Exclusive interview with Dr. Said Alam Mehsud; Physician, Researcher and Leader of the Pashtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek
Please can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: Yes sure! I am a physician by profession and I was born in South Waziristan on 17th May 1958 in Pamana village of Tehsil Ladha, schooling in Government Muslim High School Rawalpindi (1974). I did FSc. from Government Degree College Asghar Mal Rawalpindi (1976-77). While in 1982, I did MBBS from Khyber Medical College, Peshawar University and in 1993, a Fellowship in children surgery from College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan and was the first fellow in PAEDS surgery in the province. But in 2002, I resigned from my post in protest against the unlawful Ordinance of Governor Lieutenant General Iftikhar Hussain. Now I am doing private practice, having my own set up. In 2004, I joined Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) and became its provincial senior vice president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but parted ways with PMAP in 2011-12. We also founded AMN Tehreek (Peace Movement) in 2009. But I had to live in self-exile for few months. Then I founded Pashtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek on 12th April, 2014. I also wrote on current affairs for 4 years in LIKWAL- a Pashto magazine. Currently I am doing research on the resources of Pashtunkhwa- a motherland of the Pashtuns.
What do you think about The Pashtun Times?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: A media which is sincere to the cause can bring a nation up and if not will bring it down. Since Pukhtuns have no media in Pakistan so I hope very strongly that THE PASHTUN TIMES will be the voice for Pashtuns who have no voice right now.
Pashtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek (PUT):
You have recently organized a movement called Pashtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek (PUT پت) Pukhtunkhwa Peoples Movement, tell us what exactly Pashtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek stands for?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: Thanks a lot for giving me an opportunity to explain the pains and sufferings of Pushtun nation residing in Pakistan.
PUT was launched on 12th April 2014. We placed the objective realities of Pushtun mother land in front of us .Then we concluded what we, the helpless can do?
The objective realities are;
1) The British India divided Pashtuns /Afghans into two parts. The current Afghanistan and the other part was made part of British India. The part in British India was further divided into NWFP, British Baluchistan (a clear misnomer) and FATA.
After the inception of Pakistan the division continued as such. In 1970 the area between River Indus and Margala Hills was snatched from the then NWFP and was made part of Punjab. This 4th division enabled Punjab (the land of 5 rivers i.e. Satlaj, Bias, Ravi, Chanab and Jehlum ) to reach to the left hand side of Mighty River Indus.
2) In Pakistan our resources of water, electricity, forests, tobacco, oil and gas, minerals were usurped.
3) Currently from all possible definitions our mother land is Hostage Area/Nation. Our culture, history, language, commerce/finance, politics in short everything is hostage. Moreover, we are divided with no common goals and objectives.
4) The opponents are not ready to forgive us and remain us in this hostage state for few years. We are still being threatened to face further divisions/cleavage in the form of Hazara Province, free zone in FATA, different province of FATA. Our resources are more aggressively usurped.
Now the owners of hydropower are abused as the thief of electricity. The federation is neither ready to pay our dues of electricity, worth 500 billion of rupees, nor is willing to develop our future hydropower potential of 40,000MW.
What are the objectives of PUT?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: We know that no single party can address these issues. So we need a broader alliance on minimum points. Since, we are very helpless people, so it will be very difficult task for us to unify the political parties on minimum agenda. Meanwhile we also know that our mother land can’t afford another division in the form of another political party. We also realize that the rest of political parties will not unify if we become a political party too. So we made our self to face all the bounding and compulsions. We will not be a party. We will not be candidates for assembly, senate, and local bodies. We will never be part of any political party either in treasury or opposition benches. Whatever we say, it will be based on research, reliable data and will be in black and white.
Do you really think that Pashtuns need such movements for their survival?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: Pashtuns are divided administratively as well as politically. They definitely need a movement to unify them with no precondition for themselves .This nation has all the required qualities and talents. They are resource rich. In current situations when their resources are not fully taped, they are the only part of the country which is energy surplus. Emotional words or rhetoric cannot help us. We have logic based on solid proof. Unity is the other thing which this nation needs very badly. Convergence on issues is possible in this divided nation. That’s all what PUT is doing. In other words the much needed is being done.
What do you think about the status of Pashtuns in Pakistan? Are they really colonized by the dominant Punjabi bureaucracy and military?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: Baloch, Pashtun, Seraiki and Sindhi are by all possible definitions the oppressed nations of the country. Their share in civilian establishment can be gauged by their ratio in these institutes. All the Federal institutes and corporation are occupied by Punjab (80 to 85 %) and Muhajirs i-e the one who migrated from India 7 to 12 %, the rest is the share of these four nations.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):
Please can you explain to our readers, what is China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC, and what is its international importance?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: It’s a multi gigantic project addressing trade, energy and infrastructure. It comprised of 6 components, 6 or 8 lane motorway, fast railway, oil and gas pipelines, fiber optic cable, trade zones with habitats and industrial parks from Kashghar till Gawadar.
