"You have thrown us to the wolves"

This diary is about the NorthWest Frontier Province ~ the region between Afghanistan and Pakistan that Sen. Obama identifies as the crucible of terrorism.  He would refocus American energies there.  My diaries are an attempt to shed some light on it's history, with an goal of outlining the difficulty of the current situations.

There was a time when the NWFP had hope.  There was a time when the NWFP was led by a great man.  

His name was Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.  

He was known as Badshah Khan (or King Khan).

He was also known as Sarhaddi Gandhi (or Frontier Gandhi ~ Gandhi of the Frontiers).

And the best way to understand the tragic story of the NWFP is to follow the story of this great man... from hope to betrayal and to disappointment!

The era of hope: 1920s to 1939
Gaffar Khan was a tireless social worker in Afghanistan, and he was a respected leader even before Gandhi had returned to India.  He forged a special friendship and alliance with Gandhi ~ the two men shared a deep & mutual admiration.  Gaffar Khan was the founder of the "Khudai Khitmatgar" (or the Servants of God) movement, whose goal was the creation of a unified and independent India stretching from modern Afghanistan to modern Burma.  Gaffar Khan was very influenced by Gandhi's methods, and had told his followers:

I am going to give you such a weapon that the police and the army will not be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it.

The Khudai Khitmatgar (and it's political wing ~ the Frontier Congress, which was led by Gaffar Khan's older brother) came to dominate NWFP politics from the 1920s up until 1947.

The era of betrayal 1939-1947
In the late 1930s, and leading upto Indian Independence in 1947, several prominent Muslims in India floated the idea of a separate homeland for Muslims.  Initially, this idea had very little political support, but it gained steam through some brilliant legal maneuvers executed by the leader of the Muslim homeland movement, and by the represensible stoking of communal fears.

Gaffar Khan was bitterly opposed to the idea of a separate Muslim homeland.  He strongly favored a unified and secular India ~ but his voice became increasingly faint.  The Pashtuns around him favored Independence, or a union with Pakistan.

When the Indian National Congress rejected a last ditch attempt at a compromise solution brokered by Gandhi, and it became clear that the NWFP province (and other Muslim majority regions) would be given the option of joining Pakistan, Gaffar Khan reportedly told the Congress leaders

You have thrown us to the wolves

Indeed, voters in the NWFP were offered a choice.  Gaffar Khan's party was running the elected government, but the voters rejected his call to boycott the vote (with 56% showing up to vote), and voting to join Pakistan by a very large (>90%) margin.

They had, indeed, been thrown to the wolves.

The era of disappointment 1948---
In 1948, Gaffar Khan took an oath of loyalty to the newly created nation of Pakistan ~ a nation whose creation he had bitterly opposed.  Despite this, the government led by his brother was dismissed by the new government of Pakistan, and he was put under house arrest.  He remained under house arrest from 1948 till 1954 ~ obviously, no charges were ever filed.

His followers were treated with less mercy ~ there were very many massacres of the Pashtuns who had initially sided with India.  Upon his release from house arrest in 1954, Gaffar Khan declared

I had to go to prison many a time in the days of the Britishers. Although we were at loggerheads with them, yet their treatment was to some extent tolerant and polite. But the treatment which was meted out to me in this Islamic state of ours was such that I would not even like to mention it to you

They had indeed been thrown to the wolves.  

Gaffar Khan spent the remainder of his days drifting in and out of house arrest ~ he was imprisoned by governments in both Pakistan, and in Afghanistan.  

And who looks good in this story ?

This is the point where we stop and ask: who comes across looking good in this story.  And the answer is: noone.

I am a huge fan of Gandhi.  But Gandhi, and his Congress party, let Gaffar Khan down.  The Pashtuns of the NWFP had embraced Gandhi in 1937 ~ Gandhi abandoned them in 1947.  Some will say that it is not fair to accuse the Congress party of abandoning  the Pashtuns, and that they did not really have a choice in the matter.  My opinion is that if the Indian National Congress had really wanted to avert partition, they would have outfoxed Jinnah.

I will not waste any sentences on the new rulers of Pakistan.

But I will also point out that you, dear reader, are equally complicit in this episode (or, at least, your forefathers in the 1940s and 1950s were).  You are complicit in the atrocities committed on the Pashtuns by the new rulers of Pakistan... you looked the other way while those atrocities were being committed, and armed the new rulers of Pakistan as part of your strategic game against the Soviets.

I hope you will think of that, the next time you wonder why the Pashtuns are so uncivilized !!

Update [2008-7-31 13:50:15 by SevenStrings]::Wow, I see this is at the top of the rec list. Thank you everyone! I should have added one more bit. If you watch the film Gandhi carefully, you will notice a very tall in an Afghan longshirt and a trimmed beard, who is always lurking in the background. He doesnt say very much, and he always sides with Gandhi... even when Gandhi is opposed by everyone else. That man is Gaffar Khan!

