Passionate Plea: An Open Letter To Manzoor Pashteen
I hope this letter finds you in the best of health. I am writing this letter to invite your attention to some very pressing issues that are directly related to me and the people of my unfortunate hometown, district Kurram, of the erstwhile Fata. You have embarked on a mission that is touted as prophetic and pro people. This mission is rooted in the decades-old grievances of the war-torn tribal Pakhtuns.
For, the very name of the tribal Pakhtuns is synonymous with injustices, backwardness and psychological abnormalities. Indeed, your movement is no less than the greater Jihad. But every movement, every cause and every mission starts with some basic, lofty and noble objectives in mind, for which all the available meagre resources are utilised.
Means don’t matter, for all the energies are directed towards the attainment and achievement of the grand and just cause. Have you ever thought about the degeneration and downfall of such movements? Why do such movements get detracted from their sole objectives?
One of the answers lies in the prophetic words of the great visionary and legendary leader of the Muslim world, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad. He was of the opinion that the fall of any movement begins when the leadership is entrapped in the means and thereby ignores the objectives. Don’t you think your mission to ensure the rehabilitation and compensation of the wretched tribal Pakhtuns is leading to another catastrophic wave of violence? Can the ‘bedridden’ tribal Pakhtuns afford any such [mis]adventure and clash?
Your mission is to de-weaponise the Pakhtun lands and arm them with the mighty weapon of pen. Who other than you can better understand the tribal notions of retaliation? The recent mishap at KharQamar check-post raises certain questions in the minds of those who have been convinced of your narrative of compensation and rehabilitation of the tribal Pashtuns. The tragic unfolding of events in the disenfranchised area of the erstwhile Fata is a case in point.
Where are you heading? Your message of transparency, justice, accountability and security has been lost in the age-old cacophonous tussle of us vs. them. Innocent, illiterate and unarmed tribal Pakhtuns are in direct confrontation with the mighty state. Will you be able to control what happens next?
As a tribal Pakhtun, I don’t foresee any viable outcome except for the recasting of the massacres of Barbar, and the 1930s’ Qissa Khwani. Your struggle is based on the powerful and plausible clauses of the supreme law of the land, the foundation, and the source of all other authorities: The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Your demand for the rights of the les miserables of the tribal areas remaining within the constitutional ambit has won massive popularity and acceptance throughout Pakistan. That is the reason why even the non-Pashtun Pakistanis have been supporting your narrative. The legitimacy of your mission has been authenticated by the discontented people of the South Waziristan by electing two representatives affiliated with PTM to the National Assembly. Why don’t you take this noble fight to the floor of the national assembly where leaders like Akhtar Mengal and other mainstream political parties within the parliament stand by your demands?
You strongly believe in the supremacy of the constitutional struggle. And you must have seen the power of the elected representatives in the aftermath of the passing of the 26th amendment. Don’t you think about the efficacy of your message? Your message resonates with the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.
Do you need to be guided by any such model for the attainment of your objectives? You should seek guidance from Bacha Khan’s strategy of disarming one of the most armed nations across the world, the Pashtuns.
Pakhtuns follow you and understand the power and relevance of your message. Why don’t you turn this following into an educated mass of peaceful, pluralistic and nonviolent people?
The future of the brave, gentle and patriotic tribal Pakhtuns is in your hands. You can save them from the tyranny of the distant and bloody past.
Let me suggest to you the most urgently required projects to be undertaken in the Fata regions by the state. None but PTM can suitably present the case of the deprived tribals before the establishment. Winning us the following projects from the establishment can be the greatest achievement so far in the country’s history where the state has hardly given the demands of the people any consideration at all. If you extract maximum out of the new social contract, I assure you that you will find the rest of Pakistan right behind you. Can you please get back to your objectives?
First and foremost is the demand for the establishment of state of the art universities in each tribal district. Is it asking for the moon? The degree colleges occupied by the security forces as their camps should be handed over to the education department and should be properly equipped with all the necessary arrangements so that the tribal youth may continue with their education. Do you know why the local lecturers and professors avoid working in the tribal districts, in their own home stations?
Additional Home Economics colleges/universities should be demanded for the females of the tribal regions.
Secondly, the people need jobs in their own areas. This can be achieved by the establishment of various types of industrial zones in the respective areas. Can’t you invite their attention to the promotion and alignment of the indigenous arm industry in Dara Adam Khel with the POF? We have the untapped market in the traditional tribal art crafts; tribal women do embroidery at homes, but unfortunately they don’t receive the required attention and support from their families. Don’t you want to see an economically empowered tribal Pakhtun woman?
Thirdly, the incessant violence in the region has resulted in the complete breakdown of our cultural, aesthetic and social institutions. For example, Hujra and Godars have almost lost their significance in being the viable platforms of entertainment and educational purposes. Don’t you think we deserve state of the art cultural centres on the pattern of Alhamra Arts Council for the promotion and celebration of the tribal values? Can’t we have our own Tribal Cultural Festival (TCF)?
This way we will be able to preserve our rich tribal folkloristic tradition. Can’t we have a new soft image of the tribal people? How do the tribal traditions we so admire help the people who maintain them?
Fourthly, establishment of full-fledged sports complexes in each and every tribal district can help the youth channel their energies in the positive direction.
A non- violent tribal Pakhtun
The author is a Lecturer in English at KP Higher Education Department