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When the mountains were red

Updated Aug 01, 2013 08:27pm


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Many Pakistani Pushtuns find themselves in a spot of bother when some political commentators and analysts define extremist organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an extension and expression of Pushtun nationalism.

Though religion has always played a central role in the make-up of Pushtun identity, Pushtun nationalism (especially in the 20th century) was always a more secular and left-leaning phenomenon. It still is.

This nationalism’s modern manifestation was founded on the thoughts and actions of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and expressed through such left-wing parties as National Awami Party (NAP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).

Bacha Khan (1890-1988): The father of modern Pushtun nationalism
Bacha Khan (1890-1988): The father of modern Pushtun nationalism

However, for nearly three decades now, or ever since the beginning of the US/Pakistan/Saudi-backed ‘jihad’ against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pushtun identity (at least in popular imagination) has been gradually mutating into becoming to mean something that is akin to being aggressive, fanatical and entirely religious.

Yet, till 2008 the county’s Pushtuns were enthusiastically voting for secular Pushtun nationalist parties like the ANP, and till even this day, there are a number of Pushtuns who are openly canvasing to eradicate not only religious violence and extremism from the Pushtun-dominated province of Khyber-Puskhtunkhwa (KPK), but also busy working towards debunking the belief that Pushtuns are by nature fanatical, driven by revenge and radically ‘Islamist’ in orientation.

Such Pushtuns point out the unique Pushtun-centric secularism of men like Bacha Khan and how left-wing parties like NAP were once KPK’s most popular exponents of electoral politics.

They blame the Pakistani ‘establishment’ for corrupting the notion of Pushtun nationalism by radicalising large portions of the Pushtuns through radical religious indoctrination and the Saudi ‘Petro Dollar.’

The idea was to neutralise Pushtun nationalism that had been the leading player in NAP, a party that also included Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, and was suspiciously eyed (by the establishment) to have had separatist and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

In the last decade or so - especially ever since extremist violence gripped the country, and with the KPK and the tribal areas that surround the province becoming the epicentre of this violence - various Pushtun parties, groups and individuals have been aggressively using political, social and cultural platforms to challenge the perception that religious extremism found in certain Pushtun-dominated militant outfits have anything to do with Pushtun culture or nationalism.

16-year-old student from Swat, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot and wounded by religious extremists, has repeatedly insisted that religious violence has nothing to do with Pushtun culture and nationalism.
16-year-old student from Swat, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot and wounded by religious extremists, has repeatedly insisted that religious violence has nothing to do with Pushtun culture and nationalism.

But so far it has been an uphill task and unfortunately the word Pushtun continues to trigger images of bushy, violent fanatics exploding themselves up in markets and mosques or beheading ‘infidels’ in the hills and mountains of KPK and the tribal areas.

But how many know that most of the hilly, rugged areas that have been held and have become bases of extremist outfits in KPK and its surrounding areas, were once bastions of militant Maoist groups?

This slab of history has been forgotten in the noise emitting from those who only have a superficial understanding of Pushtun nationalism and continue to equate it with religious fundamentalism. _________________________________

Post-1947 Pushtun nationalism empathised with Sindhi, Baloch and Bengali nationalisms (and vice versa), all of whom exhibited concern that the Pakistani state’s centralising tendencies and emphasis on adopting a single variant of Islam, language and culture were cosmetic and artificial constructs to undermine and eliminate thousands of years of the history and dynamics of Pushtun, Sindhi, Baloch and Bengali cultures.

These nationalists saw state policies to be an extension of Punjab’s economic and political hegemony. They eventually came together to form the National Awami Party (NAP).

Formed in 1957, NAP included pioneering Pushtun, Baloch, Sindhi and Bengali thinkers and politicians.

NAP’s founding members included: Former Muslim Leaguer and socialist, Mian Ifikharuddin; Sindhi scholar and nationalist, GM Syed; Pushtun nationalist and thinker, Bacha Khan; Pushtun nationalist, Abdul Samad Achakzai; Bengali leftist leader, Maulana Bhashani; and Baloch nationalist, Ghaus Baksh Bezinjo.

A number of intellectuals also joined the party, including popular Urdu poet and activist, Habib Jalib.

It described itself to be a socialist-democratic party working towards achieving democratic reforms and greater autonomy for the country’s non-Punjabi and non-Mohajir populations and provinces – even though NAP also included Mohajir and Punjabi activists who were once associated with the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) that was banned in 1954.

NAP was thus radically opposed to the ‘One Unit’ - a state-backed initiative that had clumped together all of West Pakistan as one province (most probably to equal and neutralise the Bengali majority in East Pakistan).

When the 1956 Constitution promised to hold Pakistan’s first ever direct election based on adult franchise by 1958, the NAP was poised to bag the most seats in West Pakistan as well as in the Bengali-dominated East Pakistan.

The other two major parties of the era, the Muslim League and the Republican Party, were both besieged by infighting, whereas religious parties like the Jamat-i-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) did not have much electoral support. NAP stood out to be the most organised outfit at the time.

However, the promised elections never took place. Field Martial Ayub Khan imposed Martial Law through a military coup in 1959 and banned all political parties.

The NAP flag.
The NAP flag.

NAP leaders were released from jail when Ayub lifted the ban on political parties and authored a new constitution in 1962.

NAP returned to agitate and demand for provincial autonomy, removal of the One Unit, the holding of direct election, and the adoption of a non-allied policy in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

However, by the time of the 1965 Presidential election, some cracks began to appear in the party.

Due to the growing hostility between the time’s two communist powers, Soviet Union and China, various leftist parties of the world began experiencing splits.

But NAP, in spite of the fact that a pro-China (Maoist) and a pro-Soviet faction had emerged in it as well, remained intact.

Nevertheless, when the pro-US Ayub regime’s foreign policy began to tilt a bit towards communist China, NAP leader, Maulana Bhashani, a pro-China figurehead, insisted that NAP begin to support Ayub.

So though on the surface NAP remained to be a united front, beneath the veneer its leaders had begun to disagree among themselves on the question of supporting Ayub.

