“In the context of Pakistan; socialists were offering me that Lahore will be Moscow, Islamabad will be Leningrad and I have to live in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Muslim brothers were offering me to accept Lahore as Makka, Islamabad as Madina and I should accept to live in Jizan without identity.”
Human beings are constructed of genes; the basic brick is made of proteins. We have some genetic and some acquired characteristics. The combination of both, but dominantly those related to higher centre where intellect is lying, makes us different than other animals.
Other mammalian are also made of the same Protein’s bricks they have too some acquired habits; needed for their own survival. If in trouble, they either use horns or having biting capabilities with venom too.
We share basic instincts like eating, sex, and breeding. The factors, which make us distinct from animals are the higher centers where knowledge is stored. In addition we have been equipped with a tool of the wisdom, which tells us how to apply knowledge not only for ourselves but for the mankind. Observations, critical analysis, acumen and logical thinking are all the offspring’s of this couple; knowledge and wisdom. This couple has made us accountable to the society and God.
To utilize all these faculties; we have to go through a long struggle. It depends on an individual; but opportunities and social structure of the society also play a great role. No one is a born liar, murderer, and usurper or corrupt; these are the gifts of the society, where one lives. Take identical twins, there will be hardly any difference in their features but their outlook to the society may be quite different, depending on the exposure to their respective circumstances.
I don’t believe in birth day celebration. Biological birth day celebration is a good to provide a social event, not more than that. To me, the birth day is the day when you start identifying yourself and the society around you. I mean when all your faculties are functional. Birth day is never a single day in my mind but any day of achievement or learning; is a birth day. In short, achievements are rebirth.
If I say that there was no care free childhood in my life; it will be no wrong. I was too sensitive to my surroundings. Since, I was not equipped mentally to do something; that made me imaginative and a day dreamer. There were two personalities in my life who were the victims of circumstances or society who left permanent scars on my mind. I was just in constant fighting in my dreams with the powerful and rich. I didn’t have a single friend coming from a higher-class background either in my childhood or adolescence. My family background was from middle class but most respectable; as one would expect in a tribal society. I could not rationalize my hate for upper class and the powerful; but I could not accept them as well. That was that.
As I grew; my scars grew with me till I left for medical college. Prior to my leaving for medical studies, I did write few short stories; published in local papers and magazine but still felt that I was standing at a juncture with many out ways but unable to make choice. In fact, I had no choice or better say; not consciously mature enough to make my choice. My inner soul was looking for a way leading to my dreams. I was just like a plain paper waiting for an artist to paint me. I knew that I am very vulnerable to be used, fearful which was inculcated in my mind since childhood and was confused as well.
Since my background was religious; and was good at reading, so started reading Maulana Maudoodi and Maryam but was soon disappointed. It was at this stage that I realized that I can’t take insult to my identity and nation I belong to, otherwise I could see no reason; why I should stop it reading.
My knowledge was limited to few Pashto books; Like, Da Ghairat Chagha, Nishan and Gajrey. Did I understand them in broader context? To be honest, “NO”, I didn’t. To me it was written about my mother.
After admission to medical college I found myself in a crowd that I could hardly understand. I cocooned myself for the fear; to be used by someone. Since my background was religious; and was good at reading, so started reading Maulana Maudoodi and Maryam but was soon disappointed. It was at this stage that I realized that I can’t take insult to my identity and nation I belong to, otherwise I could see no reason; why I should stop it reading.
Dow Medical College was the hub of national, international and ideological politics. The world over liberalism and socialism was in vogue. Nehru in India, Suekarno in Indonesia, Jamal Nasir in Egypt, Tito in Yugoslavia, Ben Billah in Algeria, Castro in Cuba; Hue Chi Menh in Vietnam, Che Gavera in Bolivia were considered symbols of social justice. The border of the Sindh province with India was porous apart from smuggling; Karachi was flooded with communist literature.
My soul was in search. I felt I am being dragged towards nationalism but at the same time the concept of social justice was too attractive. It was hurting me to see the miserable condition and daily humiliation of Pashtuns in Karachi.
