Pakhtunkhwa Times

Stop killing innocent Pashtoon people.

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

Itefaq (concord) – Khushal Khan Khattak

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

stop killing innocent Pashtoon people.

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

A Peace Rally organised by Pashtoon Peace Forum in London

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

A Peace Rally organised by Pashtoon Peace Forum in London, demanding stop killing innocent Pashtoon people.

Press Release

Sep 21st, 2008

Commemorating International Day of Peace and protesting against ongoing War in Pashtoon regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pashtun Peace Form (PPF), UK organised a peace rally in front of the British Parliament and demanded the United Nations, United Kingdom, United States and members of international community to launch viable strategies for bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and NWFP (Pakhtunkhwa) by engaging and empowering Pashtun social and political leadership. The rally was also joined in by Stop The War Coalition and people from different walks of life and demanded the United Nations to name year 2010 as ‘Bacha Khan Year of Global Peace’. Rally emphasised that if United Nations name year 2010 as ‘Bacha khan Year of Global Peace’, the philosophy of non-violence will once again resuscitated and will not only be beneficial for the stability of the pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan but will also promote regional and global security.

Rally continued for two hours in front of the British Parliament and the participants unanimously passed a draft resolution of their demands to be submitted to the Government of UK and marched to the 10 Downing street.

Speaking on the occasion, speakers emphasized that due to the absence of representative media and portrayal of pashtuns as extremists and terrorists by the state media due to its deep involvement in the Afghan conflict for their own illegitimate ends as a smokescreen. Today the world knows Pashtuns and Afghans as terrorists, imposed war on Afghans, but the international community does not know that Afghans are not only the heroes of sword and fighting, they are also hero of peace and non violence. The example is that of their great hero and Afghan pride, Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan. During his life he continued his peaceful struggle, even though he suffered great tortures and long imprisonment.

If Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi are the figures of non- violence in history, who can forget Bacha Khan?

Participants of the rally demanded that parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan and the Pashtun areas in Pakistan should stop killing the Afghans and Pashtuns in proxy wars and should reconcile their interests through non-violent and political means. They demanded the United Nations to formulate a new strategy in Afghanistan to put an end to the bloodshed and instability. Speakers asked the international community to strengthen both the NWFP (Pakhtunkhwa) and local Pashtun leaders at village and neighbourhood levels in order to put an end to the influence of militants and outlaws. They also demanded the UN and international community to immediately provide shelter, food and immigration opportunities and refugee status to the hundred of thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) of FATA and NWFP (Pakhtunkhwa) province of Pakistan on priority basis.

The participants emphasized on the government of Pakistan to abolish Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), notorious and anti-human laws prevailing in the Pashtoon tribal areas of Pakistan and to extend Political Parties Act to FATA, form independent legislative councils and to give representation to people of FATA in the NWFP Assembly.

Rally protested against the century long violation of human rights in FATA and demanded that UN and international community should exert pressure on the government of Pakistan to do away with the colonial pattern of governance in Pashtun tribal belt and democratise and develop the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Participants demanded that the Government of Pakistan should abolish or amend the notorious Frontier Crimes regulation (FCR) according to the wishes of FATA people and extend the fundamental human rights to the FATA population. Speakers called on the international community to encourage the Government of Pakistan for adopting a humanistic and civilized approach than mere assigning a peripheral and strategic role to FATA in the affairs of the state.

Speakers voiced that Pashtuns and Afghans demand the international community to divert their investment from war to reconstruction and development of Pashtun people by heavily investment in education, healthcare and small industries so that the people and especially the youth are engaged in meaningful and positive activities and don’t fall prey to the subversive agendas of the extremist network.

For More information, please contact

Nasir Ahmed
Event Orgainser

Zia Ur Rehman
(0044) 07507811324

Pashtuns and their origins Pashtuns/ Pakhtuns/ Pathans/ Afghans

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

Between South Asia, Central Asia and the Iranian plateau of Sijistan lies a triangular shaped territory studded by bare and barren mountains covering an area of approximately 250,000 sq. miles. Starting from Dir in the north, this triangle runs along the Indus, takes a westward turn a few miles south of Dera Ismail Khan, and embracing within its fold Loralai, Sharigh, Degari, Harnai, Quetta, Pishin, Chaman and Qandahar extends up to Herat. From here it curves north-east and following the foothills of Hindu Kush comes back to Dir. The PathansThis region includes the major portion of NWFP, a part of Quetta Division of Baluchistan and three-fourths of Afghanistan. In this triangular-shaped, hilly country divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan lives the world’s largest group of tribesmen numbering over 30 million variously called Afghans, Pathans, Pashtuns or Pakhtuns.

Any attempt to delve deep into the history of these interesting peopIe and find out their origin would prove baffling. But strangely indeed their history has attracted the attention of an unusually large number of scholars. In the modern period more and more western historians and researchers are taking keen interest in the past of this region and its people. But the larger literature on the subject, the greater the difference of opinion and deeper the confusion.

The difficulty arises because of the fact that the area is inhabited by a large number of tribes each of which makes different claims about its origin. The confusion becomes worse confounded when it is found that these claims do not conform to historical evidence and do not agree with the conclusions arrived at by the researchers. In view of this peculiar situation, it is proposed to give only the consensus of opinion and to simpilify matters as far as possible. Many Pathans may not agree with what has been stated here; but unfortunately the nature of the subject is such that an agreement even on broad outlines seems difficult.

