Nonviolent movement of Bacha Khan resurrected

Abdul Qayum Mohmand

For ages, the West and some other countries in the world have associated Pashtuns with violence without understanding the causes of violence in their countries. Foreign invaders and domestic governments have subjugated Pashtuns through murders, beatings, sexual violence, abductions, and looting. This violence has destabilized the lives of millions of Pashtuns as they struggle to maintain and protect their land, lives, liberty, property, and honor.

Moreover, the violence against Pashtuns accelerated after the creation of Pakistan. Both, the Pakistani military and civilian governments have neglected the Pashtuns in Balochistan, the then Northwest Frontier (now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Abdul Ghaffar Khan, known as Bacha Khan inspired the Pashtuns by telling them not to depend on other people and not to assume that others have the right solution(s). They rely on others to intervene on their behalf. It was and still is this weakness and ineptness that jeopardize Pashtuns’ national dignity and survival.

Bacha Khan asked Pashtuns to trust and believe in themselves, if they were going to have a homeland. He wanted to build this nation through non-violence, education, and hard work. He said, “I want to see them share each other’s sorrow and happiness. I want to see them work together as equal partners. I want to see them play their national role and take their rightful place among the nations of the world, for the service of God and humanity.” (Eknath Easwaran, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam, p. 77).

Bacha Khan’s conviction of non-violence, education, and hard work was not something new among the Pashtuns. These ideas are rooted in Islam. As Bacha Khan stated, “there is nothing surprising in a Muslim or a Pathan like me subscribing to the creed of nonviolence. It is not a new creed. It was followed fourteen hundred years ago by the Prophet all the time he was in Mecca, and it has since been followed by all those who wanted to throw off an oppressor’s yoke.” (Eknath Easwaran, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam, p. 77).

Bacha Khan started his movement with education and social reforms. He traveled from village to village to convince people that education could transform their thinking and improve their lives. He found support in every village he went to. His followers became known as Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God). The Khudai Khidmatgar were well-disciplined, as they endured rigorous training and swore to the creed of nonviolence. He was convinced that people will unify in their ranks and will work collectively for their well-being. As he stated, “we work for the sake of Allah and work for this nation. If the nation would help us, we would be free, but if the nation would oppose us, we would be destroyed.” (Zma Jwand Aw Jid wa Jahd, p. 539).

Bacha Khan wanted unity, education, social reform, human rights, justice, peace, and stability in the Pashtun land under the British Raj and the Pakistani government. Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), has the same demands through non-violent mechanisms. In fact, Manzoor Pashteen has resurrected the non-violent movement of Bacha Khan. Pakistani military and civilian governments have treated the Pashtuns, especially the FATA areas, as a strategic playground. Manzoor Pashteen and PTM refuse to allow such practices to continue.

The Pakistani Constitution, articles 1 to 28 are detailed about the fundamental rights. The Pakistani military and civilian governments have undermined the basic human rights of the Pashtuns. Pakistani governments, past and present, have failed to provide the needed infrastructure in Pashtuns areas, and have failed to address their genuine demands for education, social and economic development, peace, stability, the rule of law, and equal treatment before the law. These are direct violations of the constitution, which requires the state to provide security for all citizens. Pakistan has used the Pashtuns in fighting against Afghanistan and India. Furthermore, human rights, justice, economic development, and social progress have never been factored into Pakistani domestic policy, when it comes to dealing with Pashtuns. Extrajudicial killing, imprisonment, and harassment are a daily part of the Pashtuns life in Pakistan. The Pashtuns land has been used as a crossroad for terrorism and atrocities in Afghanistan.Pashtun Tahafuz Movement demands nothing special. It asks the Pakistani government, military, ISI, and police to abide by Article 9, 10 and 10a, which states that “No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law. No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed of the grounds for such arrest. Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before a magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest… and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate. A person shall be entitled to a fair trial and due process.” Furthermore, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement demands that “the dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of the home, shall be inviolable.” (PC, Article 14). The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement asks for nothing more than their constitutionally granted rights.
Published in Daily Times, December 22nd 2018.

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