When I was a little child, I was always told that there was a heaven and hell. Heaven being this beautiful utopian world where everything was perfect and everyone was happy; sorrow was non-existent. Whereas hell was the total opposite; people punished, burnt alive, whipped to death, suffering and drowning in their miseries and sorrow.
However, what never occurred to me is that we don’t have to wait for the afterlife (or so I was told) to witness heaven or hell; it is right here on this planet we call earth. Some people and even nations have witnessed “heaven on earth” moments, where wealth, power and privilege dwelled in the palm of their hands. But have we ever stopped and pondered about those who have yet to get a taste of this “heaven on earth?” And here I am referring to my dear and beloved Pashtuns, who have been suffering for almost a decade now. Their suffering and misery has only intensified for a little over a year now; in places like Swat, Bajaur, North and South Waziristan; where schools are being destroyed and books are being burnt; where acid is thrown on the faces of young rebellious women, who refuse to listen to the Taliban’s ban on education; where girls are snatched of their childhood by being forced into marriages with disgusting Taliban mullahs and militants; where Madrassas that teach fundamentalist Islam are enforced; where little girls are demised and raped (some as young as infants even); where innocent Pashtuns are killed and slaughtered on a daily basis by the despicable Pakistani militants just because they won’t give up their land, culture and Pukhtunwali in order to allow them to build some gross American pipeline! And it makes one wonder: Where is the humanism? Have people become so selfish and so self-indulged that killing innocent people for wealth and power has now become exploitation? Why is Pakistan doing this to us? What have the poor Pashtun civilians done to deserve this atrocity? Each time I read the news and hear about the bombings and killings of my beloved Pashtuns, a part of my history dies; a part of my flesh and blood dies; a part of ME dies! And why is the world so oblivious to this genocide that is eating away at us and snatching us of our livelihood? Over the course of the past and recent centuries, the news has pretty much covered each and every genocide, in depth, that has occurred in the world; be it the Holocaust or the genocides in Rwanda, Bangaladesh, Bosnia and more recently Palestine. Each time innocent civilians die in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the whole world knows about it, right the next day, if not the same day. However, there are so many Pashtuns dying in Pukhtunkhwa and Afghanistan, but only a few news channels like BBC, in particular, covers them. This lack of worldly awareness has thus made Pashtuns, such as me, desperate. Pashtuns who are extremely passionate to do something in order to help our people be rid of this turmoil.
I am very grateful to the Pukhtunkhwa Peace Forum for holding rallies in London and Toronto to promote and raise awareness of the genocide that is eating away at us like a deadly disease. It was so amazing to see the coverage of the rally in renowned newspapers such as the Toronto Star, and live coverage in news channels like City News, CBC News, CTV News and Cablepulse 24. I really hope that coverage like this will be continuous from now onwards so people around the world will WAKE UP and come to terms with just how serious the situation in Pukhtunkhwa has become. People need to stop associating all Pashtuns with the Taliban, because although the sad truth is that the Taliban are Pashtun, they are created by the Pakistani government to destroy Pashtuns. It’s extremely sad to see our own people killing us, but what do you expect from a group of uneducated religious fundamentalists? It’s so incredibly easy to brainwash and manipulate an uneducated person. Hence, we really need to ensure that we rebuild all those schools, colleges and universities that were destroyed. We need to ensure that our Pashtun youths acquire the relevant education, which will serve as a great contribution towards the betterment of our future generations. However, how this will happen and when this will happen, only time will tell.
Therefore, our beloved Pashtuns really need to unite and by unite I don’t meant only Pashtuns in Pukhtunkhwa; by unification I am referring to grand Pukhtunkhwa, which includes Pashtuns from Afghanistan, Baluchistan and from all around the world. We need to have one vision and one outcome; to create our OWN country, our own Pukhtunistan. We have been imposed on for far too long and that has to stop! And the sooner this happens, the better. We have suffered enough in the hands of Pakistan, who have stepped on us; tortured us; devalued us; belittled us; and treated us lower than scum. We do not deserve this at all! We are a proud ethnicity with a rich culture and a beautiful language! We are not a part of Pakistan; we never were! Pakistan is merely 61 years old, whereas Pashtun history and our ancestry goes as far back as over 5000 years! Why show our loyalty to a country that cares NOTHING about the betterment of our beloved Pashtuns? Why not devote all that energy to uniting our Pashtuns and doing something worthwhile and valuable for them so that they can flourish intellectually and as a Pashtun nation. We are Pashtuns first, above all else! Everything else should be secondary. Our elders let us down and made the mistake of selling Pukhtunkhwa to the British colonials, but that’s all in the past now; what is done cannot be undone, as quoted by Lady Macbeth, from Shakespeare. It is all now up to us – the youths – to make a difference and rectify the mistakes that our elders made. And together, through unification and cooperation, we can FINALLY acquire our own “heaven on earth.”