When Ayub set out to compete with Fatima Jinnah in the 1965 Presidential election, the Bhasahni faction of NAP supported him whereas the Wali Khan faction opposed him and backed Jinnah instead.

In 1966, when the 1965 Pakistan-India war ended in a stalemate, Ayub’s young Foreign Minister, Z A. Bhutto (the initial architect of Pak-China relations), resigned, accusing Ayub of ‘losing the war on the negotiating table.’

Bhutto’s animated antics in this respect were hailed by leftist student groups and eventually he gallivanted towards finding a position for himself in NAP.

But since NAP was packed with veteran leftist and nationalist figureheads, Bhutto decided to form his own socialist party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Though a Sindhi, his party (formed in 1967) attracted the interest of various socialist and Marxist ideologues from the Punjabi and the Urdu-speaking communities. Many of them had been with NAP but were alienated by the party’s aggressive anti-Punjab stance.

In 1967 the split in NAP became an open secret. During its on-going analysis on how to achieve a socialist revolution in Pakistan, the NAP leadership failed to come to a common consensus.

The pro-Soviet faction (led by Bacha Khan’s son, Wali Khan), suggested working to put Pakistan on a democratic path and then achieve the party’s goals of provincial autonomy and socialist policies by taking part in an election.

The pro-China faction led by Bhashani disagreed and advised supporting Pakistan’s growing relationship with China. The faction also rejected democracy and labelled it as being a tool of the bourgeoisie. Bhashani instead advocated that the party should ally and work with peasant groups to initiate revolutionary land reforms.

The pro-Soviet NAP became NAP-Wali while the pro-China one became NAP-Bhashani.

NAP’s Maoist firebrand, Maulana Bhashani, addressing a gathering of peasants and workers.
NAP’s Maoist firebrand, Maulana Bhashani, addressing a gathering of peasants and workers.

The largest student party at the time, the left-wing National Students Federation (NSF) that had become the student-wing of NAP too suffered a split with the majority of NSF groups taking the Maoist line.

Most of these however began to associate themselves more with the politics of the PPP, whereas two new student groups, Pushtun Students Federation (PkSF), and Baloch Students Organisation (BSO), came under the umbrella of NAP-Wali.

It was NAP-Wali that became the bigger faction, mainly due to the fact that the party’s main Pushtun, Baloch and Sindhi leadership (sans GM Syed) decided to join the Wali faction.

Also, whereas the pro-Soviet student and trade unions also attached themselves to the Wali faction, most Maoist groups, instead of backing the Bhashani faction, decided to attach themselves with Bhutto’s PPP.

But soon a third faction in NAP appeared. A more radical group within NAP-Wali broke away in 1968 and decided to adopt the Maoist strategy of achieving a socialist revolution through an armed struggle and organising peasant militias.

Thus was born the Mazdoor Kissan Party (Worker & Peasants Party) that held its first convention in Peshawar in 1968. _________________________________

Populist leftist politics reached a nadir in Pakistan in the late 1960s. Leftist student groups like the NSF and the National Students Organization (NSO) controlled most of the country’s student unions, and along with labour unions, PPP and NAP-Wali successfully agitated against the Ayub dictatorship and forced him to step down.

The PPP made crucial inroads in the Punjab and Sindh provinces, whereas NAP-Wali gained momentum in KPK (former NWFP) and Balochistan.

The Bengali nationalist party, the Awami League (AL), rose to become a major force in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

The trend was reinforced in the results of the 1970 election in which Bhutto’s PPP swept Punjab and Sindh, NAP-Wali bagged a number of seats in KPK and Balochistan, and AL won 98 per cent of the seats in East Pakistan.

The Mazdoor Kisan Party (MKP) refused to take part in the election. Inspired by the beginning of the Maoist Naxalite guerrilla movement in India and Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ in China, MKP activists, led by former NAP leader and Pushtun Maoist, Afzal Bangash, traveled to Hashtnagar in KP’s Charsadah District and began to arm and organise the peasants against the local landlords.

MKP leader, Afzal Bangash.
MKP leader, Afzal Bangash.

MKP’s manoeuvres in this respect were highly successful as its activists joined the area’s peasants and fought running gun battles with the mercenaries hired by the landlords and against the police.

As the area of influence of MKP’s struggle grew, another communist, Major Ishaq Mohammad, joined MKP with his men.

Unlike Bangash and most MKP cadres, Ishaq and his men were not from the KPK. They were from the Punjab.

Ishaq had been a Major in the Pakistan Army before he was jailed and dismissed after he had taken part in an abortive coup attempt against the government of Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951.

The coup attempt that was headed by General Akbar Khan was planned in league with the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP). It was nipped in the bud and its main leaders were all arrested and jailed.

Major Ishaq Mohammad.
Major Ishaq Mohammad.

Both men led MKP to spread its influence across various rural and semi-rural areas of the KPK and gained the support of the area’s peasants and as well as some tribal elders.

MKP’s guerrilla activities continued to grow and gather support and their fighters even managed to ‘liberate’ some lands by ousting the landlords.

MKP fighters with their Pushtun peasant army were gaining ground when after a Civil War, East Pakistan broke away and became the independent state of Bangladesh in 1971.

Angry officers of the Pakistan army, who blamed General Yayah Khan (who had replaced Ayub in 1969) for the break-up, invited Bhutto’s PPP to form the government of what remained of Pakistan.

The PPP enjoyed a majority at the centre and in Punjab and Sindh Assemblies, whereas NAP-Wali was able to form coalition governments in KPK (with JUI) and in Balochistan.

NAP-Wali leaders, Wali Khan and Ghaus Baksh Bezenjo speak to supporters from the balcony of the party’s office in Quetta soon after winning the 1970 election in Balochistan (and KPK).
NAP-Wali leaders, Wali Khan and Ghaus Baksh Bezenjo speak to supporters from the balcony of the party’s office in Quetta soon after winning the 1970 election in Balochistan (and KPK).

Relations between the pro-Soviet Pushtun nationalist and chief of NAP-Wali, Wali Khan, and the pro-China Bhutto, were anything but cordial.

