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Published by Qissa Khwani

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Published by: Qissa Khwani on Dec 11, 2012
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Khan Abdul Wali Khan: His Fathers Shadow?by H P January 25, 2006 23:22Wali Khan had embarked on a slippery slope. He made compromises with the army, left his Balochfriends, refused to allow the liberals to join his political party, and finally de
clared “Islam humaradeen” in his manifesto
 A few personal memories of an honest and straightforward politician of PakistanI first met KhanAbdul Wali Khan with a group of students in the late 70s. My graduation still had a few more monthsto go and I was planning to continue in politics after graduating from student politics that I had joined in the volatile year of 1977.By that time, Khan Wali Khan had lost his aura. He had made wrong choices in 1973 and paid a price.His party had split and Gen. Zia ul
Haq was not happy with his party’s pro
- Afghan leanings. BachaKhan was still in Kabul in a self imposed exile and Wali Khan was looking for ways to bring him backto Pakistan.It was quite obvious that there were difficulties ahead in Afghanistan. The news of proliferation of Jihadi organizations all over NWFP, especially in the tribal belt, were not encouraging for theprogressive and liberal politics in NWFP and in Pakistan.He talked about Afghanistan and Bacha Khan. It was an informative session but it was quite apparentthat he was about ready to give up on politics in Pakistan alhough he kept encouraging us to fighton, repeatedly mentioning that we have a long way to go before Pakistan becomes a democracy.Just a few years ago, Wali Khan was the leader of the Opposition in the first elected Nationalassembly of Pakistan. There were stories about how Prime Minister Z A Bhutto was scared of himand on many occasions avoided meeting with Wali Khan preferring his close lieutenant and theBaloch leader Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo.Physically, Wali Khan was an imposing figure standing well over six feet tall. With dark glasses tohide his loss of an eye, he was always difficult to read. Wali Khan also had an annoying habit duringhis leader of the opposition days, to issue threats of dire consequences and often talked aboutmoving chains beyond the Attock Fort. That did not endear him to the people in Punjab.
Eventually Bhutto and the army were able to take advantage his often redundant outbursts whenthey brought the first Baloch Government of Balochistan down and had the army move inBalochistan to suppress resistance by the National Awami Party.It was not the first time that the National Awami Party or NAP was in trouble with the army. NAPwas banned during the army operations in East Pakistan in 1971. It was the only party in WestPakistan that stood up for Bengalis and condemned the army action in East Pakistan. That was theproudest moment in the lives of many NAP workers as they sincerely believed that they werefighting to save Pakistan by supporting Pakistanis of the Bengali origin. Later on, I met many formerNAP workers who always excitedly talked about the dark days of 1971 when either they were behindbars or were distributing leaflets against the army in the darks of nights in different Pakistani cities.Some old timers told me that Wali Khan himself was not ready to confront the army but always hadwords of encouragement for students and Labor leaders in NWFP and supported their families whenthey were in jail.Unlike Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, some would say, Wali Khan often showed his reluctance to take theauthorities on. He was always a vocal opponent but when the time came to confront Gen. Ayub orGen. Yahya Khan, he moved back to Wali Bagh, Charsadda in NWFP, reading a huge collection of books that he had acquired.Today when I look back, I feel that Wali Khan never actually fulfilled his promise. He inherited astrong tradition of personal sacrifices, selfless political and social work of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khanand the Khudai Khadmitgar movement. On many occasions, in different parts of NWFP, I remembermeeting old Surkhposh who still loved Ghaffar Khan but could never get excited about Wali Khanand his leadership. They always showed up to listen to him but the enthusiasm that they had forGhaffar Khan was never there. Perhaps, that was the reason the surkhposh movement, a genuinelysecular political movement, slowly died in NWFP giving rise to the current religious political parties.Wali Khan spent almost three years in jail in Hyderabad prison. The jail Superintendent was ourfamily friend and a proud Sindhis nationalist. He always wanted to help the NAP leaders thatincluded Wali Khan, Bizenjo, Mengal, and many others but this was the first time that Wali Khan wasincarcerated for a long period of time. He was bitter and wanted to get out of the jail at any price.He did not appreciate the jail limitations and once slapped the Superintendent. That destroyed thatgentle soul. He resigned. When I met Wali Khan for the last time and on finding out that I was fromHyderabad, he asked me about the Superintendent. He felt sorry for what he did and wanted me toconvey his apologies to him.

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