By Habibullah Khan
Identities are more vulnerable and prone to inner conflict and instability. Politically unstable countries are easily coerced to serve the interest of bigger countries. That is why countries with hegemonic designs encourage sub-nationalism and create different identities in the target country to create politically instability.
Francis Fukuyama, in his book identity: The Demand for Dignity and Politics of Resentment warns that while we could be proud of our identities, they can also divide us.
Back in twentieth Century, left wing politics was based firmly around ‘class issue’. Activists and political parties were concerned with economic well-being of poor citizens. Trade unions held far more power than they do today. And there was a demand and broad support for an active welfare state.
‘Identity politics has fractured the political left, which is now focusing on the recognition of smaller and smaller groups in society instead of fighting for general economic equality. Identity politics has divided oppressed groups into smaller and smaller groups, each with it own distinct interests, hence, they are unable to challenge the exploiting elite/oligarchy.
When government of Pakistan after a decade of alienation of tribal area brings the people of FATA to Mainstream, Pasthtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) is pushing them to isolation.
Saira Bano Barakzai, a proud Pashtun research Fellow at Harward University in her recent article says that the time is ripe for the people of tribal area to make a clear choice; to struggle to restore rights and peace or to struggle against this country’s institution and ideology, only to get entangled in a perpetual conflict. PTM has become a new hurdle in mainstreaming of people of FATA.
Identity for any group of people is emotionally important. Therefore, no one expects Pashtun to abandon their identity, or to stop taking pride in the community to which they proudly represent instead, in a diverse culture of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to combat division and fighting, they need to build strong, overarching identities that they can all be part of.
PTM leadership encourages infighting and incites violence for which it is being tried in court of law. PTM has clear secessionist tendencies and does not stand for the objectives it preaches. Its linkages with non-state actors and funding from unknown sources also make them doubtful for the already cautious Pakistani establishment.
If PTM truly aims to see a large-scale change in the lives of Pashtuns, they must not divide people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on narrow identities. PTM should create a shared political community based on liberal, democratic principal and a commitment to universal human rights.
The strategy should focus clear economic, security and political right to the people of Khyber PakhtunKhwa in general and people of former FATA in particular.
PTM should help abolish Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) and mainstream Pashtun of tribal area into broader Pakistani Society. The concept of ‘Elaqa e Ghair’ unruly land for tribal areas is the thing of past.