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Diminishing an enlightened legacy

ANP has owned Mashal Khan and has stood up to the extremists’ violent narrative

Khadim Hussain

Khadim Hussain

Academia and political analysts throughout the world use framework of hegemony constructed by Antonio Gramsci and analysis of the culture of silence by Paulo Frere to understand silencing of voices raised for the aspirations of masses who claim nationhood. Seen in this context, one is not surprised to see recent pouring in of pieces after pieces to consciously or unconsciously malign a particular movement and a particular party that claims to hold legacy of an alternative discourse. The most recent in this series is a piece titled ‘ANP and the ghost of Mashal Khan and Bacha Khan’ by Zaigham Khan published in The News on June 12 2017.

The writer builds his premise on Michael Prescot’s comment of the mirror image of enemy to let the reader infer that ‘extremism, violence and corruption’ have permeated the institutional structure of Awami National Party (ANP) which is otherwise ‘the most progressive and liberal’ party of Pakistan.

The argument of the mentioned piece is based on a single statement of an accused quoted by a Joint Inquiry Team (JIT) formed to fix responsibility of Mashal Khan’s barbaric lynching. The first part of the JIT report is based on forensic analysis that proves that Mashal Khan innocent in all respects. The second part seems to be based on circumstantial evidence concluding that it was a pre-planned murder. This part also proves that besides several individuals belonging to various political groups, university administration and local police seem to have played some role in the murder. The third part of the report seems to be based on assumptions which are in turn based on a single interaction to have purportedly taken place between two individuals. This part strangely points at a single political group for ‘planning the murder’.

On fails to understand that if the ones belonging to other political groups and who are seen in the videos plotting the lynching, calming the murder and instigating the mob are not institutionally linked with Jamat-i-Islami and PTI then why are some of the accused linked institutionally with ANP?

It is noticed that the so-called ‘corruption’ has been depicted as the major cause behind the barbaric lynching of Mashal Khan. The queer logic goes that as ANP ‘stuffed’ universities with the ‘corrupt’, hence the lynching took place. The narrative of war economy, privatization of Jihad and privatization of justice that lead to mob vigilantism have been completely exonerated by the writer. Whatever the real reason behind the barbaric lynching of Mashal Khan, the tool of extremist violent discourse and weaponised narrative of blasphemy was used to carry out the inhuman act.

The writer seems to have forgotten that universities are governed by provincial governments and that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is governed by the PTI-led coalition over the past four years. Does it make sense that a single political party which is not even in the government has become so much omnipotent to manipulate myriad players at work in the state machinery? In the same vein, the writer has glorified the role of Imran Khan while he has played no role after a single tweet and a meeting with the father of Mashal Khan.

Selective data has been used by the writer to build argument that can be called a classical example of logical fallacy. The courageous stand by the cadre and leadership of ANP for Mashal Khan and his family has been completely ignored in the piece for reasons best known to the writer. They owned Mashal Khan and stood up to the extremist violent narrative. Just compare the case of Mashal Khan with the case of Salman Taseer and you will find the difference.

Khudai Khidmatgars had stood for human dignity, social justice, and respect for plurality of faiths, genders, ethnicities and races. Bacha Khan reconstructed Pakhtunwali and enabled the Pashtuns to become a political entity, rather than just an ethnic or moral entity

Zaigham Khan’s piece has utterly misinterpreted Khudai Khidmatgaar (KK) movement by using derogatory term of ‘ethno-nationalism’ for the ideals and narrative of KK Movement. The writer of the piece has derived his interpretation from one of the poorly researched work on the KK Movement. One would like to suggest to the writer of the piece to give just a cursory glance to the PhD theses of Karim Khan, Wiqar Ali Shah and Mukulika Banerjee, two of them from Oxford University, for understanding the life and struggle of Bacha Khan and narrative and ideals of KK Movement.

KK Movement stood for human dignity, social justice, and respect for plurality of faiths, genders, ethnicities and races. Bacha Khan reconstructed Pakhtunwali and interpreted the Pashtuns as political entity, not just an ethnic or moral entity. The KKs struggled for collective empowerment of the Pashtuns. These ideals constitute the philosophy of non-violence of the KK movement. This was an enlightened nationalist movement not an ‘ethno-nationalist’ movement. The writer has surprisingly noted that ‘identity politics is one of the easiest and the most lucrative professions in the world’ to further denigrate the KK Movement. History bears witness to the fact that this ‘lucrative profession’ cost three decades each of Bacha Khan’s and Nelson Mandela’s lives and four decades and life of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi.

By Khadim Hussain

The writer is a Peshawar-based political analyst. He can be reached at khadimhussain565@gmail.com and tweets @khadimhussain4

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