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Book launching ” Farib-e-Natamaam”

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Chaudhry Ahsan Premee

Associated Press Service Tuesday ,Nov 24,2015

Book launching ” Farib-e-Natamaam” biography of Pashtun author Juma Khan Sufi  was held at National Press Club in Islamabad.

This book has been written on Afghan and Pakistani mujahedeen.

Rendered from Pashto work named Daramsaal La Khatey (Exercise in Futility), Farib-e-Natamaam (Unending Deception) is basically autobiography of the author, but it also spills the beans on Pakhtun nationalists and Afghanistan who jointly sponsored militancy in KP and Baluchistan long before the Afghan mujahideen leaders were given sanctuary and training in Pakistan as a retaliation.

The anti-Pakistan struggle sponsored by Kabul in early 70’s resulted into President Daoud bowing to the demand of foregoing Durand Line issue and accepting Pak-Afghan-Iran confederation, while the leader of struggle, Wali Khan, factually touching the feet of General Zia after being released by him from the prison undergoing treason trial in 1977.

The Soviet Union and especially India both used Afghanistan for their different motives in order to keep it under their tutelage The situation is not different today and the interested powers may be doing the same for their own purposes in order to keep the pot boiling between the two countries.

Only the recognition of territorial integrity and national sovereignty of each other can pave the way for a permanent peace in the region. Sadly Afghanistan still does not abide by the said principle and harps on non-recognition of the joint border with Pakistan.

Originally written and published in Pashto by the name of Daramsaal La Khate(درمسال له خټې), its Urdu version is Farib-e-Natamaam (ناتمام فريب). These are actually the autobiography of the author, collection of his reminiscences and some diaries of the time.  The Pashto title of the book has three meanings: literal, metaphorical and symbolic.  Literally it means the clay-work for the Hindu temple in Pashto. Metaphorically Pakhtuns use it for useless labour or an exercise in futility. But here it has symbolic meaning also, ie. Wali Khan, his father Bacha Khan and their association with Gandhi, Congress, Ashram and Hindus and the futile struggle under their guidance leading to wilderness after independence. The title of the Urdu version is self-explanatory, ie, Unending Deception.

As explained at the back title page, ordinary readers have no concern whatsoever with the life-story of an ordinary man.  But on a deeper look, this is the background story behind the present crisis posed by terrorism gripping the region, especially Afghanistan and Pakistan.  It is also the story of the genesis of the present crisis.  The writer has been one of the participants of the events exposing the role of the different characters in relation to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This story is from the horse’s mouth.

The book has about 750 pages in Pashto and 584 pages in Urdu, comprising of six parts, including some 80 related photographs:

Part One deals with the author’s family background, Mohallah and village socio-economic and political environment, folklore and childhood games, his teen primary school years in his village Maneri.  It also touches his adolescence years in the Government High School Swabi, where his mental horizon widens, his interaction with the environment takes a new turn, he plays truant and misses opportunity to start a more gainful profession, his matriculation in 1964 in flying colours and joining the newly-established Intermediate College in Swabi -all come under discussion. Here his political views, being from the Khudaikhidmatgar-cum-Congress background, take new shape as he takes interest in the outside world and politics.

Part Two is devoted to his youth and formative years. He migrates to Islamia College Peshawar in 1965.  Here he comes across with various students, the left and progressive movement, veteran left personalities like Ajmal Khattak, Afzal Bangash and other nationalists like Abdul Wali Khan, Arbab Sikander Khan Khalil, the politics of Balakhanas in the Khyber Bazaar Peshawar, students movements, the founding of Pakhtun Students Federation with other politicised students, struggle against the One Unit of West Pakistan and participation in other political currents. He also mentions the student life in classrooms, hostels and interactions with his professors.  This is the period of international upheavals and revolutionary fervour, which shaped the lives of the millions world over including that of the writer.

He dwells upon his life, work and politics when he joins the Department of English and Modern European Languages in the University of Peshawar in 1968. Studies and politics go hand and hand till he does his Masters in 1970, joins lecturer-ship in Government College, soon appointed lecturer in the  University of Peshawar, especially Engineering College (now separate University) after a couple of months, the same year.  Under the stewardship of the general secretary of the Communist Party of Pakistan he becomes one of the founding members of the provincial CP alongside Ajmal Khattak and others in 1971. Basically Ajmal Khattak initiates this move.

During student years he establishes contacts with political movement of Afghanistan, especially the Parcham faction of People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan.  He frequently visits Kabul, meets the future leaders of Afghanistan, Babrak Karmal, Mir Akbar Khayber and Najibullah etc. In 1972 he hosts the popular leader of Parcham, Mir Akbar Khyber, at his residence in the University who clandestinely crosses the border via Mohmand Agency, stays with him for a few days before concluding meetings with Communist Party leadership.  Let it be clear that it was his assassination that triggers the upheaval in Afghanistan culminating in the Saur Revolution of 1978. This was the first official contact of the CP and Parcham as before this moment only Ajmal Khattak and Writer were in contact with them.  The reason for establishing this contact with Parcham and not with Khalq was that Parcham always stood behind Bacha Khan unlike Khalq and eulogised his nationalist struggle.   They actively participated in the Pakhtunistan Day (31st August) march and attentively listened to the speech delivered by Bacha Khan on the occasion.