Scholar and historian, Ishtiaq Ahmed, who was a friend of Afzal Bangash, suggests that in a secret meeting between the MKP leadership and Bhutto, Bhutto assured that his government will not take action against MKP guerrillas in KPK that was now under the rule of the NAP-Wali coalition government.

Encouraged by Bhutto’s promise and believing him to be a kindred Maoist soul, MKP increased its attacks on landlords and the police in rural and semi-rural areas of the KPK.

Encouraged by its victories in KPK, MKP dispatched Major Ishaq to generate a similar movement and struggle in the poverty-stricken rural areas of South Punjab.

But since the Punjab in those days was the electoral bastion of the PPP, the Bhutto regime came down hard on the MKP in the Punjab and was able to crush its plans to initiate guerrilla warfare in the region.

With Bhutto distracted by the police action against MKP in South Punjab, labour unrest in Karachi (also initiated by MKP-backed labour unions), and intelligence reports that the NAP-Wali government in Balochistan was helping arm Baloch nationalists (allegedly supported by Iraq and the Soviet Union), the NAP-JUI coalition government in KPK unleashed a brutal crackdown against the MKP.

Heavy fighting between mercenary militias formed by landlords backed by the police and MKP guerrillas erupted in Charsadah and surrounding areas, as the KPK government attempted to retake the land that the MKP fighters and the Pushtun peasants had brought under their control between 1968 and 1972.

About 200 sq. miles of land was under MKP’s control when the KPK government began to send wave after wave of armed policemen against the guerrillas.

Some MKP members blamed NAP-Wali of protecting the interests of the landlords while others suggested that it was NAP-Wali’s coalition partners, the JUI, that were to be blamed.

MKP accused NAP-Wali of using Pushtun nationalism and the JUI of exploiting Islam to protect the economic interests of the landlords who had 9allegedly) bankrolled their electoral campaigns during the 1970 election.

NAP-Wali and JUI accused MKP of becoming a tool in the hands of the Bhutto regime to stir up trouble in KPK - even though the MKP movement was present there almost four years before Bhutto came to power in 1972.

A picture of the Marxist/Maoist literature that was translated into Urdu and Pushtu and distributed among the peasants, workers and students of KPK during the MKP movement in the province.
A picture of the Marxist/Maoist literature that was translated into Urdu and Pushtu and distributed among the peasants, workers and students of KPK during the MKP movement in the province.

The MKP movement was finally crushed in 1974, not by the NAP-JUI government as such, but by the Bhutto regime.

In 1973 Bhutto dismissed the Balochistan government, accusing it of fostering separatist Baloch tendencies and groups. The KPK government resigned in protest, giving Bhutto the opportunity to install his own men in the two provinces.

He then moved in against MKP.

The blow that MKP received in KPK triggered an intense debate within the party. One section urged that since MKP had gathered large support from Pushtun peasantry, it should join electoral politics.

Those opposing the idea suggested that there was no room for ‘bourgeois democracy’ in Maoism and that the suggested move would reduce MKP into becoming a Pushtun nationalist party.

Yet another group in the party maintained that in spite of the losses suffered by MKP in 1973-74, its guerrilla campaign should continue.

Major Ishaq however had already begun perceiving MKP to be a militant expression of Pushtun nationalism. In 1976 he broke away from the party, returned to Punjab and formed his own faction of the MKP.

The Bhutto regime and the military that was already fighting a Baloch nationalist insurgency in Balochistan, arrested and jailed NAP-Wali’s Pushtun and Baloch leadership. He then influenced the courts to ban NAP.

When the Bhutto regime was toppled in a right-wing coup by General Ziaul Haq (July 1977), MKP’s influence in the KPK was receding and NAP-Wali failed to reorganise itself, leaving politics in the KPK wide open.

As Zia ended the military operation in Balochistan and allowed the Baloch insurgency’s main components to leave the country (in spite of the fact that he was staunchly opposed to their leftist ideology), he then moved to neutralise Pushtun nationalism as well.

Taking advantage of NAP’s withering status and the banned party’s anti-Bhutto sentiments, and also of MKP’s factionalisation, he then used the opportunity of using Saudi and US funds (that began to pour in after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979), to set-up recruitment and indoctrination centres and madressas in KPK to prepare fighters for the ‘anti-Soviet Afghan jihad.’

Afghan jihadists (Mujahideen) were given aid and space in the KPK and interestingly, one of the first Pakistani fighters that were inducted into the ‘jihad’ where those peasants and tribal Pushtuns who were radicalised by the MKP in the early 1970s.

It is believed that one of the first Pakistani fighters that were inducted into the ‘Afghan jihad’ where those peasants and tribal Pushtuns who were radicalized by the Maoist MKP in the early 1970s, but were re-indoctrinated by the Pakistan Army to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
It is believed that one of the first Pakistani fighters that were inducted into the ‘Afghan jihad’ where those peasants and tribal Pushtuns who were radicalized by the Maoist MKP in the early 1970s, but were re-indoctrinated by the Pakistan Army to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Trained by the MKP and bred on the sayings of Mao and Marx, these fighters were shown the glitter of the American Dollar and the Saudi Riyal, then indoctrinated in the ways of jihad, promised a glorious hereafter and converted into becoming mujahids.

Over the years, these early Pakistani fighters who fought in Afghanistan would take the memories of their Maoist past with them, and would eventually be replaced by Pushtuns with little or no memory of such a past at all.

To them being a Pushtun always meant being a Jihadist. This way the state was successful in absorbing the left-leaning tendencies of Pushtun nationalism into the Pakistani state’s obscurantist paradigm of Pakistani nationhood.

On the other end, attempts were made by former NAP leaders to revive the party after the fall of the Bhutto regime.

And though it was the Zia dictatorship that had squashed the treason cases against NAP leaders, Zia soon came down hard on leftist forces and NAP’s reformation was thwarted.

Nevertheless, when PPP’s new chairperson, Benazir Bhutto, returned from exile in 1986 and began taking the Zia dictatorship on, some former Pashtun, Baloch and Sindhi NAP leaders finally managed to revive the party, this time calling it the Awami National Party (ANP).

