Posts Tagged ‘ ANP ’

Bacha Khan, Anti-Partition Hero Who Can Help Pakistan Today

By Mauro Vaiani for Pakistanis for Peace

A person once stigmatized as an enemy of Pakistan, has something important to say in the contemporary public discourse in the second Islamic country in the world. His name is Abdul Ghaffar Khan (in the picture), a Pakhtun patriot, social reformer, charismatic leader. He was a lifelong activist in favour of his fellows Pathans living North and South the frontier Durand Line. He became a very close friend of the Mahatma and he himself was called the “Frontier Gandhi”.

Anti-Partition apostle of nonviolence
He was born on 1890 in Utmanzai, a town in Charsadda District, in the North-West Frontier Province, today Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan. He was an apostle of nonviolence, that he considered a form of spiritual jihad for his time and for the future of his people. He founded a nonviolent movement which arrived to count 100,000 members. As he wrote in his 1969 autobiography, “My life and struggle”, “in 1929 we were able to found the kind of organisation we wanted. We decided to call it the Khudai Khidmatgar movement (Servants of God movement). Our motive for choosing that name was that we wanted to awaken in the Pathans the idea of service and the desire to serve their country and their people in the name of God, an idea and a desire which was sadly lacking among them”. The Khudai Khidmatgars were also known, for the color of their uniforms, “Red Shirts”. The founder was called by his followers, as a mark of esteem, Badshah Khan, also spelled Baacha Khan, or more commonly Bacha Khan, that means “king of our nobles”.

Baacha Khan fostered free education for all, women rights, religious freedom, judicial reform. He also was a pioneer of ecology and sustainable development. He believed in self-government for both the settled and the tribal Pakhtuns. He strongly opposed the Partition of India, proposing autonomous provinces in a unified Indian federal framework. When the Partition became inevitable, he renounce to oppose it with riots or violence. He and his Khidmatgars accepted, reluctantly, Pakistan as their new country and decided to be loyal. They hoped the new regime would have given the Pakhtuns a chance to live united in their territory, free to self-govern their own province. The autonomy of the federal units in Pakistan was instead nipped in the bud and their movement was declared illegal.
For the freedom fighter, a new cycle of imprisonment started. Baacha Khan spent one-third of his life in prison, but, more precisely, he spent more time, about 15 years, in Pakistani prisons than he had spent in the prisons of the British Raj, “only” 12.

He also went in exile in Afghanistan, where he supported local Pashtun cultural, social and economical development, fighting backwardness, clanism, family feuds. He gave in Afghanistan many speeches in favor of “Pakhtunistan”, which were free of every kind of chauvinism, fostering freedom and self-government of his people, within the Pakistani federation, firmly anchored to a commitment for peace in all South Asia, all over the world.
“I am looking forward to the time when free, general elections will be possible again in Pakistan. – he wrote in his 1969’s autobiography – For only then will the world know which way my people are going and whom do they follow. This is the main conflict between me and the rulers of Pakistan.”. This champion of Pakhtun patriotism remained unheeded. He won’t see general and local fair election either under the dictatorship of Ayub Khan, nor under Yahya Khan, nor under the civil but still authoritarian rule of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, nor under Zia Ul-Haq.
He couldn’t see the general elections of December 1988, when Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Ali, became Prime Minister, for he died in Peshawar on January 20.

He had requested to be buried in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He hoped this way to witness the need of friendship, and mutual understanding, among all Pakhtuns, between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His last wish succeeded in leaving a footprint in the heart of many throughout South Asia. As one can read in Rajmohan Gandhi’s biography of Bacha Khan (New Delhi, 2004) his funeral resulted a mammoth rally: “Though the Afghan struggle was not yet over, the Kabul government and the mujahedin both announced a ceasefire for the event. Tens of thousands of the Frontier’s mourning Pakhtuns accompanied the coffin and crossed the Durand Line. Pakistan’s military ruler, Zia-ul Haq (who would be killed in a plane crash later in the year), and India’s Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi (also destined for a violent death), were present for the last rites.” (see Gandhi R., Ghaffar Khan, 2004, p. 263).

