by Yasser Latif Hamdani
In response to the first three articles, an ANP activist who is quite clearly very confused about history attacked me calling me – get this- a Jamaat-e-Islami agent. I have been called many things- indeed I am supposed to be on the payroll of everyone from CIA to Mossad and even Indian RAW but Jamaat-e-Islami was definitely a first and I was caught off guard. Perhaps the poor fellow was not aware of the history of Jamaat-e-Islami’s vociferous opposition to Pakistan and Jinnah. Jamaat-e-Islami believed that Jinnah and Muslim League were of a “Kemalist” bent of mind and therefore too secular and too westernized to lead the Muslims. And Jamaat-e-Islami’s ideologues were not the only one to suggest that- in agreement with them were the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind, the Dar-ul-uloom Deoband and last but not the least “Khudai Khidmatgars” or the Red Shirts. So for the purposes of this discussion at least, the ANP should find itself in agreement with Jamaat-e-Islami’s angle in 1947.
Let us be clear on some fundamental issues: For the KK and diehard supporters of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, secularism and left-ism are afterthoughts. Their alliance with the Congress was based on a belief (not wholly justified) that the Congress stood for independence. Ghaffar Khan was socially conservative and economically/politically a votary of feudalism. To his credit he never claimed to be anything but a champion of Pushtun identity and Pushtun rights. A progressive he was not, standing instead of Pushtun customs and the status quo of Pushtun tribalism. It was only when the Pakistani state marked an decidedly “Islamic” course that Ghaffar Khan and his family began to associate with Nehruvian secularism and socialism, partly because of their role in the National Awami Party – a truly left wing progressive alliance in Pakistan- which included people from all sides of the 1947 political divide. One of the parties that merged into the NAP was Azad Pakistan Party of the renowned leftist Mian Iftikharuddin – who was a stalwart of the Pakistan Movement. Like any society, Pakistan was re-organizing and re-aligning politically and within the NAP, Ghaffar Khan and his family were arguably the most conservative.
An interesting chapter in the period immediately before the partition of India is of the association of Khan brothers with the insurgency mounted by Faqir of Ipi. The history of NWFP’s tribal areas is replete with a charismatic Pushtun horseman with Quran in one hand and sword in the other. The valiant Pushtuns had been fighting against the British for more than half a century and Faqir of Ipi was the latest of these great Mahdi-like figure (reference to Sudanese Mahdi 19th century) to raise the banner of Pushtun nationalism with its dangerous blend of Islamic Puritanism. The Frontier Congress had – perhaps without any knowledge of Nehru who would have shot down an idea of this kind- long backed Faqir of Ipi. Col. Shah Pasand Khan, former ADC to Amir Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan and a member of the Muslim League national guards, wrote to Jinnah on 8th July stating “firstly a few days ago I heard of Abdul Ghani, son of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who came to see the Faqir of Ipi in connection with the resolution passed at Bannu by the Congress in support of Pathanistan. Mr. Abdul Ghani crossed the border of British territory to meet Faqir of Ipi. Government authorities supported this move… I myself investigated the matter and found out that Faqir of Ipi was given 7 lakhs of rupees by Mr. Ghani to propagate for the Pathanistan… (Document 68 Jinnah Papers Volume III Pages 164-165).
In July Faqir of Ipi made his pronouncement. This announcement was reported by S M Rashid, a young Muslim Leaguer, in his letter dated 17th July as “Nobody is to participate in either Congress or Muslim League. Nobody is to violate the peace of the Hindus because have consented to pay the poll tax to me. Muslim Leaguers in this area (according to Shariat of Waziristan) are to be devoured by ..wolves. A reward of Rs. 4000 (Kabulis) for killing Habibullah Khan (a Leaguer) and special protection for the family of his killer”. Rashid went onto talk of about the Mullahs from Deoband on a special mission : “All these Mullahs are the true disciples of Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani… the second selves of Abul Kalam Azad and Hussain Ahmed Madani. The majority amongst them are the originators of the crusade of Waziristan… Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen Mir Hazar… Maulvi Khanmir Khan, Maulvi Qameruzzaman, Maulvi Sardar, Maulvi Mohd Zaman, Maulvi Mohd Rahim, Maulvi Mohd Din, Maulvi Abdul Razzaq Maulvi Raz Mohammad, Maulvi Mohd Din Shah, Maulvi Khawaja Mir and Maulvi Fazl Din.” (Enclosure No.1 to No. 181, Jinnah Papers Volume III, Pages 465-467). These Ulema were reinforcements from the Jamiat-Ulema Hind and Darul-uloom- Deoband to create insidious propaganda against Pakistan and the Muslim League.
