatens to challenge the whole NATO/US mission in that country with obvious consequences for the world peace and security; there has been a renewed interest in the Taleban phenomena and the role of Pakistan therein worldwide.

The popular myth now a day being promoted by a number of players in the Pakistan-Afghanistan blame game is that the Taleban with roots in the Pashtun ethnic group, are in fact a manifestation of the ethnic and nationalist feelings and political aspirations of the Pashtun nation at large, living on both sides of the Durand Line. This is substantiated by a number of assertions by the Pakistani leadership in the recent past and media commentary. For example, while addressing the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels in September last year, President Pervaiz Musharraf said that "the real danger...lies in the emergence and further strengthening of the Taliban, because they have the seeds of converting and drawing the population to them and converting this into a national war by the Pashtuns against maybe all foreign forces."

This shift in characterisation of the Taleban movement from a religious force to one representing the Pashtun nation may be taken as an attempt to give an entirely different outlook to the current insurgency in Afghanistan as well as the tribal areas of Pakistan.A peek at the events in the not so distant past will tell us that 'Religion' and the ‘Doctrine of Jihad’ and not 'Afghan or Pashtun Nationalism' was preferred to be used as slogan to fight and perpetuate the long drawn war against the ‘foreign forces’ of Soviet Union supporting the then Afghan government in the eighties and even afterwards during the brutal civil war of the nineties.

The question that arises is; what has changed in the equation now which suggests terming the current insurgency spearheaded by the Taleban against the Karzai led government and the NATO/US forces as a ‘national struggle of the Pashtuns’ against foreign forces. The answer to this question is simple: while internationally a lot has changed since 9/11, in Pakistan domestically nothing has changed. And this answer easily explains the current shift of language and the attempts to publicize the Talebans as representative of the Pashtun majority aspirations in Afghanistan and even in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

While the Afghan side spearheaded by President Karzai, himself a Pashtun, blames the upsurge in Taleban activities on continuous support by Pakistan and its intelligence agencies, the Pakistani side points to a number of issues inside Afghanistan which fuels the insurgency and sustain it. Chief among these, they argue is the inability of Karzai government to establish its writ beyond Kabul. Some amongst the intelligentsia have even termed President Karzai as the ‘Mayor of Kabul’ to scorn his lack of control over most of Afghanistan.

The failure of the Karzai government and the international community in sustaining the reconstruction process of the country, particularly in the Pashtun majority areas of the South and south- eastern Afghanistan is also quoted as the cause for the alienation of the local population and their increasing support for the Taleban. There are also muted pointers to the lack of proportionate representation of Pashtuns, who make up the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan, in the government institutions, decision making bodies and particularly the security forces.

Together all these factors seem to contribute to the ‘myth’ that Taleban’s struggle against the foreign forces is actually fuelled by Pashtun nationalism. Seen in conjunction with the current emphasis to include the Taleban in the political process in Afghanistan on the lines of the ‘peace deals’ signed by Pakistan with the militants in its own troubled tribal areas of Waziristan (FATA), this could mean a deliberate effort to empower the Taleban on both side of the Durand Line. Simply put, this strategy aims to drive home the point that the Taleban are not an aberration in the Afghan calculus but represent the political aspirations of the majority Pashtun ethnic group and have thus to be accommodated in any political dispensation in Afghanistan.

When analysed in the historical context, it is obvious that this strategy is the same in substance; only the form has been changed to suit the post 9/11 geo-political environment - in nutshell ‘old wine in new bottle’. During the Afghan War, for the USA and the west, the objective was simple: defeat of communism; however for Pakistan the question was much more fundamental and related to its own domestic problems.

Beside the defeat of Communism, there were three main objectives of the Afghan war strategy.

• Counterbalance the majority traditionally liberal and secular minded Pashtun nationalists with in Pakistan demanding greater share in resources and political rights in the backdrop of the 1971 debacle leading to the creation of Bangla-Desh and the bloody insurgency in Balochistan in 1974/75.

• Simultaneously, neutralize the nationalist elements in Afghanistan represented by the Soviet supported communist regime, which were likely to gain strength and thus exert more pressure on Pakistan with regard to the Pushtunistan issue if left untouched, leading to trouble in the Pashtun belt on Pakistan side.