Let us first discuss the origin of the names Pathan and Afghan. The term Pakhtun or Pashtun, according to Raverty, is derived from the Persian word ‘Pusht’ meaning ‘back’. Since the tribes lived on the back of the mountains, Persians called them Pashtun which is also pronounced Pakhtun. Some scholars think that the word Pashtun or Pakhtun comes from the old Iranian words parsava parsa meaning robust men, knights. In Indian Ianguages it was spelt as Pakhtana or Pathan. Herodotus and several other Greek and Roman historians have mentioned a people called ‘Paktye’ living on the eastern frontier of Iran. By the word Paktye they meant the people of the frontier. (According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam the word Pathan is from the Sanskrit word Pratisthana). Muslim historians from Al-Biruni onward called them Afghans, never using the word Pathan which expression was extensively employed by the Hindus. “No Afghan or speaker of Pashtu ever referred to himself as a Pathan and the word is an Indian usage.” (The Pathans, by Sir Olaf Caroe)

“It is significant that neither Ibn Batuta nor Baber mention the word ‘Pathan’. Baber gives the names of many east Afghanistan tribes, but nowhere does he mention Pathans, Pakhtuns or Pashtuns. He calls the people Afghans and their language, Afghani.” (Afghan Immigration in the early Middle Ages, by K.S Lal)

As for the word Afghan, it appears in the inscriptions of Shahpur I at Naksh-e-Rustam which mentions a certain Goundifer Abgan Rismaund. According to Sprengler, a similar name ‘Apakan’ occurs as the designation of the later Sassanian Emperor Shahpur III. “The word Afghan, though of unknown origin, first appears in history in the Hudud-al-Alam, a work by an unknown Arab geographer who wrote in 982 A.D.” (Afghanistan, by W.K Frazier Tytler). But according to the Encyclopaedia of Islam: “the first mention of the Afghans in written history is in the Chronicle of al-Utbi in Tarikh-e-Yamini and an almost contemporary mention by Al-Biruni. Utbi records that Sabuktagin enrolled Afghans in his army.” Another version states that the earliest recorded use of the name Afghan is by the Indian astronomer, Varaha-Mihira of the 6th century A.D. in the form Avagana. (Encyclopaedia of Britannica).

“‘The supposition that the Pathans are any different from the Afghans is not borne out either by the legendary accounts associated with the origin of this people or by historical or ethnological data.” (Afghan Immigration in the Early Middle Ages, by K.S Lal). Both Bellew and Longworth Dames consider the two terms as appellation of a common people. There is no racial difference between the two. The two words are synonymous referring to one and the same people though a few writers try to make a distinction between Afghans and Pathans which is ephemeral.

For instance, some authors maintain that only those tribes living in southern Afghanistan, particularly between Herat and Qandhar and who speak Persian should be called Afghans while others living in the rest of Afghanistan, NWFP and Baluchistan speaking Pashtu language should be called Pathans. What they mean is that those who speak Pashtu are Pathans and those of them who speak Persian are Afghans. Sir Olaf Caroe makes a distinction between the Afghans and the Pathans on the basis of the hillsmen and plainsmen. He thinks that those living in the fertile plains of Qandhar, Herat, Kabul and Peshawar should be called Afghans and those living in the hills, Pathans. Lt. Gen. George McMunn divides Afghans into three groups: Abdalis, Ghilzais and Pathans (Afghanistan from Darius to Amanullah, by Lt. Gen. Dir George McMunn). But, as already stated, such distinctions are confusing and will lead nowhere. All should be called either Afghans, Pashtuns, Pakhtuns or Pathans.

There has, however, been no dispute over the name of the language they speak. It is called by one name only i.e., Pashtu. But its origin, again is disputed. Most of the authors are agreed that “it is both in origin and structure an Eastern Iranian language which has borrowed freely from the Indo-Aryan group.” (The Pathans, by Sir Olaf Caroe). But one of the greatest authorities on the Pathans, Morgenstierne, on the other hand, feels that it is probably a Saka dialect from the north. The general opinion, however, is that Pashtu is a branch of the original Iranian language called Pahlawi.


The triangle between the Indus, Hindu Kush and the Sijistan plateau of Iran is populated by an assorted group of tribesmen some of them living in plains and valleys and others in mountains interspersed over the entire length and breadth of this triangle. As already stated this is the largest conglomeration of tribal people in the world.

We shall begin with the accounts of their origin as given by later Muslim historians. According to Niamatulla’s Makhzan-i-Afghani and Hamdulla Mustaufi’s Tarikh-i-Guzida: one of Prophet Ibrahim’s descendents, Talut (or Saul) had two sons, one of whom was named Irmiya or Jeremia. Irmiya had a son named Afghan, who is supposed to have given the name to the Afghan people. Tareekh-e-Sher Shahi states that Bakht Nasr who invaded Jerusalem and destroyed it, expelled Jewish tribes, including sons of Afghan, from their homeland. During the days of the Babylonian captivity when the Jews were scattered, one of the tribes settled in the Hari Rud area of modern (south) Afghanistan. Pathan legend states that they accepted Islam during the time of the Prophet when a group of their kinsmen (Jews) living in Arabia sent word to them that the true Prophet of God as prophesied in their scriptures had appeared in Mecca. The Afghans, the story goes, sent a delegation to Arabia headed by one Imraul Qais who met the Prophet, embraced Islam, came back and converted the entire tribe to the new religion. The Prophet was so pleased with Qais that he gave him the name of Abdur Rashid, called him Malik (king) and Pehtan (keel or rudder of a ship) for showing his people the path of Islam.

The story proceeds: Qais Alias Abdur Rashid Alias Pehtan had three sons named Sarban, Batan and Ghurghust. Most of the present-day Pathan tribes claim descent from these three persons. Batan had a daughter named Bibi Matto. She fell in love with Hussain Shah, a prince of Turkish origin, and their intimacy reached a stage where her pregnancy could not be concealed. Marriage was the only course open, but the offspring, a boy, was given the name of Ghilzai, meaning in the Afghan language a son ‘born of theft’. Bibi Matto’s next son was Ibrahim who, because of his intelligence and wisdom, was addressed by Qais as Loi-dey (Lodi) i. e., Ibrahim is great. Two of Loi-dey’s grandsons were Pranki and Ismail. BahIul Lodhi, the founder of the Afghan empire of Delhi, was eight generations from Pranki and was a member of the Sahukhel tribe of Lodhis. The Suris and Nuhanis are descended from Ismail’s two sons Sur and Nuh. Thus the Ghilzais (Khiljis), Lodhis, Suris, Nuhanis, and their branches, the Sarwanis and Niazis are common descendants of Bibi Matto from her Turkish husband Hussain Shah.

