Consult with me on Maven
Consult with me on Maven

Friday, May 17, 2013

Time to Reflect: Whither Pakhtun National Movement


Time to Reflect: Whither Pakhtun National Movement?
Prof. Ijaz Khan
Dept of International Relations
University of Peshawar

Awami National Party (ANP) has been electorally wiped out. Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) has shown good results in Pashtun Balochistan only. Qawmi Watan Party (QWP) claiming to be an alternative to ANP as a Pashtun representative, has more numbers to show but whether that is a better result and is that due to its Politics or the electoral strategy of its leader, Aftab Sherpao, needs to be understood.Though it has some good sincere nationalists in its fold, whether it qualifies to be a nationalist party is also a question. Broadly speaking, Pashtuns nationalists have lost elections in KP as well as FATA. Their better showing in Balochistan needs to be interpreted and studied carefully but has not been done here as this study focuses on Pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only. It is admitted that a comprehensive study of Pakhtun national movement must take into account all Pakhtuns.


There is a multiplicity of factors for this. It is time for these parties to reflect on their performance, which most probably they will be doing. These results also call for reflection by Pakhtun Nationalists, Democrats and Progressives, whether within the fold of these parties or some other smaller party or outside any of them. It is a loss for Pashtun National movement as well. They must reflect on the questions; it was a tactical defeat due to specific weaknesses of the ANP Government, ANP’s failure in representation of the Pakhtun issue, is there a flaw in their understanding of the Pakhtun National question today or their organizational weaknesses.  They were target of the forces whether in State or outside, who considered them and their politics as a threat is one factor, even if very important must not be exaggerated let alone taken as the only one. It must be understood that such forces would always be against them and doing all they can to beat the progressive Pakhtun voice. The question is why Nationalists have not been able to resist this onslaught? This is not to belittle the personal sacrifices of ANP leaders and workers or their bravery. It needs to be understood, it is not a question of bravery, it is a question of Politics and Politics is about reaching out to people.
Nationalism is a modern phenomenon. It is expected to take people out of tribal and feudal bonds to a higher level of connectivity and an identity based on Language, geography and economic interests. As such it is democratic and civic as it provides for inclusion of the whole people in decision making. This ethnolinguistic identity is expected to unite the people to struggle collectively for control of their resources and manage them through an autonomous political arrangement, whether separately or within a State where its identity is recognized and protected and its constitution permits it to run its affairs itself. Socially a nationalist has to be from the more progressive, forward looking and enlightened sections of the society. In the current globalizing world, a nationalist is not an isolationist but struggles to be a part of the human struggle for prosperity and progress, contributing to it and taking its share in it. ANP has failed to attract the modernizing changing social strata of Pakhtuns, the main component being the youth. The music produced in the past few years reflects that social change. ANP must ask itself and so must other Pakhtun Nationalists, why are those listening to the music of Ismail and Junaid, not a part of it. Preserving your identity does not mean resisting and rejecting change. Culture is not something static. It evolves and whatever Pashtun behavior is today, is Pashtun culture. Nationalism does not mean returning to or preserving Hujra. It is spearheading of the modernist change and the change in social institutions along with it. Pashtun Nationalists have miserably failed to be identified as a force of progress. Rightly or wrongly they have been perceived as forces of social conservatism. It has to be clear that promotion and protection of your language and making it a medium of instruction in schools does not mean, Nationalists are against other languages, especially English, which has become an international language of education, progress, commerce and connects you with the world. A Nationalist of today has to be promoting English language rather than resisting it. Young people know English opens a world of opportunity for them. So, if they perceive a political stand is against English that will be interpreted as denying them exploitation of the available opportunities and limiting them. Pakhtun Nationalist must take a correct stand on the language issue and also convey that to the people. Perceptions play very fundamental role in politics.
Organizationally, I will talk of mainly two alternatives; one changing the fundamental structure of ANP to the level of almost creating a new party and second focus on what can be done while retaining the current structure of ANP.
Pashtun Nationalists have not been able to work in one organizational structure. They have failed to provide a forum for accommodating the various strands of Pakhtun Nationalism.  This failure is most probably the result of essentially rural based feudal political culture of Nationalist Political Parties, both ANP and PMAP. Somehow it has not been able to accommodate dissent within the party.  Pakhtuns need a Political Forum that can accommodate the different strands of opinion within it. Being in Pakistan it can be a bigger political forum along with representing all the ethno national identities is also able to accommodate the democratic opinion in Pakistan. Secondly, whether at Pashtun level or Pakistan level, more specifically ANP retaining its current makeup, needs to evolve a mechanism to stay in touch with its workers and the people. Its slogans should also be addressing the micro governance issues in addition to the macro political ones. One of the major reasons for the electoral loss has been failure in addressing the governance issues and day to day problems of people. The party must take up governance and economics more seriously than it has.
ANP’s poor showing at the polls has been its inability to reach out to the people. There was a genuine hurdle of serious terrorist threat but ANP should have been able to minimize its disconnect and thus its loss through some innovative thinking, modern technology and a little calculated risk. Terrorist threat has not gone away. Rather it has increased. ANP leadership has to seriously find way to connect with people and its cadre at district and village level. Bacha Khan’s movement which ANP claims to be its heritage attracted lower classes of Pashtun society. ANP has gradually shifted to bigger khans of Pakhtunkhwa. While ANP is not a class based party and all classes should be welcome, it needs to proactively cultivate the weaker segments of society.
The suggestions about leadership change are worth considering but in the opinion of this scribe, not a vital requirement. The need is for opening to the concept of collective leadership and a galaxy of leaders with at times divergent opinion on some specific issues. Changing current leadership with younger scions of the same families will create more distrust than giving any message of change.
A modern political party needs a continuous flow of intellectual inputs in policy formulation. There is serious need for a research organization. This institution should be independent of party structure, consisting of professionals who agree with the party philosophy in very broad terms not necessary its members and continuously producing research based literature on various issues in addition to specific policy papers as desired by the party leadership.
Running a party also needs finances and it is an expensive affair. To fully utilize the potential of modern technology and stay in touch with the people, money is required. Party has to streamline and generate new sources of funding. It has to launch a serious effort in this area. However, people will give when they trust you and they will trust you when you reach them and show them that you are doing something good for them. But the dilemma is you need money to reach out and do something to show it to the people to gain their trust and respect. Party has to think innovatively to break the cycle of lack of funding. Its finances must be transparent to start with.
Towards the end, one must acknowledge, ANP did try to transform its image, did try to use modern technology and also did try to get independent intellectual inputs in decision making, both in the government and at party level. A sort of think tank Bacha Khan Research Institute was also established. It could not develop these initiatives is a question that it needs to look at seriously. The need is not to go back but look forward and see why its attempts at party reform did not succeed. 
One good thing that it has not lost most of its workers, though some have either left or have become inactive. Even those active, mostly have complaints. The loss is more of voters and general support. This means with some serious soul searching and corrective action it can reactivate and even gain more active party members and regain and expand its public support.

