The most discussed issue but more thorny in character. After chewing words for more than half a century I can see no solution to this question in the frame of Pakistan. Though I attained this maturity in mid-twenties of my life but had no courage to say it. Apart from my minerals makeup, there were socio-political coercion or conciliation.
Any change is possible in a system but alteration in a mindset is not likely. Pakistan is a mindset in its own right. Its roots go back to Moghul era, naval mutiny, Aligarh and Passage of Islamists from India to this part of the world, in a Hindu owned ship, later to be the fortress of Islam for the future when time is ripe. The very concept was against nation, regardless of the statements or thoughts of the fathers of the completely new country. With the passage of time, the dream was contracted down
Systemic changes in a dogma were absurdity to think of it. The amputation of East Pakistan was ample proof not to pursue this improbability. Zia was the father of total eclipse, he tapered off further. Any contrary argument was considered a threat to the strategic survival of the religious fortress or religious revisionism. The two ideas were diagonally opposing. A system is shared path but a mindset is private possessions not for trespassing.
The solution of the national question is not conceivable without political freedom. It is the political freedom which brings the Centre of power to the deprived land. All others autonomies revolve around political centre. Demanding other rights or autonomies of culture, economic, history education and language before attaining mastery of the land or we may call it political freedom is just like putting the horse behind the cart. These experiments had been carried out in our land with no gain but a total disappointment.
Mr Hezbollah khan has beautifully presented the facts and figures, region wise exploitation by the coercive Punjab. The point, I want to emphasise is, to get rid of all sort of coercion is not possible without attaining political freedom. All others like trade, transit, jobs, economic revolve political axis. Had we had the axis of power in our land that would have given us the right to be makers of policy whether it was CPEC, Military actions, border mechanisms or share in the federal budget, even for that matter gas, electricity, natural resources?
For the last more than four decades, our land is being used as a battlefield for the vested interest of the Punjab in the form of Lahori Jihad destined for the exclusive developments of northern and Central Punjab and building their armed forces to be used against us aimed at our total destruction pushing us back by 3-4 centuries. Sabre rattling was replaced by F-16 roaring. Recently it was reported in the international press and was claimed by Altaf Husain that Fata was subjected to carpet bombing. But like Hanoi, it did survive in caves. We have no industry in our area. The prosperity of Peshawar is lying in the trade with Jalal-Abad, and so is the interdependence of Quetta and Chaman. All these would not have been possible if we were the master of our own destiny or owned independence to gag us economically.
The autonomy in the frame of Pakistan has been made impossible by the Punjab centric mindset. They have not only numerical superiority but almost 90% Civil & mil elites with the economic base on their back (Industrial and Agricultural). It is no point to shy away from that it is greater Punjab. (I beg to differ with the terminology of Punjab dominated)
If there was a system one could think of autonomy. India has more contradiction and diversity than Pakistan but statesmanlike Nehru converted into strength in diversity and maintained the union of states. This was basically Pakistan resolution minus honesty. This is what we were struggling for and the ray of hope was the numerical superiority of Bengalis. But hope dashed down. The supremo is busy in building a new nation out of midnight children, inviting a wrath of nature.
Every step taken by the state sends an icy wave in the spine of Pashtun. Zarb-e-Asab was Zarb-e Ghazab for us and erased Fata to the Stone Age. Now Radde Fasad in Baitul- Fasad has started from Pashtun. There is a witchhunt and random arrests in Punjab of Pashtun/Afghans in Punjab. Anyone with Shalwar and Chaddar is a terrorist unless cleared by Shahbaz Sharif. This whole drama is being played to protect the political allies of Rightest particularly PML (N). To the elites of Punjab “FASAD” is Pashtun/ Afghan the earlier we are mutilated and debilitated we will be flung out of the frame of Pakistan like Bengalis. Should we wait till the last drop of blood is squeezed? We should have rethought our strategy in 71 but we were still thinking of bouquet of flowers adding beauty and fragrance to the Vass without knowing the intention of the gardener that he is not fond of a bouquet of courtesy but single rose to symbolise the love of Heer?
No one can tell me in Muslim’s history of sharing power except Sudan that was given freedom by Nasir of Egypt who was popularly considered outside Arab world as atheist and Socialist. Pakistan went a mile more to allow UK, France, and Israel alliance to use Manipur air facilities against Egypt to defeat Nasir. Bigotry is so much of our life that it has become our life.
The question is of existential national autonomy which is no more than the dream. Or we ready otherwise? No. Its national awareness allows us to know. But my view is, if it sprouting out we should no discourage if we can’t do otherwise. I have faith in the new generation that they will write the last chapter of my book.
Writer: Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam
The writer is a columnist with THE PASHTUN TIMES. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PASHTUN TIMES