We are all Tamil and Pashtun today:


Ich  bin ein Tamil and Pustun. We are all Tamil and Pashtun today, back in 1960s American President J.F Kennedy chanted for the freedom of Berliners. We should show our humanitarian solidarity with the civilian victims of terrorism in Tamil and Pashtun areas.

Last Weekend’s Top news story, across the global media, was the human suffering resulting from the army offence in the North Eastern Sri Lanka and North West Pakistan against the terrorists from the two minority communities, the Tamil and the Pashtun respectively. Are these ethnic minorities really sympathizing with the terrorist? Like the Irish were termed terrorists by the British government prior to 1998.

The British Imperialist government in the Indian sub continent in the 19th and early 20th century was responsible for warfare against the pushtuns and the resettlement of Tamils on the British tea plantations. This does not mean that Britain is directly responsible for current suffering. Obviously the “Terrorist Entities”, the Tamil Tigers and the Taliban of Pakistan and the military operations being persecuted against them are responsible for the killings, the suffering and the refugee crisis. It would be simplistic to lay the blame on any one door without detailed analysis. This analysis can help us focus clearly on the humanitarian support needed for the injured and sick refugees.

Tamil and Taliban terrorists are the founders of the ideology of “Suicide Bombers”, the danger is that they will destroy the diversity and beauty of Tamil and Pushtun civilization and cultures through their fundamentalist nationalistic use of religious rhetoric.

The history of Tamil and pushtun suffering is a complex story. The Pushtun trace back their ancestry to the pre historic invaders of India the Aryans (European warriors of central and south Asia), while the Tamils are descendents of the invaded indigenous Indians (ancient local tribes who moved down south to the southern tip of Indian sub continent).

As stated earlier, the Pushtuns were the pawns in the “Great Game” between the British and the Russian empires and the Tamils were sent (as indentured labourer) to Palm, rubber and tea plantations in Malaya and Ceylon. British gave independence to south Asia in 1947 leaving behind their legacy of perpetual suffering, lack of education and development in Pashtuns and Tamils.

Pakistani army used the Pashtuns as “cannon fodder” for their fight against India in Kashmir. The Pashtun King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan refused to accept the new border “the Durand Line” between the Pashtuns of Afghania and North West Frontier Pakistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan engaged in covert proxy wars in the tribal areas of pashtuns. Till the early 1970s India, Russia and Afghanistan supported the non-violent secular “Red Shirts” party of Bacha khan(Frontier Gandhi) who advocated an independent Pashtunistan within or in confederation with Afghanistan.The idea of Pashtunistan died with the  withdrawl of soviet troops and death of Bacha Khan in 1989.

Pakistan and its western allies Americans and the British encouraged more orthodox, religious and loyal tribal leaders under the draconian laws of Frontier Crimes Regulations (F.C.R). FCR meant a suspension of basic human and electoral rights of tribal pashtuns, the current “hotspot” the Swat valley, an independent princely state along with the states Dir and Chitral was annexed to Pakistan.

In 1978 communists overthrew the “Royal and Tribal Democracy” in Afghanistan and the Soviet Union invaded to support this fragile coup government. This provided, their Cold War enemies America, Britain and Nato, the excuse to support the Islamist dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq, who recruited and settled thousands of hard core battle hardened extremist Arabs and their families for a religious jihad against the Godless communists. The Arab and the Western governments supported this ideological and military adventure with monetary and religious support and washed their hands of some of the extremist youth who were creating trouble for them domestically. The Terror Chief War- lord Osama Bin Laden was one such millionaire turned spoiled brat turned religious fighter who along with his preacher-mentor Abdullah Azzam turned orthodox pashtuns into religious Kami Kazi “suicide bombers”. The current suffering and killings of pashtuns is the direct or indirect result of religious philosophy of jihad promoted by American, British, Saudi Arabian and Pakistani Conservative governments and their foot soldiers, the Arabs and the Jamaat Islami of Pakistan.

The Tamils felt separated from their homeland in south India after the independence of Sri Lanka from the British. The Tamils of Madras India were educated and owned land, the Tamils of Sri Lanka were a poor labourer class Hindu minority in a Buddhist majority country. The Tamils of India prospered and migrated to North America, Europe and Australia as skilled doctors, engineers and professors while the Tamils of Sri Lank faced discrimination due to their status in the society.

