Connecting the Syndicate of Insurgent Groups: The Role of Language and Culture in Twenty-First Century

Muhammad Athar Javed. Forsker, ekspert i pakistansk sikkerhedspolitik.

Introduction: Language and Culture as a Taliban Strategy
There is something curious about Taliban’s obsession to dismiss the linguistic  and cultural links between Pashtunwali1 and their version of implementing  Shariah (Islamic law) in Afghanistan. Far from reflecting the neat‐Islamic  doctrines and the classic Pashtun traditions, the Taliban movement is  projecting Islam as a religion of oppression, which supposedly rejects the idea  of a modern nation‐state. Although it would be remarkably impossible to  define an ethnic community in a concrete term, the Pashtuns are, however,  usually famous for their contradictory cultural behavior. At the same time, they  are perceived as hospitable and hostage‐takers, generous and greedy, faithful  and deceitful, brave and cunning. But, over the centuries, they have managed  to maintain a proud independence of spirit and dignity of carriage, even in  misfortune, poverty and war. Most of them are poor, but all claim nobility, not  that the poverty inherently prohibits embracing luxury of aristocracy.   

The following estimations consider how the Taliban deploy language and  culture to gain hearing from their co‐religionists as well as their tribal  connections. Weaving the threat of violence and war messages in a poetic  dimension with the outpouring of propaganda about their ‘honour and  revenge’ makes poetic language a considerable source of couching young  radical Islamists. The Taliban understand that even implied threats and coded  messaging of rhetoric can have impact on the population's perceptions and  calculations. Since illiteracy is widespread in Afghanistan, and many Afghans  have little or no access to current news, the Taliban use traditional methods to  spread their message. For instance, they often use ‘night letters’2 or shabnamahs, a traditional means of communicating in the country, to send  messages to individuals or throughout villages. Often the letters have been  used to deliver threats to the enemy, and to gather human and material  resources against the Allied forces.3 This use of language and cultural codes by  Taliban is aimed to revitalize the old methods of communicating insurgency  messages, but with a more regional approach. It is however, unclear how this  fits in the modern age of internet, DVD, video and SMS. But with the Taliban  controlling more than half of Afghanistan, the US and NATO will have to fight  this war based on a strategy, which complements military efforts with extraintellectual dimensions.     

The grand implication of Taliban’s current strategy underscores how crucial  it is to decode such communications, which narrate message of violence. With  this method of Taliban in mind, it must not be surprising that those who  threaten to attack Western cities may have based their strategy on language  and culture as well as on links with likeminded ethnic communities. Taliban are  tactically using some of the cultural symbols to escape, communicate and  supply weapons. Burqas, for example are famously used to escape arrest by top  Taliban leaders, turbans and waistcoats are being used to supply small arms  and bullets. The drawstring in a shalwar‐qameez4 may also have been used to  hide and send written messages to the Taliban leadership. My argument is that  the language expressions and cultural symbols are being used to create a  syndicate of interconnected terrorist groups that may become a serious  challenge for the world powers.     

Tactical Humbleness and Pashtun Culture
Taliban’s inclination towards combining Pashtunwali and strict Islamic codes  create a tactical humble character, ‘mullah’. Here tactical humbleness is  defined in terms of Taliban’s use of mullah’s limited religious knowledge. My  argument is that Taliban are culturally religious, rather than religiously  cultured. For the purpose of this argument, I define Taliban as a Cultural Based  Religion (CBR) because most of their practices of Islamic faith are based on  their thousands year old code of conduct, Pashtunwali, rather than on the basis of Islamic history or traditions, as defined by the Koran and the words of the  Prophet (Hadith).   

This can be exemplified by using a certain set of codes of Pashtun culture  and institutions. The Jirga system for instance, is used as an alternative system  to an Islamic justice system, taking revenge (Badal), instead of forgiving which  mainstream Islam considers the most preferable characteristic of a Muslim,  showing hospitality (Melmastia; protection of a guest irrespective of their  deeds), contrary to the Islamic principles that a criminal must be handed over  to the state authorities. A combination of conservatism and local nationalistic  reasons suggest that Taliban’s ideology is based on the obsolete ‘system of  beliefs’, which only fancies the inward tribal‐Islamic traditions.   

