There was a gentleman Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly called Frontier Gandhi or Bacha (Badshah) Khan by his numerous admirers and supporters inhabiting his homeland Pakhtunistan because that is what he wanted his homeland North West Frontier Province (NWFP) lately renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by Pakistan, to be named, once the British left.
Bacha Khan fought a valorous non-violent battle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi leading his Khudai Khidmatgars or Red Shirt movement against the British occupation of then united India. He opposed the sectarian communal Muslim League and till the end, never reconciled to the creation of Pakistan.
He spent most of his long arduous life in Pakistani jails or in exile across the border in Jalalabad, Afghanistan and died a broken man at the age of 98 in 1988 and willed not to be buried in Pakistan. So he found his final resting abode in Jalalabad. When the first major Gujarat communal carnage of Muslims took place in 1969, Badshah Khan was here and he expressed his displeasure and regret at what he saw. Later he visited India several times.
There were others too like the Frontier Gandhi, like in Sind there was G M Syed whom his people called Gandhi of Sind and most important was the sub national movement of the Baluchis led by Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Ataullah Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri and a host of other progressive socialist leaders who opposed the creation of Pakistan merely on religious affinity grounds and thereby asserted the supremacy of nationalism over religious or communal affinity.
In 1955 when Ayub Khan turned Pakistan into a unitary state, abolishing the federal powers of the states, Bizenjo and his comrades mentioned above, led the movement against the move and formed the People’s Party (not to be mistaken with Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party formed much later). A year later in 1956 they expanded their scope and together with Badshah Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgars in NWFP, Sindh Mahaaz and Sindh Haari Committee led by G M Syed and Maulana Bhashani’s National Awami Party in the then East Pakistan floated the Pakistan National Party (PNP) which became Pakistan’s biggest political party for a long time and the main political opposition in Pakistan with democratic ideals and socialist outlook, inspired by Marxism. In 1970 elections this party came to power both in Baluchistan and NWFP.
Ataullah Mengal is still alive and living in Pakistan and his sons and grandsons have continued their armed struggle against the Pakistani military establishment. Here in India we only know of Nawab Akbar Bugti and prominently display, the information collected through the good offices of the Indian Foreign Office or the NSA. Brahmudagh Bugti, the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti curiously responded immediately to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call on Monday ,our Independence Day.
How many of us know that Nawab Akbar Bugti was the most unreliable and whimsical tribal chieftain who changed sides many times, depending on who was in the Government. He betrayed the Baloch national movement when Bhutto ordered military action against Baluchis and dismissed the duly elected government of Ataullah Mengal. In turn Bhutto made Bugti the chief minister of Baluchistan. Then when Zia ul Haq deposed Bhutto, Bugti betrayed Bhutto and went over to Zia. Unlike the true nationalist leaders of Baluchistan, Bugti maintained the best of relations with the Pakistan Army and in turn with the Pakistan Muslim League later led by Nawaz Sharif.
The only time he crossed swords with the Pakistani military establishment was when General Parvez Musharraf, actually a Mohajir, became the head of state and we don’t know whether this was a reaction to Musharraf deposing Sharif or a congenital disdain of the mohajirs which most original inhabitants of the land called Pakistan, have held since its creation.
Similarly his grandson Bugti whom the Indian media happily played up apparently at the prompting of the PMO, or rather the NSA, living in Switzerland has three different passports, Pakistani, Afghan and Indian. Pakistani establishment has castigated him as an agent of the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). But we really can’t say whether he is a double agent.
All this need be told because when the Pakistani people were up in arms all over that country against Ziaul Haq, in Quetta, in Karachi and even in Lahore and were demanding hanging Zia for the judicial murder of Bhutto and we could have used this to our advantage by actually aiding them and weakening Zia’s grip we had a Janata Party government here in Delhi of which Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the External Affairs Minister and he visited Islamabad on the invitation of General Zia soon after Bhutto’s hanging. We did not even condemn that blatant murder.
