A short history of traitors in Pakistan

How Pakistan shares India’s penchant for branding citizens as anti-national.

EVER since its inception in 1947, one thing that Pakistan is excelled at is producing traitors. Using the allegations of treachery to malign politicians, intellectuals and activists has been a time tested practice in Pakistan.

The first traitor of Pakistan was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. He was the premier of Bengal in United India and was instrumental in making East Bengal a part of Pakistan. He spent three months in Calcutta with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi after Partition. During that period, He helped in pacifying the anti-Muslim riots in the former capital of United Bengal. Upon his return to Pakistan, he was deprived of his national assembly membership and was declared a traitor.

Next in the list was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, famously called Frontier Gandhi. His fault was that he belonged to Indian National Congress before Partition. In February 1948, he took oath of loyalty to Pakistan but he was never considered less than a traitor. He spent most of his time in jail from 1948 to 1963 and died as traitor in 1988.

Ghulam Murtaza Shah Syed was the president of Muslim League Sindh Chapter in 1943. In that capacity, he passed a resolution in Sindh Assembly to make the province a part of proposed state of Pakistan. He was single handedly responsible for making Sindh a part of Pakistan. Unfortunately for him, he was kicked out of All India Muslim League in 1946. Life in Pakistan was never easy for him as he was also labeled as a traitor. He spent 30 years of his life in prisons of Pakistan. He died in 1995 in Jinnah Hospital when he was still under police custody.

The troublesome Baloch

Individuals were not the only traitors in Pakistan and political parties as a whole have also been labeled as traitors. National Awami Party won majority of seats from Balochistan and erstwhile North West Frontier Province in the 1970 elections. It formed governments in both of these provinces but then a civilian dictator Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sacked National Awami Party  government in Balochistan. He blamed the leaders of the National Awami Party, including Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, Abdul Wali Khan, Sardar Attaullah Mengal and Ghous Baksh Bizenjo, for conspiring against Pakistan. Hence, the National Awami Party was banned in Pakistan and its leaders were prosecuted for treachery. The National Awami Party  has been the single biggest source of traitors in political history of Pakistan.

Nawab Akbar Bugti was the head of his tribe in 1947 when he voted for accession of British Balochistan to Pakistan. He served as a State Minister for defense, Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan and a Member of National Assembly. In 2003, he stood against dictator Pervez Musharraf for rights of Balochistan. Rather than listening to the genuine demands of the old man, the patriotic general of Pakistan labeled him as a traitor and assassinated him in 2006.

The Awami National Party is one of the successors of defunct National Awami Party. Despite its best efforts to prove its patriotic credentials, the party has also been blamed as a party of traitors. The Awami National Party is the biggest opponent of Kalabagh Dam in Pakistan. The party says it will have several negative impacts on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. That was enough for the  Awami National Party  to earn the title of traitor and Indian agents.

The list of traitors in Pakistan is very long and it can’t be condensed into one article. Other people who achieved the distinction of being labeled as traitors include Fatima Jinnah, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Altaf Hussain, Benazir Bhutto and so on.

The one that got away

There has been a lucky person in history of Pakistan who was spared even after discovery of his treachery. He is Ghulam Mustapha Khar, former Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab. During 1980s, Khar was living in exile in London. During that time, he established contact with the Indian spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, and solicited Indian support against the Zia-ul-Haq regime. These are not allegations but facts corroborated by more than one eye witnesses including Khar’s former wife, Tehmina Durrani. Upon his return to Pakistan in 1988, he was first arrested for a brief period and then made a federal minister by those who are responsible for issuing certificates of treachery.

Currently, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has provided the traitor declaring factories with a golden opportunity to expose dozens of traitors. On the top of the list is Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali. Asfandyar has been protesting against Punjab-centric nature of project and that’s earned him several certificates of treachery. The federal government of Pakistan, in a sweeping statement, has called all those traitors who criticise the economic corridor issue in any way. Social media in Pakistan is abuzz with pictures and excerpts from different books that prove the treachery of all those who criticise the plan at the behest of India and other enemies of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, the practice of spotting and declaring traitors continues unabated even today. Those responsible for challenging the patriotism of people have not learnt their lesson even after the East Pakistan debacle of 1971.

It goes without saying that In Pakistan earning the title of traitor is not less than an achievement.  A person must have stood for something good and campaigned for the rights of a deprived province or a community to earn the distinction of being called a traitor in Pakistan.

This article first appeared in The Nation Lahore and is reproduced with the permission of the author.

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