Political heritage

After decades of oblivion, his political heritage are now again gaining momentum among Pakhtuns. An important political player in the re-established Pakistani democracy, the Awami National Party (ANP), wrote in its manifesto that it “draws its inspiration from the example and teachings of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, affectionately known to his people as Baacha Khan. He spent his entire life in the struggle for freedom and justice. He and his Khudai Khidmatgars offered great sacrifices in the fight against colonialism, imperialism and all other forms of oppression. In a broader sense, Baacha Khan saw politics as the highest form of public service and often described himself as only a social worker. His objective was to liberate the masses of South Asia and, particularly, his own people, the Pakhtuns, from the shackles of ignorance and poverty, so that they could rise to their full potential.” (cf http://awaminationalparty.org/).
The ANP was led in the past by Bacha Khan’s son, Abdul Wali Khan, and today the most prominent figure is his grandson, Asfandyar Wali Khan. In the 2008 elections, the Awami National Party won the majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and elected its first Chief Minister since the independence, in coalition with the Pakistan People’s Party. ANP is allied with PPP also in other provinces and at the federal level.
The parable of the Taliban regime and the political violence that still sets fire through the area, has been a terrifying experience for everybody but especially for Pakhtuns. Baacha Khan is being rediscovered, as a source of inspiration for a better future. He was a devout Muslim believer, but he refused terror and was also alien from any bigotry. His political action was centered on peace and social reformation. He sacrificed as a satyagrahi in nonviolent campaign of civil disobedience, firstly against the British Raj, but later also against Pakistan authoritarianism and military rule.
His spiritual heritage helped ANP to defeat the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, the Islamist coalition, which was in power in Pakhtunkhwa before 2008. It was a highly symbolic victory. In the name of Baacha Khan, the modern ANP defeated the Islamists, as well as the ancient Khudai Khidmatgars had always defeated the Muslim League in both the elections hold in the province, under the British rule, on 1936 and 1946. Many hope that this political change could represent the end of a cycle, dominated by a tangle of Islamist and nationalist ideologies, which have painfully marked the history of the Frontier, of all Pakistan, Afghanistan.

Several notable cultural foundations and charities are working in South Asia to promote peace and human rights through the rediscover of Badshah Khan’s life, thought and action. We must nominate the Baacha Khan Trust (see http://www.baachakhantrust.org/), whose chief aim is propagation of Ghaffar Khan’s philosophy, his vision of renaissance for the oppressed and marginalized Pakhtuns communities, and for peace in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the whole South Asia.
Nowadays efforts to make the public opinion and new generations aware of the figure and the teachings of Baacha Khan would certainly help the stabilization of the so called Afpak area. After 60 years of political authoritarianism and violence in Pakistan and 40 years of civil war in Afghanistan, it’s probably time to know something more about Bacha Khan.

Self-government

His Red Shirts were able to provide “local leadership for education and development, and stood up for the dignity and rights of their community. They balanced affirmations of the rights and dignity of all people with teachings about responsibility and sacrifices needed to serve those same communities.” – Ali Gohar, founder and guide at the Just Peace International center, in Peshawar, recently wrote, adding that the beauty of this kind of nonviolent struggle is again alive in 2011 Arab Spring heroes cf http://www.khyberwatch.com/index.php?mod=article&cat=MediaWatch&article=391).

“You all know that I believe in the principles of non•violence. – he said on August 31, 1966, talking in Afghanistan on the Pakhtunistan Day, as reported in his 1969’s autobiography – I am convinced that there will be no peace in the world till the problem of the Pakhtuns has been solved. I am telling both the Russians and the Americans the same thing: if they really want peace, they should solve the problem of the Pakhtuns. What do we want? We keep on telling Pakistan to consider us their brothers and not to make us their slaves. We were never the slaves of the British and you should not expect us to be your slaves.”. Heared today, these words are somehow prophetic and should encourage a serious reflection.

The Pathans, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, still need an accountable local self-government, in order to take on full responsibility of their own territories. They can hardly be governed from Kabul, or from Islamabad. May be they can resolve their own way their problems, included terror-related and security’s ones.

The recent Pakistani devolution can be seen as a historical accomplishment on the way indicated by Baacha Khan. This is what many political leaders, not only ANP’s ones, strongly believe. Federalism was part of the independence struggle and the only way to make the idea of Pakistan into a lasting reality.

Unfortunately, the centralized, bigoted and corrupt, republic chosen by Afghani Pashtun leadership, after the fall of the Taliban regime, is much farer from Baacha Khan’s ideal of decentralized responsible and accountable self-government. The present solution resembles too much like the 1973 republic. It may be not reveal the right solution for the future of such a vast, diverse, and bitterly divided, country.

Don’t let anybody deceive you in the name of Islam

Abdul Ghaffar Khan, along all his existence, advocated for reforms, social justice, change through education, and, last but not least, peaceful coexistence of all communities, without any kind of ethnic, religious, caste, clan, social discrimination.
He strongly demanded his fellow Pakhtuns, to strive against ignorance, bigotry, prejudices, family feud and political violence. His message, which follows the furrow of modern nonviolent revolutions, which have already brought down more than an empire, can drive the Islamist factions and wider Muslim public opinion to a radical rethinking.

