Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pukhtunkhwaa: What's in a name?


Since the name change of the province of N.W.F.P (North West Frontier Province) to Khyber Pukhtunkhwaa, I have been having mixed (and mostly sad) feelings about this. Now, no more will our map have the name we have all grown up with. The question I was wondering about was: Why is this name so important? Don't we already know the pukhtun identity? Don't we already recognize it? Acknowledge it? Why should a name change be done to make our brains accept what we already know? These questions seemingly have no answer. But a little peek into our history reveals some (a/c to me, no offence to anybody) rather sucky facts. Here goes. All links are mentioned below. I'm going to make it concise and er, palatable.

1. Who are Pukhtuns?
Ans: The Pakhtuns are the majority ethnic group in the NWFP, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Northern Balochistan. According to the NWFP government statistics, 68 per cent of the people in the Province speak Pakhtu or Pashtu, 18 per cent speak Hindko, 8 per cent speak Seraiki and about 2 per cent speak Urdu and Punjabi.
Source: here

2. What does the word 'Pukhtunkhwa' mean?
Pakhtunkhwa, Pashtoonkhwa, or Pakhtoonkhwa means “The Land of the Pakhtuns” or “near the Pakhtuns”. This name was used for the area where Pakhtuns were dominant before the creation and forming of modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Source: here

3. Who came up with this word, Pukhtunkhwa?
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan, proposed the name as an alternative to Pakhtunistan to the military dictator, General Zia ul Haq in 1978 when the latter refused to accept the demand from the latter to rename the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as Pakhtunistan.
Source: See here

4. Who in the world was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan?
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890 - 20 January 1988) was a Pashtun political and spiritual leader known for his non-violent opposition to British Rule in India. A lifelong pacifist, a devout Muslim, and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he was also known as Badshah Khan (also Bacha Khan, Pashto: lit., "King Khan"), and Sarhaddi Gandhi (Urdu, Hindi lit., "Frontier Gandhi").
Source: Wikipedia

5. What was one interesting (read: sucky) fact about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan?
Ghaffar Khan strongly opposed the partition of India. While the Red Shirts were willing to work with Indian politicians, some Pashtuns desired independence from both India and the newly created state of Pakistan following the departure of the British. The Congress party under refused last ditch compromises like the Cabinet mission plan and Gandhi's suggestion to offer the Prime Ministership to Jinnah. As a result Bacha Khan and his followers felt a sense of betrayal by both Pakistan and India. Bacha Khan's last words to Gandhi and his erstwhile allies in the Congress party were: "You have thrown us to the wolves."
Source: here

6. Another sucky fact about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Ghaffar Khan died in Peshawar under house arrest in 1988 and was buried in Jalalabad, Afghanistanaccording to his wishes. This was a symbolic move by Ghafar Khan, this would allow his dream of Pakhtun unification to live even after his death. The Indian government declared a five-day period of mourning in his honour.Although he had been repeatedly imprisoned and persecuted, tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the historic Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad.
Source: here

7. Yet another sucky fact

"O Pathans! Your house has fallen into ruin. Arise and rebuild it, and remember to what race you belong." -- Ghaffar Khan
quoted in Eknath Easwaran, A Man to Match his Mountains: Bacha Khan, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam (Nilgiri Press, Petaluma, 1984), p. 25. 
Source: here

So this is the man who proposed the concept of Pukhtunistan, and then Pukhtunkhwaa. This is the history and opinions of this fellow, and that is a cause of great concen for me, to be blind and happy about a 'name change that has proven the pathan identitiy" -- my point simply is, that the identity was always recognized by the people. At least I did :P''

And by the way, this is a current news clipping:

1. Friday, April 02, 2010
PESHAWAR: Known nationalist lawyer Barrister Baachaa on Thursday rejected the hyphenated name of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for the NWFP and called for ending the long controversy by naming the province as Afghania. In statement, he said Afghani was acceptable all around and the political parties should have given up their rigid stand to let the people of the province get on with other pressing problems.

Source: here


Ahmar said...

Don't we already know the pukhtun identity? Don't we already recognize it? Acknowledge it? Why should a name change be done to make our brains accept what we already know?
Who is we here?All the people of pakistan ? All the people of pakistan except pathans?

On a slightly off topic, I presume you already know that Jamaat e Islami was strongly against partition of india too...

Uni said...

The 'we' refer to people other than the people of former NWFP who claim that their identity is lost on the rest of Pakistan -- because Sindh has Sindhis, Punjab has Punjabis etc etc.

Btw, interesting question. What are Karachites? I ain't a Sindhi. What should I be called now...

Jamaat-e-Islami was no doubt against the partition. But I would have had reservations against this party on THIS issue if and only if: -

1. They had continued to support Pak-India unification till their last breath.

2. They (key leaders of this party I mean) had made sure that even after their death, they're not buried in this country.

3. They had made sure that when they die, even their plane wouldn't fly over Pakistani soil, but take a longer route through Sri Lanka ...

IF and only IF their hatred for Pakistan had shone through brilliantly would I have had had reservations against them, and their ideologies.

And this is (one of) the biggest reasons why I'm not in favour of the man who was behind the word 'Pukhtunkhwaa'

Ahmar said...

I am no supporter of any person here..And at the same time, I did not feel that my identity was lost ANd at the same time, I prefer a name other than NWFP for the province....And just because the person who proposed this initially disliked the idea of Pakistan, it doesn't illegitimise the fact that the sentiments of the people and them welcoming a name change aren't legitimate...
And all this aside, the way it should work is that if the majority of a certain region prefer something, then let them have it (in this case). So if the majority of people residing in Karachi want something, then they have proper means to demand for it (through democratic process ), which I think the government of NWFP did...they demanded this through resolutions and I find it unfair to turn something down which doesn't really affect anybody else other than sentiments, unless of course people think that provinces are colonies....
I don't intend to argue , its useless, the matter itself is trivial...I ,with all my attempts to think straight, can't seem to comprehend sadness on the issue if the majority of the region are happy about it and it doesn't lead to any harm...(unless of course somebody wants to extrapolate and tie this with all kinds of hatred for Pakistan)...
And just to be explicit here, I love my country and I am glad about the name change and I don't see any conflict.

Uni said...

Good for you then

Ahmar said...

It is sad that the people I want goodwill for , their khushi isn't shared by all the people in Pakistan...

MAK said...

If this was just the change in name this wouldn't had been the issue. Most people think of it as a first step towards the fight for a new country named pakhtunistan(not sure how to spell it).

I just pray this is not the case and things are resolved with just the change in name. one thing, does name of a place really matters???

Uni said...

That's the exact point I'm trying to say (in a lil subtle manner). The very NAME has roots where the guy who suggested it wanted a separate state for pakhtuns (joined with Afghanistan). His followers STILL think that. I confirmed this personally. And this is what makes me sad. My personal reasons aside (growing up and learning Sindhhh Punjabbbb, Balochistann... NWFPPP in poetic style), the step seems to be the first step towards that original dream of Bacha Khan.

Thanks for understanding (!), and for reading of course :)

PS: Name surely doesn't matter. That's not the main issue. But I am concerned about the history associated with the word 'Pukhtoonistan' and then 'Pukhtunkhwa' ... :S