Beginning Of Pashto Journalism & First Pashto Journal “Pakhtun”

Our Province could not boast of even one national newspaper. Therefore I planned to publish a journal for the Pakhtuns in their own language, Pashtu, a national journal in the true sense of the word. I had to put in a great deal of hard work, but finally, in May 1928, my efforts bore fruit, and the first issue of Pakhtun[1] appeared.

                At that time the Pakhtuns did not have much feeling or love for their own language. In fact, they hardly knew that Pashtu was their national language. A nation is known and recognized by its language and without a language of its own a nation cannot really be called a nation. A nation that forgets its own language will eventually disappear from the map altogether.

                It is a great pity that the Pakhtuns were so careless that wherever they settled they learnt to speak the local language and gave up speaking their own. They never thought of teaching others their language. They were not event interested in reading or writing their own language.

                Leave alone illiterate people, when I asked the educated Pakhtuns to subscribe to a Pashtu newspaper, their own news paper in their own language after all, they said:

                “Has anything worthwhile ever been written in Pashtu?”

            I replied: “If it hasn’t surely that is not the fault of the Pashtu language. Look at any other language in the world and you will see that it has grown and developed from the level of our own language. No language has ever dropped ready-made from the sky. But in other countries other were people who cherished their language, who worked for its development and enrichment. A language does not develop by magic, though our English-education scholars seem to think so. Who among us has ever cherished and loved our language enough to make an effort to develop and enrich it? Certainly not eh mullah. They are never tired of telling the people that Pashtu was the language spoken in hell. And nobody had enough sense or intelligence to ask the mullahs how they knew this or when they had last been in hell.”

            These were the conditions and the mentality of the people when the first issues of Pakhutn come out. The journal rapidly gained popularity and soon Pakhtuns all over the county and indeed all over the world were talking out subscriptions. Pakhtuns living in America not only helped in the publication of the journal and in enlarging its circulation, but they also gave substantial financial help.

            I have been told that in the time of King Aman Ullah Pakhtun became very popular in Afghanistan. It made the people aware of then own language. They came to love it and were interested in it to such an extent that King Aman ullah and some of his friends were soon publishing a Pashtu journal of their own, called fagh Pakhtun.

            Aman ullah Khan had become so pre-Pashtu that he ordered call Government employees to learn the language. He gave them three year to accomplish this and then he wanted to make Pashtu the national language. The British viewed this development with disfavor. Only nine issues of Fagh Pakhtun had come out, when they intervened. They used the mullahs, the elders, the religious leaders and the theologians to create disturbances in the country by pronouncing king Aman ullah a Kafir. They give him no peace till he left the country and went to Italy. They did not realize how much harm they were doing to themselves.

            King Aman Ullah was ever dreaming of the welfare of his people and all his efforts were directed towards making them prosperous. He always working for the progress of the country, and the happiness of his people. But they rose ip against him, as if he were not their friend but their enemy, and finally they drove him out of the country.

            Such gross ingratitude is a sin before God and He has punished them for it. He gave them Bacha Sakka. Instead of making progress the Afghans saw their country fall into decline.

            We felt the destruction of Afghanistan as if it were our own ruin. And actually the British led Afghanistan into ruin because of us. We were deeply impressed and affected by the progress we saw in Afghanistan and the British did not like that’ neither did they want us to follow their example.

            We tried to help Afghanistan, with men and money, as far as was possible and we continued to do so till Nadir Khan came into power. I went to India during that time to get moral and financial support for the cause of Afghanistan.

            In Punjab I met Dr. Iqbal, Zafar Ali Khan, Mulk Lal Khan and other Muslim leaders. After I had visited Dr.Iqbal my Khilafat colleagues in Lahore asked me:

            “Why did you go and see Dr. Iqbal? He is of no use. He is a poet and all that he does is writing quatrains and odes!”

            I was very surprised, therefore, to see that the same Punjabi (Now Pakistani) leaders and newspapers who did not have a good word for Dr. Iqbal when he was alive, never tried of singing his praises now that he is no more. They even say that he was the creator of the idea of Pakistan. This is not the fault of the Punjabi Muslims. Nations that are aliver value and honour the living, and the dying nations value and honour the dead. We Muslims have always honoured the dead, but we are not even aware that many great men, worthy of honour, are living among us today.

            From Lahore I went to Lucknow, where a Congress meeting was being held. Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru were also attending this meeting. This was in 1928 and it was the first time I had the privilege of meeting them both. Until then I did not know them at all, but my brother, Dr. Khan Saheb, was very friendly with Jawaharlal, because they used to live in the same place in England and they had studied at the University together. My brother had given me a letter of introduction to Nehru.

            Chwdhury Khalique zaman had invited Jawahrlal to dinner after the meeting the he very kindly took me along too. After dinner Nehru and I had a lengthy discussion about Afghanistan.

            From Lucknow I went to Delhi. On Friday when I went to the mosque to say prayers, I met Maulana Mohammed Ali there. He was a fine man, and he has always been very kind to me. But his brother Shaukat Ali was a different man. He had great influence over Mohammed Ali, and he used to misguide him. That annoyed me and he used to misguide him. That annoyed me and therefore I tried to avoid meeting Mohammed Ali. But one day, when he saw me, he came up to me and said, smiling happily:

            “We don’t really care for Pathans, you know!”

            I gave him tit for tat and said:

            “And we don’t really care for leaders who allow themselves to be misguided by others.”

            “And,” I added, “Maulana Saheb, what you are saying about Amanullah Khan is precisely what the British are saying about him.”

            This seemed to shake him, for he threw his arms around me and said:

            “Brother, will you please tell me the true facts?”

            The he took me home with him.

            The truth was that when Aman ullah Khan was about to leave for Europe, Shaukat Ali gave a magnificent reception for him, and delivered an address in his honour. After the party, when farewell had been said, people told me that Aman ullah had not given Shaukat Ali as much money as he expected and therefore Shaukat Ali was annoyed with the king.

 

 

[1] Pakhun became to the North West Frontier West Frontier Province what Gandhiji’s Harijan was to India. Badshah Khan used it to spread his ideas and also to make important announcements. It was banned by the British and the Pakistan Government forbade its publication. It earned a good name for itself during its brief span of life.

 

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