"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: AttaRasool
Full Name: Atta Rasool Malik
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The Lesser Known Story of Proud Pashtun

By Atta Rasool Malik

Prince Sardar Muhammed Daud was born in Kabul, the eldest son of the diplomat Prince Mohammed Aziz Khan. He lost his father to assassination in Berlin in 1933, while his father was serving as the Afghan Ambassador to Germany. Educated in France, Daud proved to be an excellent student of politics. He served as the Governor of Kandahar and eastern provinces from 1935–38. Became Minister of Defence, 1946–48, Minister of the Interior 1949-1951 and Commander of the Central Forces in Kabul from 1951–53. He was appointed Prime Minister in September 1953 in an intra-family transfer of power that involved no violence.  His ten-year tenure as a PM, 1953-63, was noted for foreign policy tilt to the Soviet Union and highly hostile to Pakistan.

 Sardar Daud was a Pakhtun (Pashtun) and had great love for Pashtun people. He believed that British Indian Empire and Russian Empire had grabbed lot of area of Afghanistan in the past. He particularly was emotional for great Pakhtun nation which stood divided and desired a separate state of Pukhtunistan. Daud supported a nationalistic and one-sided reunification of the Pashtun people with Afghanistan, but this would have involved taking a considerable amount of territory from the newly born nation of Pakistan and was in direct antagonism to an older plan of the 1950s whereby a confederation between Pakistan and Afghanistan was proposed. The move further worried the non-Pashtun populations of Afghanistan such as the minority Tajik and Uzbek who suspected Daud Khan's intention as to increase the Pashtun's disproportionate hold on political power. During that time, the Pashtuns (or Afghans) consisted roughly 35- 42 percent of Afghanistan's ethnic demographics but they represented over 80 percent of the government and held all key appointments.

Because of Daud‘s efforts Government of Afghanistan vigorously pursued Pukhtunistan agenda and non recognition of Durand line, first vote which was cast against Pakistan’s entry to United Nation was of Afghanistan. Afghanistan demanded independence of NWFP (Khyber Pukhtun Khaw ) and FATA as separate independent state  . Faqir of Ippi of North Waziristan, too, had fought for independence of tribal areas against foreign rule of British throughout his life. Even when Pakistan came in to being, he did not stop his struggle. Quaid-e-Azam sent his message to Faqir of Ippi to stop fighting because foreign rule had ended and now it was Muslim government in power. Quaid-e- Azam further assured that government of Pakistan would not interfere in tribal affairs. Faqir of Ippi agreed. The government of Pakistan entered a special contract with tribes of FATA and peace was restored in tribal areas. Similar appeals were made by Liaqat Ali Khan to Government of Afghanistan to stop baseless propaganda against newly born Muslim state but all in vain. Number of times Pakistan embassy at Kabul and its consulates at Jalalabad and Kandhar were attacked by Afghans. At one occasion, Daud being Defence Minister encouraged attacks on Pakistani posts along Durand line. These attacks were repulsed by Pakistan military. Two countries were close to war, when Saudi Arabia and Iran intervened and diplomatic relations were restored after six months of diplomatic closure.

Later, Pakistan entered into defence agreement, SEATO and CENTO with USA in 1954. Russian got annoyed and they started backing Afghanistan on issue of Pukhtunistan. The situation further worsened. Pakistani authorities tried to convince Afghanistan that great ruler of Afghanistan Amir Abul Rehamn had demarcated Durand line with British in 1893 and he had termed it a great success for people of Afghanistan. Durand line did not divide tribes rather all tribes whose economics interests were linked to Kabul, Ghazni and Jalalabad were made part of Afghanistan and tribes who had economic linkages with Peshawar , Tank and Chaman were included in British India. Signing of contract under duress, automatic lapse of treaty and certain other arguments were effectively countered but it had no effect. Though referendum was held in NWFP in 1947, at the time of Independence and 90% cast vote were in favour of Pakistan yet Govt of Afghanistan demanded that since option of independent Pakhtunistn was not given to people so plebiscite in NWFP should be held afresh.

In sixties, during the heated debate a junior officer of Pakistan Foreign Office suggested that plebiscite may be simultaneously held in NWFP , FATA and Pushtun belt of  Afghanistan so that Pakhtun nation should decide as a whole  as to which country they prefer to join. Pakistani officer predicted that Afghanistan is sure to lose more area to Pakistan in such an eventuality. This proposal effectively deterred demand of Pakhtunistan along with ouster of Daud from office of PM in 1963. However, occasional provocative and poisonous remarks and other border violations continued.