The major tribes of Afghans named above, it must have been noted, should be of Turkish origin as they are descended from the Turkish prince Hussain Shah who married the Afghan girl Matto, daughter of Batan and grand-daughter of Qais Abdur Rashid. Thus, according to their own accounts there would be two groups of Afghans, one of Jewish (Semitic) origin and the other of Turkish origin.

There is a third group of Afghans called Hazaras living in the Hazarajat areas of Afghanistan. They are said to be descended from the remnants of the Mongol armies which had come along with Changez Khan or during later Mongol inroads. The origin of the Hazara Afghans, as such, is Mongol.

Regarding the large number of tribes living on both sides of Pak-Afghan border such as Shinwaris, Mohmands, Mahsuds, Khattaks, Afridis, Orakzais, Achakzais, Bannuchis, Waziris, Bangash, Yusufzais, etc., some trace their origin to Aryans, others to Greeks who had come with Alexander, some to the Jews and still others to the Caucasians. “The Kalnari tribes of today: the Waziris, Bannuchis, Khattaks, Bangash, Orakzais, Afridis and the rest are sprung from an indigenous stock not Pushtu-speaking and became fused with or overlaid by Pushtu and Pushtu-speaking peoples learning in the process the language of the dominant race. The Kalnaris are not Afghans in the true line and may be much older established.” (The Pathans, by Sir Olaf Caroe)

“The original Afghans are a race of probably Jewish or Arab extraction; and they together with a tribe of Indian origin with which they have long been blended still distinguish themselves as the true Afghans, or since the rise of Ahmad Shah Durrani as Durranis, and class all non-Durrani Pushto speakers as Opra. But they have lately given their name to Afghanistan, the country formerly known as Khorasan.

“All inhabitants of Afghanistan are now in comon parlance known as Afghans, the races thus included being the Afghan proper, the Pathan proper, the Gilzai, the Tajik and the Hazara, besides tribes of less importance living in the confines of the country”. (The Punjab Castes, by Denzil Ibbetson)

Of late, scholars in Afghanistan are seriously absorbed in research to prove that Afghans are neither of Jewish, nor Turkish nor Mongol nor Greek origin but of pure Aryan stock. They are taking pains to demonstrate original home of Aryans was Afghanistan by pointing out the similarity in the names of several places in their country with those mentioned in the Rig Veda.

Thus, the different tribes of Afghans/Pathans have different claims, racially as divergent as the Semitics and the Aryans, Greeks and the Turks, Mongols and the Caucasians. However, leaving aside the claims, there is another aspect of this issue which has great substance, weight and research behind it. This aspect is the conclusions arrived at recently by the Western scholars after a careful study of the historical and cultural developments of the region and its people. Based on the intormation obtained from latest excavations and the data collected in a specific manner, modern scholars have expressed certain views on the origin of the Afghans/Pathans which cannot be brushed aside lightly or treated flippantly. They aver that the origin of the Afghan/Pathan is something different. Let us briefly study their views.


They are of the view that there might have been some settlements of the Jews in the area in 800 B.C. or so; similarly, some remnants of the Aryans might have been left in the inaccessible mountains in days of yore; and that there did exist some Greek and Iranian colonies here and there. But from 1st century B.C. to 5th century A.D., during a span of 600 years, this area witnessed three immigrations from Central Asia of such gigantic magnitude — those of the Sakas, Kushans, Huns and Gujjars — that everything was swept before them, overwhelmed by them and submerged in them. In short, hardly any previous group whether Aryan, Jewish, Greek or Iranian could retain its identity.

Western scholars, therefore, maintain that an overwhelming majority of the Afghan/Pathan tribes are positively descended from the Sakas, Kushans, Huns and Gujjars. Some of the scholars point out the possibility of the word Abdali being another form of Epthalite by which name the White Huns (the ancestors of Rajputs) were known. Grierson finds a form of Paithan in use in the East Gangetic Valley to denote a Muslim Rajput. Bellew, one of the greatest authorities on Pathans, notes that several characteristics are common to both the Rajputs and Afghans and suggests that Sarban, one of the ancestors of the Afghans, was a corruption of the word Suryabans (solar race) from which many Rajputs claim descent (Bellew: Races of Afghanistan). The great Muslim historian Masudi writes that Qandahar was a separate kingdom with a non-Muslim ruler and states that ‘it is a country of Rajputs’. It would be pertinent to mention here that at the time of Masudi most of the Afghans were concentrated in Qandahar and adjacent areas and had not expanded to the north. Therefore, it is highly significant that Masudi should call Qandahar a Rajput country.

Since the modern state of Afghanistan and the N.W.F.P. province of Pakistan were the main regions through which Central Asian tribes passed and in which they settled down, it is impossible that these areas should have remained uncolonised and the blood of their inhabitants unsullied. Therefore, it can be safely concluded that the present day Afghans/Pathans are mostly, notwithstanding their claims, the descendants of Central Asian tribes of Sakas, Kushans, Huns and Gujjars. It need hardly be pointed out that from them are also descended the major tribes of the Kashmir, Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan.

Just as the present-day Greeks are Slavs and not of the same race as Alexander and Aristotle, so also is the case with the present day Afghans and Pathans. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the theory of the Jewish descent of Afghans is of later origin and may be traced back to Maghzan-e-Afghani compiled for Khan-e-Jehan Lodhi in the reign of Mughal Emperor Jehangir and does not seem to have been recorded before the end of the 16th century A.D. Prior to this period no other book mentions that Afghans are descended from Jewish tribes. The Jewish books also dont mention anywhere that Saul’s son Jeremia had a son named Afghan from whom Afghans claim descent.

