On the 25th of October 1956, 49-year-old Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai was produced in the district court of Lahore. He was facing sedition charges. Achakzai in his statement said,
“I have spent the best portion of my life in the jails of the British and Muslim League regimes. No human being can tolerate this willingly. If my purpose is true, God willing, the verdict of time shall certainly be in my favour. True intentions seldom fail because of paucity of companion. But even if I am no more in this world, many more will come to raise this banner high in exaltation. The caravan of life shall move forward forever!”
Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai opened his eyes in district Killa Abdullah of British Balochistan, at the residence of Noor Muhammad Khan, on the 7th of July 1907. His family had remained frontline Afghan warriors in defense of their motherland for centuries. This inherited deep sense of belonging to the land, when combined with his political commitment, made him a freedom fighter. He was a freedom fighter who fought the coloniser with non-violence. Achakzai was just thirteen years old when he was arrested for teaching exegesis of the holy Quran to ordinary people. In 1929 he wanted to join Ghazi Amanullah Khan’s army but got arrested. Soon after his release, he went to Lahore, where he attended the annual conferences of the All-India Congress and other political parties. He visited Mumbai where he met Mohandas Gandhi and gave him a pamphlet in which he had highlighted the issues of British Balochistan.
Unlike the confused political activists of that era, the man who later became known as Khan Shaheed had a clear, indisputable and unequivocal narrative on national struggle and democracy
After meeting political leaders and assessing his society, he realised that the reason behind our poverty, hunger, backwardness and destruction is our slavery. Nations have never progressed under slavery and no nation opts for development at the cost of their independence. Nations who don’t have a trained army and other resources can achieve their goals only through politics. Khan Shaheed in his autobiography writes, “The oppressed have no other weapon except politics.”
Moreover, he writes “Politics is the foundation of consciousness and consciousness is guarantor of human development.”
He knew this struggle would not be possible without a political party, so he founded one, Anjuman-i-Watan, in 1938.
Unlike the confused political activists of that era, the man who later became known as Khan Shaheed had a clear, indisputable and unequivocal narrative on national struggle and democracy. The nature of his struggle from the first day had remained National Democratic, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist. This can easily be comprehended from demands of Anjuman-i-Watan, which were presented in their first annual congress of 1939.
1) The abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR)
2) Provincial autonomy
3) Abolition of the unnecessary Shahi jirga
4) Establishment of a municipal corporation in every city
5) The right to vote (one man, one vote)
6) National freedom
7) An end to the exploitation of labour
Achakzai struggled for the above-mentioned goals under the banner of Anjuman-i-Watan till 1948, when it got banned by the Muslim League authorities.
In 1954, he founded another political party, Wror Pashtun. The core objective of Wror Pashtun was the establishment of Pashtunistan province comprised of the then NWFP and Balochistan. Wror Pashtun was later on merged into National Awami Party (NAP). NAP in its Manifesto had clearly mentioned that it would work for abolishment of one unit and restoration of old provinces. In 1970 NAP agreed to merge British Baluchistan (Pashtun Areas of Current Baluchistan) into Kalat states Union and formation of Balochistan. It was clear violation of Party Manifesto. Khan Shaheed Left the Party And Formed Pashtunkhwa National Awami Party.
The path to freedom has always remained full of obstacles. Chairman PkMAP Mahmood Khan Achakzai faced three assassination attempts
Achakzai’s vision of national struggle and democracy was by no mean acceptable to British colonisers or Pakistani military dictators. He faced numerous impediments in his walk to freedom, as he spent almost six years in jails before Partition and spent more than seventeen years in jail after 1947. He was the first and last detainee of dictator Ayub Khan’s regime. He faced sedition charges, propaganda by tribal chiefs, attacks on his public demonstrations and when the dark forces realised that nothing could make him deviate from the path of freedom, he was assassinated on the 2nd of December 1973.
And so it was that 25-year-old Mahmood Khan Achakzai became Chairman of Pashtunkhwa National Awami Party after the assassination of his father, the veteran Pashtun nationalist and freedom fighter Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai. He raised the flag, drenched in the blood of Khan Shaheed, when nobody was willing to lead the party. He knew that it would cost him a lot, as he had already seen his father being held captive for dozens of years, and he had seen his father’s assassination after that.
But clouds of fear and cowardice could never gather over his head. PkMAP followed the footsteps of Khan Shaheed and remained a frontline resistance against martial laws. PkMAP is the only political party of Pakistan which has not supported any martial law and always opposed interference of military in politics. It has remained part of MRD, APDM, PDM and other movements for the establishment of rule of law and democracy. On the other hand it has formed different alliances with nationalist parties such as PONM, Pashtun Rahber committee, PNDA etc. PkMAP’s role in various constitutional developments can not be ignored, especially the role of its Senior Deputy Chairman Abdur Rahim Mandokhail in achieving the 18th constitutional amendment. Former Chairman of the Senate Raza Rabbani once said, “The 18th amendment would not have been possible without Abdur Rahim Mandokhail.”
The path to freedom has always remained full of obstacles. Chairman PkMAP Mahmood Khan Achakzai faced three assassination attempts. On the 7th of October 1983, bullets were fired on the party’s protest against martial law, in which four workers got killed and dozens were wounded. An FIR of the incident was registered against Mahmood Khan Achakzai and dozens of party workers were arrested. On the 11th of October 1991, a party office was attacked, in which five workers, including Central Secretary Rahim Kaliwal, got martyred. According to Mahmood Khan Achakzai, in 1992 a tribal feud was used as a means to punish PkMAP for their stance on Afghanistan. In that feud, more than a hundred close relatives, friends and tribesmen of Mahmood Khan Achakzai were killed. In April 2000, an operation against party workers was conducted in Pashtun Abad, Quetta, in which four workers were killed and more than sixty got injured. Recently Professor Ibrahim Arman Luni and Sardar Arif Wazir of PkMAP were killed for playing an extraordinary role in organizing the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). On the 21st of July 2021, the voice of the oppressed and marginalised segments of society, provincial president of PkMAP Usman Khan Kakar, was assassinated in his home.
Khan shaheed had rightly said that even if he is no more, others would come and raise the flag high in exaltation. Today Pkmap has become the prominent face of Pashtun nationalism in Pakistan. Khan Shaheed’s legacy of national struggle and democracy lives on.