Wali Khan addressing the crowd gathered at the launch of ANP in 1986. Behind him sits his father and veteran Pushtun nationalist, Bacha Khan.
Wali Khan addressing the crowd gathered at the launch of ANP in 1986. Behind him sits his father and veteran Pushtun nationalist, Bacha Khan.

By the late 1980s, however, after ANP’s Baloch and Sindhi leaders broke away and formed their own nationalist groups, ANP watered down the old NAP’s Marxist rhetoric and became exclusively a secular and left-liberal Pashtun nationalist party.

Ever since the 2008 election, it has been in the forefront of the Pushtuns’ identity battles with Pushtun-dominated extremist outfits, trying to eradicate the now overwhelming militant Islamic factor from the foundations and make-up of Pushtun nationalism.

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (86) Closed

Feroz Aug 01, 2013 02:18pm

There is a very big difference between a Socialist Government and a Communist government. While both may be generally secular a Communist government is mostly atheist. In a religious State like Pakistan there is zero chance of a Communist government being formed. I do agree that Sindhi's, Baloch and Pashtun's even after 1947 were largely secular and the communal virus was injected into their veins largely by the Punjabi Establishment, to neutralize their nationalistic aspirations. Most leaders that looked to emerge were eliminated by means fair and foul. Now sadly there is no leader of stature who can lead the people or defeat militancy.

gul Aug 01, 2013 02:25pm

I wish Nadeem Parcha was my history teacher. I would have been less nauseating in my arguments.

NAP Man Aug 01, 2013 02:36pm

This man is unstoppable. Week after week he generates analysis and history of some of our most crucial but forgotten past with great clarity and skill. Kudos, NFP.

Yunus Aug 01, 2013 02:38pm

@gul: I so totally agree.

Khurram Awan Aug 01, 2013 02:50pm

@Feroz Again Blaming Punjabis for your own Shortcomings. Dont become too innocent and blame Punjabis everywhere. Also tell me after the creation of Pakistan in 1947 How many Punjabis were given posts by Jinnah and How many Urdu Speakers were given top spots and afterwards you will remain silent. Als Punjabis did not injected any Communal Virus in you but it was your own ignorance who led to your demise and nothing else. So stop Blaming Punjabis for your own ignorance and lack of understanding. .

Basra Rehman Aug 01, 2013 03:00pm

@Khurram Awan: Relax, punter. There were many Punjabis and Mohajirs in NAP and all of them agreed with the party's stand against Punjab's hegemony.

Btw, another fantastic feature, NFP.

Aashir Farhan Aug 01, 2013 03:03pm

Totolly agree... feeling amazing that someone stepped forward for the Secular Pashtuns., and who can describe the negative role of establishment in millitancy.. ..

A Kashmiri Aug 01, 2013 03:27pm


zaid faiz Aug 01, 2013 03:36pm

inshallah.... pakhtunistan will be a reality

kush Aug 01, 2013 03:37pm

down with punjabis! NFP ure the best!

Ihtisham Aug 01, 2013 03:50pm

once more,a gem of a piece!

Hasan Aug 01, 2013 03:59pm

Punjabis this and Punjabis that. Anything else to offer here?

sattar rind Aug 01, 2013 04:24pm

Mao or other Marxists have no place in Afghanistan ...

waqar khan Aug 01, 2013 04:46pm

REALLY GREAT DISCOURSE SIR.we still enjoy the fruits that the MKP's tree borne for us.MKP put an end to the grand jirga of landlords and it has no existance till now. MKP also put an end to the forced expulsion of peasants at the hands of landlords.i think the faction that differed with taking part in election was right because voting has caused a big disadvantage to MKP. it still exists in our elders and whenever,some move is seen by landlords our elders get united again and push them back to the wall.@waqqar_khan/

Dawood Khan Aug 01, 2013 05:05pm

Very well written article, totally agree with the writer. Good on you.

zia khan Aug 01, 2013 05:17pm

Pushtuns have always been staunch Muslims. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Afghan civil war, Taliban, AlQaida and American invasion of Afghanistan have changed pushtun society in many ways but they have become more resilient in hard times. The emergence of Pakistani Taliban has also challenged traditional tribal leadership at all levels. In this changed world Bacha Khan has become quiet irrelevant & his philosophy did not last long. His grandson Afrasayab Wali Khan is a businessman not a torch bearer of his philosophy. Punjab with 60 percent of population will always be a dominating factor but provinces are more autonomous these days and smaller provinces have to outperform Punjab in public service and development. The blame game has to end.

AR Aug 01, 2013 05:20pm

@ Feroz: It was Bhutto, a Sindhi, who started operation in Balochistan. It was Zia ul Haq, a Mohajir, who injected the virus of fundamentalism with Rayals and Dollars in country. In Punjab, mohajirs like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan do not need to make a separate party for their rights but they are now considered Punjabis. So better to grow up and start blaming others for the dirt in your house.

Dr Puri Aug 01, 2013 05:38pm

Congratulation to Mr Paracha for writing highly researched article and to you for publishing it. It is now clear that present Taliban movement was earlier a Pashtun socialistic movement but was converted into a fundamental Islamist group by CIA with the help of feudal system, to curb the influence of Soviet Union. Pakistan is now playing the price of this dirty game.

SPar Aug 01, 2013 05:47pm

Thanks to Nadeem F. Paracha for bringing a piece of lost history due to twistings and turnings of Pakistani Politicians. For the neutral people like myself, who wonders on what happened to those Maoist leaning an movements in Pakistan, this article gives a full account (well, for understanding purposes) of what happened.

Capt C M Khan Aug 01, 2013 06:10pm

Other factors for their radicalization were Massive population increase and Lack of enough Jobs.Theses factors opened the doors to CORRUPTION and today the Mafia in KPK is willing to sell anything for MONEY. The training/weapons have made them second well organised and lethal force after the army ( two excellent/planned jailbreaks in the heart of cities). They have reached a point of NO RETURN. They will end up like SUDAN splitting the country into two halves..In the end it was FAILURE OF MEANINGFUL LEADERSHIP BY POLITICIANS/ARMY of all the past thirty years I guess.