This signifies a particular aspect of Pashtun culture, that is, on the one  hand it seeks to maintain its autonomous superior nature, and on the other it  follows only religious principles suitable to promote their respective tribal  interests. The case in point is the role of the mullah in Pashtun culture, who  may not possess potential to command a tribe. But, the cultural traditions can  transform the weak and socially humble mullah into a warrior and a leader. The key contradiction, however, in this process is that Pashtuns scorn the mullah  and consider him socially inferior.5 And yet, in the times of war, they lend him  great authority of leadership and nobility, in order to terminate the cause of  Jihad.   

The character of current Taliban leadership reflects that the essential role  of humbleness promotes communication, and thus creates a formidable  mechanism of recruitment among the ‘poor and young’ radical Pashtuns.  Arguably, such a scenario opens up another debate whether it would be a  sustainable political strategy to use only religion as the basis to govern a  complex and highly tribal and differentiated society like Afghanistan. Earlier  history of warlords and tribal feuds reminds us that when all else failed, it is the  political negotiation based on Islamic‐Pashtunwali doctrine, which might  succeed. It is this close nexus between cultural and religious affiliations that  creates unwarranted deception on the part of Taliban. 

The vast majority of literature is in Pashtu and in Urdu6, the languages of  ethnic constituencies from which the Tehrik‐e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and  indigenous Afghan Taliban continue to draw most of their support. A mediumscale Punjabi language activity would seem intended to draw new recruits and  sectarian‐based jihadi organizations (Ex. Lashkar‐e Jhangvi, LeJ, Sipah‐e  Sahaba Pakistan, SSP and Jaish‐e Muhammad, JeM) from southern and  northern Punjab in Pakistan. The current recruitment patterns of Taliban show  that they may well use historical Pashto/Urdu and Punjabi folk poetry and  Muslim identity to accommodate other ethnic and cultural groups in their  ranks. The mention of Urdu and Punjabi speaking Taliban of Pakistan is  important because they have made cultural differences the main reason for  fighting the West. With the help of insurgents from South Punjab and Karachi  (Sindh province), the Taliban occupied the entire valley of Swat and Malakand  division. The TTP implemented their version of shariah in Swat valley and in  South Waziristan, and had killed hundreds of civil servants, tribal chiefs and  ordinary citizens. Although most of the Swat valley and South Waziristan are  now under the control of Pak‐military, a low‐medium level of guerrilla war is  still underway. As the Taliban rule in Pakistan and Afghanistan spreads, so does  their reach to even those, who ideologically oppose Taliban’s ruling methods  (Ex. the Hizb‐e Islami Gulbuddin, HIG).   

The character of new Taliban alliances demonstrates that the cooperation  between different insurgent groups is aimed to carry out a ‘collective action’  against the US and NATO forces. The concept of collective action is one of the  most important pillars of Pashtunwali, which facilitates leader’s control over  social and economic resources. But the question is how significant it would be  to identify ‘war coded’ messages in Muslim mystical poetry that simultaneously  address the dilemma of devotion to religion and love to cultural social  traditions of a Pashtun.     

“No Respect, No Negotiation and No Deal”:  Pashto Language and Literature 
The primary consequence of this dilemma is related to Pashtuns’ defiance of  both central and political authority. It has always been a theme which finds  adequate amplification in almost all the revolutionary poetry of the Northwest,  a consequence of the individual derived from the Islamic idea and an  unmediated relationship between cultural traditions of the Pashtuns and God. 

It has historically provided legitimacy to stolid regionally based resistance and  revolt against would‐be masters and outsiders. This more than any other single  feature highlights the role of culture of a region and, by implication, language  in the self‐definitions of identity on the part of variously situated Pashtuns.   