26 comments:

  1. superb sir g..........

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is wrong, It works the other way around, Pakhtuns people are politically immature and they don't care about thinking as a separate nation, most of them are selfish and vote for their own personal likings without reading a single book for history in their whole life. Give supports to any Party and then they can fight for you, , Pakhtuns have proved they are not trustable otherwise what ANP was doing in term of development and their policies was right for Pakhtuns interests.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bilal: ANP did good job on constitutional side and passed the local govt ordinance ( I think) to bring good governance. According to my info Haider Hoti did not implement the LGO because he had power of spending money. And it is and will be the dilemma with leaders like Haider Hoti. And it will not be different if the 4th generation leadership like Aimal Wali Khan is imposed upon liberal and liberated Pashtun Qaam.

      Delete
    2. Yes,bilal ANP development schemes for greater Mardan, Peshawar and Charrsadda.Didn't they intentionally discriminated and underprevilledge southern districts of KPK.Weren't they skewed upon the very fabric and integrity of Pashtun nationalism.Our tribal agencies were bleeding as repercussions of their persuence of suicidal policies.More than any other Mainstream party,ANP had added to the grievances of the Youth.You seem to live in the world of utopia.

      Delete
  3. Dear Sir,
    You have said all the points that need to be said.
    1. Now question arise, will the ANP/PMAP take advantage of your suggestions seriously? Will they come transparent and clean 'publicly' to make the party open to new ideas and the needs of youth? If yes, Pashtuns will positively respond and forgive them for their unforgivable doings.

    2. Pashtun nationalism is dead if alternatives are not explored on modern lines based on indigenous wisdom and within our own intellectual and financial resources.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pashtuns are selfish and thankless, they just go with the flow in false hopes like those of PPP, PMLN, MMA etc. and now they have fallen in lap of another alien IK, forgetting and overlooking great strides taken by ANP for their interest

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why you say that Pashtuns are selfish and thankless? Do u mean the entire Pashtun Qaam or our leadership?

      Delete
  5. Sir you have explained the ANP on exploring basis. And it seems you are not having plenty of knowledge towards PMAP, its structure, society based activities, fund raising and youth activism tactics. One day we met a Malik who was ANP provincial information secretary. He asked a kidding question that due to 2008 election boycott PMAP would have lost its popularity among the masses because they are not part of a creamy government. I just smiled and told that we have doubled our strength since 2008. He didn't agree. Further I told him that PMAP has the scientific structural organization. Its masses, youth, women and cadres are given strange ideology and practices that are really on research basis. That makes PMAP both a popular and the most active party on street level. Beside these structural, social and organizational setup PMAP leadership has its crystal clear policy and no compromise over national interests and defending national stance "shup shup na sam dam shafthalo". And that is enterpreted a like if you examine it on a unit base or central committee level. These are the laps I have yet observed among the masses ANP has in its activity circle and its leaders and cadres.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well! i am just bother to ask all of the Commentators,"Where is our collective national identity"? Why all of you are searching for your soul?Where is lost our "Pakistan nationalism"?why you are all comments are alienated of "Pakistani nationalism".Ishtiaq Ali had you have audacity being terming IK as "Alien"?Nonesense.so impudently you terming a Pakistani nationalism revivalist as being "Alien".You must of ashame of yourself.Never divide us on the racist denomination limits.You all must be quite clear that Provinces are just administrative units for the ease of the smooth running state affairs!.But you are indulge in Pashtoon nationalism.You all commentators actions and affiliations are determined by the regional,religious and ethnical linkages.A strong piece of exhaltation to all of you to come out of this paranoid of pashtoon nationalism and try to collectively work for the harmony among of our other provinces and stand up for the pakistani nationalism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shahi Mulk, why should we give up one type of nationalism based on our ancient culture and ethnic identity for another kind of Natzi nationalism defined by two geographical demarcations by Mr Redclif and Mutamir Durand. What good would accrue from it?