Shirazi Aug 01, 2013 07:27pm

I didn't know most of it about the evolution of NAP/ANP. What makes it even more interesting it's coming from Karachi based Punjabi Journalist NFP.


pakhtun Aug 01, 2013 08:21pm

There are some circles within a system,which are engaged and striving hard to eradicate pashtun nationalism and replace it with fanaticism and islamism and talibanization...

Zorak Bangulzai Aug 01, 2013 08:21pm

Great article NFP. Just wanted to make one correction; the picture of the NAP leaders addressing a crowd doesn't have Wali Khan in it. The leaders seen in the pic are Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Mir Gul Khan Nasir, Ataullah Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri, Abdul Wahid Kurd, the then Balochistan General Secretary of NAP Amir-ul-mulk Mengal (who later became the CJ of Balochistan High Court in the 90s and then the Governor of Balochistan under the Musharraf regime) and Akbar Bugti (who, while not a member of NAP was supporting it at the time. It was only three years later that allegations levelled by him against the leadership of NAP resulted in their government being toppled in Balochistan. Bugti was then appointed the Governor of Balochistan by Bhutto.)

Forth Right Aug 01, 2013 08:39pm

Thank you for the peak in past. Today's Bangladesh verdict on Jamaat Islami is a great example of countries realizing how dangerous the religious extremist can be. I know Nadeem had touched base on this subject in the past but if there was a time machine and if someone can go back and take Zia Ul Haq \Religious Parties out of the equation. If there was a way to change those pieces of puzzle in our past. It might change the picture from Hell to Heaven. Unfortunately our people support those extremist to cover for their short comings as people with Big cars or Big mustaches or beards are trying to prove a point ;-)

M aslam Aug 01, 2013 08:56pm

@SPar: Maoist, lennonis, ishtraki, nationalist, islamist, left hand, right hand, all these leaders were behind money. The biggest truth in their lives was money. In you want to further elaboration then Zan-Zar and Zameen. That is the philosphy of all leaders in present as well as in past.

Bilal Aug 01, 2013 09:49pm

I realize that its not fashionable to call someone a foreign agent on this particular comment section.

But NFP, what Punjabi establishment are you talking about? A learned man like you should know about the high percentage of Pathans in military, bureaucracy and judiciary. Remind us again, how many of our presidents, prime ministers have been from Punjab?

Enough with this Punjabi bashing! Punjabis make up half the population of Pakistan, so give them a break.

And you can dream about these Red leftist losers all you want, but the world has moved on. Communism/Socialism is dead, buddy. Wake up :)

Muhammad Ahmed Aug 01, 2013 09:49pm

First of all, hats off to NFP for taking an objective view of the situation. I was quite surprised that his regular bias regarding PPP being always right was not evident in this blog post. It also seems extremely mild compared to regular dose of Zia bashing, which will have to make me start considering him an amateur historian. There is an element of masking still evident in this historical chapter. NAP and MKP fragmentation was more result of the personal and financial gains of the leaders and social changes in the society rather than Zia and Bhutto policies. There is a major problem with perspectives in Pakistan. We tend to remain in our shells based on our experiences. NFP has developed this mindset that Pakistan was a very progressive country since 1950s and 1960s and the transformation to the confused islamic conservatism is the result of Zia led policies. His regular proof regarding this mantra is based on his own left leaning bias and views provided by an extremely limited class of residents of sub-continent who had immersed themselves in the British culture during British Raj. His previous articles including the series called, " This is also Pakistan" primarily focuses on historical perspective of a progressive and simply does not focus on reasons which fueled religious fundamentalism behind those pictures. The only major concern with this perspective is that it limits your objectivity as a person evaluating historical events. It seems like the simple conclusion for waning support of NAP or communism and socialism in Pakistan may be attributed to the inability of the people to see the long term benefits of these movements and inconsistency of the leadership in identifying long term goals for the public. The other more interesting reason could be that the writings of religious scholars were also evolving and becoming less alien for general populace. This also can be considered a vehicle that fueled fundamentalism in the country but it also provided something which neither of the socialist parties were able to provide. There was tendency of accepting leadership from the royals or rich landlords whose lifestyles did not align as closely with their philosophies. The other factor which primarily impacted KPK and Punjab as well as East Pakistan was the ability of madrassas to capitalize teaching in mother tongues within these regions. The social factors for NAP decline cannot be overlooked and must also be evaluated.

Bilal Aug 01, 2013 09:53pm

NFP, and what exactly did these crazy leftists achieved? Yea we have heard how great they were, how they were crushed by the "establishment" working for CIA/MOSSAD/Sesame Street. But seriously, what did these people achieve? I mean what are their services to the people and the country?

zaid Aug 01, 2013 10:09pm

What a load of trash (I am from the punjab) in the article it states a pushing for a single language - what language are you going to use? I dont like Urdu but I do realise that it is a language that 65% of the sub continent understand.

The punjabi people should ask to be separate nation and return all the non punjabis back regardless of whether they settled as refugees, by the mughals or persians. etc.

You blame the punjabis for a lot of problems when the truth is people in top posts from generals in the pakistan army to secret service personnel, throughout Pakistan are all non punjabi.

The punjabi people have been for to long been used as a scapegoats. When the Mughals ruled the punjab it was farsi people, iranians and afghans who prospered.

When are you punjabis going to strive for a nation of your own????!!!! Enough persecution of the punjabi people.

zia khan Aug 01, 2013 11:26pm

@zaid faiz: Afghans will once again blast the hell out of each other after the departure of Americans. The slogan of Pukhtoonistan has lost its appeal as the ground realities have changed. It will be a miracle if we can save Afghanistan from splitting up. Those who talk about pukhtoonistan are mischief mongers making statements from safe heavens. Afghanistan needs to come closer to Pakistan for better future.

Rabia Inayat Aug 01, 2013 11:31pm

@zaid: Ahem. Nadeem Farooq Paracha is a Punjabi as well. But a more democratic and open minded one than Punjabis like you can ever be. Get a hold of yourself.

