BY: |Hamid Mir|

When the Poet of the East, Allama Iqbal dedicated his collection of poetry ‘Payame Mashriq’ (Message of the East) to the then King of Afghanistan, Ghazi Amanaullah Khan, he was accused of pleasing the King in a bid to gain his proximity. Who was Ghazi Amanullah Khan? He was the person who defeated the most powerful superpower of that time, Great Britain, in 1919 and turned Afghanistan into the graveyard of Britains might & glory. Once, Dr Abdullah Chughtai asked Iqbal about his decision to dedicate his book Payam-e-Mashriq to Amanullah Khan? Iqbal replied that, I wanted to dedicate my book to someone who was a true Muslim and free from the chains of slavery. I couldnt find anyone better suited than Amanullah Khan.

‎ Among Amanullahs supporters was the spiritual head of Mujadidi tradition, Mullah Shor Bazaar Noor-ul Mashaikh, who helped him in his quest to stop Britain from conquering Kabul. However, when Amanullah initiated reforms following his rise to the Kingdom of Afghanistan, Mullah Shor Bazaar separated ways with him. In 1929, when Amanullah was on a foreign tour, there was a coup against him & his government was toppled, bringing war & anarchy to Afghanistan. One of Amanullahs aides & his envoy to France, Nadir Shah, vowing to fight against these conspiracies hatched by the Britishers, came to Lahore from Paris and met Allama Iqbal, where he informed Iqbal about his intention to wage war against the conspirators. Iqbal offered him financial assistance of Rs 10,000 from his own pocket, but Nadir Shah, with gratitude, refused to accept the money and went onwards to Northern Waziristan’s area of Ali Khel. Here, with the help of Wazir & Mehsud tribes, he managed to create a militia and attacked Kabul. Allama Iqbal created a fund to help Nadir Shah in his conquest and soon Nadir Shah was able to oust Habibullah also known as Bacha-e-Saqaw, and regained Kabul. A few years after his triumph, Nadir Shah invited Iqbal to visit Afghanistan where Iqbal also met Mullah Shor Bazaar and Haji Sahab of Turangzai. Haji Sahab belonged to the area of Shab-e-Qadr and in 1919 he had helped Amanullah in defeating Great Britain. He now wanted to rid the sub-continent of British rule and was preparing an assault with the help of Nadir Shah. It is not difficult to assume that Iqbal was deeply moved by the freedom efforts of Amanullah and Nadir Shah and that was the main reason for Allama Iqbal to express love for the Afghans. He was adamant that Afghans would never accept anyone’s slavery and said:

‎ افغان باقی، کہسار باقی
‎ الحکم للہ، الملک للہ
‎ In the course of history and war, only Afghans will succeed.

‎ In Iqbal’s poetry, not only do we see Kabul, Ghazni and Kandahar being mentioned, but also exclusive expression of love for Ahmed Shah Abdali and Khushal Khan Khattak. Khushhal Khan Khattak was a warrior poet who was part of resistance against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Iqbal praised him in the following verses:

‎ قبائل ہوں ملت کی وحدت میں گم
‎ کہ ہو نام افغانیوں کا بلند
‎ محبت مجھے اُن جوانوں سے ہے
‎ ستاروں پہ جو ڈالتے ہیں کمند

‎ Iqbal’s love for those seeking to capture stars is not without due reason. During Iqbal’s lifetime, Afghans had defeated the mightiest superpower of the time, Great Britain and in our lifetime we saw Afghans crushing another superpower, Soviet Union. It was in 1989 when the Soviet Army started their retreat from Afghanistan and now in 2019 the US forces want to retreat from Afghanistan. Although, some would contradict, but the fact remains that the US forces have also been defeated in Afghanistan and yet again Afghanistan has proven itself as a graveyard to another superpowers might and glory. But, Afghanistan’s sole recognition should not be that of a graveyard, as Iqbal had said:
‎ آسیا یک پیکر آب و گِل است
‎ ملت ِ افغاں در آں پیکر ِ دل است
‎ از فساد او فسادِ آسیا
‎ در کشاد او کشادِ آسیا
‎ “Asia is a body and Afghans are the pumping heart in that body”.

‎ Iqbal further says that a conflict in Afghanistan is a conflict in Asia, and the prosperity of Afghanistan is tantamount to prosperity of entire Asia. Iqbal termed Afghanistan the heart of Asia rather than the graveyard of superpowers. By turning this recognition into reality we can achieve sustainable peace not only in Afghanistan but the entire region. Following the withdrawal of US troops, our first priority should be that Afghanistan must not return towards war & anarchy. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, civil war erupted which later on led to the creation of Afghan Taliban. At first the US helped Taliban, later on termed them as terrorists. Today, the US by holding talks with Taliban is licking its own spit for sake of a respectable exit for its forces from Afghanistan. The US wants Taliban to enter into a power-sharing deal with the ones who used to designate them as terrorists along with the US. To make this work, the US via Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and UAE is exerting pressure over Taliban to hold talks with the Kabul regime. This has helped Iran come close to the Taliban, because both see IS (Islamic State) or DAESH as a common enemy.

‎ The current situation is very delicate. Prime Minister Imran Khan also wanted to hold a dialogue with Afghan Taliban, but for now the Afghan Taliban have deferred their plans to visit Islamabad, because they consider current Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, to be another Bacha-e-Saqaw and whoever advices them to share power with the regime of Bacha-e-Saqaw, they consider them slaves of a defeated superpower. However, the Taliban must not forget that any civil unrest or anarchy after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan can bring more misery to the Afghans, as well as create problems for Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan should look at where its own interests lie, rather than the interests of the US, and remain impartial in the matter without trying to do someone elses bidding. Our job should only be to act as a facilitator in the talks. If we crossed this boundary and became a party for sake of saving face of a defeated superpower and its off shoots, we might end up losing our own national dignity. Thus, at this this historic point in time, Pakistan needs to tread carefully. We must take into consideration Allama Iqbals love for the Afghan people and not let him down.