Friday, January 16, 2009

My Letter to the World: On the Genocide of Pashtuns

 EDIT (Sept. 2011): Yikes! I wrote this like over 2 years ago or so, so ... well, I'm not impressed by it now that I look back. But I won't delete it from the blog in case it teaches someone something.
After a smothering and unbearable sense of frustration, I figured it was about time I made the move, since neither the media nor the rest of the world seems willing to voice the miseries of an oppressed people like the Pukhtuns today.

The people of Swat, Pakistan (in NW Frontier), and surrounding areas have been suffering and dying for over a year now, and much of the world remains ignorant of their genocide. Most Pashtuns, the ethnic group in Swat and much of the rest of NWFP, are painfully but highly convinced that the Pakistan government is behind this, that this is a conspiracy against them. And they have every reason to believe this. Pakistan claims it has sent “security forces” to Pashtun regions in order to settle the matter, but it fails to provide evidence of all the Taliban it claims to have killed. Pashtuns ask, “Does Pakistan not have the power to kill the main Taliban leaders, Maulana Fazlullah and Muslim Khan? Why does it destroy the homes of civilians but not those of the Taliban’s?”

Instead of punishing or killing the Taliban, these “security forces” kill harmless Pashtuns. They claim to be shooting in areas filled with Taliban, but somehow, the Taliban always end up escaping while innocent Pashtuns’ lives are snatched. Taliban destroy our schools while these “security forces” stand and watch quietly. They argue that they cannot differentiate the Taliban from the average Pashtun man, but how does one witness a person committing such horrendous crimes and remain silent, claiming not to know who the criminal is while the criminal is standing right in front of him? Surely, the government knows that education has been forbidden upon the females of Swat; what has it done about it in response? Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to enforce education upon males and females equally in all parts of Pakistan?

Then there's the media: why is it that hardly a handful of people around the world know about what the Pashtuns are going through? If they knew, there would perhaps be more protests against our genocide; or perhaps, at the very least, our situation would be mentioned in most newspapers, whether local or international, and maybe even make front-page news every now and then. For instance, how many people universally are aware of the fact that the Taliban have now issued a new dictum in which they have decided that all young, unmarried females in Swat must be married to them (i.e., these militants)? How many people know that hundreds of schools in Swat alone have been destroyed in just the past year? How many people have read the letters and articles, in BBC, that are written by victims who beg the world to help them (such as in “A Letter from Swat,” by Zobair Torwali, a social activist who lives in Swat)? How many people know that a law was passed a couple of months ago, stating that girls are not to go to school anymore and if they do so, they and their families will have to face severe consequences? How many people realize that thousands – not just hundreds – of Swati families have been displaced, that these Pashtun refugees from NWFP have fled to Afghanistan – that even, by foot? Unfortunately, there are far many more who refuse to leave because for them, their current residence is their home; this is where their ancestors lived, survived hardships just like them, and died; it is where all of their relatives and others with whom they have strong bonds have lived for centuries; but also, most of them cannot afford to leave due to financial difficulties. Not to mention, their current regions symbolize for them hope in a hopeless situation.

Yet, we Pashtuns living abroad wonder in pity, why aren’t our people’s screams being heard by the media and by the world? How much more louder do the victims’ screams of this burning pain must be in order for them to be heard? How long must the suffering continue, and how many more people must die, in order for the international community to label it genocide? At the very least, how long must it continue in order for the world to hear the victims’ heartfelt cries? All these questions lead us to ultimately ask: why is the media so silent on the matter regarding these Pashtun victims?

The media’s role is vital because due to the lack of attention that the Pashtun victims are receiving from the media, whether Pakistani or international, very few people are aware of their suffering. And if the public does not know what is going on around the world, how can they raise a voice against the injustice being done to a people? Indeed, very few news sources have earned the respect of Pashtuns by documenting the miseries that our loved ones back home have been swallowing for the past year. And because we young Pashtuns living abroad have realized that the media is not doing its job properly by revealing the miserable and painful condition of our people, we have decided to accept the heavy burden upon our own shoulders and raise awareness of the situation ourselves. Groups on Online Social Networks (such as Facebook, Orkut, and MySpace) have been created in support of Pashtun victims; in some of these groups, members share and discuss methods through which they can raise awareness of this genocide, and one of the most important ways they have come up with is writing letters to important news sources and explaining this injustice.

I hope that this letter expresses its unheard voice powerfully enough so that the readers are convinced to research the current Pashtun genocide, educate others about it, and help us stand up against our oppressors and with the oppressed.

Thank you for giving me the permission to freely write to you, Citizens of the World!

A Heartbroken Human

P.S. Below is a list of sources from which some of the information mentioned above has been derived.

“A Letter from Swat”
“Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl”
Education Banned on Girls, Jan. 15th 2009
Hard times for Pakistani refugees from Peshawar
Pakistani families from Bajaur Agency flee to Afghanistan
“The Pashtuns, the Taliban, and the Ignorant Outsiders”
"Swat Diary: Living on the Frontline"
“Taliban force parents to marry daughters to militants”
“Taliban rule the roost in Swat through the [illegal] FM radio”


  1. It certainly is unfortunate that the plight of many numerous and honourable Pashtun people is unheard of, or obscured, in media circles. What's more, too many people often confuse all Taliban as being Pashtun, and vice-versa; as a result, linking all Pashtun people to Al Qaida.

    I think the first place to start is to explain the differences in these labels.

    Pashtun - is a specific ethnicity of the indigenous people who inhabit the frontier areas of Pakistan/Afghanistan and they consist of numerous tribes/clans which may or may not associate themselves with extremist groups.