Veekay Aug 02, 2013 12:08am

NFP, Please keep your articles short, after this stupid move by dawn to split them in multiple pages, its cumbersome to read so long articles... please keep a light hand on your regular readers... Baki, mufta jis k bhi hath laghe ek bar to phir woh mufta hi doondhta phirta hai.. This is human nature .. nothing punjabi - pathan...

sms Aug 02, 2013 12:36am

Pretty good summary .. thanks!

Yasir Aug 02, 2013 01:14am

wow this is a fascinating revelation for me at-least, i had no idea of revolutionary and dynamic political inclinations of the ppl of kp despite being relatively un-educated especially when it comes complex political ideas but it demonstrates clearly as to how can these ppl be aroused into action by a number of different ppl using entirely different tools such as religion, pushtoon nationalism, justice and democracy, wealth etc etc i take a lot of heart in knowing that we are forever ready to rebel and change

Syed Aug 02, 2013 01:53am

@AR: It is great to know that Zia, Sharif and Imran are muhajirs and not punjabi:) I am thinking that CJ must be a muhajir too?

farid Aug 02, 2013 02:10am

@Bilal: These people made you read and write. Read the history.

Mimi Sur Aug 02, 2013 02:23am

For the first time , I disagree with NFP. There is no clear cut proof that the insurgency by Talibans had a socialist or communist root . Can someone explain How Communism can thrive in an Islamic society ? Logic driven Communists are rational , atheist and committed to their indigenous culture . Islam and Communism are parallel lines and never intersect . And socialists never raise weapons and clears the path for democracy . Staunch communist countries like China and Russia are some of the largest capitalist countries on earth and capitalism is the derivative of democracy . It was evident when Chinese gov declared "Being rich is glorious" . For a system or country to thrive , it must follow democracy. But democracy needs some of the basic pillars like Education and all ,without which meaningful democracy is difficult to achieve .There is no doubt why Bacha Khan was failed...

SherePunjab Singh SherGill Aug 02, 2013 02:48am

@AR: I have read the article. It is sorry affair that Punjabis who sacrificed most for pakistan are always blamed for every mistake or failure of it. Though more than 50% of population, the Urdu was made national language, which was language of few thousand Muhajirs and also having origin in Delhi and around it. No Punjabi was made PM or President or army chief for long time. Other states scored benifits by Punjab bashing, Punjab always had to sacrifice being "elder brother". If Punjabis on both of Wagha unite we do not need any body else. PUNJAB SANJHA SAB PUNJABIA DA,

Jupiter59 Aug 02, 2013 03:03am

Brilliant analysis of KPK's political history and the blunders committed along the way by the establishment.

Farhad Papin Aug 02, 2013 04:07am

Brilliant. Another masterpiece by NFP.By injecting the virus of religious extremism and social re- engineering, the establishment might have been able to absorb the nationalist and secular tendencies perceived as a threat to the state, however in the process they engendered a monster that is pulling this country apart. They might have in the process done irreparable damage to the Pukhtun and Pakistani society which in the end will take this country down. Ironically it seems nothing has been learnt over the years to reverse this process

karamba Aug 02, 2013 04:38am

Punjabi bashing/separate state?? Kids, this is a factual history lesson and not the brain washed stuff taught in your school. Learn to live with it and grow up. Also do some reading on Punjab centered politics.

ibad khan Aug 02, 2013 04:46am

@zia khan: Nagar Nagar Qali Qali Munga Ghwaro Azadi !

irfanzone Aug 02, 2013 05:56am

Religion at the mercy of illiterate lot is like a Gun in the hands of a monkey. Hey Lets duck , phewwww ......

Parvez Aug 02, 2013 07:05am

MKP activist turned jihadis. It would have been credible, if you had named some as examples. Right now, it is only a stretch of mind.

Saeed Aug 02, 2013 07:17am

Pakhtuns leader may be secular or leftist minded . But they keep there tradition which have a huge influenced of religion. You can't be secular and hold Pakhtuns tradition same time.

Aakashvaani Aug 02, 2013 07:38am

To everybody who is bothered by the ridiculous multi-page PRINT!

Shubs Aug 02, 2013 08:49am

@Mimi Sur: Russia is communist??

Baber Khan Aug 02, 2013 08:50am

@SherePunjab Singh SherGill: Punjabis are the imperialist of Pakistan and not the saviors. They are not sacrificing but taking over the region by using the Punjabi military by invading other parts of the country. It is the same scenario as Ranjeet singh did in the past.

Feroz Aug 02, 2013 10:15am

@Mimi Sur: "Bacha Khan has failed". Your reading and understanding of history is appalling.

Afridi Aug 02, 2013 10:58am

Zabardast written. Establishment should go back to their towns and villages take their arab stooges and leave pukhtoons alone for God sake.

Irad Aug 02, 2013 12:23pm

So remarkable, this narrative runs so parallel to the one written on the ups & downs of Pakistani movies, that they look like railway tracks. Once the Punjabi influence made its forays into what was then a flourishing Lahore based Urdu movie industry, the rapid fall of movie industry of Pakistan started and it is still sliding towards the edge of cliff. The effect of the "kiss of death of Punjab" on all aspects of sub-Pakistani culture, identity and nationalism is too strong to be left out of any narrative describing Pakistan.

Muhammad Umar Aug 02, 2013 12:50pm

I could not understand Zulfi Bhutto's part. Can anybody explain?

muhammad Aug 02, 2013 01:43pm

@Bilal: You have asked that what exactly did these crazy leftists achieved? they had achieved peace and better living standards for common people by striking balance between Capitalists and fundamentalists now since leftists become weak, we are seeing reduction of subsidies on one hand and rise in extremism on the other hand.

mohshin habib Aug 02, 2013 02:34pm

enjoyable! thanks to nadeem paracha. he knocked many doors of the background of nationalism and religious phenomenon. so it could be more elaborated. anyway it is a good write up to know many things.

