Unsung Pashtun Hero: Aziz Mama

Unsung Pashtun Hero: Aziz Mama
The southern part of the historic Pashtun lands possess a fertility in producing revolutionary leaders that has no parallel. Among the doughty figures of Pashtun nationalism from this region, Advocate Azizullah Kakar resides on a very significant position.

Yuval Noah Harari writes that one must be part of the making of history: if you were unable to be there, history will still be written in your absence, but you wouldn't be able to complain about it.

Advocate Azizullah Kakar (commonly known as Azizullah Mama) was born in the family of Khan Haji Syed Muhammad Khan (a renowned tribal head), on the 11th of November 1950, in Toba Kakari. Despite of his family being financially stable and staying afloat, he never opted for a life of privilege, but always related himself to the necessitous. He never compromised on his political ideology and relentlessly struggled to change the ill fortune of his nation through an organised political program. Aziz Advocate belongs to that rare breed of non-apologetic ideological workers who never bowed down to toe the line of the Powers That Be. His struggle was to rewrite the fate of his people, who have been made pawns in bloody games for a long time. He was not a politician to just drift along wherever the political wind took him, but he was a visionary man of words and commitments.

Azizullah Mama was a person of encyclopedic knowledge, whose interactions left people in awe. Those around him remember him as a good friend, kind teacher, successful lawyer and a preeminent knight of the pen – in addition to being a valorous political leader. His bluntness, honesty and truthfulness made him distinctive from others.

He got most of his basic education from Pishin and since his student years, he closely monitored the miseries of his people. Azizullah Mama then associated himself with the education sector and became a lecturer at Turbat College. He did the best moral grooming of the youngsters. Along with disciplined course studies he also imparted the importance of never remaining insensitive and aloof from the political happenings around them.

He was always intent on pacific politics and progressive nationalism.

During Bhutto’s era, when the extremist dealing and highhandedness of the state – with Pashtun nationalists particularly and dissidents in general – was at its peak, and many conceded to those in power, Azizullah Mama remained unbowed in the face of brute force. He had no capacity for barren compromises. He left lectureship and entered into practical politics due to the pressure of the authorities.
He got the chance to enhance his political skills in the company of Afrasiab Khattak, Lala Lateef Afridi (current president of Supreme Court Bar Association Pakistan) and many others

In 1973, due to the militarised crackdown, he along with his companions went to Kabul from Balochistan. There he learned a lot under the supervision of Ajmal Khattak, and closely observed the Afghan Revolution. After coming back from exile in 1978, he preferred to establish a revolutionary and pragmatic student organisation. He was of the opinion that to make Bacha Khan's ideology of non-violence prevail, young people must be on the frontline of politics. While many peers were against him, he became a leader of the PSF (Pashtun Student Federation).This organisation not only awakened the conscience of the youth through political activities, but also promoted academic excellence. In 1983, he got completely done with his pursuit of education and in 1985 he formed the Pashtun Ulasi Committee. In 1986, when the ANP was to be inaugurated, the Pashtun Ulasi Committee also joined it. In the second phase, when the Pashtunkhwa Qaumi Inqilabi Party was established, Azizullah Mama was elected as senior vice president. There he got the chance to enhance his political skills in the company of Afrasiab Khattak, Lala Lateef Afridi (current president of Supreme Court Bar Association Pakistan) and many others.

He was a man of steadfast policies and advocated for constructive debates. He used to say that rather than depending on others, we should deeply examine our issues and drawbacks, and devise political strategies accordingly. This, he argued, is only possible if we make our motto clear, based upon an analysis of the intellectual, practical and ideal factors. He identified and pointed out the sufferings of the Pashtuns through the study of historical events.

Throughout his political career from 1970 to 2009, he stood as a staunch follower of Bacha Khan’s philosophy. His approach to politics and dealing with all sorts of regional intrigues and circumstances paved the way for his success. Despite curbs on free speech, he started a magazine named Taroon that politically nurtured the youth. He was a stalwart patron of student unions and student politics.

Apart from politics, Azizullah Mama had a good command over the Pashto and Persian languages. He wrote on various topics and considered devotion to one’s mother tongue to be a necessary principle for social progress. He held boundless love for Pashto and made constant efforts for its development. One of his books, wholeheartedly dedicated to modern Pashto literature, was then published after his demise. It was an unprecedented achievement in the annals of Pashto literature. He tried his luck at writing poetry at a very early age and commenced proper poetry when he was only a sixth-grade student. Azizullah Mama embodied his beliefs, ideology and philosophy in a revolutionary poem which used to be the anthem of anti-colonial activists. He personally joined literary festivals and uplifted the spirits of writers and poets. He subsidised many of them despite being in financially unstable conditions himself.

Along with modern learning, he also had an excellent background in Islamic studies, particularly the jurisprudence and history of Islam.

One of his close companions recalls that throughout his life, although he hardly managed to make ends meet, this fact never restrained him from providing more and more to the nation. He wasn't held back by paucity of resources, because his struggle was to feed the stomachs of the poor, who are made poorer by the unequal distribution of resources and by cruel capitalist tendencies.

Azizullah Kakar left for his heavenly abode on the 3rd of December in 2009, at at time when Pashtuns were in their darkest phase of suffering. Today, Azizullah Mama is being honoured by a grateful people and his ideas continue to inspire.


Fazeela Kakar is a student residing in Quetta