Despite their political activism the Tamils felt that their race has collectively hit a “Brick Wall” against their powerful majority neighbours the Buddhist Sinhala Sri Lankans. Tamils Tigers started their armed struggle for a free Tamil homeland, under the leadership of charismatic and brutal War- lord Vilupilai Prabarkaran. Tamil Tigers were the first paramilitary group to start a cult of suicide bombers long before the Islamic suicide bombers. The fighters carried a cyanide capsule in case of capture and the death of VP was probably, self -inflicted through one of these capsules. Tamil Tigers used their Hindu identity and suffering as a justification for persecuting other Tamil minorities namely Tamil speaking Christians and Muslims. Similarly Muslim fundamentalists used their religious doctrine to inflict pain on religious minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and even in the Arab countries.

Pashtun fanatics are suspects in the suicide blast which killed the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, eliminating one of the most intelligent politicians to come out of Asia and successfully derailing any hope of good governance in Pakistan. Similarly Tamils killed Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi (Statesman and Peacenik) and Sri Lankan President Ranasingha Primadasa. Had Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto still been alive today, current state of affairs would surely been much better than what they are today.

The War of Terror by Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistani army in Swat and tribal areas against Pashtun Muslim fanatics is in full swing while the war of Buddhist Sri Lankan army against the Tamil Tigers has come to an end with the death of War lord VP, but the suffering and displacement of refugees remains, both in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The Political disenfranchisement is widespread, political representation and democracy is almost non existent for millions of Pashtuns and Tamils. These conditions of humiliation and displacement cause more anger and resentment breeding terrorism and fundamentalism. The governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and their armies must respect the basic human and political rights of refugees and civilian populations in their countries. Policing the human and economic rights in these countries will be the biggest test for the British, American and the European governments.



Filed under Activism, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, Benazir Bhutto, Citizens, Colonialism, culture, Democracy, dynasties, Economy, Europe, FATA, History, human rights, Identity, Imperialism, India, Islam, Islamabad, Jinnah, journalism, Kashmir, land, Languages, Left, minorities, movements, North-West Frontier Province, Northern Areas, Pakistan, Parliament, Partition, Peshawar, Politics, poverty, Punjabi, quetta, Religion, Rights, south asia, Sufism, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, violence, war, Women, youth


  1. ylh

    No. This is bad analysis.

    When Soviet Union and India supported Bacha Khan …they also encouraged through Bacha Khan other elements.

    Faqir of Ipi was one such element. He was neither non-violent nor secular. He was the forerunner of Behtullah Mehsud. And he was Frontier Congress’ blue eyed boy. He declared Jehad on Pakistan and Muslim League which he declared was a bastion of Qadiyaniism and British imperialism.

    That the US and Pakistan tried later to use this sentiment …shows Pakistan’s policy makers’ inability to analyze history properly. Pakistani policy makers made the mistake of assuming that Pushtun nationalism was secular and left (presumably because of Bacha Khan’s support of Congress pre-partition). Had they analyzed the issue in proper context they would realize that Pushtun Islamists are in reality Pushtun nationalists with a veneer…and that Congress in the NWFP and rest of India had the support of Deobandi Islamists in the name of nationalism.

    In ANP’s negotiations with the taliban …it is merely a dialogue between Pushtun nationalists of two kinds. The real issue is Pushtun nationalism (not Pushtun identity mind you) as it has developed in absence of a middle class. It maybe said that most of the Pushtun urban middle class has always been Pakistani nationalist and never Pushtun nationalist.