The secondary result is that nowhere were cultural and linguistic links  reflected more strikingly than in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) because  Pahstuns always believed that the world/regional powers seek to extinguish  their cultural superiority, honour and territorial independence. Effectively, the  Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) have never been part of the main  stream political landscape, and thus formed no basis for any social relationship  with their Urdu and Punjabi speaking counterparts. Their only interaction point  came through different revolts and freedom movements in which they  supported, financed and sheltered each other in the hour of need (Ex. invasion  of Kashmir valley in 1948). While different Pashtu poets promoted nationalistic  spirit, it was Khushal Khan Khattak7 whose poetry intrigued and counterintrigued, and led to the experience of rebellion along with other Pashtun  tribes. His poetry reflects that the heroism of rebels is attributed to a cultural  and linguistic configuration, rather than to the religious zeal alone. Khushal Khan Khattak’s story in the 17th century truly demonstrates how  crucial it is to capture a ‘real insight’ into the codes of honour of Pashtuns.   

During the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb8, Khushal was a loyal vassal of the  Mughals, as he captured the Gwalior fort for them after all earlier attempts had  failed. An ill‐advised governor of Kabul hit at his economic interests and  insulted him personally.   

This was enough for Khushal to revolt against the Mughal Empire. He  organized a confederacy of Khattak, Afridi, Mohmand and Orakazai tribes  against the Mughal army, and inflicted crushing defeats on it. Khushal  articulates the reasons for his vengeance toward the enemy and expresses why  he adopted tactical humbleness: Black is the Moghual’s heart towards all us Pathans/ Well I am acquainted with each one of their designs/ Freedom is mine,  though plain and coarse my clothes;/ Relieved now am I of velvet and of  brocade;/ A grass‐built hut is now so dear to me/ I had rather be seated there  than in palace of stone9

Demonstrating the close nexus between a regional and linguistic identity,  Khushal overshadows the injury to his personal honour at the hands of the  emperor’s advisor. With the ambition to transform personal vendetta into a  nationalistic view of hostility towards the rulers, Khushal seeks to include the  entire Pashtun community to share his worldly suffering. His rejection of  Mughal grandeur is merely aimed to strategize a ‘collective action’ against  unacceptable treatment of his person, a behavior, which enforces miseries at a  Tsunami scale on the whole Pashtun community (Ex. the current situation of  civilians in Afghanistan).   

His preference to personal discomfort, freedom and humbleness jointly  constructs the deception on the basis of which he would continue to defend his  own language and culture with outpouring of propaganda about  Pashtunization of Afghanistan: Persian poetry have I learnt, I have the taste for  all;/ Pushto poetry I prefer, each one thinks his own the best/ Have I the Pushto  language made to rival with Persian/ The Pashto tongue is difficult, its  measures hard to find10

In addition to his effort to defend the honour of the whole Pashtun  community, Khushal also shows that a Pashtun is comfortable in his own  identity. He not only takes pride in being a Pashtun, but also tactically  undermines the linguistic and ethnic importance of Persian speakers in  Afghanistan. This cultural upbeat can also be seen in the making of political  tales, where a manifestation of self‐pride and honour will be applicable to the  entire Afghan population. The case in point is of the last Taliban rule (19962001) under which all other cultural and linguistic aspects of Afghanistan were  shunned and brutally suppressed. The destruction of a thousand‐year‐old  statue of Buddha in Bamian province11, and the killing of Hazaras and other Persian speaking Afghans are well documented.  In another verse, Khushal  reflects upon his personal character: No Jew or infidel is there whose behaviour  is so vile/ As I know myself to have been in word and deed/ I have never cared  for right or wrong so that it pleased me/ When have I had concern for the  lawfulness of my food?/ I am a drinker of wine, why does the priest quarrel with  me?/ Our natures are made of fate, would that I could make his like mine!/ If in  observance of rites consist true Islam/ Happy for me, for then perchance, I am a  good Muslim12/   

Crossing into the transnational territory, Khushal borrows the religious  rhetoric to show that despite being a Sunni‐Pashtun and a traditional Afghan,  he failed to uphold the basic tenets of Islam. He was tormented by his lack of  true religiosity and makes a confession. But, at the cost of other faiths, a  technique that has been part of propaganda campaigns against other religions  by Taliban and other radical Islamist groups.   

