Ali Ashraf Khan
Recent remarks of Mahmood Achakzai who is considered close associate of PML (N) leading his own political party and sitting in Pakistan’s parliament has been another glaring illustration about what is wrong in our country. In an interview, the Afghanistan Time in its headline story had quoted Mahmood Khan Achakzai as saying, “If Afghans are harassed in other parts of Pakistan, they should come here to the Pakhtunkhwa province, where no one can ask them for refugee cards because KPK also belongs to Afghans.” He meant that KP was a province inhabited by a majority of Pashtuns and that was why according to his (false) understanding all Pashtuns are at home in KPK, including those from Afghanistan. But that is not true and he failed to understand the essence of what a nation consists of.
When Pakistan was created in 1947 it was created as a territorial nation state and since then it is run as such despite the fact that Allama Iqbal rejected territorial nationalism and stated in his two nation theory that only an ideological Islamic state would be able to serve the purpose of uniting all Muslims. The idea of all Pakistanis being a nation was difficult to understand for people in our country, it was and is an alien idea imported from Europe. Pakistan’s weak educational system since 1947 was not or only very incompletely able to explain the national idea to its citizens. And one can suppose that Mahmood Achakzai did receive a sufficiently good education in Pakistan but his political stance has been in conflict at times with Pakistani ideology and requirements. Still he did not grasp that Pakistan belongs to Pakistanis only and it belongs to all Pakistanis equally. That means that all Pakistanis are at home in Pakistan and a Sindhi or Punjabi is at home in KPK as much as a Pashtun is. But Pashtuns are equally at home in Karachi or any other place of our beautiful country.
And Afghans – be they ethnic Pashtuns or Uzbeks or others- are not at home in KPK because they are not Pakistanis. They can’t understand that either; that is why they refuse to recognize the validity of Pakistan’s western border, the Durand line. When the news of Mr. Achakzai’s opinion broke those who have a better understanding about our Pakistani nation were rightfully upset and expressed that feeling against the unwanted outburst to please his masters in Afghanistan. Realizing this Achakzai tried to help himself out of the situation by claiming that he had been misquoted by the Afghan media and meant to have said that he had only stated that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was historically a part of Afghanistan.
Well, that is a weak defence. Historically there has been an Afghanistan only since the first half of the 19th century. The territory that is Afghanistan today has been at times part of different empires: the Persian Empire, the Moghul Empire or the Delhi Sultanate. Pashtun dynasties have ruled at times even Bengal, but does that mean that Bengal has become their home? And the point about history is wrong in the other direction as well. Pakistan itself was historically speaking part of India – British-India and Moghul India and so on. Does that mean that all Indians are at home in Pakistan?
To make things even worse Mr. Achakzai added in his infamous interview that “Kabul and Islamabad should exercise extreme caution to resolve Torkham crossing conflict. Otherwise, they should leave the issue to the US and China, and they would resolve it within two weeks.” This is outrightly a demand for a new spell of colonialism! Because Achakzai being close partner of the present ruling junta knows the requirements of US game plan to consolidate Indo + Afghan plan to re-write geographical boundaries in the region. So much about the understanding of a Pakistani political leader about his own country and his trust in his government of which his party is a coalition partner. If this is the opinion of a political leader what can we expect from the plain Pakistanis especially those millions that have never seen a school from the inside and have never travelled and thus have no idea about the territory and expansion of Pakistan?
Another story came to light last week when in Frankfurt some pictures started circulating on social media that Baloch Republican Party leader Jawad Baloch and his associates held a meeting with ex-Defence Minister of Israel to demonstrate Israeli full support with BRP declaring that the resolution of Balochistan crisis on the lines of Balochistan Republican Party’s demand is essential to peace and that is also a most important for achieving permanent peace in Middle East and the world! A strange stance that was few days later also endorsed by US Congress through a new resolution that was followed by a Congress delegation visiting Islamabad and Afghanistan under the leadership of John Mc Cain, who should have been asked not only to explain but to refrain in future from such activities if they want Pakistan to remain their strategic partner in achieving peace in Afghanistan for their safe exit.
Achakzai’s interview and all such resolutions and views expressed in the West should be a wake-up call for all of us, for our educational system and the media; those have the responsibility of providing the country with a clear and workable idea about the Pakistani nation, and those who have sworn to protect its territorial and ideological boundaries along with our national security, from where it starts and where it ends. Expecting from others to come to our rescue is a foolish desire; our solidarity demands national unity and cohesion for which visionary leadership working above board is essential. Interference of US or China will not help to solve the problems that are home made by our mediocre musical chair leaders.
All this doesn’t mean that Pakistan has nothing to do with Afghanistan their suffering due to falsely alleged plot against involvement of Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden in twin tower plot which now US has admitted as a mistake without any recourse to this genocide of Afghans and others. All Pakistanis, not only the Pakistani Pashtuns are aware of the close historical, tribal and cultural relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and about the unfortunate heritage of the Durand Line that was not devised and handled as a national border by the British and has not been handled as a national border by successive Pakistani governments due to their political expediency. Only now, seventy years after the creation of the national state of Pakistan our military is perhaps trying to implement what should have been done from the 14th August 1947.
The Afghan refugees are Afghans and have no home in Pakistan they should have been told to return to their homeland long time before not caring for the requirements of US and NATO occupation forces withdrawal from Afghanistan. They have been given shelter for years and decades in our country, which has adversely influenced our socio-economic infrastructure, but then – one day they have to go home to their own country. Afghan citizens visiting Pakistan need a passport and a visa as it is usual for international travel.
It is a matter of time only to implements this and to get used to it to protect Pakistani sovereignty and independence as a respectable country and not a banana republic playing for tunes of a proverbial monkey. Enough is enough Pakistan cannot play for the NRO and Charter of democracy agenda of West any further we need to consolidate as a wall of steel against the millennium agenda or clash of religions war ignited by George W. Bush and the likes. We must unite and act together as we did in Holy month of Ramzan to secure peace for Humanity. God Bless Pakistan and Humanity.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.