By Rahim Nasar
January 24, 2019
In the 1870s a number of highly educated
Russian women supported a populist revolutionary movement and established a new
tradition of women’s active participation in politics, organizing study circles
in all four corners of Russia. Advocating basic rights and struggling for
social, political and judicial changes, such women significantly shaped the
future of Russians in general and women in particular.
Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife, was
popular among those who revolutionized the Bolshevik movement and its political
paradigms during the 1920 and 1930s.
There is a long list of influential women’s
rights activists, writers, humanitarians and politicians who have helped change
world history. Rosa Luxemburg of Germany, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt of
the United States, Eva Peron of Argentina, Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Corazon Aquino
of the Philippines, Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt, Yulia Tymoshenko of Ukraine and
Louise Weiss of France are among the most prominent.
The tradition of Pashtun women’s active
participation in national movements is also somewhat revolutionary. Pashtun
history is vivid when it comes to women’s role in resistance against colonial
Pashtun women’s active participation was
always at its most bold and militant when resistance against imperial forces
was weakest. The mother of 18th-century Afghan King Mirwais Khan, Nazo Ana
(Nazo the grandmother), King Ahmad Shah Abdali’s mother Zarghuna Ana (Zarghuna
the grandmother) and the famous Malalai of Maiwand are scintillating examples.
Generally, patriarchy and cultural norms
and values – the shackles of male chauvinism and supremacy – are barriers to
women’s participation in political and democratic activities. Such participation
is aberrantly imagined as a matter of honor and morality, completely futile
thinking that depicts the Pashtun traditionalist approach toward women. The
egoistic and patriarchal principles prevailing in Pashtun society further
strengthen the authority of the male character to control the female gender
through so-called questions of honour, morality and dignity.
The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) opened
a gateway to energetic and revolutionary women to fight for the Pashtun cause
in Pakistan. The bitter experience of imposed war provided courage, strength,
tolerance and a sense of struggle to highlight Pashtuns’ sufferings in the
state of Pakistan. The active, organized and committed role of women in the PTM
demonstrates that they have found deserving space in Pashtun society to express
themselves and play a revolutionary role in the movement of resistance
advocating the constitutional rights of Pashtuns in Pakistan.
The fresh wave of young Pashtun women’s
active participation in the PTM is welcome. Women’s participation in politics
will surely provide both soft and smart policymaking decisions in the PTM.
Undoubtedly, PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen
needs women to support his campaign against insecurity in the Pashtun region.
Along with other active Pashtun energetic women, Sana Ijaz and Wrranga Loni are
adding a new chapter of strength, courage and commitment to Pashtun women’s
history of dedication and resistance.
The exemplary and revolutionist activism of
Sana Ijaz and Wrranga Loni have boldly demolished the tradition of stopping
Pashtun women from actively participating in political and nationalist
activities to defend the Pashtun nationalist cause in Pakistan.
Sana Ijaz, a human-rights activist and
journalist based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is a core member of the PTM
and co-founder of a Friday study circle in Peshawar that focuses on security,
political and social issues. She also focuses on women’s role in establishing
peace and reconciliation, political and social activism and advocating women’s
case of equal rights.
She writes for various newspapers and
websites with a focus on women’s social, political and educational affairs. She
has worked on the importance of entrepreneurship for women, promoting a culture
of peace, countering extremist and radical religious ideologies, honor killing
and gender-based violence.
Wrranga Loni is another young and energetic
woman from the southern Pashtun belt of Pakistan. She believes in equal
participation of Pashtun women in political and social hemispheres to establish
a soft image of Pashtuns at the national and regional levels. She is a
progressive political activist, writer and staunch supporter of political
nationalism in the state of Pakistan.
Wrranga believes in constitutional supremacy
and democracy as the ultimate way to ensure security and political stability in
the country. Her open support of the PTM has opened a gateway to Pashtun women
to join with male activists to support the nationalist cause for stability and
Undoubtedly, during the last 40 years,
Pashtuns have had bitter experiences of insecurity, religious fundamentalism,
tribalism and traditionalism. Security and political scenarios since the
terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, have significantly changed
the entire environment in the Pashtun region, leading to a rise in social and
The rise of the Taliban and assassinations
of top Pashtun tribal and political figures have brought Pashtuns to the brink
of economic deterioration and political unrest. More than 45,000 Pashtuns have
been killed in bomb blasts, suicide attacks and targeted killings since the
The PTM is a movement of hope for all
Pashtuns. Terrorism, Jihadism, extremism, and social and political unrest have
already sabotaged and shattered the entire Pashtun region. The so-called war
against terrorism fought on Pashtun soil – in the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – has seriously impacted the Pashtun
community in Pakistan. The PTM demands peace and security for Pashtuns that is
legal and constitutional in its nature.
Manzoor Ahmed Pashteen, head of the PTM, is
the principal voice of war-affected Pashtuns. The support and active
participation of Pashtun women will strengthen the PTM. And the ultimate
success of Pashtuns also depends on Pashtun women’s support to the movement.
Sana Ijaz and Wrranga Loni are torchbearers who are marching with young
activists for the Pashtun nationalist cause and will surely motivate other women
to support the PTM as a noble and peaceful cause.
The cause of demanding peace and security,
clearing FATA of landmines, ending Pashtun stereotyping, and establishing a
Truth and Reconciliation Commission profoundly depend upon women’s support of
the PTM. Without any iota of doubt, their support can encourage young Pashtun
activists to demand constitutional rights and privileges in Pakistan.