Similarly, the story of Qais Abdur Rashid having gone from Afghanistan to Arabia to meet the Prophet and after returning to his country having converted the Afghans to Islam also does not stand the scrutiny of history. Muslim historians Ibn Haukal, Utbi and Alberuni are unanimous in the view that uptill the time of Mahmud Ghaznavi i.e. almost four hundred years after the death of the Prophet, most of the Afghans were still non-Muslims. Mahmud Ghaznavi ‘had to fight against the infidel Afghans in the Sulaiman mountains.’ Even 200 years later in the encounter between Mohammad Ghori and Prithviraj in 1192 A.D., according to Farishta, Hindu/Buddhist/Animist/Pagan/Shamanist/Zoroastrian Afghans were fighting on the side of the Rajput Chief. The fact that the Afghans should have joined the Rajput confederacy of Prithviraj may also indicate some sort of kinship between them.

On this subject the views of the Russian scholar Yu V. Gankovsky are also interesting. He says: “My opinion is that the formation of the union of largely East-Iranian tribes which became the initial ethnic stratum of the Pashtun ethnogenesis dates from the middle of the first millennium AD and is connected with the dissolution of the Epthalite (White Huns) confederacy. In the areas north of the Hindu Kush some of the tribes of this confederacy participated in the formation of the nationalities who inhabit Middle Asia today, and, among other tribes, in the formation of the Turkmen and Uzbek nationalities. This is attested, among other things, in the records of genonimy which indicate that among the Turkmen and Uzbeks (as well as among the Lokai) there occurs the ethnonym Abdal descending from the name of an Epthalite tribal union (Abdals, Abdel). South of the Hindu Kush, another part of the Epthalite tribes lost their privileged status as the military stronghold of the ruling dynasty and was ousted into the thinly peopled areas of the Sulaiman mountains, areas where there were not enough water supplies and grazing grounds. There they became a tribal union which formed the basis of the Pashtun ethnogenesis.

“Of the contribution of the Epthalites (White Huns) to the ethnogenesis of the Pashtuns we find evidence in the ethnonym of the largest of the Pashtun tribe unions, the Abdali (Durrani after 1747) associated with the ethnic name of the Epthalites — Abdal. The Siah-posh, the Kafirs of the Hindu Kush, called all Pashtuns by a general name of Abdal still at sing of the 19th century.

“It is not impossible that certain Kushan-Tokharian elements also took the formation of the Pashtun ethnic community. In this connection it is worthwhile to note the fact cited by G. Morgenstierne: among the Ormuri the Pashtuns are known under the ethnic names ‘kas’ i.e., Kushan. A number of Pakhtun tribes belong to the Ormuri group. They are Afridis, Orakzais, Khattaks, Khugiani, etc.”

This treatise of Prof. Gankovsky forcefully puts forward the view that Afghans-Pakhtuns are the descendants of Epthalite (White Huns) and Kushans.

Historical background [1901-1997] MANSOOR AKBAR KUNDI

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

The province was formed on November 9, 1901 as a Chief Commissioner province. The Chief Commissioner was the chief executive of the province. He ran the administration with the help of his principal advisers and civil servants better known as judicial and revenue commissioners.

The formal inauguration of the province took place five and half months later on April 26, 1902 on the occasion of the historical “Darbar” in Shahi Bagh in Peshawar held by Lord Curzon.

The province of NWFP then comprised only five districts. They were Peshawar, Hazara, Kohat, Bannu, and Dera Ismail Khan.

The Malakand, which consisted of three princely states of Dir, Swat, Chitral was included in it. NWFP also included the four tribal administered agencies, Khyber, Khurram, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan (now seven).

The first chief commissioner of NWFP was Harold Deane. He was a wise and strong administrator. He was followed by Ross-Keppel in 1908, whose contribution as a political officer was widely known amongst the tribal/frontier people.

The NWFP was raised to a Governor full-fledged province in 1935. The decision was actually made in the Round Table Conference held in 1931. It was agreed upon in the conference that the NWFP would be raised to a governor province with its own Legislative Council. Therefore, on January 25, 1932, the Viceroy inaugurated NWFP Legislative Council.

The NWFP was raised as a Chief Commissioner province as a result of the Forward Policy under the British the final formulation of which came under Lord Curzon, the British Governor General. The Forward Policy was designed to raise and strengthen the British rule in the sub-continent. The achievement of the Forward Policy was deemed on the twofold principles of the divide and rule and carrot and stick policy.

Under the policy the British raised tribal agencies adjacent to the Afghan borders as buffer zones under tribal administration run by a political agent. The agencies and many other areas included in the NWFP were those ceded to the British administration from Afghanistan in 1892 at the time Durand Line was drawn for an agreement between King Abdul Rehman Khan and the British government.

A resistance was found over the cession/division by the Pashtoon speaking tribes within and outside the borders but the British administration was successful in settling the issue.

The British could name the province on the ethnic base but they did not due to two reasons. First, they believed in the status quo of a strong frontier policy for which the name served their purpose. Second, the naming of the province on ethnic basis could support national movements within the British India fanned by Afghanistan and rival superpowers such as of Faqir Ippi movement or Red Shirts – all asking for independent and greater Pashtoon land.

The naming of the Pashtoonistan (Pathanistan) was actually coined during the days of Faqir Ippi’s (Mirza Ali Khan) struggle against the British and officially recorded in the CID diaries. The word was politicised and used as a slogan of the movement. .

After the partition of India in 1947 and creation of Pakistan as a nation-state the Pashtoonistan problem was soon raised. It was an issue on the agenda of the Khan Sahib Ministry. The Red Shirts/Khudai Khitmargar (Congress Party in NWFP) wanted him to name it soon after he stepped into power as the Chief Minister but he waited for the days to come.

Two factors were accountable for not any action in favour of the renaming. First, the Congress defeat in 1947 Referendum over the issue that whether NWFP should join India or Pakistan. The Congress boycotted the elections on the ground that the people be given a third choice whether to stay independent. Second, the dismissal of the Khan Sahib Ministry by Governor George Cunningum at the advise by the governor general and soon after its replacement by the Muslim League Ministry under Khan Qayum Khan, a non-Pashto speaking strong man of NWFP who was also a staunch opponent of the Red Shirts.

