Analysis & opinion

Tribal Pashtuns & their love for Pakistan


Tribal Pashtuns have tremendous love for Pakistan. This has been proven amply ever since the nation came into existence.

The first time the country found arch enemies, India at the gate of Kashmir on the night of 15th August 1947, Tribal Mujahideen rose up in massive numbers and before the Pakistan Army could raise a call for support, they were right on the mountains and in the valleys of Kashmir to liberate what now is called the Azad Kashmir form the illegal occupation of India. The bulk of the tribesmen consisted of Wazir, Mehsud, Turi, Mohmand and the Malakand Yusufzais. While most were armed with axes and swords and some with spikes and rifles, everyone was enthused with the passion for Pakistan. After having joined forces with the Pakistan army and being divided into respective tribal militia forces, the combined forces were able to push the Maharaja’s forces that had reached Muzaffarabad eastwards up till Palandri and Baramula, now the easternmost part of Azad Kashmir on this side of the Line of Control LOC).

Tribals had a special place in their hearts for Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. While most could not comprehend, due to lack of command over the language, very well what the erudite and learned Quaid spoke during his visits to KP and the erstwhile FATA in 1936, 1945 and 1948, everyone agreed to one thing: “What the Quaid says is the truth and we are with him.” It was this unspoken trust on the word of the Quaid that made the Tribals the bedrock of Pakistan Movement, despite the Communist appeal of Bacha Khan’s “Khudai Khidmatgar” movement and the call for “Pashtunistan before Pakistan.”

The Tribals’ unflinching support for the the Pakistan movement was acknowledged by the Quaid when he visited Peshawar and addressed a Grand Tribal Jirga on April 17, 1948 at Governor House Peshawar. He praised the commitment and support of tribal people in completion of his mission for Pakistan.

Professor Dr Naushad Khan, Pro Vice Chancellor, Islamia College Peshawar University recalls, “Quaid highly admired the patriotism, customs and traditions of tribesmen besides their deep love for Islam and Pakistan.” He reminisces of how the tribal people had decorated their houses and markets with banners and national flags to welcome their beloved leader.

The Quaid had best intentions for them. In an address he had stated, “Remember your Government is like your own garden. Your garden flourishes by the way you look after it and the efforts that you put towards its improvement. Similarly, your Government can only flourish by your patriotic, honest and constructive efforts to improve it.”

As the years progressed since Pakistan’s independence, Tribals took equal part in the socio-economic progress of the nation. Although their lands were not as developed as those of the rest of the country in terms of infrastructure, educational facilities etc, yet they were given special consideration by the Federal Government. As with colonial era systems, the Frontier Crime Regulations (FCR) did create problems for the locals as they did not have representation in the National Assembly, yet they never turned against the state of Pakistan, as was the desire of the numerous propaganda based military movements that sprung in the region.

While the Afghan war created a lot of divisions in the Pakistani society as a whole, playing with the nation’s numerous fault lines, the tribal areas were the worst hit. That era was particularly chaotic for the entire region, including the Arab world, Iran and Afghanistan. US hegemony was being broadcasted over the entire region via organized regime change scenarios or through wars.

The momentum of the turbulent 1980s was carried forward into the 90s and the 21st century. The first 18 years of this century saw one of the most dramatic upheavels, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, all were toppled like a domino. Afghanistan became the new center of the War on Terror and the single most common denominator of worldwide disturbance. This was right across the borders of the Tribal Areas. It faced one of the most sinister attacks that caused tremendous loss of lives, property and even faith in the future of the country.

When the Pakistan Army launched operations across the Tribal Areas, the locals collaborated passionately with them. The areas were first evacuated, settled in the various districts of KP leaving behind their lands and businesses. They did not question the Pakistan Army’s plans and wanted it to successfully root out all terroristss that had entrenched themselves in their areas. It was not an easy task. Leaving your home and settling in camps, or other lands with families is something unthinkable for a common man and the most strikin aspect is that it took quite some time for the Army to clear every inch of the land before the Tribals could be repatriated back. The tribals did not shy away from yet another sacrifice for Pakistan.

When the enemy sensed that the Tribals are not bulging against the country, a new propaganda movement was launched in the garb of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). The Tribals were not befooled by their shenanigans and within a matter of time, the PTM was limited to a very narrow support base, despite the claims of its social media profiles. While it did flared the setiments of some of them based on alleged violations of Pashtun Human Rights and triggered an Anti state and anti Army narrative, the PTM was only able to recruit the remnants of the Foriegn funded NGOs to spread its propaganda without cutting across the deeply entrenched Tribal Pashtuns, who had sensed a brewing conspiracy from the very beginning. The rise and the fall of PTM is a long story short analysis of the Tribals’ foresight in deciphering and killing anti Pakistan agenda.

The PTI government came on the promise of amalgamating the Tribal areas into districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. After having passed an amendment in the constitution of Pakistan, the erstwhile 7 Tribal areas were amalgamated into the Tribal districts of KP. Holding elections in these districts meant that the Tribals will now be able to write their own destiny, something the colonial era systems and the global war paradigm never wanted. Elections were held in one of the most serene environments, where men and women participated without any fear. It was a vote of full confidence in the nation’s state institutions and their efforts to bring at par these areas, something that the Tribals had wanted for so long. It was the most well deserving gift from the State after the Tribals had sacrificed so much.

This Independence Day, i.e on 14th August, Tribal Pashtuns will celebrate Independence day in a manner much different from before. They will rejoice with the nation the victories over the failed PTM campaign, the successful historic elections and a renewed faith in the State institutions of Pakistan. These very institutions not only liberated their lands from the menace of terrorists once and forall but have also rebuilt homes, markets, schools,colleges, hospitals, parks, roads and a number of sports facilities. The Tribal Pashtuns have been given one of the most advanced living facilities offered anywhere in Pakistan. Their sacrifices for the last 72 years have been well cared for.

The zest with which they plan to observe this Independence day will prove to the world that all the sinister motives of the enemies within and outside have not been able to cause any rift whatsoever between them and the rest of Pakistan. Rather, they have now been emboldened with a faith, trust and respect for Pakistan hitherto unknown.