It was a fashion for young girls to call themselves socialist and had a typical style to be dressed up in educational institutions. It was appealing to me but I was resisting simply for the lack of knowledge and weaknesses in my inner- self. What to say of English, I could hardly speak Urdu. I terribly lacked confidence to argue with someone, probably my self-esteem was crushed right in my childhood and fear drilled in to my mind but still stubborn to accept anything unless my small brain is convinced.
But still my soul was in search. I felt I am being dragged towards nationalism but at the same time the concept of social justice was too attractive. I was deeply feeling something but could not interpret in words or apply in practice. It was hurting me to see the miserable condition and daily humiliation of Pashtuns in Karachi.
My journey through life was hard hitting but was worth going through. It was very painful from 1960 till 1964; I could feel pain but not able to relate it. It was Dow Medical College that I immersed myself in study to find my lost-self in the pages of the books. When I joined Dow Medical College, my father’s spoken words were echoing in my ears. Never sleep without reading even if it is “Shama Risala”. And my eldest brother; Late Saran Zeb asked me not to join King Edward Medical College, Lahore; advised me to go to Karachi. He thought that with the knowledge of medicine I will find my self-identity and know the world around. By the way he was a staunch nationalist with strong inclination towards socialist but never joined communist party.
Nehru in India, Suekarno in Indonesia, Jamal Nasir in Egypt, Tito in Yugoslavia, Ben Billah in Algeria, Castro in Cuba; Hue Chi Menh in Vietnam, Che Gavera in Bolivia were considered symbols of social justice.
The real journey started through life and books in 1963. It did affect my medical studies but I kept on my search to find my lost self. I preferred to journey through life all alone to avoid heartache after reading Nehru. Another feeling was not to follow personality cult unless I understand something. These two factors guided me in my life after reading Nehru and long meetings with Nawab Kher Bakhsh Marri and my noble teacher Kamal Khan of Zobe.
Looking back, I think 1964 elections followed by bloodshed, meeting with the top leadership of different shades, intellectuals, writers and emissary of Ajmal Khattak and Wali Khan, Liaquat Bagh firing, denial of the sanctity of ballot to Bengalis after the comparatively fair election conducted by Gen. Yahya; the role of the Royal family of Afghanistan against us, Mazddor Kissan Tahreek in Mardan and Charsadda with tacit support of Mr. Bhutto, were few of the turning points in the making of my thought process. A lot of refinement in my thinking occurred when I went to England.
Though it was Ajmal Khattak who introduced me to my national “Pain” but it was Late Wali Khan who guided me reading and equipped me with knowledge in Pakistan as well as in England. I studied whatever I found relevant to our region in Commonwealth library, while he was collecting material for his book, “Rekhtia, Rekhtia dee”. I was in England that I came very close to him and after that there was hardly any important meeting without my presence with international leadership.
The true face of socialists I saw in 1988 when a campaign was started to prop up Ghani Baba against Wali Khan by our progressives with financial support of Frontier Post.
There was total negation of national identity in both socialist internationalism and Islamic Afaqiat schools of thoughts. Though none of the two schools could convince me that how could they build internationalism or Ummah without accepting national identities.
While in England; my visit to the then USSR exposed so many to us. The most painful part was that we as a nation were sold. And the adding salt to the bruises was the logic; it will be better to be a Soviet of a super power rather to live in dark and be a starving and illiterate nation.
My discussion with Be- Bandas Shastri, advisor to Indhra Gandhi reinforced my feeling that moral or political obligations are irrelevant terminologies in contemporary politics. To simplify to the readers the conclusion; there was total negation of national identity in both socialist internationalism and Islamic Afaqiat schools of thoughts. Though none of the two schools could convince me that how would they will build internationalism or Ummah without accepting national identities.
Dr. Najib killing was a conspiracy of friends and foes; when I was shown a glimpse of untold stories in Kabul.
To me Ummah was the collective belief of multiple nations in a divine philosophy. And I may be wrong in my understanding but I felt honestly that the concept of Shura was meant a collective leadership without obliterating the broad base.