The government of Nawaz Sharif added further projects to it, which are, transmission lines, energy projects, LNG lines, metro system etc. Its early harvest is worth 46 billion US$. The total influx of money by year 2028 will be more than 150 Billions US$.
International importance can be gauged by the papers and write-ups of Chinese, who call it cluster/agglomeration corridor. They presume
that 3 billion people of the world, half of the planet will be benefited from this project. It will be the passage way of 25% business of the world.
Once the Communist Russia was with running at full galloping to reach to the warm waters but we resisted the USSR’s move because the encroachment of the USSR towards the warm waters was for considering it a threat to Pakistan as well as to the religion Islam in the region. But today if we see Communist China which should be called an infidel state according the religion of Islam is approaching towards the warm waters then the Muslim of Pakistan, their leaders and intellectuals have no reservations about this very move?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: This is a very valid question. This dual standard is being practiced since long ago. Our plea is that Pakistan which is practically Punjabistan, was not against Russia and China; they do not want Pashtuns/Afghans to reach to the Sea port.
Making Gwadar Port operational and extending China Pakistan Economic Corridor, what is the agenda of China? What do you think?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: 1).Well China has nearly the same problem in regard to Sea as the Russians had. Chinese connection to Sea is via narrow Strait of Malacca, where 5th fleet of America is guiding it. From Hormoze to Shinkiong, it’s 1490Km long distance. Gawadar will be just around 2000 Km.
2). Second problem of China is the unrest in West part. They conclude that all because of unequal development. Through this Corridor they will give prosperity to the West China.
3). China is a regional power it will be naturally interested in the power game of the region. We think that China has the blessings of US in this project.
Being a Pashtun and as a researcher, what are your reservations about the project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: In Pakistan, Pashtunkhwa contributes 22% of the GDP, 80% of the forests,75% of the marbles,75%of the flue cured Virginia Tobacco, 67% of water, 26% of the labor force , 80% of the cheapest and most clean hydropower . It’s the only province which is energy surplus. Even then it’s the most poor, most illiterate, and 10 million sons of the soils are compelled to live away from their home land and families to earn bread and butter for their kids. This area has no control on any resource which they have. But this corridor, if goes through its natural Western route, can change their fortune.
The reservation is that Punjab has changed it to Eastern route, which is lengthy, prone to Fog and floods and passes through already developed areas. This development of their, was also based on usurping the resources of other nations of Pakistan. So far, I can prove that not a single penny has been allocated for the Western route by the Planning Commission of Pakistan. The Planning Commission considers the Western route mere a road and not a motorway or a corridor.
I do not think that PM Nawaz Sharif is sincere with Asfandyar Wali Khan and can make him satisfy with the project. We can see that PM deceived all parties, their leaders and the whole nation on 28th May. So how we can believe that the meeting of PM Nawaz with Asfandyar will not be a deception. I can tell you again as I mentioned earlier that Corridor is not only the name of road or motorway but it is the collective name of 8 components i.e. motorway, fiber optic cable, oil and gas pipe line, railway, trade zones with habitats and industrial parks etc.
The natural western route is 500Km short, all season friendly, passes through the areas of Punjab Pashtunkhwa, FATA, and Baluchistan, who were always discriminated and kept deprived .The hills of Pashtunkhwa, FATA and Baluchistan are mineral rich which are still untapped. This route is nearer to Central Asia. So it’s good for these areas and Pakistan both. If it goes through the Easter route, on the one hand it will lose the benefits of benefiting 3 billion people, catching 25% of the business of the world, on the other hand it will develop one and only Punjab to the standards of Singapore, Hong Kong while Pashtuns, interior Sindh and Baloch will only be able to remain their drivers, laborers, Gunmen.
If this opportunity is lost then my nation has no future except that of a class struggle for life.
Apart from its merits what demerits you see of China Pakistan Economic Corridor for the people of Pakistan and for the Pushtuns in particular?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: The demerits in our views are very few, if it goes through its natural Western route. It can be minimized by proper environmental studies. If it goes through Eastern route then there will be hell of problems. At present scenario, this project is not in the favour of Baloch nationalists and freedom fighters because this project can also change Baloch into minority in Balochistan, and therefore Baloch separatist’s leader like Allah Nazar Baloch is against this project as he opposed the project in his video message recently released. The Baloch leadership who are in the government now, even though, they have reservations about the current proposed project. Sardar Akhter Mengal, a prominent Baloch leader, has also shown his severe concerns regarding the proposed plan of CPEC. In a meeting with PUT, Mengal warned the government, not to issue domicile for those who will inter Balochistan along this project as this can turn the people of Balochistan into minority within their own province. Apart of the Baloch fight for freedom, I can tell you that a corridor brings peace and prosperity to a region.
