Dr Muhammad Khan
The Pashtuns of Pakistan are legendary brave with patriotism run in their vessels like blood. They are honest, hospitable and highly resolute; physically, morally and mentally. Edward E. Oliver while describing these marvellous people in his famous book, “Across the Border; Pathan and Biloch” says; “The Pathan is undoubtedly brave to rashness, sets no value upon life, either his own or anyone else’s.
Trained from youth to feats of strength, endowed with wonderful power of endurance, he commands the most Englishmen”. Hon Mount Stuart Elphinstone, wrote, “The Pathans are fond of liberty, faithful to their friends, kind to their dependents, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal, laborious and prudent”. Hon Mountstuart Elphinstone FRSE was a Scottish statesman and historian, associated with the Government of British India.
In their history, Pashtuns endured all sorts of wars, conflicts and conspiracies boldly, collectively and with integrity and high esteem. They refused to surrender in front of Tsarist Russia, the British military might, the Russian invasion and American imperialism. Apart from battling against the contesting powers of the historical Great Game of the 19th Century, the Pashtuns of Pakistan resisted the Soviet invasion from 1979 to 1989. Not only that, but, they get the credit of hosting millions of Afghan refugees, following the Soviet invasion in neighbouring Afghanistan. In 21st century, these daring sons of the soil, acted as iron wall against the infiltration of US and NATO forces from Afghan soil into Pakistani territory. They also act as barricade against the infiltration of terrorists from Afghanistan into Pakistan after the military operations; “Rah-e-Nijat”, “Rah-e-Rast” and “Zarb-e-Azb”.
Perpetual civil wars and foreign invasions in Afghanistan badly affected the state and society of Pakistan. However, the worst affected areas of Pakistan are those bordering Pak-Afghan border, inhabited by the Pashtuns. These traditionally resilient people lost on many aspects; the social, political and economic. Their traditional social structure, the customs, traditions, the tribal ethics, hospitality and above all a unity in diversity was severely ruined.
In the process of continuous acquiescence, they lost political standing on many aspects. This socio-political volatility paved the grounds for economic dilapidation of this entire Pashtun belt. While resisting the US engineered global war on terror, where there has been sufferance of entire Pakistan, Pashtuns suffered the most, mainly due to bordering with Afghanistan. Apart from socio-economic losses, there have been unprecedented human losses, of these legendary people. These included; men, women, youth and above all a vast majority of intellectual class, who dared to say no to the ideology of terrorists.
A unique peculiarity, which has been specific to Pashtuns of Pakistan that, they faced all difficulties, all losses and the worst challenges, but never uttered a single word against their motherland, the state of Pakistan and its institutions. This is the patriotism, loyalty and love of Pashtuns with their motherland. This is reflective of their strength, endurance and determination towards Pakistan, despite remaining under shadow of bullets and explosives for decades now. In these prolonged years, they suffered a lot, but, withstood the difficulties. An American General who participated US military campaigns in Afghanistan during the so-called war on terror said, “We are fighting a meaningless war against the Rocks.” Truly Pathans are stronger than rocks. Earlier, a Russian General who served in Afghanistan during the decade of 1980s, said, “Pathan are the most brave people ever borne on earth. These people cannot be defeated by force.”
Today, once the terrorism is on decline all over country, all the credit goes to these chivalry people and the courageous armed forces of Pakistan. Indeed, they have been paramount strength and instrument of the armed forces of Pakistan in all respects, since all major military operations against terrorists were conducted from the Pashtun soil. It is time to reap the fruits of this great victory which was never in sight a decade ago. Therefore, let’s not get into a trap of the foes, who know that, Pashtuns cannot be defeated by force. The great and brave Pashtuns should not be misled by Manzoor Pashteen and his Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). There was no requirement of such movements at a time, once Pashtuns are almost getting rid from the menace of terrorism. Such movements will undermine the unprecedented sacrifices of the Pashtuns and the valour sons of soil would never accept such a discredit to their contributions over the decades.
As a nation we must recall the days, once it was widely propagated by international media and even few media houses of Pakistan that, terrorist TTP will take over Islamabad in a matter of few weeks, after they captured Buner Valley (just 110 KMs from Islamabad) in April 2009. Let’s be a proud nation, which despite global conspiracies achieved a series of successes against terrorism, which were unbelievable a decade earlier. Today, the enemies of Pakistan are trying their best to explore and exploit the vulnerabilities of Pakistan. At this trying time, the Government must show its resolve to settle the domestic predicaments of Pakistan through prudence and good governance. The nation salutes its armed forces and Pashtuns devotion that were instrumental towards all successes against terrorism.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.