by Masood Sharif Khan Khattak
The Pakhtuns as a whole now need to bring about a leadership that stands for them in adversity and actually works for the betterment of the Pakhtuns as a whole.
It is so unfortunate that FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan) is now made to look as if it is on some other planet. The Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani is in Multan every weekend. He and his advisers have never realized that the Prime Minister of Pakistan needs to visit other areas of Pakistan also and specially so in Pakhtunkhwa. The Governor of Pakhtunkhwa governs FATA from the Governor’s House in Peshawar. It is time that those who matter in Pakistan understand that FATA and other areas of Pakhtunkhwa are a part and parcel of Pakistan. Why do these people forget that Pakhtuns have been absolutely patriotic Pakistanis who have been deprived of their rights for too long now. People from the now very troubled FATA have always been the first to step out and fight for Pakistan and that too with their own weapons and they now deserve a better deal from the country’s power wielders.
Pakistan would not have had ownership of what is Azad Kashmir if the tribal Pakhtuns from FATA, in general, and of North and South Waziristan, in particular, had not arrived in Kashmir in 1947 and fought for Pakistan when the Pakistan Army did not even exist. These Pakhtuns from Waziristan fought alongside the deserters from the Pakistan Army units and the local lashkars(jathas) of Kashmiri people from what is now Azad Kashmir. This is history. Those of you who may not have known much about the 1947 War in Kashmir must read the book “Raiders in Kashmir” written by Gen Akbar.
The second instance was in 1979 when the Pakhtuns from mainly the tribal areas alongside the Pakhtuns of Afghanistan fought the Soviet Union when it invaded Afghanistan. The Pakhtuns were then the darlings of the whole world. It was the Pakhtuns who shaped the present day world by defeating and forcing the erstwhile Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan. Had the Pakhtuns not physically fought the Soviet Union all the efforts of the Pakistan Army and that of the Western world in terms of weapons supply and training etc would have gone in vain. But it is so unfortunate that the West and Pakistan itself forgot the Pakhtuns as soon as the war in Afghanistan was won. Tragic to say the least. The people of Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas inhabited by the Pakhtuns now desire and deserve a very speedy push forward in terms of progress and prosperity. Sadly, it does not seem likely that any of the present day foreign aid to Pakistan is going to find its way into Pakhtunkhwa or FATA. It is time for people running the affairs of the State of Pakistan to do justice to the land of the Pakhtuns. That justice ought to be done before it is too late.
The Pakhtuns today look towards the political leadership that is in place in Pakhtunkhwa to come forward for them and raise their voice for the people they claim to be representing. This does not seem to be happening in any real and urgent sense.
It is truly unfortunate that the Pakhtuns have never elected a unified political leadership for themselves that could stand up for them. This is also why the Pakhtuns find themselves in a dilemma today. The Pakhtuns now have to, as an imperative, stand politically united under a strong political leadership that can guide them towards peace, progress and prosperity.