Like his Muslim counterparts in other regional narratives of identity,  Khushal Khan prized his own self‐description of other religions. He showed  little tolerance towards faiths other than Islam, and confesses about his drifting  corrupt behavior. But, Khushal uses negative connotation and political rhetoric  to define his own lack of character. At the same time, he exposes the  consequence of contradiction within the Pashtun culture in which Islam is  preached by illiterate local mullahs, a socially‐inferior icon in popular Pashtun  consciousness over the centuries. These cultural practices continue even in the  modern Islamic milieu. Currently, the local mullahs such as Mullah Omar in  Afghanistan and Mullah Fazalullah,13 TTP leader in Swat valley, have  established themselves as respectable leaders of the Afghan and Pakistani  Taliban and of other insurgent groups.   

One can draw a similarity between Pakistan’s current attempts to tackle  the autonomous Pashtun tribes in its FATA with that of Mughal emperor  Aurangzeb, who too like the Pakistani government some believe, was illadvised about dealing with the independent nature of Pashtuns. The successive  Pakistani government and military rulers ignored the linguistic and cultural  promotion of Pashtuns, and deliberately kept them backward. 

Urdu Language and Culture of Insurgency
As indicated earlier, the historical interaction between Pashtun, Urdu and  Punjabi speaking insurgent groups mostly took place during numerous revolts.  Political grievances against the British rule in the Indian sub‐continent greatly  contributed to this interface. A careful location of the context in which  culturally informed poets communicated popular discourses show that the role  of Urdu was projected to narrate the post‐rebellion experiences. The  suppression of the 1857 revolt, for example, snuffed out the last Muslim  sovereignty. The popular voices including poets, however, felt that it was more  the loss of an established way of cultural life than a political fact of foreign rule.  Among those who were reluctant supporters of the revolt against the British  was no less a person than decrepit King Bahadur Shah Zafar.14 As he  acknowledged: I am the light of no one’s eye, nor the balm of anyone’s heart,/  One who could not come to anyone’s aid, I am a mere handful of dust15

Forced to command the rebels, the remnant of the Mughal dynasty denied  that he was a king. Bahdur Shah recounts the loss of popular support and lack  of administrative authority. His views in the above‐mentioned verse  demonstrate that he realized the causes of social turmoil and economic  hardship in the country, but failed to prevent the fighting against the British.  The lack of political clout to command the allegiance of a restive populace  ultimately became the fundamental failure of his rule. Interestingly, while the  Mughal king did not command authority, Mirza Ghalib, a renowned poet16 had  his hand on the populace pulse when he asserted that if this was the condition  of knightly authority then why every non‐entity in Delhi should not lord it over like lords. Ghalib also showed that he was not oblivious to the fate that had  befallen general Muslim masses in Delhi after the defeat of the rebels: Now  every English soldier that bears arm/ Is sovereign, and free to work his will17

Although Ghalib could not bring himself to support the rebels, he instead  raised the issue of mistrust between the post‐revolt inhabitants of Delhi and  the British soldiers providing security to important buildings and officials. He  sarcastically deplores the show of excess of arms in public domain and links it  with the authority and power of the rulers. Part of the reason for Ghalib’s  ambivalence toward the 1857 revolt was based on his realization of the  inherent weaknesses of the Mughals and relative strength of the British rule.   

Unlike Pashtu poetry where ‘defiance of a central authority’ was the main  voice, the sense of hopelessness was to become a recurrent theme in much of  the Urdu poetry after the loss of sovereignty. And after the revolt had been  crushed, pragmatism replaced despair. This development demanded that  liberals like Ghalib keep up his fences mended with the new rulers. The new  cultural influences especially the introduction of western science and  technology undoubtedly excited his imagination. As he put it: Faith holds me  back while infidelity attracts me/ The ka’aba is behind me and the church ahead  beckons me18

From an intellectual who proclaimed himself free of all religions and  cultural traditions, this was not an admission of his attraction to the Christian  faith, but a sign of his open‐mindedness to what was new and as yet unknown.  This did ease the hopelessness felt by the post‐revolt cultural milieu in India  and by the Muslims in particular. The role of Urdu poets here is mostly  described in the construction of collective popular discourses.   

In any case, the Muslim poets and ulema were unable to agree, whether  the insurgency (revolt) was a jihad. A declaration of jihad would make it  mandatory for all Muslims to participate in it as a religious duty. The most  common of the opinions floated by ulema was related to the fact that as long  as Muslims enjoyed religious freedom, there was no need of jihad. This is also  consistent with the overall trend in contemporary South Asian history in which  the multiple sets of cultural, linguistic, religious and sectarian identities add up  to a weak societal setup.     

