Malakand under Siege
A scholarly work of merit that may serve as good resource material in the wake of the ongoing military operation in Swat
By Aamir Riaz
Swat State ( 1915-69)
From Genesis to Merger, an analysis of political,
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year of publication: 2008
The book under review is based on a PhD dissertation, entitled "Swat under the Walis (1917-69)" submitted to Department of History, University of Peshawar. The scholarly work of Sultan-i-Rome proves his claims of impartiality -- available in the form of references which includes research journals, biographies, newspaper record and published material about demography, ethnicity and culture of Malakand people.
In the wake of the ongoing military operation in Malakand, this research work may serve as the best resource not only for policy makers but also for anchors, media persons, columnists and civil society.
Malakand agency (established 1895), Swat state (est.1917) and Malakand division (est.1969) are synonymies for a long time. Due to neighbouring Wah Khan, its geo-political position has always played an instrumental role in indulging foreign powers. Debates in British parliament and official correspondence between Governor General of India and president Board of Control during 1848 regarding annexation of the Punjab can be seen as an archival proof of geo-politics since the first half of nineteenth century.
Arguments presented in the letters and debates revolved round a fear of Czar's expansionism from Kabul and river Amour. Sir John Hobhouse (later Lord Broughton), President Board of Control, in an answer to Lord Dalhousie, Governor General of India, explained British interests when Dalhousie was pleading a case to annex the Punjab immediately "it may tell you that the tendency of my own views is towards that which you appear inclined to do. I have long held the opinion that the continuance of an independent power in the Punjab was incompatible with the present advance position of the British". This letter was written just six months ahead of the annexation of Punjab on Oct 6, 1848, published in Broughton Papers.
Post annexation scenario and emergence of new power players
No, doubt, Annexation of the Punjab on March 29, 1849 was a landmark event for the British Government. It marked not only the end of the Punjabi empire, it also entailed the long-awaited and unprecedented advance of British troops under the Frontier Forward Policy. Indeed, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (d.1839) had a vision of how to play between devil and the deep sea. But neither his heirs nor rulers of dependencies of the Punjab had any eye on the fatal effects of annexation. Malakand division including Swat, Chitral and Dir was not any exception in this regard. Miangul Jahanzeb's, (the last Wali of Swat) biographer Fredrick Bath observed immediate rise of his great grandfather, Saidu Baba, just after fall of the Punjab in 1849.
After annexation of the Punjab, Saidu Baba (1795-1877) found a descendent of Pir Baba (Syed Ali Shah Termizi) to rule Swat and his name was Sayyed Akbar Shah. Akbar Shah was a follower of Syed Ahmad of Balakot. As a king-maker, Saidu Baba used to play on all sides of the chessboard but internally he always gave ample space to powerful Yousaf Zai factions of Swat.
Using Jihad, as tactics for regime change
In areas like FATA and Swat, the term "Jihad" was sometimes used in fixing tribal rivalries and at other times against infidels. There were traditions of making lashkars against each other or any common enemy to settle disputes. British authorities, Saidu Baba, powerful Khans (Yousafzia Chieftains) and Afghan government loved to use such traditions in their own interest. One fine example is famous Ambela Campaign 1862 near east Buner initiated by British forces against Indian Mujahedeen. Interestingly, it was the same British Indian government that in 1826 gave a safe passage to the leaders of Indian Mujahedeen for launching a Jehad against the last irritant Punjabi Empire, Lahore Darbar. During Ambela Campaign, Saidu Baba proved his mettle once again. Indian Mujahideen were descendents of Syed Ahmad of Balakot (d.1831) and had strong relations with the Afghan government. Saidu Baba handled the situation in such a way that a win-win situation prevailed among all three stakeholders. Indeed, it happened due to Saidu Baba's religio-political tactics. No one knew that 147 years later one Sufi Mohammad will try to repeat it.
Religion as a strong weapon in statecraft was used both internally as well as externally. In April 1915, Jirga installed a new ruler, Abdul Jabbar Shah, maternal grandson of Syed Akbar Shah, for Swat. His appointment was made against the wishes of Mianguls especially Miangul Abdul Wadud, father of Miangul Jahanzeb, the last Wali of Swat.
Sultan-i-Rome in Swat State, from genesis to mergerů explained this event in these words " Sandakai Baba [ a local influential religious figure] ceaselessly insisted on Jihad against the British while Abdul Jabbar Shah used his influence for a perspective of peace with the colonial government. Sandakai Baba corresponded with Jabbar's enemies urging that, as Jabbar was a Qadiyani and did not support a movement for Jihad, he should be evicted. The son of Haji Sahib of Turangzai left Swat for Chamarkand with a letter signed by Sandakai Mullah to Mians, Mullahs and some Maliks of Swat to the effect that Jabbar is a Qadiani and as such not to fit to be King". Miangul Jahanzab too called it a mere political tactic. Finally Jabbar had to evict and the space was filled by Miangul Jahanzab's father, Abdul Wadood, in September 1917.