His teaching was prescient and it is today more relevant than ever: “And you, misguided Pathans, you do not even stop to think whether this is Islam or not, you just swallow anything you are told… I want you to promise me that you will never let anybody deceive you in the name of Islam.” (from Baacha Khan’s speech in Afghanistan, on Pakhtunistan Day, 31 August 1967, as reported in Baacha Khan’s autobiography, 1969).

-Mauro Vaiani is a Geopolitics PhD Candidate at the University of Pisa in Italy and is a Facebook group member and contributor of Pakistanis for Peace. His page at the university is at http://www.sp.unipi.it/hp/vaiani and he can be reached via email at mauro.vaiani@sp.unipi.it

Pakistan Issues Shoot-On-Sight Order as Karachi Violence Escalates

As Reported by The Voice of America

Pakistani security forces have been ordered to shoot on sight when confronting disorders in Karachi, where days of political and ethnic violence have left up to 85 people dead.

About 1,000 additional police and paramilitary forces were deployed in Karachi on Friday with new orders to shoot any armed “miscreants” they encounter.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters that dozens of suspects have been detained in connection with a series of targeted killings since Monday. At least 34 people died on Thursday alone when gunmen opened fire on buses.

Police say the killings are part of clashes between political groups in Sindh province, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and its rival, the Awami National Party (ANP).

The MQM largely represents the Urdu-speaking community, and until last month was part of the ruling coalition in Sindh. ANP represents ethnic Pashtuns. Both those groups and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party are believed to have links to armed groups in Karachi.

Shops were closed and streets were deserted in the southern port city Friday after the MQM called for a day of mourning and protest rallies.

MQM leader Raza Haroon has said his movement’s supporters are being targeted because the party quit the coalition.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says 490 people were victims of targeted killings in Karachi in the first half of this year.

On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appealed for peace and security in Karachi, saying it was important for the economic development of the country.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter called on all parties to refrain from further violence and work toward a “peaceful resolution of differences.”

Amnesty International criticized the government’s order for security forces to “shoot on sight” armed men involved in the violence. The rights group said Friday that by giving troops such power the government is effectively declaring Karachi “a war zone” and encouraging further lawlessness and violence, citing what it said was the army’s record of human rights violations.

About 18 million people live in Karachi, the country’s economic hub. The city also has been the scene of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims and militant attacks.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan’s northwest, military officials say troops backed by jets have killed 11 militants in the Kurram tribal region along the Afghan border. Officials say nearly 50 militants have been killed in Kurram since a military operation began there this week.

Sectarianism Infects Hospital Wards

As Reported by IrinNews.org

Religious, political and ethnic divisions have claimed hundreds of lives in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, but also influence the chances of survival for the injured.

A doctor in the emergency ward of Civil Hospital Karachi, one of the city’s largest public hospitals, told IRIN: “After a terrorism incident, we are under intense pressure. Earlier, we had the activists of various political parties threatening us in the emergency department to not treat the patients of their rival groups. They use all sorts of delay tactics, be it blocking the entrance to pounding on the doors and abusing the staff. Now, we also get calls [from the militants].”

The doctor, who asked not to be identified, added: “One ethnic-based party is so strong that it makes sure that the duty doctors are unable to carry out their work once the injured start arriving. We have doctors and other staff who are from that party within the premises. Time and again we have been told not to treat Pushtun injured, who are very easy to identify due to their language and beards. We already face a shortage of staff, medicines and medical equipment… It’s just a mess here. [But] all professionalism and ethics aside, how can you expect me to save someone when my life is in danger?”

According to a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report released in July, 260 people have been killed in targeted killings since January 2010. The number continues to rise with 50 people killed so far in the latest wave of violence following a shooting rampage in Shershah Market on 19 October.

Turf war

The nub of the problem in Karachi is the ongoing turf war between the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) for control of the coastal city. Both parties draw support from rival ethnic groups; the MQM’s vote bank is among largely Urdu speakers who migrated to Karachi after partition from India in 1947, while the ANP mainly represents Pushtuns.

Habib ur Rehman Soomro, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, acknowledged that sectarianism was rife in the health services. “I will not deny this occurrence. I live in this city and I know how things work. Refusing and delaying treatment in cases of emergency, especially after incidents of ethnic violence and terrorism, is a crime but all this is happening… Now the situation is such that all public hospitals in the city have the offices of MQM, PPP [the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party] and if it’s a Pashtun-dominated area, ANP.”