    Taliban - is a political group (originally) endorsed, trained, and financed by the Pakistani government and CIA to fight back the Russian expansion of the late 70's. During the 70's, the term 'Mujahideen' was used to refer to members of the indigenous tribesmen who fought the Russians - many of the (Pakistani) Mujahideen later became the founders of the Taliban movement. Members of the Taliban do include a majority of Pashtun people; but the group also contains many others who aren't. The primary aim of the Taliban is to establish their version of Islamic government in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    Al-Qaida - is a sociopolitical group that employs a very literal and rigid interpretation of Sharia laws as the primary body of laws with which to govern Muslim lands. This group also formed in the aftermath of the Russian expansion of the late 70's, and shares many Islamic ideologies with the Taliban - though Al-Qaida mostly consists of Arab extremists; and the Taliban were formed mostly with Pakistani/Afghanistani tribesmen engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Russians. Because the Taliban and Al-Qaida share many viewpoints on what they consider to be Islamic fundamentalism; they formed an alliance in an attempt to help disenfranchised Muslim communities by instigating a series of offensive attacks on political agencies they blame for disenfranchising them. Of course, the majority of Muslims don't share the ideologies of Al-Qaida/Taliban, but when confronted with frustrating (and deteriorating) social conditions; many feel forced to side with the lesser of two evils - in this case, loyalty to the people and faith of the land.

    Only after differentiating who the real enemy is, and what the real issues are, can we begin to unravel how to help the unfortunate innocents that have been caught between: the confusing mix of political oppressors, indoctrinating extremists, foreign opportunists, and soldiers from other countries who can't easily identify "the enemy".

    One thing should be clear - Pashtun people deserve the same respect, dignity, justice and rights to liberty as any of us would want for ourselves.

    "If violence is wrong anywhere, then violence is wrong EVERYWHERE" - Malcolm X

  2. Owais!! Thank you SO much for your contribution! You did a good thing to clear up the difference between Pashtuns and Taliban, since both are considered almost the same by many people!
    I hope you won't mind if I create a new, fresh post out of your comment; I think it's important enough to be shared with everyone. And I'll give you credit for it, no worries ;) lol
    Thanks again :)

  3. haha....i cannot believe i have stumbled on this article. i wonder how you must feel looking at how Swat has been cleared of militants and life is returning back to normal. i wonder how you must have felt when taliban leaders like Muslim Khan was arrested and other forced to flee into hiding. i wonder how you must feel with tourists from all over Pakistan starting to visit Swat once again ( i wonder how you must feel when foreign delegates visit Swat and are impressed by the progress being made ( i wonder how you must feel now that foreign journalists have declared Swat as completely safe and taliban free ( i know you must feel bad, because Pakistan Army clearing Swat of militants and Swat coming back to normal does not fit well with your "Pakhtun Genocide" agenda.

  4. Hi there, Anonymous!
    Thank you very much for dropping by!

    Thanks for your feedback; it's very much appreciated. Are you from Swat? Because I am. And I have every single relative, save maybe 2 or three who are either in the U.S. or the U.K., inside Swat today and most of them were there during the time that I wrote this article.

    And, by the way, I've written anothe article, somewhat similar to this. But that one was for a magazine somewhere here. Once I post it on my blog, do read it; it contradicts everything you've said -- 'cause remember that I don't care what the media says. I can't remember the last time it spoke some honest words and told the truth to outsiders or even insiders. :) I care only what people INSIDE Swat have to say about all this.

    Thanks again!

  5. Oh wait - instead of having you wait for that time to come, I'll just paste here a link to my article.

    There. It's called "Speaking for the Subaltern: On the Genocide of the Pashtuns." Take a look at it when you have a chance, and feel more than free to express your views in response. Thank you.

    P.S. "forced to flee into hiding" doesn't do anything :) Where's Fazlullah? Muslim Khan's arrest means nothing; we want him killed because that's the only way we can be assured safety ... not that others like him will stop roaming our streets, but still. It'll give us some psychological assurance at least.

    They can kill innocent civilians and destroy their homes and families but they can't get their hands on Muslim Khan and Fazlullah to kill them? I don't get it.

  6. Mr Anonymous
    For your information the swat operation was a drama by the military forces to restore their rapport which was lost during the CJP case. In addition to that it was used to target kill the nationalists and carry genocide of innocent pashtuns to show to the world that military is against Taliban and hence milk the international community for aid to strengthen their military empire against the poor masses of Pakistan who have been the scapegoats for the vested interests of the Pakistani army at the cost of a life which is below the poverty line for most of them. Update your records that Muslims Khan,Fazlullah and Sufi Muhammad were and are all ISI stooges. The FM radio and the “Markaz” of Fazlullah was under established and safeguarded by the guards of the Punjabi army who want their hegemony on the natural resource rich land of swat. Hope you add this too to your bibliography.

  7. Baloch people recieve more coverage. Tibetan people and Palestinians recieve coverage. Kurdish people recieve some coverage . Especially the Hazara people have recieved coverage (Hazarajat), even the Kite runner is dedicated to talk about the genocide of harazajatis at the hands of Pashtuns yet there is nothign about the massacre of Pashtuns by the Northern Alliance, Taliban and Pakistani militiary.

    I see Pashtuns on facebook, instagram giving condolenses to Palestine but they haven't given condolences to the Pashtuns victims of FATA and KPK and Southern Afghanistan. Instead it's Pakistani zindabad. i am not againts them being proud pakistanis but they fact they are ignoring their own people's plight for and only worrying about palestinians or Kashmiris


Dare to opine :)

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