Maulvi Abu Sulaiman, an 80 year old veteran spiritual leader from Waziristan wrote to Zafar Ahmad Ansari “While I was in Delhi, I received a call from the Frontier that Congress agents were touring Waziristan, doing propaganda against the Muslim League, had succeeded in converting the Faqir of Ipi to their point of view … I learnt that a deputation of the Frontier Jamiyaat-e-Ulama had already met the Faqir who thereupon became a staunch enemy of Pakistan taking the Muslim League to be the agents of the British, he now considers war against Pakistan as the greatest service of Islam. The government of Afghanistan is also a party to this conspiracy. Its Minister of Interior, Sardar Muhammad Farooq, called a special meeting of tribal representatives and persuaded them to support Pathanistan in combination with Afghanistan, Khan Brothers and the Faqir of Ipi. He even directed them to kill any opponent of Pathanistan. It was after the meeting of the Jamiyyat-e-Ulama deputation with Ipi that the latter ordered his general, Abdul Latif Khan, to attack Miran Shah.” ( No. 183, Jinnah Papers, Volume III, Page 471).
Reinforcing what he had written earlier, Sulaiman wrote again a week later informing Ansari of the activities of Faqir of Ipi and the Congress Party “On the night of 29th of Shabaan, the Faqir Sahib of Ipi without informing anyone left for Mount Shawal so as to pass the month of Ramadan in some secret place. It is his habit to remain hidden from his people for several months in a year. This creates an impression of piety… After Id, he intends to call a meeting of tribal representatives at Makin, a central town in the territory of the Mahsud tribe. His object at the meeting would be to convert Prince Fazluddin and his party to his own point of view- either by persuasion or by force… Prince Fazluddin is an old sympathizer of our party- Jamiat-e-Mujahidin Hind. He has great influence over the Mehsuds. But a large part of Mehsud tribes still belongs to Faqir of Ipi… The Agents of Afghanistan and the Congress are very busy here propagating the idea of Pathanistan… to fight Pathanistan we must take some precaution. We must not appoint to the Governorship of the Frontier any person belonging to this province. Some such person should be appointed Governor who can successfully fight the propaganda that the League is un-Islamic, agents of the English and centre of Qadianis, and that to fight it is the greatest service of Islam… to fight the propaganda of the Congress and its agents, a declaration of Islamic government is not so essential as the proclamation for the suppression of prostitution, gambling, and use of wine and other corrupt activities”. ( Note 229, Jinnah Papers Volume III Page 670-671).
There are several things to be noted here. One – Faqir of Ipi’s insurgency sounds remarkably similar to the insurgency mounted today by Behtullah Mehsud, the Tehreek-e-Taliban and Mangal Bagh etc. The same tribes and the same issue is being raised against the central government of Pakistan and it is member of the same Khan family in power in NWFP. Historically, Khan brothers allied themselves with the insurgency because to them the cause of Pushtun nationalism was supreme and it did not matter to them that the mix of Pushtun nationalism with firebrand Islamic Puritanism was a dangerous mix (and a mix that even Pakistan’s military employed to its advantage in the first Kashmir war in 1948, the Afghan War and the Kashmir insurgency in the 1990s). Pakistani state’s diversion (partially supported by the US and the CIA) of the Islamically charged Pushtun tribal nationalism to Godless Soviets and Hindu India has now died out and today, we find ourselves roughly in the same situation as the time of the Faqir of Ipi. That is not the subject of this article however. The objective of this piece is to show that despite all the tall claims of progressive and secular ideology, the ANP remains historically rooted in a conservative tribal ethos informed in a significant manner by the puritan faith of its people.
Here it is pertinent to revisit the issue of referendum. In the last piece I spoke of the hollow argument that referendum was not held on adult franchise and was thus not valid. I had pointed out that Congress owed its victory to the same franchise and therefore that argument was neither here nor there. I present now the figures of the 1946 elections which brought Congress to power so that they may be compared with the referendum figures for greater clarity:
GENERAL ELECTION 1946 :
Total Electorate : 604, 563
Total Votes for Congress + Jamiyat al Ulama : 160, 229 (26.53% of the total electorate) – Muslim votes in this total were 145, 119 which formed 27.6 % of the Muslim electorate.
Total Votes for Muslim League were : 146, 235 = 24.18% of the total electorate = 27.8% of the Muslim electorate.
Total Electorate, 578, 798
Total votes for Hindustan 2874= .501% of the electorate.
Total votes for Pakistan 289, 244 = 50.49% of the electorate
Thus the whole argument on which the process was criticized falls flat on its face. Muslim League had emerged as the party with largest popular vote even in 1945-1946 elections. Congress, Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and other Ulema parties together had barely crossed the League in election itself and in 1947 the Hindustan idea had no takers, even amongst those who supported the Congress and brought it to power in 1946. For a detailed discussion on the referendum, please visit parts 2 and 3.
NEXT: Bacha Khan and his legacy.