Three important Asian parts, China, Central Asia and South Asia meet in Malakand agency. Sultan-i-Rome, has rightly pointed out the significance of geo-politics of Malakand. The main passes to the south and east are Malakand, Morah, Shah Kot, Karakar, Churat, Jwarai, Kalel and Kotkay from west to north-eastward. Besides the plain route to Swat Kohistan, the main passes to the north and west are Jarugu Sar, Qadar Kandau, Manjey Kandau and Katgala from north-east to south westward. Some other important passes were the Kotkay Pass in the east towards China, passing through the present-day Northern Areas, the pass near the mountain of Sar-dzaey at the extreme head of the valley in Swat Kohistan through Chitral to Kashghar, and the Katgala pass on the west to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Ethnicity, Origin and
Like Punjab, the fertile lands of Swat valley attracted foreigners from neighboring baron lands. The area is witness to a continuous migration from Afghanistan and central Asia (Tajikistan) which eventually changed the demography of the land especially in the last 400 years or so. Sultan-i-Rome tells us about the demographic, political and historical changes during the last 400 years as under,
The sixteenth century proved a turning point in the history of Swat as the Yusufzai Afghans occupied the land.
The majority of the inhabitants of Swat Kohistan are Torwalis and Gawris. They were virtually independent before their subjugation by the ruler of Swat, which took place gradually over the years between 1921-1977.
A large number of Gujars are found throughout the state areas. The mountain dwellers of the Gujars speak their own language locally known as Gujri among themselves.
Chinese pilgrims like Fa-Hein and Sung Yung also confirmed heavy presence of Budhist and Gujars in these areas from 4th centaury. Languages they speak are very close to Punjabi. Famous Russian linguistic Gangoveskky also called Gujri or Gojari, an accent of Punjabi language.
Land Settlement -- weapon within
From ancient times, land ownership was not there in Malakand division. People not only cultivate lands but also change their living quarters in winter and summer. Some European travellers called those people nomadic, which is a misconception. Tribal rivalries and natural disasters often compel tribes to migrate. When Babur conquered Kabul, Yousafzai tribes had to leave their lands due to continuous persecutions. So in 16th century Yousafzais came to settle in Malakand and Peshawar division in big number. As there was neither any border nor democracy at times, so declaring such events as invasion, bravery victory or occupation is a misconception. Numerous British and nationalist historians used such notions. During the 16th century, a Yousafzai Sheikh Mali invented a system regarding redistribution of land, obviously in the interests of migrants. It marked the beginning of personal property and feudal aristocracy in this region.
In less than hundered years Gujars, Kohistanies etc turned into landless peasants. Makhdum Tassadduq Ahmad, in his book "Social Organization of Yousufzai Swat: a study in social change" (pub. 1962) also threw light on that demographic shift. There is a record of policies against Gujars till 1950 one mentioned by the Sutan-e Rome at P236.
Frontier Forward Policy and emergence of State
Keeping in view the geopolitical and ethnic background of Malakand, one can understand the complexities and inbuilt problems of that area. "Report on the administration of the Punjab and its Dependencies for the year 1876-77" also remembers Saidu Baba (d.1877) as a bridge between local people and British. Although that balance was not in favour of indigenous people of Malakand and Swat, Saidu Baba engaged British and Afghan forces away from the region.
On Nov 12, 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand signed a border agreement with Afghan ruler and in the next two years colonial rulers annexed Chitral state. Then, in the same year, they created Malakand Agency comprising Dir, Swat and Malakand. During the next 22 years, Khans strengthened their position among the ruling elite under the leadership of Mianguls and political agent of Malakand Agency, yet there were pockets of Mujahedeen who had relations with Afghan ruler. Sialkoti born great revolutionary cum rationalist Mollana Ubaid Ullah Sindhi also mentioned such connections when he visited Afghanistan in 1915.
At the turn of the new century, Lord Curzon divided Punjab and established another province, NWFP, by dissecting six districts of Punjab in 1901. At that time the Swatis did not realize that a new powerful element has entered the regional internal politics.
the Swat state
During the first two decades of 20th century, Mianguls outnumbered all key players and finally developed a Swati state in the revolutionary year of 1917. Khans, Jirgha, mullahs were with them along with the blessings of colonial rulers. After formation of the Swat state, British authorities relaxed for a while but soon realised that local power players were dodging them. It was during the reign of Miangul Jahanzeb (after 1949) that most progress in education was made. The Wali of Swat imposed Pushto as the sole official language in 1937 just to appease the newly emerged Swati Chieftains and Afghan government. Afghan government had declared Pushto as the official language in 1936. Pushto was the official language but not used as medium of instruction in schools of swat state.