The political instability and the straining of the Pak-Afghan relationship over the issue of the Pashtoonistan, subsided the renaming although the Congress Party/National Awami Party kept it alive on their agenda for which many leaders including Khan Ghaffar Khan were prosecuted.

The Nationalists in the East Pakistan gave a voice to the demand of the renaming of the province. In 1971 after the revival of the democratic order in Pakistan provided a chance that a legislation could be made in favour of the renaming of the province but the NAP-Bhutto rivalry, the dissolution of the Balochistan Assembly, political deadlock in the NWFP over the dissolution of Balochistan Assembly culminating into the resignation of NWFP government under Maulana Mufti Mehmood turned the things in opposite direction.

The NAP leaders were later on arrested on the charges of conspiracy and remained in prison until Zia took power through the coup in July 1977.Gen Fazalul Haq, the uniformed Governor and a strong man in decision making of the province, responsible for a huge development work in the province, was against the naming of the province as Pashtoonistan. Gen Fazal ul Haq however spoke on occasions that the naming of the province other than Pashtoonistan could be possible and fetch support of the government.

The political support for the change in name gained momentum in 1997 after NDP and Muslim League-Nawaz formed government in the province with Nawaz League having heavy mandate in National Assembly. The NDP tabled the bill and partially passed it but due to the lack of the political support within the province and in center it was not successful. The counting was not fairly held and the Speaker of the NWFP Assembly announced it in favour with mere raising of hands.

The issue resulted in political differences between the NDP and Nawaz, and then the Chief Minister, Mehtab Abbasi was bitterly resisted in and outside the Assembly. One of the factors for NDP quitting the alliance with Nawaz was the drop scene of NWFP issue.

The Nation – June 1, 2006

Unabated search for a name of N. W. F. P. By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

Controversy over renaming of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP continues as the Awami National Party (ANP has stepped up its campaign to call the province Pakhtunkhwa after its failure in the provincial assembly to pass a resolution in this respect.

During the last two decades the Pakhtoon political leaders and intellectuals have been arguing that their province should not be known by the geographical description given by the British colonist rulers of the sub-continent.

The area lying in the east of the100-mile long boundary, the present Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan, from Chitral in the north to Suleman range in Dera Isamil Khan in the south was separated from the Punjab in 1901 by Lord Curzon the then British Viceroy who created new province and named it North West Frontier Province.

The Pashtun leaders demanded that like all other province their province should be known by a name reflecting the ethnic-linguistic roots of the majority of those who live within its borders. Their earlier stand that the NWFP should be renamed as Pakhtunistan was opposed since Pakhtunistan was demanded as an independent country in 1947 by the Khudar Khidmatgar leaders.

When the Muslim League and the Congress Party agreed to partition of India and establish Pakistan as an independent state.

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, his brother Dr Khan Sahib and other leaders of Khudai Khidmatgar movement demanded that the NWFP should be granted independence as a separate state under the nomenclature of Pakhtunistan. As the province was being ruled at that time by the Congress government of Dr Khan Sahib, it was decided by the British government to hold a referendum to ascertain the will of the people whether they wanted to remain with India or accept the merger of their province with Pakistan.

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan objected to this proposal on the plea that the NWFP assembly was not consulted on this issue like other assemblies. He demanded that under the referendum the people of NWFP should be asked to choose between an independent state of Pakhtunistan or decide about the merger of the province with Pakistan. However, the British did not accept that proposal and held the referendum on the merger of NWFP with India or Pakistan in which a majority voted for Pakistan.

From that date Pakhtunistan turned into an anti-state slogan which means a separate state. For nearly two decades the movement of Pakhtunistan continued with the backing of the rulers of Afghanistan who sympathized with the Pashtu speaking people of the Pakistan side of the Durand Line of 1893 which divided many of the tribes(Mohammed, Shinwari, Afridi, Wazir, Kakar etc.) between the two countries.

After the failure of the Pakhtunistan movement an explanation was given by the Pashtun leaders that their concept of Pakhtunistan has nothing in common with anything claimed by Kabul. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan, never demanded a change of the NWFP’s name. After the referendum, the Khudai Khidmatgar amended their stance and demanded that the Pashtu speaking areas of Punjab and Balochistan be integrated and named as Pakhtunistan.

In October 1901 when the NWFP was established, the Pashtun territory was split again, this time by an administrative line. Part of the Pashtun tribes (Khakkar, Pani, Tarin, Shirani) found themselves incorporated into Balochistan and the highland Pashtuns were separated from the lowland Pashtuns. Furthermore, some areas inhibited by non-Pashtuns were also incorporated into the NWFP.

The issue of renaming the province was neither raised when the Awami National Party shared power with the Jamiat-e-Uleme-Islam in the province in 1972 not when the Khan Abdul Wali Khan signed the1973 Constitution which mentioned the province as NWFP. During the martial law regime of General Ziaul Haq the matter remained dormant as the NAP never appeared serious in pressing its demand to change the name.

The name Pakhtunkhwa for NWFP was heard for the first time in 1980s in the Provincial Assembly when the ANP leaders wanted to move a resolution for changing the name. Even at that time the ANP did not press for the adoption of the resolution as the Speaker Masoud Kosar ruled that the MPA’s were free to call their province whatever name they like.

The issue was raised again in the present Provincial Assembly when the ANP pressed for the resolution to change the name but was rejected becausd the IJI is dominated by the Hindko speaking members from Hazara Division while the Pashtu speaking MPAs of Jamat-e-Islami are not in favour of the name Pakhtunkhwa although they implicitly recoganize that the present name is insufficient. The Jamat MPAs have suggested the name of Nooristan or Islamkhwa.

The matter echoed in the National Assembly in November 1990 when Afzal Khan of PDA referred to the province as Pakhtunkhwa.

