“Every man’s hand is against the other, and all are against the stranger” were the words of Winston Churchill that portrayed the symphony of tribal life in FATA and Pakhtunkhwa. But the Tribal history, sometimes turns on a dime, and presents itself in such a way where every man’s hand is with other and all chants a single slogan. Every rock in tribal areas has its own story to tell. Just from Waziristan, through joint venture, the iron fist of British was resisted under the call of Mullah Pawanda, Shehzada Fazaldin, Pir Roshan and Faqir Api. Pashtun belt throughout the history never surrendered to the invaders. Shah Hussain, the Persian king and his tyrant military general Gorjin Khan, who wiped out Pashtun roots, were resisted by Mir Wais Khan Ghalji. Mir Mehmood, his son not only pull out Afghanistan of Persian dreams of invasion, but ruled some part of Persia to take revenge of the previous brutalities they waged on his people. Mir Ashraf and Mir Hassan kept his legacy and never allowed anyone to deepen their roots on this soil. Mughals were resisted by Khushal Khan Khattak. Shah Jehan both sons Aurangzeb and Dara shaku got failed not once but for several times in their special mission to take Kandahar. Ahmad Shah Abdali had several feasts in Shalimar Bagh Lahore and shown Mughals that Delhi thrown is not only built for them. Ahmed Shah controlled those Mahrattas with a single blow on which Aurangzeb passed thirty years of his life to cut their buds. The British lords were resisted with the most powerful weapon of Nonviolence, which was initiated by Bacha Khan and through which fighter turned into believers. The red shirt Khudai Khatmatgar army showed that they were ready to spill their own blood but they will not raise their hands to hurt anyone else. The same era had heroes that were showing British an iron fist. Among those who resisted the colonial lords was Omra Khan Jandoli, who shown Churchill that it is not that much easy to enjoy dinner in the mountains of Malakand. The pre-partition history of Pashtun had both violent and nonviolent icons struggling for independence and glory.
The post-independence history of the region starts with dark days and is still dark. State applied the Machiavellian approach that “if you want to be obeyed, you must command” towards this region. The dawn of state suppression was with “Babra incident” in Aug 1948, where hundreds nonviolent workers lost their lives due to State’s bullets. Afterward, this region was deliberately made as a strategic periphery to feed strategic center. John Galtung conception of “structural imperialism” where center breeds by having disharmonious relations with periphery was applied. State exploited this periphery through invisible tools to engineer special product that can support its ultimate interest. To keep this periphery chained to its center till eternity, “Force” and “Persuasion” were used as primary tools. Coercion as a visible structure was used to suppress peripheral voices and was justified by using invisible structures like media, film industries, text, institutions and religion. Instead of abolishing Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR), a draconian law, that was installed by British in 1901 to control the tribal belt, the state used it as primary tool to let this region rusted. Rights to appeal, wakeel (legal representation) and daleel (legal evidence) were abolished and region was left far away from the jurisdiction of higher courts. Collective responsibility clause was imposed and thousands were suffered without having any evidence. Thousands got missed on skeptical basis and were founded dead. Those who were suffering even didn’t knew the cause for which they were tortured. Rights of these people were abolished, but duties that supported the state’s cause were taken from them. Persistent curfew, shelling, bombardments, insults at check posts and distribution points were used as a tool to psychologically make them accept their second-class citizenry. Main stream media was kept at a distance to confine their access and suppress their voices before it passes through an ear pinna of international community. The same media was used to portray victims as a terrorist.
Near Marx, history repeats itself either as tragedy or farce. This time, under Pashtun long march which started with the outburst of tribal rocks, once again Pashtun history is repeating itself with a big tragedy with ultimate aims to cause an eternal death to the suppressive structures that made them to drag through the mud. The revival of nonviolence, its nonpolitical nature, its spontaneous flow through social media, representation of an absolute unity in diversity, its organized structure and massive participation of women were the unprecedented features of this long march. This march installed a single question into thousand minds, “Am I really free?”
The same youth power was observed as was seen in Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Bacha Khan’s struggle. Unite or you will be lost, Now or Never, uniform is behind it and what kind of independence it is? were the slogans that shows that Pashtun is tired to give shoulders to deathbeds anymore. The speedy recruitment shows that the spirits of few is changing into tsunami, so the state needs to pursue their demands on SOS basis and never fault again to bleed the periphery for feeding the center.
By Safdar Wazir: MA Political Science, Government College University Lahore