Conceptually engineered

The Pakhtun identity, a definitive idiom preceding the 1947 partition of the subcontinent and pre-existing the doctrinal instructions in religion could only be tamed through disembodied, non-exclusive nationalism imposed by geography

On October 16, 2017, Pakistan became one of 15 states elected by the UN General Assembly to serve as members of the UN Human Rights Council, from January 2018 to December 2020. In its election pledges, Pakistan said that it is ‘firmly resolved to uphold, promote and safeguard universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.’

Hereby lies the falsity of ‘universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all’. Universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are internationalised edifice concepts ornamentalising a state’s extrinsic countenance with no mandatory edict to apply or comply endogenously.

The ongoing peaceful demonstration organised by the Pakhtun outside the Islamabad press club is a confluence of tyrannised individuals who befit Giorgio Agamben’s homo sacer.

The state of Pakistan is under no obligation to comply or apply the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. They certainly cannot be extended to homo sacer trained and disciplined to heed the trumpet, at times announcing the infidels’ impending territorial conquest, at other times mercilessly criminalising their genealogy.

Pakhtun have an exceedingly uncomfortable relationship with the state of Pakistan and a periodic pledge of allegiance is required of them to affirm unity. The three principles of ‘faith’, ‘unity’ and ‘discipline’, enunciated as standard behaviour by Mr Jinnah were executed not to determine allegiance but to regulate ethnicity.

Pakhtuns have an exceedingly uncomfortable relationship with the state of Pakistan and a periodic pledge of allegiance is required of them to affirm unity. Three principles of ‘faith’, ‘unity’ and ‘discipline’, enunciated as standard behaviour by Jinnah were executed not to determine allegiance but to regulate ethnicity

The Babarra massacre of August 12, 1948, at Charsadda in the erstwhile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where hundreds of unsuspecting non-violent Khudai Khitmatgars led by Khan Ghaffar Khan, protesting the arbitrariness of the government were killed on the orders of the chief minister, Abdul Qayyum Khan.

It was the beginning of the Pakhtun’s first lesson in ‘faith’, ‘unity’ and ‘discipline’. The massacre was archived as a rebellion against nationalism, not to be forgotten neither to be forgiven. Their historically celebrated intrepidity against the Greek, against the Moghuls and against the British turned into a referral looked upon with suspicion. The genetic configuration of the Pakhtun needed to be conceptually engineered.

The Pakhtun identity, a definitive idiom preceding the 1947 partition of the subcontinent and pre-existing the doctrinal instructions in religion could only be tamed through disembodied, beheaded non-exclusive nationalism imposed by geography.

On the West lay Afghanistan, whose premier vote of dissent against the newly created state of Pakistan never ceased to remind of the Pakhtun origin. Their anthropological roots were dangerously straddling both sides of the Durand Line. Unity through indoctrination of faith was the single most powerful tool to discipline the Pakhtun.

Their past ventures provided the state with a perfect contraption to regulate the Pakhtun. The drafters of geographical nationalism believed a Pakhtun could only remain pliable to the state if placed in an environment of constant threat. Two elements of ‘infidels’ and ‘religion’ were hypothesised to conceive the theory of ‘endangerment’ and put forward to the potent Pakhtun whose Pakhtunwali was about to be mercilessly manipulated.

The conceptual engineering was carefully laid out and poured into the crucible of the geographical events cultivated as a consequence of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As an inhabitant of the state of Pakistan, the Pakhtun had to express unity and allegiance by fighting the infidel in the name of religion.

The seemingly benign theory of ‘endangerment’ was stilted on extremely dangerous ground. The indomitable holy warriors representing the state became its operational ploys in, what came to be known but could not be uttered, gaining strategic depth.

Not before too long, the theory of endangerment became untenable to gain strategic depth and the flaws in the conceptual engineering of the Pakhtun began to appear. But the state was not willing to concede guilt. Certainly not if it wanted to expunge its pariah state image. The blame had to be attributed to someone. The deportation of the Pakhtun from the historical warrior to an impregnable terrorist momentarily sanitised the state character. To eternalise its clean, righteous entity the Pakhtun had to be synonymous with the Taliban and terrorist, respectively.

Hence began a desperate attempt of vindication and vilification. From operation Al-Mizan to Rah-e-Haq, from operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem to Rah-e-Raast and from Rah-e-Nijaat to the not too long, Zarb-e-Azb, the unarmed Pakhtun are wilting under heavy artillery and indiscriminately disproportionate fire power.

On February 7, 2018, in the name of law and order, the people of Swat were denied the legitimate right to peacefully protest the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud. The denial should be seen as yet another mechanism to regulate the Pakhtun identity. Should felicitations be in order? Perhaps it is too soon for self commendation, for the Pakhtun’s most misunderstood and underrated characteristic is the dangerous calm before the outburst. End

The writer is a journalist and writer who formerly worked for Friday Times, Frontier Post and the Dawn

Published in Daily Times, February 10th 2018.