      Delete
    2. no you should divide Afghanistan in two.. Persian and pukhtoon and then pakistan into pukhtoonistan and pakistan and make another country based on the thinking of your ancestors. That way pukhtoons will keep their identity and weaken the muslim world further.

      Delete
    3. Well khashif Anwar,I have to agree to you.Atleast I had find someone who is one of the many proud Pakistanis.

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A good article sir.But you seem to have focused on ANP.Could you please give your analysis on PMAP,its weaknesses and strength and its leadership?

    ReplyDelete
  9. People voted other than the ANP because they felt the ANP could not protect them or themselves.
    The problems are far beyond the scope of the ANP.
    The people are neither stupid or selfish, they voted with their "heads" rather than their "hearts".
    The ANP may not see it but the people saw the ANP as being the sacrificial lamb in the "great game" of the region and did NOT want "THEIR" ANP bled any more with no gains for the people in sight.

    ReplyDelete
  10. a good insight. I understand it addresses much wider dilemma by ussing ANP as example. Professor sb has raised issues that needs to be looked into. I appreciate it as he does not go into blame game and accusations or zinda bads. we need more of such analysis from him and others.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sir your analysis depends upon the true scientific principles and beyond any prejudice and subjectivity. But it is crystal clear that PMAP is closely connected with the common masses unlike ANP. The entire leadership and high portfolios in ANP vested with the elites of Pukhtuns. It must be revisited.....

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear sir one of the major reason of ANP debacle in the election is the one sided romance of it with the establishment.I am right?
    Mehfooz Jan

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think both ANP and PMAP are of Pukhtun nationalist nature but ANP loosed its stand and PMAP improved, is because the ANP adopted the principles of calculated corruption in its governance where as PMAP was out of the Government. apart from my opinion I agree with Mehfooz Jan to get a clear picture we must pin point all the reasons. Alamzeb Khan

    ReplyDelete
  14. The recent defeat to the nationalist parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has essentially generated a new vocabulary of analysis across distressed political analysists. This article by Professor Ijaz Khattak, from the serious segment of Pukhtun thinkers is a serious analysis of electoral shifts. I think the matter is not confined to the outcome of the recent elections; it rather travels deep into ideological scrutiny of Pukhtun national question and the attitudes of leadership towards Pukhtun national issues.
    It is a comprehensive statement of facts ending with marvellous suggestions. Very well done Ijaz Khan; I however propose some other extensions of the issue need an additional look, which include class content of national question; failure of ANP’s leadership during their rule to work for establishment of a single market for the Pukhtuns; an unjustifiable reliance of Pukhtuns’ leadership on racial grounds rather than on economic grounds which leads to a hatred on the basis of race instead of socio-economics; failure of ANP in launching an awaked voice against bureaucracy to emancipate the general population for their empowerment; a needed voice on trade unions, students unions and professional associations and leadership’s lull on these aspects; and failure in availing international trade opportunities, in spite of the devolved resources through NFC Award and devolution of commerce to the provinces. Zakir Hussain

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think the major reason was corruption, poor governance....No Vision no mission

    ReplyDelete
  16. I THINK upcoming afghanistan transition is major factor in nationalist failure in kpk,,,,

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I view it differently - Old / Traditional Patthans aren't apt to changes for the following reasons:-
    a. Conservative by nature - just like the British
    b Militants - owing to terrain and social requirements - and according to Clausewitz the only thing harder than getting a new idea into the Military mind is to get an old one out.
    c. Lack of education in most of the segments of Pakhtun's society.
    d. Highly subjective thus can never be accurate in analysing things.This anomaly gets further aggravated for the Pakhtun's unflinching lust for money.
    e. Highly racist
    The younger generation, on the other hand, owing to their easy access to the outside world have broken the shackles of feudalism and racism - the basic modus operandi of ANP, thus causing to collapse, the way it has

    ReplyDelete
  19. ANP rejoices it's success of changing the province's name to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - again it depicts racism which hurt people from Hazara and other non - pashto speaking people in the province. ANP needs to tailor it's myopic / tunneled vision to the ever expanding mental growth of people especially when synergised by the latest advancements of science and technology.
    Just a food for thought if the province's name was changed to "KHYBER" alone, this would have payed rich dividends, as it bears some great historic weightage besides being non-controversial to the other non pashto speaking masses of the province.

    ReplyDelete

Consult with me on Maven