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To be or not to be

Fayyaz Baqir

March 14th, 2017

 

 

We had won so many little battles in Dera Ismail Khan but I had a strong sense of loss in spite of all our gains. I had a strong sense of intellectual void at the theoretical level. Semi-colonial and Semi-Feudal theories of Pakistani society and the case of Dependent Capitalism did not make any sense to me. We believed that every society was in perpetual motion, so how could we say that our society had frozen as a hybrid formation. What was the direction of change? And how it undermined the development of productive forces? How could we explain rural-urban migration, the creation of jobs in the industrial sector, rising level of income and expansion of middle class as the stagnation of economy? Similarly, how the level of indebtedness of an economy could be equated with dependence, while US economy is the most indebted economy in the world? Credit and debt are lifeblood of capitalism. Considering the state of indebtedness as a state of underdevelopment was a peasant critique of capitalism. It could not be called a progressive critique; Maoist ‘self-reliance’ and autarchy were not progressive solutions either. I could not refute even ordinary students’ arguments against our viewpoint. In the end, we resorted to a tactic, which was beautifully articulated by my dear friend Munawwar Omar about progressives like us, saying “Baqir, you can defeat their arguments but not their attitude”, so we insisted that we were right. At the political level, we talked of armed rebellion which was nowhere near in sight.

 

I declined an overseas scholarship offer by our VC Nawab Allah Nawaz Khan, picked many fights with university and city administration but I had a feeling that we are moving in circles. There were others like me who were equally naive. I remember a visit to village Daraban in the company of my dear friend Riwayat Khan. Riwayat Khan was an Agricultural Assistant, a Maoist and former member of Pakistan Students Federation. He frequently visited farms as part of his job. In Daraban we ended up at the farm of Ata Ullah Miankhel and found a tenant busy in the fields. Riwayat Khan immediately started a dialogue with Miankhel’s tenant. He asked him if he was treated fairly by his landlord. No, said the tenant. Why don’t you fight against him then? Asked Riwayat. The tenant replied in Saraiki wadhi tey kam kaddhi meaning everything happens with the bribe or to use the cliché money makes the mare go. I cannot get justice if I cannot bribe the government. Why don’t you fight against injustice? inquired Riwayat. God has created powerful and weak; people in power are in power because God so desires, said the tenant. So in the hereafter also they will be the privileged ones, said Riwayat. No; not there. God is not unjust. They will be made accountable for their deeds in the hereafter, said the tenant. Why don’t you fight then? Riwayat asked again. Will you stand shoulder to shoulder with me? asked the tenant. No, said Riwayet. End of dialogue. This dialogue made me realize that we are at a dead end. I needed to find the way out.

 

I discussed the issue of armed struggle with Shaista Khan. Shaista Khan was a pragmatic idealist. He was of the view that we should join hands with the Looni tribe. It is important to mention here that DIK shares border with the vast swathe of tribal land inhabited by most ferocious fighters, very sharp marksmen, and very proud tribal communities. Gun is part of their culture. Loonis were one of the tribes living in this area; others included Mahsoods, Wazirs, Barkis, Bhitannis and Dawars. Loonis had started an armed conflict with local administration and Shaista Khan thought that if we join them now we can lay the foundation of a long-term alliance. These people did not share our political and ideological views. They had no political tradition and training. So it seemed very risky to form any alliance with them. It could turn in any direction in the future. One year later my doubts proved true when we heard about the assassination of Noor Muhammad Tarakai, President of Khalq Party at the hands of another party leader Hafizullah Amin in the party meeting. This news really hurt me. How could a party, believing in rational discourse, sort out differences in such an irrational and brutal way? Shaista Khan had his own explanation. He said “Comrade, they are Pathan Communists, not UP Communists. This is the way they settle accounts between themselves”. This explanation did not help or heal me. Before this event, I had made my mind to leave DIK in search of my soul. So I first went to Bahawal Nagar, where three of us- Khalid Mahmood, Tahir Yasub and myself- had gone together, in search of utopia soon after leaving the university. After living in the haze for many days over there I moved to Angoori Bagh Flats Lahore. I was absent without leave from Gomal University, perhaps never to return. I shall pick the thread from here after a few posts. 

 

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