  2. hayyer48

    While the analysis may be jumbled it is not necessarily all incorrect.
    Politics in pre-partition India was never a clean cut ideological thing. The Congress embraced all sorts of groups and so did the ML especially in the run up to the elections of 1945-46.
    The Redshirts may have been religious but they were also socialists. They had a programme of land reform much as Sheikh Abdullah had a land reform programme which he implemented. But whereas the Redshirts social programme was directed towards helping Muslim cultivators against Muslim landlords the Kashmiri program was, in the main, directed towards recovering land from Hindu landowners, mainly Pandit and Dogra with a fair intermixing of Muslim landed gentry too.
    Sheikh Abdullah was successful. Badshah Khan or Bacha Khan as Pakistan refer to him was not, for obvious reasons. Both were religious types, Sheikh Abdullah perhaps more so than Bacha Khan, and his movement made liberal use of Muslim sentiment.
    The relative merits of religious ideologies are not relevant in this context.
    Nationalism of the Pakhtun or Kashmiris varieties is not to be condemned just because it exists. Nor does nationalism transmogrify into good or bad depending on one’s own national perspective.

  3. yasserlatifhamdani

    First of all you’ve written is absolutely and completely irrelevant to what I’ve said.

    Ofcourse I’d like to learn more about Red Shirts as socialists angle because this is completely news for me. How ironic that these “socialists” were themselves major land owners in NWFP!

    If its about programmes, Punjab Muslim League had a manifesto written by communists in the League. The only effective peasant mobilization was done in East Bengal where it was entirely communal by the Bengal League. That doesn’t mean that Leaguers were all socialists.

    Bacha Khan was essentially a social conservative and a status quo man. His later affiliation with the progressive NAP had more to do with Congress remnants joining up with Leftist leaguers than any ideological commitment.

  4. yasserlatifhamdani

    PS ofcourse none of this has anything to do with my point about Fakir Of Ipi types being encouraged by Bacha Khan…a point that enrages Pushtun ethno-nationalists.
    So this divide of Non-violent bacha khan and violent islamists just does not exist.

    How ironic that non-violent Khan’s son Ghani Khan wrote in his book “Guns are the ornaments of the Pathan”. Same excuse was used by Taliban types to reject disarmament.

  5. hayyer48

    The Pashtun experiment with non violence and land reform ended with the Khan brothers. With the creation of Pakistan it was big landed owners all the way. Not surprising that with the experiment having failed it is back to ornamenting with guns.

  6. yasserlatifhamdani

    Now you’ve jumped to non-violence. Tell me what non-violence was there when Bacha Khan encouraged Fakir of Ipi to rise up against Pakistan for being “unislamic”. I suppose it is the same as those who claim Sufi Muhammad’s TTP is non-violent…including the ANP types…when justifying their decision to negotiate with him.

    Your claim is historically inaccurate. To imagine “socialism” in Khan bros ideology is a fallacy and I find it strange you stick to it.

    And you obviously don’t have a clue about this stuff. What big landowners in NWFP? Khan brothers were themselves big landowners.

    Dr. Khan sb became the leader of the landed class when he took up the lead role in the short-lived right wing Republican Party and became the premier of West Pakistan.

    Bacha Khan was ofcourse the part of the leftist NAP but he certainly wasn’t there as a socialist radical.

    I suggest you revisit some of these points you seem to be arguing about without any real basis and trying to confuse by saying “big landed owners all the way”.

    The biggest landowners in NWFP are part of ANP and the so called non-violent crew.

  7. Dear All
    The analysis might be jumbled,reason it is written in flashbacks of history of two “nations” Tamil and Pushtun.I admit it is difficult to maintain interest in a boring historical narrative and compare it with issues of current politics.
    The debate it generated between two learned gentlemen is interesting?

  8. bonobashi

    @Bradistan Calling

    Actually I am shocked at those two Northern chauvinists quarreling over the Pashtun part of your description with not a breath spared for what you wrote about the Tamils. Identity works in strange ways. It is time to give them brown bread and white bread and drum them out of town.

    Now coming to the Tamizh part of your comment, may I ask if you wrote it, or you had help? If you had help, I would suggest consulting a good lawyer to help you recover the cost of the time and effort you spent reproducing the most arrant nonsense.

    There are two totally distinct Tamizh populations in Sri Lanka. One of them existed there before the Christian era, formed kingdoms and had a flourishing civilisation of its own, firmly linked to the civilisation of the Tamizh in Tamizh Nadu, but with a clear identity of its own. It was centred around Jaffna, hence the term Jaffna Tamil. These were the free Tamizh, the proud and independent holders of their own land. Their identity was never in doubt, they had no need to show that they belonged, they were in the land as long as the lion race were. What you were referring to were the plantation Tamizh, imported by the British and set to work to do the hard work that the Sri Lankan could not do, and the Jaffna Tamizh would not do. To mingle them is a horrible error.