Feudalism, Honour and Identity:
The Role of Punjabi language and Culture

Whereas the themes in Urdu poetry reflect pragmatic approach toward the  British rule, the Punjabis chose not to join hands with the rebels in the 1857.  However, the Punjabis had shown their resentment through numerous local  rebellions. The case in point is of one Ahmad Khan Kharal19, who revolted  against the British rule.20 The tales of Kharal’s heroism in Punjabi culture is no  less than a phenomenon that often underscores the importance of honour and  collective concerns of an ethnic community. A folk Punjabi poet wrote on  September 21, 1857 that, “When Ahmad Khan martyred, the British lower  down the head of Punjab, Rai Ahmad was shot while praying his afternoon  prayers; Gulab Rai Baidi fired the bullet, Ahmad has joined the Imam of  Karbla”.21     

Once again like Khushal Khan Khattak in Pashtun culture, the poet replaces  the personal loss to the loss of the whole community. He links the death of  Ahmad Khan Kharal with dishonouring the entire Punjab. The expression that  Britain has tried to “lower the head of Punjab” clearly reflects that the loss of a  head of a tribe or chieftain or a family elder is considered a major cultural loss  of pride and honour, rather than a personal tragedy. The poet further expresses  his woe; on that day Ahmad Khan was shot dead in the battlefield while he was  saying his afternoon prayers. And for the poet, Ahmad Khan was a martyr who  had joined with the first Shiite, Imam Hussein, who too was killed during his  afternoon prayer. Such associations, linking an individual with the larger  spectrum of Islamic history, vindicate approaches to different contemporary  insurgences in which the cultural narratives are considered both in terms of  nationalism and religious following.   

By contrast to Urdu speaking culture where poets express hopelessness  and pragmatism, the Punjabi Taliban is more connected with their Pashtun  counterparts. The feudal culture of Punjab also does not endorse the leadership  of a mullah, but during all major sociopolitical events, mullahs and mosques  would become centers for cementing grass‐root support for radical ideas and  thus building a strong connection between the mosque and the religious  political parties. From an election campaign to the formation of linguistic/ethnic and cast‐system based grouping, everything would be done on  the basis of Islamic‐Punjabi cultural harmony. This raises the interesting  question whether the Taliban in Afghanistan are exploiting cultural  contradictions within Urdu/Punjabi speaking Islamists, in order to expand their  files and ranks.     

Syndicate of Insurgent Groups:  Taliban and Militant Groups of Punjab
As mentioned earlier, the southern and northern regions of Punjab are famous  for their feudal and oppressive culture. Along with the stringent curb on the  political activity of the ordinary people, the oppression of low‐cast Punjabi is  one of the reasons that encouraged the creation of militant cells. What began  as a struggle against oppressive feudal lords, and a fight against other sects of  Islam (Ex. Shiite vs Sunni) in the 1980’s, has now transformed into a  comprehensive network of ‘Punjabi Taliban’ which prizes its affiliation with  international insurgent groups including al‐Qaeda. The claim of responsibility  by different groups including the Amjad Farooqi group also supports the nexus  between the Pashtun and Punjabi militants. Farooqi who was killed in  September 2004, had belonged to the Jaish‐e‐Mohammad (JeM) terror group,  which is still active in the Indian administrated Kashmir.22   

The nexus between Pashtun and Punjabi militant groups began during the  early 1990s, as Saudi funding for the Sipah‐e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was  pumped in to counter the expansion of the Iranian Revolution into neighboring  countries including Afghanistan. Consequently, Pakistan with the help of its  Arab friends managed to establish Taliban. It suited the military establishment  and the late prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, because the US and allied forces  abruptly had ended their campaign against the Soviets in 1989. The fact that  Punjabi Taliban are now scattered all over FATA, attached either with the TTP  or other terrorist groups also demonstrates that the insurgent base is  expanding. Despite the cultural differences, their ideological aim is to purge  foreign forces from Afghanistan, a point of agreement that connects the  agenda of these groups.   

