The Political Thought of Mahmud Khan Achakzai

Mahmud Khan Achakzai is a rare and unique politician in AFPAK Politics. His political struggle is the continuity of his father - Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai’s resistance against the British and later their heirs in Pakistan. His father was martyred while fighting for the political rights of Pashtuns both on political and academic fronts. Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai left a rich political legacy for Mahmud Khan and all the wisdom which he had learnt from the life and work of his father compelled him to form a political platform for uniting Pashtuns and urging them to raise a collective voice for their rights.  Following are the salient features of Mahmud Khan’s political philosophy:

1-   Pashtun Historic land

Mahmud Khan maintains that the land between Oxus and Indus is the historical land of Pashtuns which was divided during successive attacks on Afghan territory and therefore currently is under the control of other nations. Pashtuns have been losing their land to other nations due to lack of political consciousness, unity and national stance on collective issues collective and if they still don’t realize this fact they are destined to suffer more in political terms. Mahmud Khan maintains that Pashtuns were divided only in the weak political sense by the British after drawing the imaginary Durand line but that division could not damage the Pashtun nation as their geographic position is like an integral whole. Hence FATA had independent status and it should be given the same independent status such that it should have its own legislature, executive and judiciary run by the local Tribal Pashtuns. This makes Durand line an international issue between Pakistan and Afghanistan and hence it should be treated like Kashmir issue. Due to this complicated nature of Durand line issue, Mahmud Khan defines Pakistan as the country of Pashtuns while Afghanistan as the motherland of Pashtuns. As country is a variable entity while motherland is permanent hence a person has natural inclination and love for motherland despite a person’s citizenship which may belong to one country or another. He therefore regards Afghanistan as the motherland and Pakistan as the country of Pashtuns.  

2-   Democratic share in Power

Mahmud Khan demands a share in the governance and political power for Pakhtuns in Pakistan as it is the second majority ethnic group. He believes that humongous armies, economies, nuclear arsenals or ammunitions cannot bind the people of a country together. The glue which keeps the various federations, ethnic groups, provinces or states of a country consists of two elements – a social contract between the units constituting the country and secondly the element of  democracy. He draws the attentions of the world towards the former USSR and Czechoslovakia and urges the learned and wise ones to extract wisdom from these historic political events. Making it a premise for Pakistan, which is also proud of its nuclear teeth and huge military capabilities in the Muslim world, he advises the ruling junta of Pakistan to devolve the powers in reality to the people of Pakistan in a democratic manner. Being a staunch believer in both the form as well as essence of democracy, his political party – Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party- boycotted the 2008 elections in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan.  

3-    Non Interference

Mahmud Khan believes in a foreign policy of “Do not interfere into the affairs of others”. He is an advocate of non interference and non intervention in the internal affairs of any neighbouring country. He maintains that Pakistani military establishment has been responsible for the destruction and devastation of Afghanistan even after the Cold war. He has made it clear to the world times and again that the intelligence agencies and other allied military institutions can sort out the AfPak issue in months if not in days once they have the will to do so. He urges the military establishment to act like the five senses in a human body and just inform the state about any possible threats to the solidarity or defense of the country instead of pursuing an aggressive foreign policy of provocation and justifying the need for a humungous budget for the security forces of the country. He maintains that irrespective of the economic or political status of the nation state the neighbouring or any other state should not interfere into the internal affairs of that nation state and should respect her sovereignty and freedom. He accuses Pakistan of meddling into the affairs of Afghanistan since the US-Russia war in Afghanistan in 1978 and believes that Pakistan took active role in the instability of Afghanistan since that war due to which Afghanistan became a battlefield between various Afghans factions all of which were fighting to take control of Kabul. The same war also made Afghanistan Chess ground of international players.
4-    Self Control over Resources

Mahmud Khan demands for control of people over their natural resources. He blames Punjab of having hegemony when it comes to the distribution of resources. He has been raising his voice for the right of Pashtuns to have control over their water, electricity, minerals and other natural resources. His party has been actively involved in parliamentary politics and has a marked presene in the South Pakhtunkhwa [currently called Baluchistan] province of Pakistan while is undergoing the phase of evolution in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and rest of Pakistan.  The party has been actively involved in raising a voice for the oppressed ethnicities in general and for Pashtuns in particular. He is known to have never compromised over the rights of Pashtuns with any institution of Pakistan including the strongest military establishment which has been ruling Pakistan defacto since the time Pakistan was founded in 1947.  

5-   Sectarian and Ethnic Tolerance

Mahmud Khan is of the opinion that sectarian tolerance has to be practiced till the whole world embraces one philosophy of existence. Humans have to show respect for the religions and codes of life of other humans and society has to be based on the principle of peaceful co existence. The main emphasis of his concept of peaceful co existence, however, is the fact that he believes in the equality of all religions in terms of respect. By equality in respect he means that irrespective of which sect is the torch bearer of truth, every sect should give the same status to that of others as it demands for its own. The same principle is for ethnic tolerance. He demands respect for Pashto language, culture, music, art, history, social institutions and other ethnic norms vis-a-vis same demands by any other ethnic group or even the state for their ethnic features and identity from national as well as international community. Mahmud Khan believes that the concept of self respect needs to be practiced at collective level too.  While its realisation at the individual level is also necessary and has been a part and parcel of Pakhtun life style but that practice is not sufficient in the contemporary age. The implications of this notion have enormous socio-political and even economic implications. It unconsciously inculcates the seeds of competition in the collective psyche of a nation and brings it, consequently, at par with the developed nations of the world.  

6-   New Social Contract

Mahmud Khan Achakzai and his party are known as a ray of hope for the poor and oppressed people in the multi-tier corrupt societal structure of Pakistan. The current societal nomenclature of Pakistan consists of a colonial legacy layer, a sectarian layer and a security state layer. The implications of these layers necessitate a dictatorial form of governance while the zeitgeist of the age is democracy. Hence there is a constant state of conflict between the ruling junta and the ruled class. The priorities of both are contradictory to each other. The artificial amalgam has already shown its weakness in early 1970 during the era of a military dictator which resulted in the creation of Bangla Desh. Pakistan is now facing the implications of the second layer of its chemistry and is facing the menace of terrorism in which every individual as well as institution is under threat and hence afraid . Practically Pakistan is becoming a living hell for her inhabitants.

In this abyss of darkness, Mahmud Khan has been pressing for a new social contract for the people of Pakistan based on truth and reconciliation in the true sense in which the chemistry of the state should be revisited, the constitutions and its guiding principles should be reviewed,  the aspirations and rights of the people should be ensured, anti-progress restrictions and constraints in the constitution should be abolished and democratic process is given a chance to flourish without deforming its form or distorting its essence.    

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