Peera Aug 02, 2013 02:39pm

Thumbs up NFP.. it explain how the Pashtun were used in the hand of other for the achieving of their objective, in the meantime the Pashtun nationalism is in the hand of the Islamic militants, the battle between the NAP and the taliban has left the pashtun nationalist in between some were.but the battle will continue for holding the representation of the Pashtun nationalist between the ANP and the newly emerged PMAP

fareed Aug 02, 2013 03:05pm

@AR: : Dear AR - Zia alone could not do any thing unless 90% punjabi army not behind him he was used.Its simple as abc 123.

Raza Aug 02, 2013 03:21pm

Wonderfully written. Thank you.

adnan Aug 02, 2013 03:44pm

AoA We have to understand one thing,Pashton means Afghan,you cant compare pashton with Bengali ,Sindi ore Punjabi,also there is no thing like "Pakistani Pashton" akistani is a race,Pashton Is also a race, you cant change your race ,Pashton is Afghan and will Always be Afghan,dont forgett that KPK was Afghanistan untill 1889,Durand agrement, Jazakallah.

Bilal Aug 02, 2013 06:31pm

@muhammad: Please give me clear examples of where did this "peace and equality" existed under leftists?

Saifur Rahman Aug 02, 2013 06:44pm

Excellent article

Magister Aug 02, 2013 06:45pm

Nothing could be more disgusting than when a person is judged by his caste, creed, features, religion, or his net worth but sadly this is the reet(for lack of a better word in English) of the world.

AR Aug 02, 2013 06:53pm

@ fareed: only 51% of our Armed forced come from Punjab and rest from other provinces (Wikipedia). Also compare army chiefs Ayub Khan (from KPK) , Zia ul haq (a muhajir) , Musharraf (a muhajir) with Perviaz Kayani (from Punjab) and notice that a General from Punjab has no inclination to be a dictator but others did so. So Punjab is just a scapegoat in the light of facts.

Pakistani Aug 02, 2013 09:49pm

@SherePunjab Singh SherGill: Dude u need to recall the slaughter the Punjabis on the other side of the border carried out on the muslim Punjabis!

Taimoor Khan Aug 02, 2013 11:18pm

@adnan: We dont care about what afghan or afghanistan is, for us we need to build the ancient greater Pakistan , which the world referes to Indus. build by the people of indus, the ancient Pakistanis and sustained it for thousands and thousands of years. whole of Iran, afghanistan and western india belong to Pakistan by the virtue of Indus. afghanistan persia and india were all the by product of the demise of ancient greater Pakistan and hence insignificant.

Bilal Aug 02, 2013 11:31pm

@farid: These people made us read and write? How exactly?

Umair Aug 02, 2013 11:44pm

@AR: You have no shame in saying that 51% of army is from punjab and the rest is from other parts. Read the article from Noam Chomsky (MIT Prof). Liberate your thoughts if you have any. and if that does not help look around your cricket team and tell me one player from 66 years of histroy from Balochistan or Interior Sind.?? Pakistan in general still ruled by those landlords who were present during 1947 and they knew exactly what are they getting. If you love your childern, then teach them to respect other cultures such as sindhis, mohajirs and, Pathans, Sirakei and respect them. Same for others.

HATER OF PORK Aug 03, 2013 04:15am

@zaid faiz: InshAllah!

farooq Aug 03, 2013 06:03am

Rabia Inayat

Nadeem Farooq Paracha , Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharrif are not punjabis.

Target killing of innocent Punjabis in Baluchistan............,Do you think the thats fair? How do you think guerrilla units exist they only exist with the help/support of the local populace. Whenever I look on the internet its the punjabi army this...... the punjabi army that............... total nonsense. The punjabi people are being painted in such a poor way I felt I had to say something. KPK is semi autonomous, Baluchistan wants to be autonomous .its own country........... but when someone speaks for the Pakistani punjabis they are heavily criticized. The truth of the matter is nobody want punjabis to consolidate and to be on one footing because the punjab has always been a victim of divide and conquer and thus easier to criticize due to a lack of a common equality amongst themselves.

farooq Aug 03, 2013 06:35am

In order to rule the Punjab -Punjabi nationalism was destroyed century's ago (Divide and rule). Punjabis are still a victim of that today.

Wherever I've looked at Punjabi history it is made of of foreign rule which I find very hard to believe!!!

To cap it all the Urdu language does not even mention having an punjabi influence. Farsi, hindi and pashto are mentioned please correct me if I am wrong!!!!???

I read an article the other day where a balochi women was victimized by a Punjabi family (which I dont condone) but the author of the article a pushtoon claimed that Punjabis have no honour and failed to mention that it was the balochi womens son who had initially dishonored and shamed the punjabi family by trying to have relations with their daughter and then trying to ask her hand in marriage.

A pakistan soldier in the NWFP is stoned to death in a graveyard for talking to a native girl but your hatred for Punjabis saddens me and is totally unacceptable. Be fair and just, double standards are not acceptable!!! Punjabi army this .........punjabi army that........... . is nonsense.

pervaiz vandal Aug 03, 2013 06:49am

After a long time someone has put forth an objective analysis in the 'popular press'. That in itself is an indication of a society rethinking the taliban phenomenon. Only such broad perspectives put things in a context and then the tactics of SA/USA make sense. Thanks Nadeem

Saeed Aug 03, 2013 07:23am

@irfanzone: People or terrorist we saw , are just like a foot solider in any army They are ordered and commanded by religious scholars and well informed religious leaders.

Jehanzeb Idrees Aug 03, 2013 01:58pm


1889??? And when was Afghanistan "CREATED" as a buffer state between British India and Tzarist Russia? :) What about the European/Colonial interests in the Central Asia after the latter fell to the Russsian empire around 1860s? Well before Mortimer Durand there was also a joint Anglo-Russian boundary commission which formed the present day Afghanistan.

