Sunday, December 19, proved to be a busy day for Prime Minister Imran Khan. He made a speech at a conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and then met the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Malaysia, and the secretary general of the OIC. At these meetings, he stressed the need for tackling problems confronting the member states individually as well as collectively.
During the conference it was agreed that all Muslim states would actively confront Islamophobia. A wing similar to Pakistan’s Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Authority would be set up at the OIC level for the purpose. Somehow, Pashtun nations were excluded from these plans.
Envoys from 57 nations are participating in this year’s OIC. Imran Khan, who was the last to speak before the televised portion of the event concluded, began his speech by welcoming the participants to Pakistan. “Forty-one years ago, an extraordinary session of the OIC was held in Pakistan to discuss the situation in Afghanistan,” he said. That session also included Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, alongside delegates from the United States, China, Russia, the European Union and UN.
Specifically addressing the United States, the Prime Minister said that Washington must ‘delink’ the Taliban government from the 40 million Afghan citizens. However, he himself forgot to delink Taliban from Pashtuns. “They have been in conflict with the Taliban for 20 years but this [concerns] the people of Afghanistan,” he said, adding that it was important to take immediate action.
He noted that the Taliban had to fulfill the commitments they had made to the international community, which included forming an inclusive government and ensuring women’s rights.
“[However], the idea of human rights is different in every society,” he said. He gave the example of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan. “The city culture is completely different from the culture in rural areas […] we give stipends to the parents of the girls so that they send them to school. But in districts bordering Afghanistan, if we are not sensitive to the cultural norms, then they won’t send them to school despite receiving double the amount. We have to be sensitive about human rights and women rights,” he said.
Prime Minister Khan attempted to justify Afghan Taliban by connecting them with Pakhtun nationalism and culture. During the OIC meeting in Islamabad he advocated for the Afghan Taliban by blaming Pakhtun Culture for being against girls’ education and human rights. Imran Khan attempted to mislead the world by depicting Pakhtuns as ignorant, religious extremists and even terrorists.
In reality, the Afghan Taliban are enemies of Pakhtun nationalism and Culture. The Taliban are advocates of the Arab culture. Pakhtun culture comprises enlightened, progressive and open-minded people. Pakhtuns are proud of strong and well-known girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai and women rights’ defenders Gulalai Ismail, and so many more.
Bacha Khan, the father of the Pakhtun nation began his movement by opening schools for boys and girls. Imran Khan has connected Pakhtuns with Taliban, and is now claiming that Pakhtuns are against girls’ education and human right. Someone should remind him that all the female in the families of his Pakhtun Cronies are well educated. Some of them own, and profit from, chains of Private Girls Schools & Colleges. Even the first female Lt General serving in Pakistan Army is a Pakhtun from Swabi.