Pashtuns have never been Pakistanis: Dr Abdullah Haiwad

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Dr Abdullah Haiwad, President of Afghanistan Governors Assembly.
Dr Abdullah Haiwad, President of Afghanistan Governors Assembly.

Dr Abdullah Haiwad is the President of Afghanistan Governors’ Assembly — an association of 66 former and present Governors of Afghanistan. In a chat with Vivek Sinha, Dr Abdullah explains that Pashtuns are rebelling after enduring several years of Pakistani atrocities. He says that if Pashtuns receive some support they will be more successful in their movement. Excerpts:

Vivek Sinha: How would you describe the Taliban whose writ runs over large parts of Afghanistan? 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: Taliban are a group created by the ISI to control Afghanistan under a strict Sharia law during the mid-1990s to facilitate the pipe line which was supposed to be laid by UNOCAL from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan. After invasion of the US and its allies, Pakistan was worried about Taliban’s faith, therefore, Pakistan once again helped Taliban stand on its feet and the results are that almost 60% of rural Afghanistan is governed by them.

VS: A large number of people across the world believe that Taliban represents a purer form of Islam and whatever they are doing in Afghanistan is as per Islamic sanctions. Your comments. 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: There is no pure form or impure form of Islam. Taliban are a subsidiary of the ISI and Pakistan military terror groups similar to Jaish-e- Mohammed etc.…and for them creating chaos and terror among people is their prime objective.

VS: What is the role of Pakistan military and ISI in destabilising Afghanistan? 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: Ever since its creation, Pakistan’s intervention in Afghanistan is clear and visible. ISI and their military who are the governing body since Pakistan’s creation, have their main objective of keeping a weak Afghanistan on its northern side in order to be able to destabilise India on its southern side.

A better example of this is that before the Russian invasion, groups of criminal Afghans who ran away from prosecution went to Pakistan and Pakistanis were training them to return and fight president Daud Khan’s regime.

VS: The PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement) is gathering momentum in Pakistan. How will this impact the local politics and stability of Afghanistan? 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: Pashtun Tahafuz Movement is a newly formed self-motivated youth movement which is the result of Pakistani atrocities on Pashtuns for many decades. The killing, mutilating and dehumanising of Pashtuns has given birth to this movement. Although Afghan governments hasn’t done much to help or enhance their motivation to foresee a great Afghanistan dream, but people across Durand Line are determined to stand for their rights and the hatred of military run government towards Pashtuns is driving them one step closer to us.

VS: Do you see Pashtuns turning against the Pakistan Army and its government? If yes, then what impact will this have on the Durand Line?

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: We are witnessing Pashtuns standing against Pakistani regime and they are actively seeking assistance but since no assistance is being provided by the Afghan government, their newly formed freedom seeking organisation is moving slowly. If help gets to them, they will fight like Baloch and because of many synergies among Pashtuns on both side, their success against Pakistan will prove to be more successful.

VS: It’s almost two decades since the 9/11. What has changed in Afghanistan since then? 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: It is a difficult question, because there are hundred things both positive and negative that has changed. For example, we were one nation when Afghanistan was invaded but now we have been divided by Tajiks and Pashtuns etc, this drift is the direct result of 9/11 or the American invasion. Some basic or time bound infrastructure have been built. But I hope these are sustained and serviced to be used for long time. Morally we lost more than what we gained financially… war lords etc. gained out of this invasion whereas the majority of Afghans still suffer.

VS: How will the US pull out from Afghanistan (if and when it happens) affect the political structure of Afghanistan?

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: United States of America did not come to Afghanistan to pull out this soon, they have built a base which may remain for 50 or more years. This invasion is a long term and this will not benefit Afghans, the only adverse affect of this invasion is their involvement in our political system (a visible sign is the recent intervention in our elections).

VS: Recently in a prisoner swap agreement two Taliban leaders and one with links to the Haqqani network were released. Your comments. How could have this situation (of prisoner swap) been handled differently?

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: These three Taliban each of them is the equivalent of Hafiz Saeed. Our courts passed death sentence for all the three, somehow, our government was all of a sudden very generous to release these notorious killers. The impact (of their release) will be disastrous. There was no need for the exchange. Our government is a legitimate government or so they say, how come they bend before a terrorist organisation handled by ISI, who are killing Afghans for almost two and a half decade and then handing them back the most dangerous terrorists?

Dr Abdullah Haiwad, President of Afghanistan Governors Assembly.

VS: Different regions of Pakistan are up in arms against the atrocities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. For instance, the Balochs are demanding freedom, Sindhis want to break free, Pashtuns have started their movement and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (along with Gilgit-Baltistan) wants freedom. Why do you think these different freedom struggles are happening across Pakistan? What could be the future of these movements? 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: Pakistan is not a country. It was made on the basis of religion. When people living in one country do not share any values other than their religion, this is bound to happen. By the way, you forgot about the Muhajeer Qaumi Movement (MQM) in this list. But, as for the Balochs, they gained independence even before India and Pakistan. Pakistanis’ are occupying their land (Balochistan) unlawfully and they have every right to fight for their freedom.

Also, if you check the ID of Pashtuns’ it says–Nationality: Afghan, they never have been Pakistanis. Their struggle goes back to Bacha Khan.

The struggle of Sindhis and Baltistanis started way back and now there is armed struggle all over Pakistan. By killing and imprisoning masses they (Pakistanis) can never suppress peoples’ urge for independence. 

VS: What does an Afghan feel about India? What role can Indians in general and New Delhi in particular play to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan?

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: Afghans always take Indians as their friends and have cultural and social ties, sometimes economical as well.

Over the past 20 years or so, India has been involved in infrastructure building, humanitarian assistance and also in training and capacity building of Afghan forces and military aid like hardware etc. Salma Bandh (Afghan-India Friendship Dam–AIFD), a Hydroelectric power station is a good example of Indian assistance.

In my view, it is now important for India to play a more deliberate role in Afghan peace process because Afghan peace is related to India’s peace. We have a common enemy. Afghanistan cannot be left in the mercy of devil.

VS: What can be done to increase the cultural exchange between India and Afghanistan? 

Dr Abdullah Haiwad: There are various aspects where India has an upper hand and they can approach and make things better for Afghans. The cultural exchange is a mutual effort and both countries should try to make this effort.

Also, it’s not only the Afghans on this side of the Durand Line who yearn for a closer relationship (with India), but our Afghan brothers across the Durand Line living in Pashtunistan who are also keen on building a better relationship with India, unfortunately no one seems to approach them.

We have friends who travel across the Durand Line and Afghans living in Peshawar are eager to build cultural relations with India, not for political purposes but because there are deep routes (between the two nations) that needs to be nurtured.

We can bridge gaps between Afghanistan and India and if someone from India approaches us, we will be happy to guide them and assist them make the relationship even better between the two nations.

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