Tags: Frontier, Gandhi, NWFP, Sarhaddi (all tags)



i love your diaries. rec'd.

by canadian gal 2008-07-31 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: i love your diaries. rec'd.
Thanks =)
I love your diaries too.  I am going to start on women's issues too...someday =)
by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

I want to express my gratitude to you for an informative, well-thought, and substantive diary.

by whognu 2008-07-31 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

thank you

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:23AM | 0 recs
Great work

You write consistently excellent diaries, SS.

Highly rec'd.

by Koan 2008-07-31 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Great work

thanks..I am delighted that anyone reads them =)

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Great work

I'm lurking more than posting these days but I always check out your diaries if I can catch them.

by Koan 2008-07-31 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Great work

well, I am honored..really.

In one of my other diaries, I had a long debate with Shaun Apleby.  He suggested I tone down my criticism of Sen. Obama, so I could get more exposure.  My approach is somewhat different...I am happy that my account is still alive, and I don't really care how many people read what I write.  

But obviously, I am delighted when anyone does so.

And coming from you, that is indeed high praise.  You have been one of the most level headed bloggers here!

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Great work

Well it's always a nice reminder that politics is about more than Obama, McCain, and Clinton.  I really like your mini-series on Pakistani, Afghani, and Indian issues, mostly because I'm sadly uninformed about a lot of them.  Do you have a blog or somewhere else where you post them?  Unfortunately it seems like a lot of MyDDers don't have the patience for anything beyond the daily talking points of the campaigns.

And thanks for the praise; it means a lot coming from a blogger I respect so much.

by Koan 2008-07-31 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Great work

well, I do have a blog


but I have not been very diligent in maintaining it, unfortunately!

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

Very interesting.

by Bush Bites 2008-07-31 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

A very interesting diary.

Sadly, I think your last paragraph really says it all, with regard to the last fifty years of US foreign policy.  It's shortsighted.  It prefers the victory of the present, even if such victory carries enormous long term costs.

We're still paying those costs, particularly in our relations with the Middle East and Latin America.

by freedom78 2008-07-31 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

Yes, those shortsighted policies always come around to collect their dues in the end.

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:42AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

In some ways, it's almost like we lost the Cold War, because the awful things we did to win it have done great damage.  

But the nice thing is that when you change leaders you can change direction and get a fresh start.

And I can't tell you how much this country needs a fresh start.

by freedom78 2008-07-31 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

I hate to be a scrooge here, but I disagree somewhat.

You do not get a fresh start simply by changing leaders... if by a fresh start you mean that past omissions are forgiven.  In fact, there is no mythical lake in which we can take a dip, and have our sins be washed away.

You can only get a fresh start if you painfully acknowledge past omissions and commissions, and take steps to amend for them!

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

No, no that isn't how I meant it.  Just that the fresh start allows for positive movement to take place.  After all, it's not as if we had just one leader responsible for all our bad choices since WWII, so I'm sure that even if the "fresh start" is welcomed by those who've been wronged, they'll remain skeptical, and rightly so.  

At the same time, listening to what our candidates propose is perhaps the most obvious way to gauge their intentions, should they win.  So it's not surprising that most of the world warms to Obama much more than to McCain, except perhaps in the few places where McCain's hawkishness is viewed as good.

by freedom78 2008-07-31 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

I've been lurking for many months - finally decided to sign up today.

While I appreciate and enjoy your diaries, to lay the entire blame for the "stoking of communal fears" at the feet of the Muslim League is a little blinkered. The congress did not come out of partition with its hands unbloodied.

The history of the Pathans is indeed sad, from the early days of the great game to today they have been used and thrown to the wolves many times. The rulers of Pakistan have alternately done the throwing and played the role of the wolves. As have the British, Indian, Soviet, American governments.

by dtox 2008-07-31 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

Well, I agree with you that noone came out looking good in the process.  I said so clearly at the bottom of my diary.

However, it IS fair to lay the entire blame for the stoking of communal fears on the Muslim League.  The Congress was a culprit in that it did not do all that it could reasonably have done...in stopping it.  But it did not stoke communal fears.  

No other party, other than the Muslim League, can be accused of stoking communal fears.

I would very much welcome any information you have to the contrary!

by SevenStrings 2008-07-31 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: "You have thrown us to the wolves"

Wait...so is Pakistan a real country in the same sense as India, or something artificial?  I was always under the impression that it was a real country, and not some sort of long-standing organization of states inhabited by Muslim Indian separatists.  

by johnny venom 2008-07-31 07:26PM | 0 recs


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