The author also surreptitiously visits Moscow on a Soviet Azerbaijanian passport on assumed name via Sher Khan Bandar through Amu River and studies Marxism in the party school meant for underground leftist parties in 1971-72 for about six months.

Part Three is the most important and decisive part of the writer’s years in exile in Afghanistan.  Two widespread fallacies expounded by the two different personalities pertaining to 1970s in world of historiography are late General Babar’s oft-repeated  assertion that he had started the harbouring, training and equipping of Afghan religious fundamentalists in 1973 against Afghanistan immediately after President Daoud staged coup and Afghan diplomat, Abdul Samad Ghous’ misleading information in his Fall of Afghanistan book that President Daoud clashed with General Secretary Brezhnev in Moscow in his last visit to USSR.  The former is belied by the trainers like late Colonel Sultan, alias Colonel Imam and others who participated in the training started in October 1974 when Kabul had already started bombing campaign in former NWFP and guerrilla warfare in Baluchistan and the latter has been rebuffed by the interpreter with Daoud’s delegation during his visit.  The story of the author corroborates that it was Wali Khan-led militant campaign from Kabul that Bhutto reciprocated.  Actually it was in October 1973 that the writer was assigned the duty to secretly come to Charsadda and apprise Wali Khan of Kabul’s readiness to train the Pakhtun Zalmay – the militant wing of the National Awami Party.

The author was one of the important participants of that period and was incharge of an office run by the then General Secretary of the National Awami Party, Ajmal Khattak.  Another fallacy repudiated by the author is that Ajmal’s escape to Afghanistan in March 1973 was not motivated, as often perceived, by the shooting of United Democratic Front’s public meeting at Rawalpindi Liaqat Bagh, the main component of which was NAP, by the Bhutto’s government thugs, but was a predetermined plan, while the Liaqat Bagh shooting provided him handy pretext to cross over to Afghanistan.  They wanted to fight.

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The author crossed over to Afghanistan in August 1973 to join Ajmal Khattak.  After Daoud found himself well-established with various appointments in his regime, he asked Ajmal Khattak to send youth, Pakhtun Zalme and Baluchs, to be trained and armed.  He was sent on this mission and came to Shahi Bagh (the then residence of Wali Khan) via Chaman-Kuchlak-Lorlai-Der Ghazi Khan-Lahore-Peshawar.  He delivered the message.  He came to Shahi Bagh, Wali Khans former residence. Wali Khan had already prepared an envoy to send to Afghanistan that the author reached.  After making preparations Wali Khan himself went to Kabul in December 1973 and decided everything with Daoud.  The first batch of the youth started coming to Kabul for rudimentary training and when Wali Khan returned from London via Herat in May 1974, he participated in the passing out parade of the youth.  The sabotage and bombing campaign had already started in KP and with the trained Pakhtun Zalme armed with Soviet-made explosives they accentuated the militant activities, while Baluchs were already engaged in guerrilla warfare.  They were already in their mountains. In June 1974  an Akhwan-led coup attempt was aborted in Kabul, some of its leaders executed, while some, including Hekmatyar, Rabbani, Ahmad Shah Masood, Maulvi Khalis and others, escaped to Pakistan.  As a response Bhutto government give this task to General Babar to train Afghan exiles by the SSG in October 1974.  Thus a tit-for-tat campaign was started.  Pakistan only responded and the initiation was from Kabul.

Many frontier-tribesmen and their families within Afghanistan were lured to Pakistan.  The balance was tilted against Afghanistan and the so-called mujahidin activities unnerved Daoud. Without any consultation with President Daoud, Hayat Mohammad Sherpao was assassinated 0n February 8, 1975 by the youth acting upon the leadership instructions.  The culprits escaped to Afghanistan. The National Awami Party was banned and its leaders incarcerated.  A tribunal started treason case against the party, the Supreme Court endorsed the decision of the ban, and Afghanistan got isolated and unable to own the militant activities in Pakistan guided from Kabul.

The author explains the relationship with Baluchs, their problems, needs and expectation from Afghanistan.  Likewise he also touches the militant struggle of Pakhtun youth of Baluchistan.

The only person exonerated by history was Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo who tooth and nail opposed the decision of confrontation with Bhutto regime pleading that in the end ‘we would fall into the lap of reactionaries like Jama’at-e-Islami and invite the army intervention; neither they nor Bhutto would gain’.  But history is always cruel to the men of vision.  His predictions proved right.  National Democratic Party replaced the defunct NAP and it joined PNA struggle and paved the way for military coup.

