The martyrdom of Arbab Sahib was apparently for the reason that he was not letting extremist groups enter into local mosques
By Arbab Daud
"Let me Die with honour," said Arbab Saaadat Ali Khan, a great Red Shirt leader, as he was offered medicine by an English Jailor at Hari Pur Prison in 1932.
A careful read of the words of Arbab Saadat Ali Khan, would give a lucid view of the family background of the Arbab Sikander Khan Khalil (Arbab Sahib), who proudly inherited valor, defiance and straightforwardness from his great and revolutionary father.
Arbab Sahib, interestingly, was born on the same day when Haji Fazl-e-Wahid aka Haji Sahib Turangzai placed the foundation stone of Mosque of Islamia College Peshawar back in 1913. To Arbab Sahib, his father bequeathed the responsibility of playing a vital role in emancipating the nation from the colonial rule and like father the great son shouldered the responsibility diligently and unflinchingly to a conclusion, which seemed a vague dream to the hoi polloi until the last moment of its becoming a reality.
Arbab Sahib’s education process stopped as his father died in jail and he was imprisoned for two times at the age of 19 years within the same year of father’s death, for the only reason that his father was a revolutionary. His professional degree of LLB later came from famous Aligarh Muslim University of India in 1947.
As a Lawyer, Arbab Sahib started his practice immediately after the partition in 1947. In post-partition events the office of a renowned Hindu legal professional Mela Ram Advocate was allotted to Arbab Sahib by the evacuee trust. Arbab Sahib was a great civil lawyer and his practice was mostly based on humanitarian grounds than the commercial mindset.
As a Politician, Arbab Sahib started his career under the mentorship of Arbab Abdul Ghafoor Khan (AAGK), a first cousin of Arbab Sahib. The difference of Arbabs with Khudai Khidmatgaar movement arose when the stepdaughter of Doctor Khan Sahib married a non-Muslim. AAGK demanded from Doctor Khan Sahib to disown his stepdaughter publicly for this shameful act. Doctor Khan Sahib didn’t accept the suggestion and resultantly the Arbab family left the movement to join the Muslim League.
Another major reason for joining the Muslim League was that, Arbab Sahib and AAGK both were of the opinion that after the 1940’s Pakistan Resolution in Lahore, a united India in post-British scenario was like writing on the wall, hence they supported the idea of partition rather than simply following whatever the All India Congress dictated.
After Pakistan came into being, some vested interests hijacked Quaid-e-Azam MA Jinnah from the rest of Muslim League. For personal gains these vested interests curried the favour from MA Jinnah, who seemingly had a great love for the worldly vanities, through sugar-coated lip service.
Abdul Qayum Khan came to the power in NWFP through the same hypocrisy and nepotism. Appointment of Abdul Qayum Khan and other such acts of Jinnah disheartened the Arbabs and they had no other way out but to group with likeminded political activists to make Awami Muslim League at the outset and later convert its name to Awami League.
The dirty episode of the forceful capture of Suez Canal by the British Empire was fully supported by HS Soharwardy, who also pushed the country into deep-waters with his notorious one-unit formula, and that is where Arbab Sahib et al parted ways with Awami League. Arbab Sahib joined hands with other nationalists to make Pakistan National Party (PNP) in West Pakistan and the PNP was later joined by Gantantari Dal of East Pakistan, in 1950s, to shape up the National Awami Party (NAP).
In early 1960s Ayub Khan, the then dictator, was infuriated by NAP’s demand of abolishing the one-unit and restoration of 4 provinces of West Pakistan. As a result Arbab Sahib along with other 13 people from NWFP were arrested and tried by special military courts. They were all sentenced for 10 to 14 years of rigorous imprisonment, lashes, heavy fines and confiscation of movable and immovable properties.
Arbab Sahib also tried his level best to make a settlement between West and East Pakistan during the tense times and travelled several times to East Pakistan to meet Sheikh Mujeed ur Rehman, however the conniving of Punjabi intelligentsia, the anger of Pakistani military and power hunger of Bhutto caused the fall of Dacca and partition of Pakistan in December 1971. "The Pakistan of Jinnah is reduced to the Pakistan of Punjab" was the remarks of Arbab Sahib after the partition of Pakistan.
Arbab Sahib was always against the lines and borders dividing the Pukhtoons residing inside Pakistan. He vigorously fought for unification of Princely states of Dir, Chitral and Swat into NWFP. The dream of Arbab Sahib became reality during his lifetime and he himself actively participated in the amalgamation process of the aforementioned princely states in the NWFP.
When Arbab Sahib took oath as a Governor of NWFP in 1972, he ordered a water supply scheme for southern districts, ensured regular supply of food and common use items to Chitral district and started projects on roads, and small dams in northern areas of the province. Arbab Sahib also played an important role in finalizing the Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan and as a result almost 90,000 prisoners of war were released by India.
ZA Bhutto’s undemocratic dismissal of the government of Attaullah Mengal in Balochistan was the major cause Arbab Sahib’s resign from the governorship. Thereupon NAP along with other political parties formed United Democratic Front (UDF) against the government of PPP. The far-famed Liaqat Bagh incident also happened under the auspices of UDF. Arbab Sahib and the leadership of NAP was later imprisoned by ZA Bhutto through a frivolous and cooked up case named as "Hyderabad Conspiracy."
Despite all the differences with PPP government and being a member of UDF, the leadership of NAP keenly participated in the constitution making process in 1973. People regard ZA Bhutto as the one who gave Pakistan a proper Constitution; however, a major part of this credit goes to NAP and JUI leadership, because if these two parties had boycotted the procession in National Assembly, Baluchistan and NWFP, the numbers would have annulled the legal charter of the constitution.
Another aspect of the life of Arbab Sahib was his writing extraordinaire. Arbab Sahib never wrote any major published material until he met Hussain Bukhsh Kausar from Peshawar during his long imprisonment in the Ayub Khan era. Kausar Sahib was impressive in his knowledge regarding ‘Philosophy’ and that is why three out of the six books of Arbab Sahib focused on the same topic namely "Zara Falsafa (Conventional Philosophy)," "Nawey Falsafa (Modern Philosophical Thought)," and "Zhawar Fiqroona (Deep Thoughts)." In addition, Arbab Sahib wrote books like "Guloona ao Azghi (Flowers and Thorns)" about literature and fiction and "Da Eqtisadiato Khulase (Summary of Economic thoughts)" in Pashto language while his unpublished book in English language "The Other Side of the Picture" provides a critical analysis of the Pakistan Movement, its leadership and the subsequent development in Pakistan till 1977.
The martyrdom of Arbab Sahib on March 7, 1982 was apparently for the reason that he was not letting the Islamic extremist groups enter into the local mosques. It would, however, not be just to link his assassination to just a petty cause of mosques and jihadist groups. In actual, numerous national and international forces never wanted progressive and thinking minds in the area to influence the common people and stop the process of using Pakhtuns to kill Pakhtuns. On the year of Arbab Sahib’s martyrdom the "Human Rights Society of Pakistan" awarded a Peace Prize to Arbab Sahib.
Whether it is by a mere happenstance or by design, Pakhtun progressive minds and thinkers are once again feeling the lingering sword of death over their heads. This situation reminds of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, especially when he says "…To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…" and we truly have to move ourselves out of this downward spiral of never ending abyss and timely save our great minds from that dream-less sleep of Death.
May Allah Help us!