Pushtuns supersede Afghanistan by thousands of years, Afghans is a loose term also used for Turkman, Uzbek, Tajik, Nauseris etc. if Pakistani Pushtuns are Afghans then I am afraid you'll soon be claiming the entire populations of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as Afghans as well or perhaps in contrast to that the scions of Iltamush and Aurangzaib (if any) could claim India from Amu Darya to the Bay of Bengal and Greeks with half of the world along with Mongols, Ottomans so on and so forth ... besides, what were Pushtuns called before that, since there was no Afghanistan? Khorasaanis? In that case, you'll further be claiming your forgotten land from Iran, Azerbaijan and even China. Got the point! :)

zia khan Aug 03, 2013 05:36pm

@Umair: What a senseless contribution? You have quoted Noam Chomsky to add some weight to your statement. Punjab with over 60 percent population will also be contributing manpower more than other provinces in different fields and you have to get used to it. Punjab and KPK have been the main providers of manpower since British time. In the absence of industrial infrastructure people of these provinces opted for military service in greater numbers. Your statement about cricket is also very funny. Can you name one good cricket player from Baluchistan or interior Sind? You should also find out how much cricket is played in Baluchistan or interior Sind. There was a time when players used to come from main cities like Lahore and Karachi but now very talented players come from small towns and villages. All cultures should be respected for peaceful co existence but you need to get rid of Punjabi fobia.

Karamat Aug 03, 2013 06:48pm

@adnan: Pakistani is not a race - its name of a land where different races live, i.e Pakhtun, Punjabi,etc these race may have originated from many lands such as Afghanistan, India, etc

AR Aug 03, 2013 07:01pm

@ Umair: You have no understanding of demographics of Pakistan. Punjab has about 55% population of country but its share in armed forces is 51% which shows that it is under-represented (source: wikipedia). If you read the Chomsky article carefully it uses the word 'perception of Punjab hegemony' and does not say that it is a fact. By the way we are most diverse province in country with ethnic punjabi, seraki, pushtuns, bloachi, kashmiri, muhajir etc. all living in almost harmony and mutual respect. Furthermore we do not vote ethnic parties instead vote for PPP, PML and PTI for their political ideologies which shows maturity. Although religious tolerance is something where we need to do something.....

Saeed Aug 03, 2013 07:26pm

Blaming other for our own stupidity is the culture of third world of people.I still think Pakistan have freedom of choice . What ever is going right now in our country is only people choices. Punjab , RAW ,CIA or others are only excuses for our individual mistakes .

Adil Jadoon Aug 03, 2013 07:26pm

@Umair: Dude everyone has the right to live way they wish to and all of our cultures are Pakistani cultures. To be quite honest there are only small differences between them and growing up in Islamabad I had the joy of meeting all these diferent people. I am a pathan by my best friends are Sindhis, punjabis and baochis. Respect our cutures for they are what bring us together.

Ali Baloch Aug 03, 2013 08:49pm

@NFP I get real sad when I read your columns and articles.

Tahir Aug 03, 2013 11:05pm

bravo NFP, it is a masterpiece.

Khurram Awan Aug 04, 2013 04:38am

The need of the hour is to Revive the Punjabi Nationalism once in and for all and to correct our History. Enough is enough as Punjabis are tired of bashing all the time. From Bangladesh debacle to Kargil everywhere Non Punjabis were involved but still Punjabis are portrayed as evil monsters. The history of Punjab is distorted and only those history lessons are included by our historians where Foreigners were glorified and Punjabis were portrayed as slaves. Also Our language and culture is slaughtered but Still Other ethnicities want to end our Existence. We want a Strong Nationalistic party in Punjab who will replace PMLN and PTI in next elections and will protect our language, culture and rewrite the Original history starting from King Porus ,Dulla Bhatti to Ranjit Singh and also our future generation must know who was Bullay Shah, Baba Farid and Amrita Pritam as enough of the Victim card by others and Mauling of Punjabis.

Muhammad Aug 04, 2013 04:46am

By the way the first civil martial law administrator was not a punjabi even1st army dictator was a pushtun and Zia ul Batil also belonged to KPK and who does not know the afgan or pashtun fame selling even their mother for money thats what happening in afghanistan since decades andnow these fascist pashtun taliban have started in Pakistan.

Balwanjee Aug 04, 2013 04:51am

Would NFP do some research work on Rawalpindi conspiracy case and try to track down the real story behind this drama. Faiz Sahib in his several interviews and Captain Zafar Poshni, both convicted in the conspiracy case, tell a different story. Both these participants say that they had a meeting, the meeting was without an agenda and it ended without coming to any decision rather it was decided not to topple the government. NFP's language is telling us that a conspiratorial meeting was held and the conviction was according to the law.

Name Aug 04, 2013 05:07am

Hahahaaa dont critisize each other u all are good people whether baloch,punjabi,pathan,or sindhi or other,one thing must keep in mind that gud n bad people are every where so bcz of sm stupid people we dont critisize the whole group of people n mostly we call urdu speakr punjabies bt in real sence they are not, bro and sisiter just remember one thing we are Pakistani and we all are same n forget whether we r pathan,punjabies,baloch etc tc bye

zameer Aug 04, 2013 07:10am

Afridi wrote August 2, 2013 10:58 am

"Zabardast written. Establishment should go back to their towns and villages take their arab stooges and leave pukhtoons alone for God sak''.

The same can be said of Afghans/Pashtoons in the Punjab.............i.e go back ...............

uchak Aug 04, 2013 10:13am

though not a very important observation on the article, but i guess significant considering hte kind of indoctrination most Pakistani's have, the writer mentioned that the 1965 war ended in stalemate. The facts seem to disagree, as per wikipedia, and i quote " The war was heading for a stalemate, with both nations holding territory of the other. The Indian army suffered 3,000 battlefield deaths, while Pakistan suffered 3,800. The Indian army was in possession of 710 miles

Sajjad, Aug 04, 2013 12:00pm

In a country infested with religious blindness, it is a jewel of Pashtun thinking and acting left wards and not looking to political Islam as the ultimate solutions of everyday problems created by an "elite" of corrupt politicians, illiterate Mullahs who have invented their own brand of a respectless Islam thru invention and not because of religious learning and ofcourse the little educated and dumb leaders this state produces. The "Holy Quran" is the ultimate curse of this society and not a solution to the problems facing it.