Pakistan and the road to progress
In spite of their association with Khans, Mianguls never allowed Red Shirts to spread their influence in Swat state. During the Pakistan movement and at the time of division, Mianguls used their influence in favour of Muslim league.
It is to the credit of Miangul Jahanzeb and his father to have opened educational institutions, built roads and established hospitals. But at the same time they had paid little attention to original inhabitants like Gujars, khohistanis etc. Till 1969, in less than 20 years, there was one college, 37 high schools, 33 middle schools, 14 lower middle schools 164 primary schools and 120 lower primary school in Swat state. Two colleges were planned in Matta and Buner. In 1958, Assistant Director of education department was rightly proud to have the first full fledged female school, first time in the history of Tribal Belt.
Miangul Jahanzeb mentioned new trends in his biography -- about a powerful group of Khans who were feudal and exploited villagers. Provincial power players like Red Shirts and Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan both used that group against Wali many times. Provincial leadership had an eye on Swat state right from the beginning.
By the terms of Instrument of Accession (1947) Swat state gained the admission to federation. Swat state executed the supplementary Instrument of Accession in 1954 under which Wali surrendered his authority to the federal legislature of Pakistan. Till 1969, Wali of Swat used his influence to stop the merger in the name of independence of Swati people.
Merger, shariat and democracy
Like Sardar Patel, some leaders in Pakistan declared the princely states, a blot on the country's name soon after independence. Prominent among them was Sirajuddin, son of Sherzada Khan of Mingora. He had been influenced by the writings of Abul ala Maudoodi. He presented a memorandum of proposed reforms in December 1949. The memorandum suggested, "Islamic system was the answer, for both the ruler and ruled alike."
NWFP leaders like Arbab Sikandar Khan Khalil, Pir Fazl-e-Haq, Khan Qayyum Khan and progressives like Ajmal Khattak, Afzal Bangash and Khan Abdul Wali Khan also accelerated the movement for merger.
Progressive NAP, Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami and anti-Red Shirt Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan all wanted expansion of NWFP. Only if they had any proper post-merger plan, the fate of Malakand division would be far different today.
From Regulation 1 of 1969 till the rise of
It is usually believed that Swat had a far better judicial system based on riwaj (custom) before merger. Leaders of Jamat-e-Islami have forgotten Sirajjudin's heavily loaded pamphlets against atrocities of Swati rulers and during last few years Jamat is advocating old Swat syaytem.After 1917, Mianguls and powerful Khans did not allow traditional Jirga or Punchaayat system to grow. The system of justice was dependent on the whims and wishes of the powerful.
Regulation of 1969 brought some important changes in Justice system. The Supreme Court of Pakistan and the provincial high courts were extended to Swat on December 31, 1970. A session court was also created for the entire Malakand Division. In the interim constitution of 1972, the government of Pakistan first time created PATA (provincially administered tribal areas) and included Swat, Chitral and Dir States in it.
The major change was the promulgation of Regulation 1 & 2 of 1975, the PATA Civil and Criminal laws. Powers were shifted to the executive instead of judiciary.
When Muhammad Khan Junejo lifted emergency in 1985, some litigants challenged both regulations 1 & 2 of 1975 in Peshawar High court. On 24 February, 1990, PATA regulations become null and void. The government of NWFP filed an appeal in the Supreme Court but the petition was dismissed on 12 February 1994. After the rise of Sufi Mohammad status quo prevails in Swat. Sultan-i-Rome in his concluding notes bluntly mentioned rise of Sufi Mohammad after this controversy. In his own words
"The judgment of supreme court of Pakistan angered the executive circle in Malakand division, as they saw withdrawal of their unbounded powers from their hands. They attempted to safeguard this power as they felt that the enforcement of shariat, in the Malakand Division only was not possible: the government would have to restore either the PATA regulations, under which they had unfettered powers or introduce some other regulations similar in nature. In this hope they gave a free hand to the activities of Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM)".
The poor cousin
In the beginning -- that is to say, at the time we became independent -- was the Radio and nothing but Radio. Radio was the only source of our entertainment and that, too, for a limited number of hours. There was a short morning transmission, an afternoon transmission and, the longer, evening transmission. Soon there were more radio stations. Transmission hours were extended, programmes reflected a better sense of planning, and research cells were established which did splendid work related to the preservation of classical music.
