APROPOS the account of a session at the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) ‘Khudai Khidmatgars history was suppressed after Partition’ (Feb 21), it was disappointing going through the details and how Mukulika Banerjee of the London School of Economics mentioned only one side of the Khudai Khidmatgars and Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

She mentioned the association of Khudai Khidmatgars with the Indian National Congress, lamenting that they were considered traitors during the freedom struggle for Pakistan.

Another panelist, Afrasiab Khattak, bemoaned that “Pakistanis did not have good history books”. He is not alone in his criticism by the way. Pakistanis at large also have a strong desire that the role played by the Khudai Khidmatgars and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind and its component parties should be discussed in detail in the history books published in Pakistan in order to let the public know the facts as they were.

Banerjee’s objections that Khudai Khidmatgars were suppressed and silenced are baseless, misplaced, and represent a distorted version of history. Afrasiab Khattak and Banerjee should be honest enough to acknowledge that all the component parties of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind and Khudai Khidmatgars, who had strongly opposed the popular movement for the creation of Pakistan under the leadership of the Quaid-i-Azam, were given a free hand to participate in the political process in Pakistan.

So much so, that Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s son Abdul Wali Khan formed the National Awami Party, Nawabzada Nasrullah renamed his Majlis-i-Ahrar as Pakistan Democratic Party (PDP), and religious components of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind wasted no time in establishing their offices in almost every city of Pakistan.

The nation has witnessed how they have actively participated in national politics since the creation of Pakistan. On top of all that, Khudai Khidmatgars, reincarnated as the ANP, were free enough to name the Peshawar airport the Bacha Khan airport, and Nawabzada Nasrullah was given the title of ‘Baba-i-Jamhuriat’.

The like of Banerjee and Afrasiab Khattak know better than anyone else how opponents of popular movements are purged after the success of popular movements.

Abid Mahmud Ansari
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021

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