British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again
The Miranshah Jalsa
Abdul Qayum Mohmand, PhD
Salt Lake City, Utah April 15, 2019
It is asserted that Pashtuns are incapable of coming to an agreement amongst themselves, be united and, follow one leader. The Miranshah Jalsa (gathering) once again showed that the assertion is based on false perception and understanding of the Pashtun people, their values, and their character. Once again, the Pashtuns have shown that they possess the capacity and the willingness to unite. They have shown that they are willing and able to stand behind one leader. They have also shown that they are capable of bringing about changes to their social, political and economic life.
There were some important speeches at the Jalsa. Here, I wish to point out three important points from the gathering: the emerging Pashtun position on natural Resources, Pashtun Unity, and women’s role in the movement.
The persecution and killing of Pashtuns and destroying their homes and businesses did not start by a chance. It has followed a precise plan laid down by the Pakistani government and military establishment. As everyone is well aware that a nation and a society will only progress and move toward positive development, if they become educated and their economic condition are ready to implement the elements of progress. The Pakistani government and military establishment knew that Pashtuns have turned toward education and have improved their living conditions in the neglected Tribal areas and distance areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakistani government and military establishment wanted to keep them uneducated and be involved in warfare so that they could be used for terrorism and proxy war in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen told the Miranshah gathering the Pakistani government and military establishment “destroyed 12000-13000 stores belonging to Pashtuns” in the name of fighting terrorism and extremism (Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, Miransha Jalsa, April 14, 2019). The killing of the Pashtuns and the destruction of their land, property, and wealth amounted to a systematic campaign to subjugate the Pashtuns.
The Pakistani government and military establishment want to exploit the natural resources of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Federal Tribal Areas and Baluchistan without sharing the dividends with those living there “Pakistani Riyasat[government] is taking the natural resources and other means and tools from Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan in the name of Pakistani resources and tools” (Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, Miransha Jalsa, April 14, 2019). The Pakistani government and military establishment want to extract these resources and transport it to Punjab, as it has happened in the past seven decades. The Pashtun areas, Pashteen said, are rich in natural resources. If extracted properly and were developed equitably, not only that these areas will be transformed into well progressed and developed areas, but their development and progress will also contribute to the well being of other people in the surrounding areas.
Pashtuns have been involved in warfare for centuries, but no one has even once tried to understand and explain, why it was so. Pashtuns have always fought defensive wars. The Pashtun fought the Mongols when the invaded the Pashtun land. The Pashtuns fought the Greeks, after Alexander the Great wanted to subjugate them. The Moghuls wanted to expand their territory from Delhi to Kabul, but the Pashtuns were seen a big impediment to their hegemony. When the British Raj replaced the Moghul, Pashtuns were seen as a big hinderness to their imperial authority and expansionist plans. Therefore, they have to be subjugated or eliminated. In all these historical events, the Pashtuns were defending their lives and liberty. When the state of Pakistan succeeded the British Raj, the subjugation of the Pashtuns continued, even got worse. Kaka Shafi said that “Hellfire was brought upon the Pashtuns and this hellfire is brought by Punjab. We have seen widows, orphans, and destroyed homes and businesses. But this has united us. Punjab will leave the Pashtun land. We demand respect and dignity and we will get it” (Kaka Shafiq, Miranshah Jalsa, April 14, 2019).
Women have had played an important role in the Pashtun national struggle. The most prominent icon in this regard is Malalai of Maiwand. After 40 years of conflict, women make up more than half of the Pashtun population as more than a million men have been killed in the wars against the Soviet Union, the Afghan civil war from 1992 to 2001, and the so-called war on terrorism. This was not a war on terrorism, but a war on Pashtun, as was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Pashtun land is the land of self-defense, the land of protecting and preserving their own dignity, and the land of revolutions against injustice and tyranny. Every part of the Pashtun land has played its historical role in defending the land and dignity, but Waziristan always played a special role. Waziristan has always been a land of free-spirited. A land in which foreign invaders had seen their heaviest defeat and worse demise. This land’s noblest son Mirzali Khan (Epi Faqir) has challenged the British Raj. This challenge is revisited by Manzoor Pashteen, Ali Wazir, Mohsin Dawar and many more. The Pashtuns are united in this struggle behind the Waziri sons and at its leader Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen. Not only men are supporting this leadership and the struggle against injustice and tyranny, but also women are coming out in large numbers. Sanna Ejaz said the future revolution will not only be led and supported by men, but also by women. “Without women, revolution is not possible. Women are taking part in this revolution. We are going to back off from our demands. We will continue. One day we will have the same number of women, as we would have the number of men” (Sanna Ejaz, Miranshah Jalsa, April 14, 2019).
The Pashtun are awakening and are taking their own destiny in their own hand. They are not waiting for other to better their lot. They are united under one leadership, a leadership determined to arrive at its objectives.