The celebrated anti-colonial leader and writer, Frants Fanon in his essay, The Pitfalls of National Consciousness holds that during the anti-colonial resistance all the masses actively participate and make sacrifices for the cause, but once the formal independence is declared, the fruits of independence are not evenly distributed and never reach to the common masses. The post-independence political scenario of the once colonized countries is dominated by some powerful classes of the land who perpetuate the colonial system and keep the masses away from the real form of independence, it ushers into an era of neo-colonialism. In case of Indian freedom movement, especially Pakistan, Pashtuns have been kept away from the real fruits of independence through various ‘neo-colonial designs’. Their socio-economic and political rights and needs have always been rickety with the federation of Pakistan. They have really been turned into subalterns, as Guha and Spivak term such classes. However, the rise of militancy on their soil, internal displacement and stereotypical representation in the national mainstream discourses finally resulted into the uprising, the immediate cause being the death of Naqeebullah Mehsud by a state institution.
The good aspects of the uprising was its being peaceful, and the demands put forward are in keeping with the law and the constitution of the land. Briefly put, they demand security of life and limb, equal status of citizenship like their co-citizens, free and fair trials, and punishment and reward in accordance with the dictates of the law. No sane mind can negate the legitimacy and urgency of the demands, and it was due to these reasons that their stance was dully endorsed by human rights group and civil society both inside and outside the country. No doubts, the movement challenged the mindset which has been foisting a close ended format of political nationalism and social homogeneity in the country, and even make use of fouls means like oppression, negation of fundamental rights for the propagation and perpetuation of their objectives. Federations across the globe, are formed by consensus of its units and certain rules for running the business are unanimously agreed upon by the stakeholders, focusing on the rights and duties of the citizens, called a social contract , popularly known as constitution. If a party to the contract or the institution formed therein, fails doing its job and or exceeds the designated authority, rest of the stakeholders do preserve the right to raise their voice against it. The exercise has been in vogue across the world, and terms of engagements in the contracts are reviewed, readjusted and grievances of the parties are redressed. However, in Pakistan such acts amount to treason, foreign agenda and disloyalty to the state.
The recent sit- in was an unprecedented manifestation of Pashtuns’ unity with convergence of interest, and reflected a rise of national consciousness among them. The decades long oppression, harsh and unjust treatment by the state, denial of fundamental rights, and suppression of their voices, finally compelled them to take to streets. The movement, however, for the time being has put five demands to the state, but if even the demands are met, the movement should not die down and serve as an active body of Pashtun representation. The movement, in order to live up to the expectations, should incorporate the following:
- It should be named as Pashtun (better Pakhtun) Qami Malatar.
- It should be distanced from every kind of political affiliations, solely taking into consideration Pashtuns’ cause and the protection of their interest.
- It should stay away from the electoral politics (at least for the time being).
- It should be given a strong and well-knit organization structure, at district levels in the Pashtuns’ areas.
- The Pashtun diaspora should actively be engaged in the movement.
- There should be a regular fund raising, preferably through mobile phones. (The way charities collect donations).
The struggle should not only be confined to the political rights, it should also focus on the cultural, social and economic aspects. There should be Social media team, legal team, and cultural experts etc. members of the teams should be selected from among the Pashtun educated class/ intelligentsia keeping in view their areas of interest and academic field. The committees should check Pashtuns’ negative representation, resist the Pashtuns’ ethnic profiling and stereotypical representation especially in the main stream media of Pakistan. In case of issues, they should give an intellectual response through ‘ Re-writing’ (as Edward Said calls it).
The struggle certainly seems an uphill task, hurdles are all around, especially from the centrist forces of the state and the so called institution of tribal Malakis , a white elephant, because the movement will gradually sink their position and replace it with the active, energetic and educated class. But perseverance , steadfastness and the spirit of serving without any vested interest will certainly make it possible. One must be hopeful, as long as Manzoor Pahteen continues to pursue Bacha Khan’s will, “My nation now I have turned aged, can’t keep visiting your hamlets and give you the lessons of social reformation and political awareness, now every Pashtun should propagate the spirit of service, humanity and create awareness’.
By Inam Ullah