It was a long sojourn of political bewilderment though hard hitting and painful but every moment was teaching me that no one can stumble on a mountain but falls on a small gravel.
To simplify further, I reached to the conclusion that in both –isms, we have to lose our identity. I was of the firm conviction that right to live with dignity lies in identity. In the context of Pakistan; socialists were offering me that Lahore will be Moscow, Islamabad will be Leningrad and I have to live in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Muslim brothers were offering me to accept Lahore as Makka, Islamabad as Madina and I should accept to live in Jizan without identity.
While in England; my visit to the then USSR exposed so many to us. The most painful part was that we as a nation were sold.
Another painful aspect I found that there might be exception but what was known to me that all our comrades were invariably on payroll of someone and so was the case of Islamists. Even the socialist rulers of our fatherland, Afghanistan, were quite willing to use us as their agents but not to accept us as their brothers with partial exception of Sardar Daud and Dr. Najib. Dr. Najib killing was a conspiracy of friends and foes; when I was shown a glimpse of untold stories in Kabul.
I tried not be philosophical to find my way but to believe in what I saw during this journey was a shocking surprise. The only sense out of our five important senses which, does not cheat you, is seeing. It was right from childhood that I was inquisitive and sometime even creepy. Those who we believed to be our leader of the future were followers of others. The words of Bacha Khan were echoing in my mind, “Kohstania! Once you are sold even if the buyer is your father, you are a sold commodity and can’t be a buyer”. I treadle slowly and cautiously the buyers were a lot and the offers were irresistible. By this time, I knew that many have succumbed to the temptations.
Ajmal Khattak was financially handicapped that had a great effect on his power of decision. He lost self-confidence but his pen had never lost his sharpness.
Ajmal Khattak was financially handicapped that had a great effect on his power of decision. There was hardly anyone who didn’t use him as a ladder to attain some height but not a single person to be named not to bang him on his head to sustain his height. He lost self-confidence but his pen had never lost his sharpness.
While sitting on the bank of a river, deep in my thoughts, it suddenly came to my mind while looking at a plane overhead that every object from a distance is small but nearer it comes, the bigger it is. Just opposite to human beings who look very great from a distance but near you go to them, they are tiny; it hurts a lot.
With study and practical experience in Pakistan and particularly in the U.K with my access to whatever I wanted; I found answer to many questions.
- Why there is no Mazdoor Kissan Movement in Punjab and Sindh. The landlordism is in worst form in these areas. Why it is limited to Mardan and Charsadda?
- Why our communists are arming land Tillers? In communists philosophy land and big consortium are in the name of the State. Is it not putting the horse behind the cart?
- Are the communists and so called liberals; sometime join us to slow down nationalist movement?
- Are they really on payroll of some countries?
- Have they not sold us?
- Why the royalty of Afghanistan was against us. Didn’t they use Nangey Yusufzai against us in 1970 elections along with Pak Army?
- Was the change in Kabul a real revolution or a change of hand from royalty to aristocracy; limited to Kabul university and armed forces who were trained in USSR?
- What did they do to our movement?
- Why some people were released from Pakistani prisons and where they were sent and what for? Who was who on the top? Why killing? What was the direct effect on our movement?
I felt it is no good to dwell in past but learn lesson and march forward. Certain questions did crop in my mind.
- Is Pashtun a nation or collections of tribes fighting against each other? Nation building has to go a long way to be achieved?
- Are we not living in our home on rent?
- Have we tomorrow, as a nation?
- Are we equipped to achieve our dream?
I shared all these questions with Wali Khan; while we were talking Late Ajmal Khattak entered and complained that he (Khurshid) has decided to leave Pakistan. Wali Khan said we are discussing the same subject. Addressing Late Ajmal Khattak, let him go. He is wasted here? Turning to me Wali Baba said; don’t do anything where you need someone’s help. It will hurt more.
Writer: Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam
The writer is a columnist with THE PASHTUN TIMES. He can be reached at
THE PASHTUN TIMES