In 1973, while king Zahir Shah was relaxing on Italian Island of Ischia, his cousin and brother-in-law, Sardar Muhammad Daud declared end of monarchy and designated himself as President. It was bloodless coup. Daud was supported by a faction of communist party of Afghanistan (Parcham faction of PDPA, People Democratic Republic of Afghanistan). Daud abrogated constitution and promised genuine democracy. He became head of armed forces, head of Govt, and head of state. He could dissolve national assembly, impose emergency and appoint judges of higher courts. He became all too powerful constitutionally. He embarked upon progressive agenda but dealt his opponents with iron hand. He modernized military and equipped it with soviet weapons and equipments.

After 1971 War, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan was a changed man he was highly disappointed of USA and USSR in 1965 and 1971 Wars, he was also not much excited about China. He believed that country had to rely on its own muscles. He started developing nuclear weapons and focused on good relations with Muslim countries of Middle East including Iran. Saudi Arabia and  Iran  had been pursuing Daud to give up empty slogans of ethnicity and narrow ideology of nationalism and encouraged him to work for grater cause of Muslims. They asked him to develop friendly relations with Pakistan.

In 1977, once Daud went to Mecca to perform Umrah, Prince Khalid (Saudi Arabia) while putting the hands of Daud on Hajar-e-Aswad (sacred Stone) got his promise of not working against Pakistan. Daud promised whole heartedly. This was in consent of Shah of Iran who promised $ 2 billion to Daud for economics development of Afghanistan accompanied by transit facilities through territories of Iran. Saudi Arabia gave $ 500 Million in economic assistance. UAE invested $ 0.78 billion in different power projects. Muslims countries were trying to compensate soviet financial assistance to Afghanistan. Rulers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan were aspired to change the fate of Muslims in the region.  Daud shared his apprehension that Russians influence is increasing in Afghanistan and number of senior military commanders, politicians and bureaucrats were either on the pay roll of USSR or heavily obliged on one pretext or the other. Iran promised intelligence cover to Daud through SAVAK to counter such influence. Daud invited ZA Bhutto in Afghanistan and discussed change of heart on the matter of Pakhtunistan and Durand line. He promised to expel Baloch separatist guerrillas from Afghan soil.

One of the ministers of Daud’s Cabinet either, Muhammad Khan Jalalar or Faiz Muhammad had disclosed the event of Daud promise in kaabba for mending fences with Pakistan to Noor Muhammad Taraki  and Taraki passed on the information to Russians. Now Soviet Union was no longer uncertain about Daud’s foreign policy. He was becoming too independent. When Daud visited Moscow in 1977, he was reportedly told of soviet displeasure over his obvious tilt towards the Islamic states of the region which were pro western. Daud strongly protested that it was interference in internal affairs of Afghanistan. Daud was very clear after this visit that USSR was planning trouble for him through Marxist groups. Russian and communists of Afghanistan were frustrated due to timely and effective information of SAVAK. Daud started making changes in key appointment of his Govt on the basis of Iranian intelligence agency. Daud also started apprehending key culprits. PDPA, communists supported by Afghan military were planning coup against Sardar Daud.

 In Pakistan, ZA Bhutto was discussing possibility of sending Pakistani troops for protection of Daud’s palace in Afghanistan with his key Ministers. Meanwhile, KGB (Soviet Intelligence Agency) killed Amir Ali Akbar Khyber, a veteran communist leader in prison at Kabul. PDPA, (communists) leftist and military blamed Daud for this brutal killing. Though, Daud did not know any thing about it. There were riots on the streets of Kabul; a public outcry was organized by communists. There were highly poisonous speeches and naked threats to Govt. Daud cracked down on senior leaders of Communists but he was late. He could only arrest few notable of PDPA, Babrak karmal and Noor Muhammad Taraki. But Hafeezullah Amin, member of khlaq faction of PDPA (communist party of Afghanistan) with the help of soviet trained Afghan Army assaulted presidential palace of Daud. Sardar Daud along with his guards deputed for protection of palace refused to surrender. Palace was physically cordoned by military and bombed with gunship helicopters. Sardar Daud tried to mobilize royal guards but they were compromised. Eventually while resisting, Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan was killed along with his entire family including children and women in a tragic manner on 27 April 1978.

 After, thirty years, in June, 2008, the body of President Daud and those of his family were found in two separate mass graves in the Pul-e-Charkhi area, of Kabul city. It was learnt that that sixteen corpses were in one grave and twelve others were in the second.  In December, 2008, the Afghan Health Ministry announced that the body of Daud had been identified on the basis of teeth moulds and a small golden Quran to which the body was clung. Miniature copy of Quran, covered in small golden box was a present; Daud had received from the king of Saudi Arabia and always wore it as necklace. On 17 Mar 2009, Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan was reburied with state’s honor.


People of Afghanistan and its ruler were not on same wave length and in such an environment it was difficult to be free of superpower clutches.


Author hails from semi tribal areas of Pakistan
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