The ANP leaders considered Pakhtunkhwa as the historic name of the province. The usage of Pakhtunkhwa in Pushtu poetry dates back to the middle ages. The word is a combination of two words – that is Pakhtun and Khwa. Pakhtun or Pashtun is a noun while Khwa means side.

Dr. A. H. Dani, a well known historian and archaeologist, presently the Director of the Islamabad-based Center for the Study of the Civilizations of Central Asia, told Dawn that Pakhtunistan is a political name but Pakhtunkhwa is not. “Culturally there is no doubt that the land was called Pakhtunkhwa in Pushtu literature since 15th century (we have a trace of literature since that time only). The term has been applied for both tribal and settled areas, he added.

The word Pakhtunkhwa was also used in the modern poetry by contemporary poets like Qanaldar Momand (1930-2003) long before it was suggested as the nomenclature for the NWFP.

The name NWFP is certainly a misnomer today since it does not satisfy the aspirations of the people of the province. Three of the four provinces the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, got their own identity either through their environment or inhabitants. But the NWFP has been named neither after the historical and cultural background of the inhabitants nor derived its name from environment.

Since the name does not reflect the true ethnic identity of its inhabitants, therefore a demand for its change is a logical consequence but unfortunately the matter has turned into a controversial issue and the advocates of various names have taken extreme position in the on going controversy. A number of alternative names have been suggested e.g. Gandhara, Abasin, Khyber, Sarhad and Peshawar.

If the province is to be renamed Pakhtunkhws on the ethnic basis, Dera Ismael Khan Division and the towns of Kohat and Peshawar are likely to oppose the proposal since Pushtu is not the dominant language in the areas.

One of the suggested names is Gandhara which is a historical name of the Peshawar valley meaning the Land of Fragrance in Sanskrit. Dr. Dani says Gandhara is an old name of the region from the time of Regveda to Albairuni. He first suggested to revive the historic name of Gandhara on purely academic basis but no one believed that this old name does not satisfy the aspirations of the people of the NWFP. It is also argued that the name Gandhara reflectd the Buddhist civilization and de-emphasizes the Islamic character and the identity of the province.

Abasin is yet another suggested alternative name. This is Pashtu name of the Sindh river – literally meaning the father river. It is now popular among the masses but history and literature are familiar with the vital river. Abasin provided

physical unity and sustenance to the entire country. Since Punjab and Sindh owe their names to these serene waters, Abasin would contribute to national cohesion and harmony. But others argue that as this vital river gives life to all the regions of the country then why not name all the provinces after Sindh. Upper Sindh, Lower Sindh, Eastern Sindh and Western Sindh.

Another name is Peshawar. Maulana Abdul Sattar Niazi, the Federal Minister of Local Bodies is one of its proponents. (The Niazis are originally Pakhtuns of Ghalzae tribe but now assimilated in Punjab).

In pre-independene Sub-continent, the provinces of Bombay, Madras and states like Hyderabad, Bhopal, Junagarh, Bhawalpur and Kalat were named after their capitals. Dr. Dani is now convinced with the argument. He pointed out that now the name of Madras has been changed to the ethnic name of Tamilnado while Bombay is now Maharashtra. He explained that during the British rule the name of provinces like Bombay and Madras were sometimes given on the basis of small administrative districts which later expanded into provinces with the annexation of surrounding territories.

Khyber is another forcefully suggested name since the strategic pass is well known for the military importance in the course of history. The historic pass, which has seen numerous invaders Aryans, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Mongolians and Afghans, still commands greater political and psychological significance. The name also has a reference in Islamic history. Sarhad is another name suggested on the plea that the word has been identified with the name of the province. The NWFP is popularly called “Suba Sarhad” and when “Sarhad” is used in this sense it does not convey the meaning of Frontier but sounds proper noun.

There is nothing wrong in changing a name. In Pakistan we have a precedent in a change in the names of towns. For example Lyallpue is now Faisalabad, Montgomery is Sahiwaì and Campbellpur is Attock. In neighbouring India the name of a number of states (provinces) have been changed e.g. United Provinces to Uttar Pradesh and Central Provinces to Madhya Pradesh.

Renaming NWFP on ethnic basis has become controversial in the present political circumstances of Pakistan where even the Indian Muslim Mohajirs in Karachi and other areas of Sindh have begun to think in terms of ethnic identity. Dr. Dani wondered how the Indian migrants from different areas such as Bihar, U.P. and Madras became one ethnic group.

And how if the NWFP is renamed as Pakhtunkhwa, it will not only fulfill the aspirations of the majority of the Pashtu speaking people but will also eliminate the lingering issue of Pakhtunistan once and for all. The Pashtuns constitute about 70 percent population of the NWFP and tribal territories, known as FATÁ (Federally Administrated Tribal Areas). It is interesting to note that tribal leaders have not expressed their opinion on this subject presumably because their methodology is not to participate in politics of political controversies.

In the past there was a movement to rename the FATA as “Qabailistan” led by a tribal Malik from Jamrud. Although the tribal leaders who usually toe the government line may not mind if the name is changed to Pakhtunkhwa, they are unlikely to join the ANP demand which was reiterated last Sunday by the newly elected party chief, Ajmal Khattak, in his first press conference since taking leadership.

But the name Pakhtunkhwa is bitterly opposed by the non-Pashtu speaking population of the province Hindko speaking Hazarawals, Peshawarites, Kohatis, Kwai speaking Chitralis and Seraiki speaking people of Dera Ismael Khan, who claim to be in majority in the NWFP (excluding tribal areas).

As the controversy continues, a neutral observer remarked:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose.
By any other name would smell as sweet.

This article was published in 1991 in the daily Dawn.

Languages of the N. W. F. P. Rahimullah Yusufzai

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

In the ongoing debate about NWFP’s demography following the passage of a resolution in the provincial assembly for renaming the NWFP as Pakhtoonkhwa, strange and wild claims have been made to prove that the Pakhtoons and Pashto-speakers are no longer a majority in their own province. One could have ignored some of these claims if they were made by politicians and laymen only. But it would be wrong not to challenge them because those making such claims describe themselves as scholars, writers and researchers.