Through a series of recent attacks on civilian and security targets including  one on Pak‐military’s General Head Quarter on October 17, 2009, the radical  Punjabi‐Islamists have shown they are as ruthless as their Pashtun counterparts and as resourceful as their Al Qaeda mentors. Even in incidents  where they are not the main attackers, the Punjabi speaking Taliban are believed to have put together all the logistics by supplying weapons, procuring  transport and arranging board and lodging for the assailants. The tentacles of  the Punjabi Taliban have spread across the province through the activists of  banned jihadi organizations. From Kahuta in north Punjab to Rahimyar Khan,  from Jhang to Dera Ghazi Khan, and from Bahwalpur to Muridke in the south,  the entire province is stippled with radicalized individuals whose ranks appear  to swell, even as they have distinct cultural and linguistic differences with the  Pashtun Taliban.     

The most important conclusion is that insurgents are using language and  culture as a ‘war strategy’ against the Allied Forces in Afghanistan.   Overall, two different approaches have emerged from the above  discussion. The first is that the Pashtuns and the Punjabis share a common  ‘code of honour’, and the second is that the Urdu speaking communities  endorse a more pragmatic viewpoint than their Punjabi and Pashtun  counterparts. 

To furnish additional argument about the links between Pashtunwali and  Taliban’s Shariah, it is useful to point out that the feelings of pre‐eminence  among Pashtuns over others is spreading discord among other ethnic and  cultural entities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The infighting and betrayals  among different tribes have been part and parcel of the Pashtun culture. As the  following tappa – a very old and exclusively Pashtun poetic form with the first  line shorter than the second – puts it: “Who will gain victory over us? We are  Pakhtuns [Pashtuns] and we shall die in the love for Pukhto [Pashtu]”.23   

The notion of providing protection and hospitality toward guests and  revenge for all insults is among the most important codes of Pashtu culture.  Nonetheless, the Pashtun culture has allowed Islamic impact to submerge only  to the extent that the historical idioms of Pashtunwali must remain the  dominant narrative of Afghanistan. Fascinatingly, contrary to the common  perception, the Pashtuns lack nationalist compulsion. They are divided into  tribes who think culturally and locally.   

The examples of the post‐revolt Urdu poetry reflect that the poets and  ulema did not agree on the legitimacy of jihad, rather, the pragmatic approach  toward outsiders was widely supported. However, the sense of hopelessness  within among the political leadership is mostly directed at the loss of their way  of cultural life, rather than the loss of their sovereignty. This moderate character of Urdu speaking communities is relatively different from their  Punjabi counterparts, whose complex religious‐political ideas ultimately  shaped the territorial and cultural expressions of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. Like their Pashtun counterparts, the Punjabi prized their ‘codes of  honour’ (gairat) and religious base. Whereas, the feelings of pre‐eminence  dominated the Pashtun culture, the oppression of low‐cast land‐workers has  been one of the most crushing burdens on the honour of Punjabi culture.   

Finally, it is important to point out that the connections between Pashto,  Urdu and Punjabi speaking insurgent groups are rapidly expanding. I believe it  is meaningful to alert to the underlying cultural and linguistic codes and  sensibilities of these communities. Such strategy would help understanding the  connections between the syndicate of insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 



1 Pashtunwali is an unwritten socio‐political and culture “moral code”, which  represent social order and responsibilities among Pashtuns. Most of the  Pashtuns are habitants of Afghanistan and Pakistan.   

2 ‘Night letters’ are mostly written in Pashto language, and are aimed at  warning the villagers who cooperate with the Allied forces in Afghanistan.  Usually, these letters are posted or hanged on the walls of a mosque or a school in small towns. Both Taliban and drug lords are suspected for carrying out such  actions. These letters mainly carry a message of punishment. 

3 Taliban using Text Messages and Ring Tones, Associated Press, July 24, 2008. 

4 Salwar kameez is a traditional dress worn by both women and men in South  Asia. Salwar, the pants, are gathered at the waist and held up by a drawstring  or an elastic band. They can be wide and baggy or narrower. The kameez, the  tunic, is usually cut straight and flat. 

5 “Among Pashtuns…the mullah is a member not of the tribe but of an  occupational qawm (Ex. blacksmith and carpenter), and might be the object of  mockery”, Rubin, Barnett R., The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, State and  Collapse in the International System, Yale University, London, 2002, p. 38. 