• In the long term, use Islam to influence events in Afghanistan, which beside other benefits, will ensure that her western borders will be well protected. This was deemed vital to the survival and defence of Pakistan against the arch enemy India in the backdrop of the 1971 War and explosion by India of its first nuclear device in 1974. This notion was widely propagated and found expression in terminologies like ensuring ‘strategic depth’ and having a ‘friendly political dispensation’ in Afghanistan.

To pursue this strategy, General Zia-ul-Haq, the military dictator thus supported, funded and empowered the fringe religious 'clergy' in the Pashtun areas within Pakistan against the majority, largely liberal nationalists, while across the Durand Line in Afghanistan, it shaped the struggle against the Soviet supported Afghan government as ‘Afghan Islamic Jihad’.

This strategy ensured a degree of local support to the Afghan Resistance by the politico-religious groups on the one hand, while on the other it wrested the political power away from the traditionally liberal, secular and nationalist elements in the Pashtun dominated areas and empowered the politico- religious parties which have always been far more supportive of the establishment.

Another reason and a more fundamental one which explains why the Afghan Resistance was fought on the basis of religion and not Afghan or Pashtun nationalism was that the use of religion as a political instrument is central to the survival of the Pakistani state itself. In the absence of a vision based on collective well being of all its citizens, democratic traditions which ensure equal share for all segments of the multi-ethnic society, and a system which ensures centralisation and perpetuation of power in the hands of the elite to the detriment of all the various ethnic groups; the only glue that binds the country together is Islam. Recourse to religion is therefore critical to hold the reins of power in this country.

In the absence of such an alternative, the various nationalities which have been kept on the periphery of political and economic power for more than half a century are bound to question the legitimacy of the state and demand greater autonomy and political rights for themselves, thus threatening the status quo and the interests of the dominant elite.

Much has changed in the world in the aftermath of 9/11; however, unfortunately, little has altered in Pakistan’s domestic situation which would allow some space to bring a shift in this strategy. In Pakistan, the use of religion to control the domestic problems as well as retain/regain a degree of influence across the Durand Line remains a compulsion and not a matter of choice. In fact, projecting the Taleban as representing the political aspirations of the Pashtuns, while still retaining their religious leanings, is an attempt to reassure the international community of their legitimacy as a group having popular support of the Pashtuns.

At the same time it aims to dilute the negative effects of the stigma of religious extremism and fanaticism attached to Taleban in view of their links with Al-Qaeeda and the brutalities they committed while they were in power in Kabul. And as before, simultaneously it aims to strengthen the politico-religious elements in the North West Frontier Province, tribal areas and Balochistan to neutralise the nationalist elements which are again gaining popular support due to the media explosion and unhealthy economic policies of the past.

The situation is further made explosive by the senseless killing of their Pashtun brethren in the name of the war against terrorism on both sides of the Durand Line. It was in this context that a grand Pashtun Peace Jirga was held in Peshawar on 20 Nov last year, organised by the nationalist parties and attended by a large majority of the liberal/secular leadership of the Pashtun ethnic group. This Jirga or ‘meeting of elders’ unanimously demanded an end to the bloodshed in the Pashtun lands on both sides of the Durand Line in the name of religion and the war on terrorism.

This situation is further exasperated by the simmering nationalist/separatist movement across the Balochistan province.This new characterisation of Talebanisation as Pashtun nationalism and terming the Taleban led insurgency as a demand for political empowerment of the Pashtun ethnic group in Afghanistan must therefore be viewed with a pinch of salt.

The Taleban was never a nationalist movement nor did they enlist support from the Pakistani or Afghan Pashtuns in the name of their ethnic identity. They were a natural outcome of the decade’s old policy of support to the politico-religious right, then were nourished and aided according to a strategy. That strategy still remains the same - political manoeuvring by the powerful elite in Pakistan to use religion to divide the Pashtuns, denying their political rights and at the same time to regain and maintain some degree of influence in Afghanistan.

Obviously this can not be achieved by siding with and supporting the largely liberal, secular and democratic minded majority of the Pashtuns; for the fear that the elite will have to relinquish the powers they hold over all ethnic minorities and give them their political rights and control over their resources.

The powers that be would therefore continue drumming the spectre of Islamic extremism in Pashtuns and frightening the world on the one hand and continue supporting the fringe clergy on the other, to continue reaping the benefits that such a strategy entails. The tragedy is that the religious extremism symbolised by the Taleban has no roots in Pashtun society or culture which may be culturally conservative but is predominantly liberal, non-violent and democratic in nature. The ultimate losers in all this are the poor Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line.