It would be pertinent to first examine the fantastic claims made by the Hindko Majlis-i-Amal, the NWFP, at a recent press conference in Peshawar. It refers to itself as an organisation of scholars and writers and aims at promoting the Hindko language. One of its claims is that the NWFP is a province where eight languages are spoken–Gujri, Kohistani, Chitrali, Sheena, Balti, Hindko, Seraiki and Pashto. Now one is at a loss to understand as to where in the NWFP Sheena and Balti are spoken. To the best of one’s knowledge, Sheena and Balti are spoken in Gilgit and Baltistan in the Northern Areas and not in the Frontier. The Hindko Majlis-i-Amal would not have been wide off the mark if it had mentioned Punjabi, spoken by 1.10 per cent of the households in the NWFP according to the 1981 census, and Urdu, the mother-tongue of 0.83 per cent of the households, as among the eight major languages of the province instead of the non-existent Sheena and Balti.

Even more wide off the mark is the claim of the Hindko Majlis-i-Amal that 80 per cent of NWFP’s population are Hindkowans whose mother tongue is Hindko. According to the 1981 census, 68.30 per cent of the households in the NWFP, which in this case means the settled areas and excludes the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of the province, speak Pashto. Hindko is spoken by 18.13 per cent of the households, followed by Seraiki with 3.95 per cent. Chitrali and Kohistani, spoken in Chitral and Kohistan districts, are included in the column “Others” which constitute 7.6 per cent of all languages. Punjabi is spoken by a little over one per cent of the households in NWFP, Urdu by less than one per cent, Sindhi by 0.05 per cent, Balochi by 0.04 per cent, and Brahvi by 0.01 per cent.

The 1981 census makes it absolutely clear that Pashto speakers in the NWFP outnumber all other languages put together. Perhaps the Hindko Majlis-i-Amal officials committed a slip of the tongue when they claimed that 80 instead of 18 per cent of the population in the province spoke Hindko. One could argue that these figures are 16 years old and there is a need for a new census to find out the latest with regard to the languages spoken in the NWFP. One could hope that the new census is carried out early next year as promised by the government because it has become a must not only to collect uptodate data regarding the size, growth and distribution of the population but also to put to test the claims and counter-claims of different ethnic, religious and regional groups. In fact, it is likely that the number of Pashto speakers in the settled areas of the NWFP would register an increase in the new census because a significant number of Pashtoons from FATA have been taking up residence in urban areas and in districts like Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshera, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank.

They are coming down from their mountainous tribal areas where economic opportunities are scarce and educational and health facilities are under-developed to avail the better life offered by the cities and the settled districts. It is largely due to tribal migration that Peshawar has now become a truly Pakhtoon city, that the Mohmand Pakhtoons compete with the Yousafzais for jobs, business and political influence in Mardan district, and that Dera Ismail Khan’s demography has undergone a gradual change with the arrival of Wazir, Mahsud and other tribals from South and North Waziristan.

It would also be worthwhile to look at the languages spoken in FATA because it is part of the NWFP in many respects even if it is administered by the federal government. After all, these are tribal areas of the NWFP and the people living in the settled and tribal territory are linked by religion, culture, language and centuries of common history and aspirations. Moreover, the name Pakhtoonkhwa would also apply to FATA if the NWFP is renamed as a result of a constitutional amendment by the National Assembly.

According to the 1981 census, the households which speak Pashto are 99.70 per cent of the total population of FATA. In comparison, the households which speak Punjabi are 0.10 per cent, Sindhi 0.05 per cent, Hindko and Urdu each 0.02 per cent and Balochi 0.01 per cent. Nobody speaks Seraiki or Brahvi in FATA while other languages, which probably also includes Persian, account for 0.09 per cent.

To take the argument further, let us discuss the major languages spoken in the NWFP on the basis of the 1981 census by looking at the figures of the four divisions (Dera Ismail Khan, Hazara, Malakand and Peshawar) into which the province was administratively divided at that time. In the whole of the NWFP, 1,610,022 households, as many as 1,099,620 households spoke Pashto, 291,832 spoke Hindko and 63,635 spoke Seraiki. Hazara was the only division where Hindko speakers (250,283 households) outnumbered Pashto speakers (72,777 households). In Dera Ismail Khan division, which in 1981 comprised Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, and Kohat districts, Pashto was spoken by 122,416 households, Seraiki by 63,330, and Hindko by 3,442. In Malakand division, Pashto was spoken by 304,518 households, Hindko by 1,450, and other languages, which includes Chitrali and Gujri, by 50,078. And in Peshawar division, Pashto was spoken by 599,909, Hindko by 36,657, Punjabi by 12,115, and Urdu by 9,567. This should open the eyes of those people, especially the writers and analysts from outside the NWFP, who think Hazara and Dera Ismail Khan are non-Pakhtoon areas. This reminds one of those who still believe that all of northern Afghanistan, or areas north of the Hindu Kush, are inhabited only by non-Pakhtoon people like Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmens and Hazaras. Little do they realise that Pakhtoons form almost 35 per cent of the population in northern Afghanistan.

One point which is often missed while discussing the ratio of Pakhtoon and non-Pakhtoon population in NWFP is that more Pakhtoons compared to other ethnic groups tend to forget their language over a period of time. Thus Pakhtoon tribes like Jadoons, Tareens, Pannis, Swatis, Yousafzais, etc. inhabiting Hazara division have forgotten their Pashto and now speak Hindko. The Miankhels, Gandapurs, Nasirs, Kundis, etc., living in Dera Ismail Khan are Pakhtoon tribes but most are either bilingual or speak Seraiki rather than Pashto. A number of Hindko speakers in Peshawar and certain other urban centres of the NWFP are originally Pakhtoon but over a period of time due to migration and integration with other people they have forgotten their mother tongue. One can also quote the example of Pakhtoons in places like Kasur, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Shikarpur, Kalat, etc., in different parts of Pakistan who no longer speak Pashto and are now fluent in Punjabi, Seraiki, Sindhi and Brahvi. Same is the case with Pakhtoons in Afghanistan who inhabit cities like Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif and now speak Persian. It is also true that some non-Pakhtoons have also started speaking Pashto both out of economic need and cultural assimilation but their numbers are small and many of them still list Gujri, Kohistani, Chitrali, Seraiki and Hindko as their mother tongues.