Radio flourished until the mid-sixties when television arrived. We became so enamoured of this new toy that we completely ignored Radio, forcing it to assume the character of a poor cousin who is tolerated at our dining table on occasions like the two 'Eids'.
The most significant entertainment in those early days was Radio Drama (which, by the late forties had come to be recognised as an art form like film). We had some fine producers and a good number of distinguished radio actors who understood what Radio drama was about, what it entailed and what it could achieve. Alas! This art form has dwindled almost completely.
Today, when I listen to a broadcast radio play I am appalled to hear actors 'reading' a series of evenly spaced sentenced in stentorian tones rather than speaking as a character. The fault lies not with the actors but the directors.
A radio director has to understand the script as a broadcast play rather than as a narrative. In other words, he has to 'lift the script from the paper'. First, and most important, he must capture the mood and spirit of the script. Is it a satire, a fantasy, a broad comedy, a tragedy, a straight drama?
Once he has established the mood of the show he has to proceed to break down the production into all its elements. How shall the play be paced? Where is the climax? The subclimaxes? Should pause be used within a scene? Sometimes a few seconds of pause (or dead air, as it is called) are infinitely more dramatic than either sound effects or music.
The director of a radio play is a special kind of leader. Working with a small group of actors and technicians, he transforms twenty five or fifty pages of script into half an hour (or an hour) of absorbing drama. Using only voices and music and sound effects, he creates pictures and builds scenes, holding the attention of listeners hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away. He not only leads his actors in their production of a drama, he helps them to interpret it. And the more he knows about their arts and skills, the more skilfully he can direct them. He should know a little about music and acting, drama and literature. But above all he should understand some of the technical problems of his medium -- what the microphone can and cannot do.
Before going on the air, a director must check the voice and music levels with which a play often opens. All these levels have, of course, been tried out during rehearsals, but a conscientious director likes to make sure that his 'unidirectional', 'bidirectional' and 'non-directional' mikes have not been moved around.
These mikes are a must for any dramatic production on Radio. There is no mystique about them. An unidirectional mike picks up sounds from one side only. A bidiretional mike picks up sound from two sides, and a non-directional mike picks up sound equally well from all sides.
Unfortunately, our drama producers do not give much thought to these technicalities (easily available to them). The result is that there are no proper levels and no sensitive gradation of sound. A door being slammed in a room sounds the same as a gate being shut two hundreds yards away from the room.
I was trained for Radio drama production in Australia. For a few months I was fortunate enough to have assisted Neil Hutchinson, one of the finest drama directors I have ever come across. It was from Hutchinson that I learnt the effectiveness of a pause. With great patience he made his actors realise how they were rushing through from one thought to another without stopping to let the meaning of the first sink in. He also made them aware of the difference between speaking the lines of a character instead of reading them out. Sometimes the key to clearing up this difficulty lies in the use of contractions. "Don't say, 'I will go when I am through'," he would tell an actor. "Try saying, 'I'll go when I am through'." The difference was amazing. His other instructions were equally precise and short: "Adela, you're still shouting too much. Keep it intimate," or "Felix, you rushed your scene on page eleven. Take your time. Enjoy it a little more."
Far too often we hear our Radio presenting a dramatic narrative in which the dialogue scenes illustrate a story or information presented principally by the narrator. Directors of such narratives seem to feel that the script should be produced with a gravity befitting its high purpose. Consequently, they turn out an exceeding dull show. Quite to the contrary, the informational dramatised narrative achieves its purpose only when its drama is exploited to the fullest.
It is unfortunate that directors (drama producers as they are called in our country) pay no attention to the selection of music. More often than not such selection is left to their assistants. I remember an instance when the Sound Effects man inserted his favourite bits of music from Ben Hur as a background for an entire scene in a play about a domestic tiff. Needless to say, it crucified not just the scene but the entire production.
Whether your musical insertions are supplied by a live orchestra, or records, a director needs to make a long and concentrated study of his script before selecting his music. In his analysis of his script he has to decide what purpose the music is to serve and estimate the approximate length of each music cue. He has to determine whether a music transition should be cut before the scene it introduces, whether it should fade under the first line or two of the scene or whether it should continue until a certain moment. And he must be careful not to use music so familiar that the listener will have an impulse to complete the melody in his own mind.
Absence of intimacy and a lack of appreciation of the value of pause are probably the two chief faults of our radio drama. In the plays which are broadcast the actors cry and laugh unconvincingly because they depend in part upon visual gestures to describe their emotions. They must learn, by voice alone, to suggest their characters, costumes, demeanour to an audience that sees only with its mind's eye.