6 Nathan, Joanna, “Reading the Taliban” in Giustozzi, Antonio (editor):  Decoding the New Taliban, Insights from the Afghan Field, Hurst & Co. London,  2009, pp. 29‐30.

7 Khushal Khan Khattak (1613‐1690) was a famous Afghan warrior, poet, and  chief of the Khattak tribe who called on the Afghans to fight the Mughals then  occupying their land. He admonished Afghans to forsake their anarchistic  tendencies and unite to regain the strength and glory they once obsessed. The  Khattak tribe of Khushhal Khan now lives in the areas of Kohat, Peshawar, and  Mardan, Pakistan.    Khushals poetry has been translated into Danish by Jens Enevoldsen in  Århundredets Pathan, Digte af Khushal Khan Khatak, Kbh. 1966. 

8 Muhi ud‐din Muhammad Aurangzeb, more commonly known as Aurangzeb  (1618‐1707) was the 6th Mughal Emperor reigning from 1658 until 1707. 

9 C.E. Biddulph (ed.), Afghan Poetry of the Seventeenth Century: Being  Selections From the Poems of Khushal Khan Khattak, Saeed Book Bank &  Subscription Agency, Peshawar, Pakistan, 1983, pp. 62‐64. 

10 Ibid. pp. 72‐77. 

11 “Afghan Taliban Begin Destruction of Ancient Buddah”, Agence France Presse  (AFP), March 01, 2001  “Afghan Taliban Begin Destruction of Ancient Buddah”, Agence France Presse  (AFP), March 01, 2001, “Afghanistan's puritanical Taliban Islamic militia began  demolishing statues across the country...The two massive Bamiyan Buddhas were built around the second century…The Taliban, or movement of religious  students, seized Kabul in 1996 and have imposed a puritanical mix of Pashtun  tribal and Sharia law in a bid to create their idea of a true Muslim state…” 

12 Ibid. p. 81. 

13 Mullah Fazlullah was a chairlift operator, and does not possess a formal  authority in Islamic jurisprudence. 

14 The last Mughal king, Bahadur Shah (Bahadur Shah Zafar, 1775‐1862). During  his reign, Urdu poetry flourished and reached its zenith. He himself was a  prolific poet and an accomplished calligrapher. Love and mysticism were his  favourite subjects. Most of his poetry is full of pain and sorrow owing to the  distress and degradation he had to face at the hands of the British. It was at the  time of Bahadur Shah that the revolt of 1857 started. The rebels nominated  him as their Commander‐in‐Chief. In the initial stages, the revolt was  successful, but later on the strong and organized British forces defeated them.   

15 ”Taqazah”, Shahjahnpuri, Payam (ed.), Fortnightly, Annual number on the  1857 revolt Lahore, 1986, pp. 25‐26.   

16 Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan (1797‐1869), was a great classical Urdu and  Persian poet from Indian‐sub continent during British rule. During his lifetime  the Mughals were eclipsed and displaced by the British and finally deposed  following the defeat of the rebellion of 1857. He critically wrote about the  events that led to this revolt.

17 Shahjahnpuri, Payam, Taqazah, Fortnightly, Annual number on the 1857  revolt Lahore, (ed.), i, 1986, p. 28. 

18 Annemarie Schimmel, A two Colored Brocade: the Imagery of Persian Poetry,  Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1992, p. 119. 

19 Ahmed Khan Kharal belonged to Sanadal Bar Jhamra in Jhang District,  currently in Faisalabad division, Punjab province of Pakistan. He was the leader  of Kharal Tribe who revolted against the British, due to the perceived injustice  from their rule.   

20 Mirza, Shafqat Tanveer: Resistance Themes in Punjabi Literature, Sang‐e  Meel Publications, Lahore, 1992, pp. 102‐105. 

21 Ibid.

22 Raman, B., “Why Amjad Farooqi had to die”, Asia Times (Online), September  30, 2004.

23 Jan, Inamullah, “Pukhtunwali in Historical Perspective”, unpublished doctoral  dissertation, Quaid‐e Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, 1979, pp. 17‐18. 



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