This is not meant to belittle other languages or impose Pashto or Pakhtoonkhwa on unwilling non-Pakhtoons, but simple to set the record straight so that those making unsubstantiated claims are reminded of the hard facts.

The News – November 25, 1997

Pakhtunkhwa in light of history Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009


The name North-West Frontier Province is a colonial legacy to Pakistan. While it had a relevance in British India, today the name has no particular significance. Even in British India North West Province had been changing in its geographical application, depending upon the territorial limit of the raj. The present name North-West Frontier Province was given after 1901 when the British decided upon a new “Forward Policy” during the viceroyalty of Lord Curzon and they wanted to have a direct control over this province and hence they evolved a system of “tribal area” and “settled area”, as distinct from the old Punjab boundary. The British divided the Pashtuns, and Dr Akbar S. Ahmad, in his thesis submitted to the University of London, wrongly justified that division and maintained it in his book “Swat Pathans”. However, such a division is denied by history. As early as the time of the Ghaznavids, if not earlier, the Pashtuns have been living in the hilly area right down to Peshawar. Subuktigin is recorded to have entered in agreement with their leaders and recruited them in his forces.

On the basis of “Tarikh-i-Farishta”, the late S.M. Jafar has traced the early history of the Afghans in the following way: “Economic forces such as increase in population, etc., necessitated the outward expansion of the Afghans to the borderland between India and Afghanistan and colonised in the territory which comprised Kurmaj, Peshawar and Shnuran. This colonisation was viewed with grave concern and resented by Jaipal, the Hindu raja of Waihind… Alptigin led a number of expedition against the Afghans and harassed them so much that they could not but seek the aid of the Indian raja against him. The raja responded to their request with scant courtesy and treated the frontier problem with indifference. After consulting the raja of Bhatiya he disposed it of by handing over to the Afghans territory inhabited by them so that they serve as a buffer state.

“Thus for the first time the Afghans have an independent government in their territory. The indifference and the aloofness of the raja, who did not want to meddle in frontier affairs, coupled with the political pressure that was brought to bear upon the Afghans by the Ghaznavid ruler, Shaikh Hamid, the Afghan ruler of the Frontier, made peace with Subuktigin and agreed to pursue a policy of neutrality in so far as India was concerned.”

This long history is quoted here to throw light on the original history of the Afghans, who consisted of Pashtuns. This position continued through the Mughal period when Peshawar was treated as a part of the Subah of Kabul. It is only from the time of Ranjit Singh that Peshawar was separated from Afghanistan and Khyber was made the boundary. The Sikhs built their last fort at Jamrud. When the British took over from the Sikhs, in due course they pursued the “Forward Policy” and finally demarcated the Durand Line as the boundary between British India and Afghanistan. Later when they created the new province of NWFP, they added to it the region of Hazara which had beenseparated from Kashmir as Gulab Singh could not pay the whole sale price to the British. Such a position was inherited by Pakistan in 1947, when the late Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan started his Pakhtunistan movement probably on the instigation of Afghanistan and

Indian National Congress, of which he had been a member for long. To cut the story short, the referendum of the people of NWFP finally gave the decision and NWFP became a part of Pakistan with the free consent of the people. Ghaffar Khan’s movement died its natural death although Afghanistan of Zahir Shah kept up the bogey of Pakhtunistan.

To this original province of NWFP President Yahya Khan, in 1969, added Swat, Dir, Chitral and Kohistan when he abolished one unit system, with some definite end in view so that these areas should not be involved in the Kashmir problem.

The new addition has certainly changed the ethnic and linguistic character of the province but the people have so far never resisted any voice of dissent for joining the province and they have all enjoyed the benefit of neighbourly communication and economic profits arising out of it and also political so much so that the present chief minister hails from Hazara. Never has there been any local political movement to go back and join with Afghanistan, either here in the province or in the tribal area. That is simply because the Pashtuns are now spread all over Pakistan and they are managing important economic organisations. They are living in large number in Balochistan and yet they have agreed to call that province Balochistan.

Similarly during one unit time Dr Khan Saheb, the brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, accepted to be the chief minister of West Pakistan Province. Today the cities of Karachi and Islamabad are bubbling with Pashtuns and the truck service between Karachi and Peshawar is manned almost eighty percent by the Pashtuns. There is no denying the fact that they are playing an important role in the economic life of Pakistan. And yet there has been a rightful clamour to give a proper name to the province of NWFP and do away with the colonial legacy of the unsuitable name. If the old history can give any lesson, either we could revive the pre-Muslim names of the province and call it Gandhara name which was given by the Aryans, or change over to the new name after the Afghans (i.e. the Pashtuns) built a kingdom here and abolished the old name of Gandhara. The new name could be no other than Pakhtunkhwa, literally meaning the land of the Pashtuns, just as Punjab means the land of the five rivers and Balochistan means the land of Baloch.

Although in Balochistan other people than Baloch are living, similarly in NWFP many Hazarawals, Kohistanis, Chitralis, Hindko and Seraiki speakers have lived together to form one province and share in the political, social, economic and educational benefits. They never bothered to cut themselves away from the province. It will therefore be in the fitness of things that a new suitable name, keeping in view of the past history, should be adopted for the province and that name should be proposed by the present chief minister himself so that it is accepted by all the people. As they have unitedly played common political and economic role, no political strings should be attached to the name. If the history that I have traced has any relevance, there should be no hesitation to accept the name of Pakhtunkhwa and do away with the British colonial legacy.

Frontier Post – November 9, 1999