Pashtunistan means the “Land of Pashtuns“. It stretches from south of Amu River in Afghanistan to west of the Indus River in Pakistan, including parts of Northern Baluchistan & KPK.
The story goes back to colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent. Before the partition when Nationalist Pukhtoon leaders preferred Congress over the Muslim League. Pashtun leaders fought against the colonialism alongside congress. Eventually were betrayed both by Congress and Britishers. This is from where the story of armed rebellion against Pakistan started.
Start of War
Mirza Ali Khan aka Faqir of Ipi. During the time of creation of Pakistan, he demanded a separate homeland for Pashtuns “Pukhtunistan“. He launched multiple campaigns against Pakistan. Before that, with the help of Nazi Germany and Italy, he fought against the Britishers. In 1948, Finally, Bacha Khan took an oath of allegiance to Pakistan. But Faqir of Ipi continued his war against Pakistan. In 1949, Pakistan Air Force bombed the Afghan sponsored militant hideouts belonging to faqir of ipi in border areas with Afghanistan.
On July 26, 1949, a Loya jirga was held in Afghanistan and in retaliation of airstrikes, the Afghanistan government announced that it does not recognize Durand Line. In 1960 and 1961 Afghan army on the order of Daoud Khan, launched attacks to capture Bajaur District (Ex-FATA), KPK. Both times poorly failed multiple Afghan soldiers were killed, and dozens were arrested. In 1976, After realizing that it is a useless cause to fight for, Afghanistan recognized the Durand Line.
But in this years-long conflict, the only people who suffered were the ordinary Pashtuns who fell for this trap by the greedy politicians of Afghanistan. Even Bacha Khan himself acknowledged the fact that Indian and Afghanistan used the Pushtunistan card.
Reality of Pashtunistan
” ‘Pashtunistan was never a reality’ It only caused suffering for Pashtuns; the successive government of Afghanistan only exploited the idea for their own political goals”
Bacha khan India Today 1964
Now again PTM is playing the same dirty game at the behest of Ashraf Ghani. But sadly, as Bacha Khan himself said “this is only going to add more to the suffering of Pashtuns.” They must live with the reality no power including India is going to accept this version on the Durand line as this is going to open a pandora box that would disturb even their own borders with other countries including China.
This idea of “Greater Afghanistan” or “Pashtunistan” is not even close to the reality. The total population of Afghanistan is 37,135,635. Just Pashtuns population in Pakistan (42,590,516) is more than the total population of Afghanistan. The total Pashtuns population in Afghanistan is around 15,390,402. Not even close to the half. But despite this demographic reality these ultra-nationalists often call for integration of KPK and parts of Baluchistan into Afghanistan. Never read about the majority joining the minority, Muslims from Indian migrated to Pakistan but here they want to establish a state bypassing International Law, and demographic and Political realities of the 21st century. “Greater Pashtunistan” is not possible but “Greater Pakistan” is a viable option to connect the Pashtuns on both sides of the border.
Ghani Regime & PTM
The fact of the matter is that in October 2001 Ashraf Ghani was brought in by the US in the US military plane and Ashraf Ghani will leave Afghanistan, not after the Americans but with American in the very plane they imported him.
Now PTM Mohsin Dawar wants Constitutional amendment to change the name of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to just Pukhtunkhwa.
PTM is creating polarization in the society which is going to disturb the social fabric of the society. Ultra-nationalism is never good. They changed the name from NWFP to KPK & the demand of “Suba Hazara” came up. They were the first to oppose that, this division on ethnic grounds is never good for any society.
KPK to Pukhtunkhwa what about non-Pashtuns Jadons, chitralis, saraikis the whole Hazara belt?
Decent educated Pashtuns who are sincere with their nation and country must come forward. PTM needs blood, conflict, controversy to stay relevant. This is the time ANP, PTI, JI, JUI-F, and other popular political forces in KPK must come forward and lead the Pashtuns in a better way.
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Author: Talha Ahmad (Editor in Chief PSF)
About Author: Talha Ahmad is a Freelance Journalist. He is an independent Geo-Political Analyst, commentator, and keen observer of International relations. Talha Ahmad opinions have been featured in different News-websites like Daily times, Pakistan Today, Global Village Space, Morning Mail. He can be reached on twitter @talhahamad967.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Pakistan Strategic Forum.