    So it is completely wrong to say “The Tamils felt separated from their homeland in south India after the independence of Sri Lanka from the British. The Tamils of Madras India were educated and owned land, the Tamils of Sri Lanka were a poor labourer class Hindu minority in a Buddhist majority country. The Tamils of India prospered and migrated to North America, Europe and Australia as skilled doctors, engineers and professors while the Tamils of Sri Lank faced discrimination due to their status in the society.”

    Not at all. The Jaffna Tamizh did not feel separated from their homeland; they were already in their homeland, and had been there for more than 2,000 years at the time of Sri Lanka independence; they were rich and there were labourers among them, they were educated and had numerous professional people in their ranks.

    I take issue with your statement that the Tamizh were “descendents of the invaded indigenous Indians (ancient local tribes who moved down south to the southern tip of Indian sub continent)”. Not for nothing did the Qaid sympathise with the Dravidian quest for identity, in the face of such colossal misreading of the facts. The facts are that there is speculation that there was a Dravidian-speaking population pervasive in South Asia, and that around 2000 BC, first isolated families, then larger groups, then whole tribes of a different linguistic group, suffering from (oh delicious irony) being a minority religion in Iran and Turkmenistan, started drifting in across the mountain ranges that we now call the Hindu Kush. They were too small in numbers to make much of a difference; analysis of the DNA of the northern and central Indian population reveals that there is no master-race in the middle of a vast sea of subjugated Dasas, Dasyus and so on, indeed the make-up of the population is very, very homogenous.

    The reason for speculating that the whole of the land-mass was once Dravidian speaking is due to the fact that even today, sections of the Baluch population speak a Dravidian language. The argument is that they could not have come here from the south, they must therefore always have been there.

    The language layers below the Indo-Aryan in northern and central India are not akin to Tamizh, they are of different language groups.

    Coming to the Tamizh, they are unlikely to be the storm-driven refugees of racial attack flowing down to their last refuge in the south of the peninsula. They are racially consistent throughout the ‘deep South’, and it is far more likely that they formed a strong population group independent and separate from most of the rest, for whatever reason; inward immigration has been suggested, but this is most speculative. In other words, they were a strong population separate from the rest right from the beginning; their language was rather more wide-spread but finally landed up being spoken mainly in the Deccan plateau because of the onslaught of the Indo-Aryan languages, which must have had some merit of some sort to have been adopted so widely and to have supplanted the Dravidian and Australic language groups.

    It is thirdly wholly wrong, in fact, laughable, to describe the Tamizh in religious terms, as in fundamentalist nationalistic use of religious rhetoric. This is arrant nonsense; whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim, a Tamizh is a Tamizh; that sense of identity is impossible to leach out of them. Not even from the former Indian president; while he performed his namaz dutifully, he was Tamizh through and through. Many of Prabhakaran’s most trusted lieutenants were Christian (including the head of the Tamizh Eelam political front, the suave, well-spoken, wily Anton Balasingham), and that was a secondary consideration; their loyalty to Eelam was the first.

    You are perhaps referring to the Sri Lankan government’s driving a wedge between the northern Tamizh and the eastern, who were more largely Muslim, which was furthered by an ambitious LTTE breakaway leader, Col. Karuna. Go check it out for yourself; NO Sri Lanka Tamizh thinks religion, he or she thinks Tamizh. Period.

