Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition and Memory in the North West Frontier

_The Pathan Unarmed:  Opposition and Memory in the North West Frontier_ by Mukulika Banerjee
Santa Fe, NM:  School of American Research Press, 2000

(44)  This left the remaining districts of Mardan and Peshawar to bear the bulk of the increased taxes;  in the 1930s these were to be the central strongholds of Khudai Khidmatgar support.

(56)  More specifically, Badshah Khan had come to the conclusion that their activities so far had not "bred a sufficient sense of self-sacrifice" that was needed for a fully committed nationalist struggle.  Reflecting on the experiences of his earlier life, he felt that the solution to both his current political problem of promoting a unified nationalist struggle in the Frontier and his ongoing practical concerns about improving education and living standards lay in the cultivation of a greater sense of _service_ in Pathan society....

By early 1930, the KK strength was around 1,000 volunteers.

(60)  Having been little more than 1,000 at the start of 1930, KK membership was estimated at some 25,000 by the end of 1931....
NB:  Kissa Khasai massacre at Utmanzai

His approach was quite different, therefore, from the sudden call to arms of a charismatic leader.  As Sarfaraz Mazim said:  "Badshah Khan first told the people the facts of British rule and explained the situation to them.  Then he led them.  It was not the other way around.  He did not expect them to follow automatically."

(61)  Noor Akbar recalled that:  "Again and again Badshah Khan told us that the British could be removed without any violence if the Pathans could only unite."

(62)  "We did not know before that the British were ruling us.  The mullahs and khans were in the pay of the British so they never told people the truth.  No one in the whole Frontier had the spirit or the guts to speak against the British other than Badshah Khan."

(63)  "It was some time before 1930.  I heard Badshah Khan talk about reform in our mosque.  He said that in order to get rid of those [the British] who were in land that was not theirs, we first had to reform our ways.  He said that he needed volunteers to help him in this task.  He said that he had nothing to offer, no salary or money. What he wanted was not very many people;  but at least one man who would be honest and willing to serve the people.  Therefore I joined the movement by vowing my allegiance to Badshah Khan."

(68)  The motivation for joining the KK movement, therefore, was not a single, articulated, nationalist zeal but rather reflected a mixture of views and responses to social pressures. This variety, however, was very much a strength, since it meant that there were a number of criteria by which the movement could benchmark its own progress and success.  In this respect it differed significantly from the earlier violent movements in the Frontier, which were of a more millenarian character.  Premised on a single grand aim of salvation from the British infidel and the establishment of a religious utopia, such uprisings could not fulfill these magical promises and their leaders found their support quickly dwindled away.  The varied social, political and material aims of the KKs, on the other hand, if more modest, were also far more likely to bring tangible and positive results.

(73)  The wider Red Shirt membership was far larger, however, and the Governor reported that over 50,000 "would call themselves Red Shirts" [by 1938]

(83)  With the intra-KK marriages, however, equality came to be demonstrated not through extravagant bride price, which Badshah Khan had long criticized, but rather through shared participation in the KK and the exchange of political camaraderie.
NB:  Opium as a way to earn the bride price in Afghanistan today

(86)  In its emphasis upon the combination of self-reform, grace and discipline, the KK had more in common with the Salvation Army than it did with the British Army. Like the Salvation Army, the KK was based on voluntary work and service, yet also prized virtues such as discipline and efficient organisational machinery.

(93)  A very important aspect of the civil disobedience movement was its boycott of institutions of the colonial state, notably the courts, police, army, tax offices, and officers, and schools.  Such non-cooperation was practised in a variety of ways.
NB:  Flag marches, picketing liquor and foreign clothing shops

(97)  As Mohammed PIr Sher Shah emphasized, "We did party work only one or two days of the week.  The rest of the time we had to work on our lands."  People recalled with gratitude the fact that when Badshah Khan went around villages and wanted to talk to farmers working in the fields, he used to make his escorts plough the land so that the farmers could sit and talk to him without losing valuable time.

(98)  Amazingly Grana had said to me:  "You will see in the British records that you are reading in England mention of a little boy who once stood up and addressed a meeting.  That was my son, Qasim Khan."  Deputing a little boy to read out the resolutions at a meeting was a standard solution to the problem of women otherwise having to keep purdah in front of Badshah Khan or another adult male speaker.  Badshah Khan's speech-by-proxy urged women to show solidarity with the nationalist struggle by wearing khadi and by assisting their men in the non-violent civil disobedience.  His emphasis on shari'a law was specifically related to his long-time support for proper women's inheritance rights, which the Quran prescribes but which Pathan tradition neglected.  Badshah Khan had also long argued the importance of educating women as part of ensuring a healthy society.

(100)  In his [Badshah Khan's] 1945 article, however, he put caution aside and made an unequivocal statement in favour of women's participation:  "We cannot stop people from spreading propaganda against us and that will continue for the next twenty years.  There is no point in waiting that long, for whenever we allow women to participate in our movement people will always talk." 

(122)  At this point in our rather tense dialogue, Sarfaraz Khan interjected:  "We did carry sticks and we hot-headed Pathans used to throw stones when we were pushed too hard, too far... especially the bereaved women of murdered KKs.  But we had tried to learn patience.  After all, even the Quran says that 'War should be one of Patience.'" 

(123)  Lieutenant Muhammad Wali remembered his ribs being broken by the police at a riot but "even then I did not resort to violence.  We removed the British by our patience. Non-violence gives a strength of mind."

(126)  Badshah Khan stated in his speeches that "it is unselfish public service, and not a red shirt, that makes a Khudai Khidmatgar."  As he often remarks in his autobiography, however, the only way of convincing Pathans of anything is by example, and so he travelled and lived among the rural population of the Frontier as one of them.  Mohammed Yakub Khan told me:

"Badshah Khan came to this area again and again to convince people of non-violence.  He lived by example... when he used to visit he was never a burden on anyone.  He was like a faqir, he carried his own food with him and he ate only dry bread...  people who went with him had to carry their own food too... usually just a little gur and channa [chickpeas and unrefined sugar].  He ate once a day.  If anyone offered him more than one course he declined it.

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