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Pashtuns and Double Consciousness

chessBy Noman Wazir: Du bois was an African-American. He coined the term double consciousness. His parents lived their lives in slavery; however, he was born just after the enforcement of the emancipation of slaves. Therefore, he was able to get the education and became the first Ph.D in the Afro-American society. He extensively researched the causes of the backwardness of the Africans in America. If we look at his epic proposition then it seems relevant for Pashtuns as well. One ever feels his twoness, says Du bois -An American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts; two unreconcilled strivings; two warring ids. If we replace Africans with Pushtuns and America with Pakistan, then the proposition would be as such:

One ever feels his twoness –A Pakistani, a Pashtun/Afghan; two souls, two thoughts; two unreconcilled strivings; two warring ids.

Pashtuns in Pakistan face the same dilemma of double consciousness. These two consciousnesses create double identities. These double identities are constantly striving to overpower one another. Unfortunately in this tug of war, one identity or consciousness has to surrender to the other.

If we look at both the consciousness/identities then we may observe that the Pakistani identity is associated with Urdu, while that of Pashtun/Afghan is associated with Pashto. These identities can be traced back to the conflicting historical narratives as well. Mughals are considered to be the heroes to support the identity of Pakistan, while Pashtun/Afghans consider Mughals as the aggressors and oppressors. Similarly, Bacha Khan and Khan Shaheed Khan Abdul Samad Khan are the heroes for Pashtun/Afghan while that of Pakistan consider them traitors.

In these two identities –Pashtun and Pakistani- one is natural to Pashtun and the other is utterly unnatural to them, because Pashtun cannot renounce their language and history for the baseless historical narrative that strengthen the identity of Pakistan.

The shrewd planners at the helm of affairs have recognized this very fact from the very beginning. Therefore, they are creating an environment in which the natural identity of Pashtuns becomes subservient to the unnatural identity of Pakistan. For this, they employ(ed) multifaceted strategy. First, through education system the Pashtun youth is indoctrinated with the consciousness of Pakistaniat. Moreover, media further propagate it to those who are unable to attend the educational institutions and also strengthen the pseudo identity of those who attend(ed) the educational institutions.

Second, everything associated with the identity of Pashtuniat/Afghaniat is being degraded. The jokes on Pashtuns on daily basis and the representation of Pashtuns as clowns in the state-media are all part of the unholy plan. It has the sole purpose of creating the realization among Pashtuns that your language and culture is inferior and therefore you must adopt the culture and language of Pakistan.

Take the example of Jirga; whenever in Punjab, Punchayat has given or enforced its decision of collective rape, then on national media the word Jirga is used. However, no one can produce a single incident of that kind in the entire history of Pashtun, in which Jirga has enforced such kind of decision. Moreover, Jirga is not only dispensing speedy justice but also proved effective in dispute resolution both in criminal and civil cases. On the contrary, all the people are fully aware of the so called judicial system of Pakistan where cases linger on for generations.

On the same pattern honor killing is tried to be connected to the Pashtunwali. I am not justifying the honor killing; however, it is very much incorrect to link it with the Pashtunwali, because honor killing is a widespread cultural phenomenon. It is widely present in India, let alone the land of the pure. But whenever, there is an incident of honor killing in the land of the Pashtuns then the so called civil society stand on their toes and start cursing the Pashtun legal and social code of conduct i.e Pashtunwali. I admit that the concept of honor might have been perverted but it is no solution that we totally annihilate the very existence of Pashtuns, and start demanding that all the evils are generated from Pashtunwali, therefore it should be renounced. For example, Taliban represents the perversion of Islam, so what should we do, we should renounce Islam altogether, NO! Rather we try to preach the soft and peaceful nature of it.

Similarly, the language of Pashtuns i.e. Pashto- is degraded to an extent that it is being equated with the language of the people of hell. How a language could be of hell or paradise; superior or inferior; Islamic or unislamic; civilized or uncivilized? Languages are (in my opinion) God-given, as such we can recognize the tribes and nations of the world. Therefore, mother languages are natural to humans. However, Pakistan is using the religious sentiments and tried to connect Urdu with Islam, that it was the language of Muslims and will continue to be the language of Muslims in our part of the world. I don’t know which Muslims the Pakistani policy makers have in mind when they impart such illogical and irrational concepts to its citizens. Bengalis were Muslims, they were (are) speaking Bengali; Pashtuns –Pashto; Sindhis –Sindhi; Punjabis –Punjabi; Balochs –Balochi and so on and so forth.

Even the ‘Afghan’ name is now incomplete without a slur –Harami. Moreover, the ‘Pathan’ is frequently used in the official narratives of Pakistan so that the ‘Pashtun/Afghan’ is obliterated from the consciousness of Pashtuns. However, two political parties are fighting the existential war for Pashtuns; one is Awami National Party (ANP) and the other is Pukhtunkhwa Mili awami Party (PKMAP). They are reminding us every now and then of our natural consciousness and identity.

To cut the matter short, the sole purpose of the degradation of the identity of the Pashtun/Afghan is to exploit the double consciousness. When the natural identity of Pashtun/Afghan and the things that make up this identity viz. language, history and culture, is degraded constantly on national media and through textbooks, then the Pashtuns will be left with no other option but to opt for the identity of Pakistan i.e. Pakistaniat.

At the end, I would give my humble suggestions to both the state of Pakistan and Pashtun intelligentsia particularly to Azad Zalmis. Dear Azad Zalmis! Your criticism on Forum Zalmis will not bear the desired fruition; however, you are also making yourselves as the part of the propaganda machinery against these political forums. You should come out of your tiny cyber world and do something on ground. Otherwise, you don’t have the right to criticize them; they are doing whatever they can. If you people can do better, then come out and we will be with you.

(see also https://thepashtuntimes.com/pashtun-intelligentsia/ )

Dear Pakistan! It seems that you are trying to create a monolithic state. The diversity is strangulated to an extent that the breathing space for the sub-nationalities has been almost denied. Therefore you should realize this very fact that the diversity is the beauty of any state. Your policies must be inclusive in nature rather than submerged in exclusiveness, and you must renounce the degradation of the identity of the Pashtun to exploit the double consciousness. The natural identity of Pashtun and the things that make up this identity viz. language, history and culture, must not be  degraded constantly on national media and through textbooks. The Pashtuns must be accepted as Pashtuns.

 (Note: This article is based on my discussions with Ibrahim Khan)

By Noman Wazir

The writer is a socio-political analyst from FATA. He can be reached at nomanwazir75@yahoo.com

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