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Pakhtoonistan issue

Pakhtoons are an ethnic group largely inhabiting north-eastern frontier part of Pakistan and this is major ethnic group living in Afghanistan as well. From1940 onwards, when Pakistan movement was launched and it became obvious that British were going to leave the subcontinent at the end of 2nd World War. Some of the Pakhtoons living in Afghanistan and north-western part of subcontinent demanded that Pakhtoons majority areas must be merged into Afghanistan or made an independent state of Pakhtoonistan. Furthermore, after the creation of Pakistan the case was largely supported by Afghanistan and by the leadership of the then National Awami Party (NAP) and current Awami National Party (ANP). The issue was resolved mainly by assimilating the Pakhtoons into civil and military bureaucracy. Moreover, Pakhtoons were able to change the name of North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) to Khyber Pakhtunkwha on April 15, 2010.   Pakhtoons are distinct ethnically living in Afghanistan and north-western part of subcontinent from at least last three millennia. They are strongly built hardworking people. They consists more than sixty percent of the population of Afghanistan.   Pakhtoonistan issue sprung up at the time when Durand Line was marked in 1893. It cuts the major ethnic groups into two parts. Establishment of NWFP as a separate province further aggravated the situation in 1901. Hitler waged war on the whole of Europe which gave way to deterioration of British Empire and they were compelled to pack out from India at that time. Pakhtoons were agreed that Pakhtoons majority areas must be given to Afghanistan or made an autonomous state but in a referendum Pakhtoons opted for Pakistan.   Furthermore, Afghanistan supported the Pakhtoonistan issue because it imagined Pakhtoonistan as its own area for pressurizing the newly created state of Pakistan. It not only rejected to recognize Pakistan but waged one kind of war against Pakistan. This was accompanied by head to head answer from Pakistan and Pakhtoons people of tribal area as they did not let the situation deteriorate and assured Pakhtoonistan government defending its western borders. In Pakistan, the demand for Pakhtoonistan was mainly carried by the then NAP and current ANP leadership. Firstly, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan “Sarhadi Ghandi” was very staunch believer of Pakhtoonistan then Wali khan and Naseem Wali khan were also maneuvering for Pakhtoonistan. However, Pakistani state opted to assimilate Pakhtoons in civil and military services from early 1950’s and it was started and continued for another decade. At the end of 1960’s, the Pakhtoons were holding many top posts in civil and military bureaucracy under Ayub Khan who by himself was a non Pashto speaking Pakhtoons. So, the demand was dying in early to mid 1960’s and it almost died in 1970’s. Now the situation changed and Afghanistan went under civil war then Russian invasion and the demand for Pakhtoonistan died.   Although Pakhtoonistan issue got finished but the demand for change of name remained there. ANP got votes on the demand of the change of name. At last, 15th April, 2010 the name was changed from NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkwha the Pakhtoonistan issue was finished almost forever.   Our foreign policy of Pakistan was bound to have some serious repercussions. Afghanistan, USSR and Iraq were the main supporter of the Pakhtoonistan issue and Pakistan’s relation with these three countries lacked warmth only because of their interference and supporting the cause of Pakhtoonistan. Moreover, they have their own wasted interest attached to the issue what Pakistan was compelled to seek closure cooperation with the west led by USA. Furthermore, the Pakhtoonistan issue secured some moral and political assistance from the Indian government as well that contributed to further straining their by literal relationship.   To conclude, we can say that Pakhtoonistan issue was launched mainly by political pundits to jeopardize the situation of newly created state of Pakistan after its consolidation. The issue died natural death in the course of time as there was no available popular support for the cause. The foreign involvement created some problems for the internal political structure and stability of Pakistan but no ripe fruit could be harvested. The Pakhtoons are as loyal and patriot as ever and they themselves are capable enough to understand these maneuverings aimed at the destabilizing Pakistan.

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