The History of Pakhtunkhwa

To start with, I must remind the readers that Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party recently announced a constitutional package in which it was proposed that the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan that should be renamed as Pakhtunkhwa. This was a long-lasted demand of the Pashtoons.

Pakhtunkhwa, Pashtoonkhwa, or Pakhtoonkhwa means The Land of the Pashtoons. This name was used for the area where Pashtoons were dominant before the creation and forming of modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The earliest available historical proof is Akhund Darweza’s (d. 1638) Makhzanul Islam (written between 1603 and 1612). A verse in this book reads: ‘Pakhtunkhwa pa misal shpa wa, dai deewa wo pa andher ke’ (Translation: Pakhtunkhwa was like a night and he [Pir Baba Syed Ali Termezi] was like a candle).

Similarly, the often-quoted two lines of a poem by Ahmad Shah Abdali (1723-1773), the Founding Father of Afghan state, clearly mention Pakhtunkhwa as the land of the Pashtoons or Pakhtuns. Here are the lines:

Da Dehli takht herawoma che rayad kram
Zama da khpale Pakhtunkhwa da ghro saroona

(Translation: I forget my Dehli throne when I recall the mountain peaks of my own Pakhtunkhwa).

After him Pashto poets and writers have frequently used this name for the area which was later named as North Western Frontier Province by the Britons after they occupied and separated it from Afghanistan dividing the Pashtoons into four divisions.

Besides Pashtoons, there are many non-Pashtoons who have mentioned this name in their writings. A book by French orientalist James Darmesteter (March 28, 1849-October 10, 1894) has the title, ‘Da Pakhtunkhwa Bagh w Bahar’, a selection of Pashto poems with a valuable essay on this Afghan language.

So the Pashtoons are entitled historically, morally and constitutionally to have their own and original name for their province. The other province of Pakistan have the names that match to their people like: Punjab is the land of the Punjabis, Sindh is the land of the Sindhis, Baluchistan is the land of Baluchis and the Pakhtunkhwa should be the name of the land of the Pashtoons.

Pashtoons were deprived of this name by Britons who, after occupying Hindustan, named it as N.W.F.P. while Baluchistan remained as British Baluchistan.

Some important information

It is expected that the government will change the province’s name to Pakhtunkhwa before the end of this year. Its’ capital is Peshawar, official language is Pashto, Area is 74521 km, population is 19,343, 000, and have 24 districts.
 

See Pakhtunkhwa in pictures