Khan Shaheed’s Journalistic Services And Political Struggle
“I am told that I was born on July 7th, 1907 in the village Innayat Ullah Karez, Gulistan, district Quetta. I dwelled there till July 2nd, 1959. I write these lines sitting on a muddy wet floor at night in district jail, Multan”. This is how Khan Shaheed began penning-down his autobiography “Zama Jowand Aw Jowandun”.
Khan Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai was also known as Khan Shaheed. His grandfather Barkhurdar Khan hailed political alignment with former Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali (Durrani), and commanded the military corps in the ‘third battle of Panipat’ fought between the Maratha emperor and the Afghan king in Panipat, 60 miles north of Delhi under the leadership of Abdali who stood victorious.
Khan Shaheed lost his father too early — when he was quite a child. His mother named Dilbara raised him and his sibling Abdul Salam Khan, and arranged for their education despite having little resources.
Apart from all the plots in his autobiography, his journalistic toil is central to his efforts for Pashtun nationalism. After the ban on press and freedom, Khan Shaheed geared-up his political struggle along with Baloch leader Yousaf Aziz Magsi, Abdul Aziz Kurd and established a collective front against the then British Raj. He felt that the free press would help build public opinion and further strengthen his political movement. Khan submitted request for the revival of the Press Act to the commissioner of the then British Balochistan in 1937. He wanted people to understand how best they can carry forward the resistance against colonial Britain.
The reestablishment of Press Act (Gagging –act, 1858) in the then British Balochistan in 1937 pushed Khan to establish his own press called ‘Aziz Printing Press’ that was a tributary title given to Yousaf Aziz Magsi, after he fell victim in the May 31 to the 1935 earthquake in Quetta. The printing press ran a weekly newspaper ‘Istaqlal’ with a total circulation of 2500. A year later, Khan keenly managed to announce his political party Anjuman-e-Watan in May 1938 with intentions to persuade his struggle to achieve what he had dreamt for Pashtuns and the rest of imparting territory of British Balochistan. He then came to be known as Balochistani Gandhi and Baba-e-Sahafat for his collective efforts of moulding people’s thinking into political renaissance and resilience, confronting the colonial psyche.
Khan Shaheed was often charged of sedition by the British rulers prior to partition of Pakistan for his vocal advocacy for his people and later the similar tactic of discriminatory approach towards political actors was continued by the then Pakistani authorities. He remained imprisoned for 27 years.
He once joined the great Hindu legendary (freedom fighter) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Delhi, India to share the similar political voyage against British Raj, prior to the second round table London conference 1931. In presence of the strictly imposed bans on press and freedom in British Balochistan, the cause drew Khan’s attention to Delhi. He began writing articles about the British Balochistan for the gazettes published from Delhi.
The Balochistani Gandhi had segmented a new shift in the press paradigm with little incentives and poor financial support that emerged amidst 1930s, not as propagandist organ of the British colony but an ideologue to map-up oppressed indigenous voices. The weekly ‘Istaqlal’ on its containment of content against the British policy was termed under severe restrictions and forfeited by the district magistrate in 1943. The fear of revolt roaming around the ruler corners tended to carry-out an administrative order to seize ‘Istaqlal’, so it couldn’t further its activism against the British Raj.
In today’s Pakistan, journalists who serve in public interest as watchdogs count in little numbers in Pakistan and are outnumbered by the instinctively anti-people forces who attempt to silence the voices that talk for citizens’ constitutional rights.
What could go-off untying the yet persuaded monopoly that tries to curb human voices who speak for their guaranteed legal rights? Khan Shaheed had meant political efforts via journalistic platforms bringing breaks to the unconstitutional obstacles in the country.
December 02, 1973, the sun rose with mysterious picture telling a tale of the cruel assassination of late Pashtun veteran leader and eminent journalist Khan Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai (Khan Shaheed). Khan had advocated for rights of the oppressed throughout his life and was martyred by those who wanted this oppression to continue.
Freelance Investigative Journalist and researcher