    While you are unlikely to excite either sympathy or interest in your northern readership (you’re from Bradford, right? What did you think I meant?) in the plight of the Tamizh, I must congratulate you at least in having got a fiery argument going between two of the most knowledgeable people on this forum. Now, if you could only change your advisor on matters Tamizh, you would be doing well. 🙂

  9. hayyer48

    YLH: I am travelling in the US and Canada so my ability to refer is all from memory. For Bacha Khan I refer you to Mukulika Banerjee, ‘The Pathan Unarmed’. There was also a long piece on the net by a Pakistani professor working in some Australian university. I shall have to locate that link.
    The non-violence of the Khudai Khidmatgars is well established. I dont think it needs referencing. The Qissa Khwani affair is the best evidence of it I suppose. You may wish to read up on the land reform movement of the Bacha Khan.
    Bacha Khan was among the minor landowners not the big ones of the NWFP. I do not have much knowledge of post 47 events in Pakistan for lack of books on the subject in India, which is where the net is such a blessing.
    I read there that Bacha Khan sought the Faqir of Ipi’s support in an armed struggle against Pakistan.
    We are clearly dealing with two different aspects of the same movement. In a united India under Gandhi’s influence Bacha Khan was non-violent and reformist. What happened afterwards in the changed world of Pakistan is not what I was referring to, but the earlier Bacha Khan.
    Bonobashi: thanks for that elaboration of the Tamizh. It isn’t as much fun discussing the travails of Tamizh labourers in Sri Lanka because we haven’t got a protagonist as powerful as YLH to talk to.

  10. yasserlatifhamdani

    Don’t depend on hagiographic little pieces by wide-eyed Indian nationalists who can’t be honest about history.

    What is “changed world of Pakistan” you are talking about. And no … Khudai Khidmatgar’s non-violence is not established… unless ofcourse you mean giving out arms licenses that Khan sb’s ministry carried out was done for non-violent purposes.

    And all this stuff about Khan brothers being minor landowners is not true. This is Indian imagination. Even Azad writes in his book that Khan brothers were rich and miserly…

    Yes… I would like to read about this “land reform” push by Bacha Khan… would you guide me to a source… any source?

    Since you are referring from your memory… may I say that you are referring actually from your perception of Bacha Khan as an Indian and nothing else.

  11. bonobashi


    Thank you for noticing the little side-show on Tamizh Eelam. It was done half tongue in cheek to pull Dil Nawaz’s leg. Poor chap actually did make a good effort, although with a Tamizh advisor, he’d have done better.

    Although I don’t share their sentiments, they did get a very raw deal from the Sinhala chauvinists. What they did with it, in terms of the terrorist organisation that they built, was abominable.

    It is remarkable how they resemble the Palestinians in every particular except losing their land and having to live in camps in alien countries. Now it looks as if even this final crown of thorns is to be theirs.

    May I say how much I enjoy reading your balanced pieces, even though I don’t always understand some of the detail? And yes, reading you and YLH squaring off is of course a delight.

    @Bradistan Calling

    Hayyer48 reminded me of my manners. Thank you for an excellent effort. You may notice that I didn’t necessarily agree with every point made by you. 😉

  12. hayyer48

    Bonobashi: One had read of the travails of the plantation Tamils and the Sinhala chauvinism but the response of the LTTE was, I thought vicious beyond imagination. The Sinhala I read somewhere actually claim a Gujrat origin. Is that authentic?
    About the Baluch connection; it is said that Brahui is a Dravid language-and some linguists find elements of the same in the Basque language. If as you say, the people have always lived in the South of India and Sri Lanka then the linkage to Brahui and Basque needs explaining. Can it be true that the Dravidians too are migrants, and therefore the pre-Dravidians as represented by the various tribes of South and East India, if not by the tribes of the Andamans are the autochthonous population of the subcontinent?
    YDMM: Their is one virus that I wont carry; that of bigotry. But on returning I shall have to research my Badshah Khan knowledge again.

  13. @ Bonobashi
    Guilty as charged, Iwrote the whole thing, I do not believe in cut and paste.
    perhaps I should have researched the”minor” historical inaccuracies in the piece.
    The Piece is on present day politics and political solutions? not an historical document.
    @Bonobashi,hayyer48,Shams Rahman.
    I am grateful for you kind comments and kind corrections of mistakes.
    brother I am not anti-Jinnah or Anti Pakistan.I am a Pakistani by birth and love “People of Pakistan”.
    I respect your views on Jinnah.
    Mr. M. A Jinnah was a good Lawyer,wore good suits,spoke best English,smoke good cigars and had good taste in whisky. Jinnah was not a religious hypocrate like some of his followers.
    full stop. I think we agree on that.