Yes, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belongs to Afghans

Barakwal (1)Barakwal Myakhel
The statement of Mahmood Khan Achakzai, chairman of PkMAP, published in newspaper Afghanistan Times was taken from an interview he had given to VOA Pashto service, was made controversial in Pakistan which was under title of “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belongs to Afghans”. He had said in response to the question about Afghan refugees. He said that persecution of people who migrated from Afghanistan will not be tolerable for him. He said, “they [Afghan refugees] can live in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without fear and irritation, because it also belongs to them”, his statement is clear and means that Afghan refugees are also Afghans like THOSE of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Pakhtuns, It doesn’t mean that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belongs to current Afghanistan.
Read also: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Its KP and not KPK
The government of KP took this statement wrongly and considered it that Mahmood Khan Achakzai has wanted to deliver their province to Afghanistan and the issue was discussed angrily in Pakistani electronic and social media without knowing the meaning of term AFGHAN and its historical perspective. After that Mr. Achakzai told the GEO and DAWN news in clarification that his words were misquoted from his interview and his actual aim was to say that Peshawar was the winter capital of Afghanistan in the past and it belonged to Afghans historically, but I think his real statement should be the same that yes, “Khyber Pakhunkhwa belongs to Afghans”, those Afghans who are part of this province in present day, I mean Yousafzai, ApridI,Khalil, Dawoodzai, Khattak, Momand, Bangash, Marwat, Myakhel, Banotsi, Shitak, Kakakhail and all Pashtun tribes are Afghans as well.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai means that Afghan refugees are also Afghans like THOSE of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Pakhtuns, It doesn’t mean that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belongs to current Afghanistan

Mahmood Khan Achakzai while talking to DAWN news’ program “Zara Hut Kay” said that we were part of Afghanistan, “when the Durand line was drawn and Afghan state divided, then we didn’t remain the residents of Afghanistan but remained Afghans and we are Afghans too”. It clears the identity of Pashtuns that the nation which lives on both sides of Durand line and speaks Pashto language are Afghans and it’s saying that each Pashtun is Afghan but each Afghan is not a Pashtun, mean the people of other casts in current Afghanistan except Pashtuns are Afghans by citizenship but not by ethnicity and it only belongs to Pashtuns.
After the recent dispute over establishment of gate at Torkham border, the debate started on social media and Pashtuns from Pakistan side divided in two blocs, the one was of the view that “I was Pashtun, am Pashtun and will be Pashtun” and the other was claiming that “I was Afghan, am Afghan and will be Afghan”, though both were right but the one side which was denying identity to be an Afghan had misperception and ignorance about history. They argued that the name Afghan is only two and half centuries old when Ahmad Shah Abdali (1722- 1772) declared the boundaries of new country with the name of Afghanistan and they were Afghans until 1893 when it was not divided but not now due to being a part of Pakistan, they might be unaware of term Afghan’s antiquity.
Hundreds of historical books are available as evidence of the name Afghan which has been used for the nation which has been living for thousands of years between Oxus (Amu) and Indus Rivers and no doubt that is Pakhtun nation, from Mountstuart Elphinstone to Major Henry George Raverty dozens of orientalist writers have mentioned the name Afghan with the same meaning of Pashtun except Olaf Caroe, last administrator of British India who wrote in his book “The Pathans” that Pashtun and Afghan are different names. Furthermore it has been used in classic Pashto poetry by Khushal Khan Khattak (1613- 1689), Abdul Rahman Momand (1653- 1711), Amir Hamza Shinwari (1907- 1994) and other poets numerous time having the same meaning as the term Afghani is used for Pashto language.
There are evidences even in Pakistani history which proves that the name Afghan for Pashtuns which is undeniable. According to some official documents the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pashtuns of Balochistan write Afghan in the place of caste in local/Domicile certificates, school and possessive documentation. Once Kamal Khan Sherani (1924-2010) leader of PkMAP, said in an interview for Radio Free Europe that “Afghan and Pashtun are two names with same meaning, even when we were students of the school till tenth class we were writing Afghan in the place of caste”. He further said that “this was Pakistan which divided our nation between Pashtun and Afghan otherwise there is no difference in these names”. Another evidence is its use by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali (1895- 1951) in definition of word Pakistan. According to some historical sources, Chaudhry Ramat Ali, who was one of the advocates of the creation of the Pakistani state, known as a creator of the name “Pakistan”, had explained in a pamphlet of 1933 for likely new country that Pakistan stands for five northern units of British India i.e  Punjab, Afghania (NWFP), Kashmir, Sind and Balochistan, though its authenticity is objectionable yet the alphabet A has no other justification and definition in term Pakistan’s abbreviation other than Afghan territory of today’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Moreover, Balochi and Brahvi speaking people are neighbors of Pashtuns for centuries. They also call Pashtun as Afghan, when ever any Balochi and Brahvi speaking person from any part of Balochistan talks about Pashtun whether of Quetta, Peshawar or Afghanistan, he will call him Afghan neither Pashtun nor Pathan. It seems that Afghan is the name of race and race cannot be changed with geography and citizenships.
There is a question that the tribes from Bajaur agency to the Noshki district on both side of Durand line are same, so how is it possible that the Sapai, Shinwari, Mangal, Sulaimankhel, Kakar, Achakzai and Baressy of Afghanistan side will be Afghan and their brothers of Pakistani side will not be. In short, the controversy is fabricated for political aims to divert sympathies of Pakistani Afghans towards Afghanistan and nothing else.
Writer is a correspondent of Radio Free Europe based in Quetta. Follow him on twitter @BarakwalMyakhel
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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