Shams Khan was injured on 3 August in the violence that erupted after the killing of MQM leader Raza Haider, which claimed 45 lives.

“I was shot in the leg by these boys near Lalo Khait. I made my way to Abassi Shaheed Hospital but they refused to treat me. I was practically thrown out of the facility by my beard as one of the doctors called me a Taliban. Bleeding, I made my way to JPMC [Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre]. I lost so much blood by the time the doctors attended to me. I now limp around and need a crutch to walk. The doctor told me that had I been treated earlier, it would not have happened.”

Soomro told IRIN that doctors were under constant threat. “Since the 1990s, there have been plenty of incidents of targeted killings of doctors killed on the basis of sect and ethnicity. Over 85 doctors have been murdered. First it was the Shia-Sunni issue, then the Pushtun-Mohajir issue, now it’s about sects. It’s just insane. Political affiliations need to be removed.”

A doctor at the JPMC, who asked not to be named, said: “We have seen days where doctors were beaten by angry political activists as well as the family members of the victims after a bomb blast… This cycle of madness will not end.”

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteWe are unsure which is sadder, the inability of doctors in Pakistan’s biggest city to save lives without threat and or intimidation and violence against them, or that the very people giving these threats to the doctors are in fact linked to members of the two ruling political parties, who have been charged with being “leaders” of the country.

Suspected Political Violence Kills 25 in Pakistan

By Ashraf Khan for the Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan – Gunmen have killed at least 25 people in Karachi in the past 24 hours, raising tensions in Pakistan’s largest city as voters cast ballots Sunday to replace a provincial lawmaker murdered in August.

Police said they were still investigating the motives behind the shootings, but many so-called “target killings” in Karachi have been linked to gangs controlled by the city’s main political parties, which have been feuding for much of the last 20 years.

“We cannot say whether all the killings were politically motivated or some gangs were involved because the killings took place in different parts of the city and were not confined to the area where the elections were being held,” Karachi police Chief Fayyza Leghari said.

The two parties most linked to violence in Karachi — the Muttahida Quami Movement and the Awami National Party_ have their electoral bases in different ethnic groups that make up a large chunk of the city’s population.

The MQM claims to represent the Urdu-speaking descendants of those people who came to Karachi from India soon after the birth of Pakistan in 1947. It is secular and likes to speak out against the so-called Talibanization of the city, a jab at the Awami National Party, which represents the ethnic Pashtuns from the Taliban heartland in the northwest.

Raza Haider, the member of the provincial assembly who was gunned down in August, was a senior member of the MQM. In the wake of the shooting, the MQM accused the ANP of supporting Islamist militants suspected of being behind the murder — an allegation denied by the ANP.

Both parties were competing for Haider’s vacant seat, but the ANP announced Saturday evening that it would boycott the election, saying the MQM would rig the vote. The shootings began around the time the ANP made its announcement.

At least 25 people have been gunned down in Karachi since Saturday evening, said Zulfiqar Mirza, the home minister of Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital. He called on party leaders to come forward to “help us turn Karachi back into the city of light and peace.”

“If someone has a complaint, it should not be settled on the street,” Mirza told a news conference. “It is disappointing that we are shedding our priceless blood with our own hands.”

The dead include members of a broad range of ethnic groups in the city, he said.

Haider Abbas Rizvi, a senior MQM leader and member of Parliament, accused the ANP of being behind the shootings, saying “19 of our workers and supporters have been killed so far.”

Senior ANP member Amin Khattak denied the accusation, saying, “we are not involved in killings, and I think that this blame game should be stopped.”

Leghari, the police chief, said at least three of the killings did not seem to be politically motivated and were carried out during “other criminal offenses.”

The killings were reminiscent of the violence that followed Haider’s murder. At least 45 people died in the days following his killing.

Police have arrested at least 60 people in connection with the most recent shootings, Mirza said. But few killers in such cases have ever been brought to justice, and motives for the attacks have not been revealed.

The rising tension between the MQM and the ANP represents a serious danger to stability in Karachi, a city of some 16 million people and Pakistan’s commercial hub.

Pashtuns have been arriving in the city in greater numbers in recent years, fleeing Pakistan army offensives against the Taliban. An estimated 4 million Pashtuns are now in Karachi and many live in sprawling slums on the outskirts that are “no-go” areas for authorities.

Violence has surged in Karachi this year with hundreds of people slain in target killings. This increase has echoes of the city’s bloody past.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Karachi was regularly convulsed by violence in which hundreds were killed. MQM leader Altaf Hussain fled to London in 1992 as a result of that bloodshed and was granted asylum. He regularly addresses large gatherings of supporters by telephone link.

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