When Indira Gandhi resumed power in 1980, sweets were distributed in the streets of Lahore, with slogans calling up Indira to attack Pakistan and depose Zia, reported the right wing Urdu daily from Lahore, Nawai Waqt. Indira had half a mind to act. At least she detested Zia till her last breath. But the right wing Indian establishment and its media was going gaga singing paeans to that cock-eyed Mullah in Khaki, who pumped in Saudi Riyals in Madrasas to inflict a “thousand cuts” on India. It is true that his successor in 1988 Benazir Bhutto neither had the time nor showed any serious inclination to undo Zia’s policy. But it is amply evident now that she justifiably feared the Army-Mullah nexus and therefore was disinclined to do anything which would destablise her. Though they still couldn’t tolerate a modern educated woman leading that country.
But we are right now on Zia. Zia ruled Pakistan for 11 years from 1977-88. Not once did any Janata Party/BJP leader issue a single statement questioning Zia’s actions. Modi and his ilk looked the other side while Zia first created trouble for us in Punjab and later turned his attention to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is only following Zia’s legacy to date and why not? Mian Nawaz Sharif’s father was running an Atta ki Chakki when Zia promoted the likes of foot constable of Ayub Khan, Chaudhary Zahur Ilahi and discovered Mian sahib, promoted these worthies and turned them into rich industrialists and leaders of Punjab to put down with an iron hand any democratic, secular or progressive thought that still breathed any life there.
Whatever Nawaz Sharif may say today,( like Modi he too often changes tactics), it is a fact that cannot be denied. After all communal, sectarian private armies Lashkar-Jhangvi, Sipahi Sahaba and Jaishe Mohammad of Maulana Masood Azhar and even Jamaat ud Dawa of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, all enjoy to this day the patronage of the Punjab government led by the Prime Minister’s brother Shabaz Sharif. He can’t and he won’t act against these so-called ‘non-state actors’. Nor would the Pakistan Army, for these are there only to supplement Pakistani establishment’s designs.
But wasn’t our Prime Minister aware of all this when he flew to Lahore to attend the wedding ceremony in Nawaz Sharif’s family or when he invited the Pakistani team to visit Pathankot? Doesn’t the Prime Minister know that Pakistan has been accusing us of fomenting trouble in Baluchistan and even among the Mohajirs of Karachi by surreptitiously backing the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders. We don’t know how much truth is there in Pakistan’s allegations. But the Prime Minister has provided grist to the rumour mills in Islamabad by announcing from the ramparts of Red Fort that yes we are eyeing Baluchistan. Salman Khurshid called the Prime Minister “Anari” but that is a very mild criticism of the Prime Minister.
The BJP virtually tore former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh into bits in Parliament for the mere mention of Baluchistan in a joint statement. Manmohan Singh never said yes we are capable and can do it, giving handle to the Pakistanis. Yet Yashwant Sinha said in the Lok Sabha that the seven seas won’t be able to wash the sin of Manmohan Singh. There is deafening silence from Sinha’s end. What Singh couldn’t dream of doing our Macho chappan chhati Man has proudly done. Why? What’s the provocation?
As for Kashmir once the two extreme parties, one espousing virtually Kashmiri Azadi (PDP) and the other the takeover of the valley militarily by getting rid of its Muslim population (BJP in Jammu) come together, there was bound to be a tremendous reaction in the valley. It could only be handled tactfully and not through guns, pellet or no pellet. But that perspective our honourable prime minister lacks for that was never taught in any Sanghi shakha.
It was only Indira Gandhi who could tackle Pakistan militarily or otherwise. She was even capable of balkanizing Pakistan. But post-1980 her hands were tied by the Opposition and the media both Right and Left wing for their own respective reasons. While the Left has all along been opposed to wars, the Right reaction was bewildering. Our present day Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, who, according to the grapevine, is Modi’s main adviser on Foreign affairs, had then gone to Islamabad as the Editor of Sunday magazine, enjoyed Zia’s hospitality and returned to do a cover story with Zia’s interview which was anything but a PR job for the Pakistani General.
Anyway rest assured we are not going to do anything about Pakistan. Unlike in 2001-02 when we lined up our troops on the border reacting to the attack on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001, we will not even make so bold. This rhetoric with the aid of Sanghi TV anchors and editors will gain further momentum till the UP assembly elections. After that all will be forgotten and either Mian sahib will again be invited here or our Narendrabhai will again fly down to, I don’t know which town in Pakistan to have a tete-a-tete with Mian sahib and the same media will again go gaga over the supposed sagacity and statesmanship of Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi.
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