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.