Living in the eye of the storm is not easy. However, Juma Khan Sufi, a Pukhtun nationalist, has managed to flip through the pages of the past and document his journey through the political minefields of Pakistan and Afghanistan with effortless ease.
Written in Pashto, Daramsaal La Khate is an autobiographical account which seeks to explain the present crisis which has plagued both countries.
The title is a metaphor in the language for labour which bears no fruit. As the reader continues to read the book, the choice of title appears all the more suitable and begins to symbolise the futile struggle of two countries to put aside their differences and nurture a strong relationship.
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In its 750 pages, the book depicts the ebb and flow of Sufi’s life in a chronological order. The first two parts of the book provide insights into the author’s life in Maneri village of Swabi district. Through these personal sketches and glimpses into the past, the reader observes Sufi’s boyhood years and his steady transition into the political arena through student movements and his interaction with leftist thinkers.
During his time as a student at Islamia College Peshawar, the author developed a keen interest in political movements in Afghanistan. He frequently visited Kabul and got the opportunity to meet the country’s future leaders.
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As the narrative unfolds, the author found himself in exile in Afghanistan. In July 1973, he left for Kabul after miscreants opened fire on National Awami Party activists during a public meeting in Rawalpindi. At the time, the party believed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government was involved in the attack and advised many activists, including Sufi, to move to Kabul and gear up for a nationalist movement.
It is this fragment of the book which is likely to pique the reader’s interest. Sufi provides ample evidence to prove Bhutto’s government began harbouring Afghan dissidents to counter the activities of Pukhtun and Baloch nationalists based in Kabul.
However, it isn’t the focus on history or the emphasis on politics that makes this book a compelling read. On the contrary, Daramsaal also provides sound observations on the current state of affairs between both countries.
Sufi’s book sheds light on Afghanistan’s weak and ambiguous stance over Pakistan. Favouritism has brought little benefit to either country and it is necessary that they should find a common ground through hard work and belief. The author volunteers a solution and argues in favour of establishing a firm relationship among the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.
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