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: We are in touch with all the Pushtun leadership at large including, PTI, JUI, and JI. We don’t have any formal liaise with Baluch.
Amidst ongoing insurgency in Baluchistan, do you think that this project is feasible?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: Well I think it’s a catch 22 situation. Apparently, though Baloch seems to be the ultimate losers because of many counts.
A) Gawadar will be linked with Coastal high way in current financial year 2015-16. On coastal high way there is very scares and minimum population of Baloch. These areas are relatively safe as well. When we relook at the two routes of corridor, Eastern and Central, figure, we do find a win win situation for Islamabad .The insurgency on these areas is minimum
B) Erection of 9 battalion of army and 6 battalions of special force for Corridor will be utilized against all those who will resist.
C) The historic truth is that right from Mughal, British era till date; Pashtuns were also dealt with Gold and Guns or Carrot and stick policy. To defeat a nation you have to create fissure within. Baloch were never tasted on this policy. It’s the first time they are being dealt with like that. Is it dictated by China? Doesn’t look to be irrelevant. The most relevant fact is that National Party (NP) is spear heading this policy, dictated by the apex committee of Balochistan. We do see desertion of insurgents quite frequently. Please keep it in mind that the total number of insurgents does not look to be more than 20,000.
Did anyone among you, has asked the opinion of those Baloch who have climbed up the hills fighting against Pakistan for freedom, what do you think about their intentions?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: We have no linkages with them. However through media we do know that their only option is separate Baloch state. They say quite openly that we are not ready to hand over Gawadar to Pakistan. If it happens 10 millions of new people will get settled in Gawadar. The total population of Baluch is around 4 millions. Hence they will become red Indians in their own homeland. The Gawader Port will be in the jurisdiction of the federal government and not in the provincial Balochistan’s government. And I can tell you that not a single Baloch will be able to inter into the Corridor in the area of 25Km squire. The port will be controlled by China and they will not be allowed a single Baloch even to visit Gawader Port. My sympathies are with Baloch people. Also, with the establishment of this project, military operation in Balochistan has been intensified. This will not help Pakistan; neither they will make the people on their side nor they will rule the land. They should listen the Baloch, Pashtun etc and should give them their just share in their national rights.
How many routes are under consideration and in your view which should be the ideal route for the Pak-China economic partnership and why?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: There can’t be more than one Route of Corridor. China has offered one Corridor. From Kashghar till Khanpur all the 6 components are together. When it reaches to Punjab then the word alignment gets introduced .When it reaches to Gawadar again all the 6 are together. The issue of alignments/number of routes is the all time famous jugglery of words used by Punjab times and again.
Motorway, oil and gas pipelines, and Fiber optic cable will have to go together. Railways will be a bit away but will be around it, as a main supply, linkage line. The trade zones and industrial perks will be on the same where the infrastructure exists. It is not possible to have all the four mentioned components on eastern route and industries and trade zones on West route.
To keep Pashtuns confused, this terminology of Planning Commission and the Punjabi minister for Planning is repeatedly presented on media. This minister is known for two things, anti-Pashtun, and being a master of jugular of words.
The western route is the only natural route, all the rest are mentioned to divert Corridor towards Punjab. I can tell you that if the corridor passes through the Western route that it will bring peace and prosperity to so many backward regions.
As per your study what will be the distribution and allocation of fund from early harvest to Punjab and other provinces?
Dr. Said Alam Mehsud: Out of total 45.69 Billion US$, 33.79 are electricity production. All the hydropower projects of Pashtunkhwa are ignored. Just one project of Suki Kinari hydropower project of Mansehra got approved. That’s the sole share of FATA, Khybar Pashtunkhwa in CPEC, which is less than 1%. All the costly power projects of Punjab and Karachi got approved. This will generate 17000MW of electricity from costly source like, furnace oil, diesel, gas, LNG, solar, wind and coal. All the projects are on Eastern route but nothing for us. Also, 11.19 Billion US$ are for motorway of Eastern route. Then by year 2022 central route in Punjab will get Motorway. There is no motorway, railway, or any developmental project for Khyber-Pashtunkhwa, FATA, interior Sindh, Balochistan (excluding Gawadar). The Metro system is exclusively for all the big cities of Punjab, Karachi is the only example, which is in Sindh.
Interviewed by Aurang Zeb Khan Zalmay, Editor and founder of THE PASHTUN TIMES.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITH THE PASHTUN TIMES