The author also dwells upon their relationship with the Soviets, Indians and others.  Soviet Union was opposed to the struggle launched by Wali Khan, who was also supported by the Communist Party within the NAP.  Though opposed to the anti-Bhutto struggle, the Soviet representatives kept regular contacts with the author in order to get information about the struggle in Baluchistan, KP and internal situation in Afghanistan as they (Ajmal and the author) had wider access to the Afghans and the Afghan authorities.  With Indians the relationship was open as the author visited them in their embassy and they used to visit their headquarters regularly.

At the end Soviet Union could not satisfy the hegemonistic ambitions of President Daoud and unnerved by the Pakistan-sponsored sabotage activities, he veered to the West.  Iran and Saudi Arabia played key role. Rapprochement was started with Bhutto in return for the release of incarcerated NAP leaders and return of the Pakhtun-Baluch émigrés to Pakistan.  In the end Daoud got dejected and started thrashing out difficulties with Pakistan.  But his overtures to the West aroused suspicions of the USSR.  The unification of the two factions of the PDPA, Khalq and Parcham, was the outcome of the Soviet endeavours which ultimately paved the way for Daoud’s downfall.  In all these events the author and Ajmal also played their role and kept informed the Soviets about the developments.  The Soviets were so eager for the information that they requested the author to remain in Afghanistan even after the general amnesty of Ziaul Haq and return of other Pakhtun and Baluch exiles. Afghanistan finally fell victim to its wrong policy vis-a-vis Pakistan.

The Fourth Part of the book is devoted to the Saur Revolution and their relationship with the leadership of the ruling party.  The first phase, Khalqi phase, was marred with uncertainties. The advent of Soviet troops enhanced their role, while by that time the Communist Party leadership headed by its General Secretary, Imam Ali Nazish, and its other leader Afrasiab Khattak had also arrived to take abode in Kabul and coordinate national and international activities from there.

With the release of former NAP leaders from jail, Wali Khan’s and his family’s relations with President Zia were very warm.  However after Soviet invasion and the capture of power by their erstwhile supporters, Parcham, they renewed their ties with Kabul.  Here starts another story.  Parcham tries to woo all other left and democratic elements within Pakistan to form Awami National Party under the leadership of Wali Khan. The Soviets take everything in their hands and the previous importance of Ajmal-led headquarters loses its importance as the militant actions in KP and guerrilla activities in Baluchistan come to an end.

The relationship of the author and Ajmal with NDP went ups and down.  Once they formed their own group and another time joined the Bizenjo-led National Party.  However, following the Parcham line they also reconciled with Wali Khan and his company.  There were also ups and downs with the ruling party, especially on the part of Ajmal, who had supported Khalqis against his erstwhile friends in Parcham in the first phase of revolution.

The Fifth Part is about their return to Pakistan after Benazir government announces general amnesty and the possible upheaval after the Soviet withdrawal in February 1989.   However the author’s family remains in Kabul.  Here he parts his ways with him because Ajmal’s penchant for having some sort of a ‘durbar’ guiding his activities. This durbar was not other then Wali Bagh whose credentials got exposed even to President Najibullah in the end.  Finding no opportunity to find any vocation, the author once more go into exile to UK where he remains for a few years, while his erstwhile mentor, Ajmal, enjoys the fruits of his party in coalition with the PML (N) in government.

He also explains that how Ajmal parted his ways with Wali Bagh after President Musharraf showed olive branch to him.  Ajmal once more woos the author to join him.  Musharraf overtures to Ajmal, supposed to become the President of Pakistan or head of the National Security Council, bore no fruits.  Ajmal-led National Awami Party Pakistan is resurrected which despite its initial successes loses the appeal in due course of time and Ajmal runs away from his own party formed by him and rejoins Wali Bagh.

The Sixth Part is Epilogue.  Here the author dwells upon the weak and ambiguous stand of Afghanistan about its claims vis-a-vis Pakistan – negation of the Durand Line and support of nationalist families in Pakistan.  This triangle of hypocrisy (Kabul, Wali Bagh and Gulistan) forged during the last six decades hoodwinking the Pakhtuns, ended in disaster for Afghanistan. The author argues in favour of recognised relationship among the peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – disregarding the fissures created by the rulers of the three countries.  As we argue that there should no favourites in Afghanistan for Pakistan, the same is applied to Afghanistan that it should also hands off this policy of still playing favourites among the Pakhtuns living in Pakistan.

The narrative clearly shows that Afghanistan is no match for Pakistan.  It has always been used by India and to some extent Soviet Union against Pakistan for the obvious reasons.  But the fine print of internal situation existing in Afghanistan has been explored by the author.  The book shows that there is need of a fresh look to the Afghan-Pakistan mistrust and suggest relationship.  Afghans won’t accept that the mistrust was started from their side. Accepting the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Pakistan by Afghanistan would lead to real relationship between the two countries.  Otherwise the mistrust and ill-will emanating from the non-recognition of the Durand Line would keep on marring the good-neighbourliness between the two countries.

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