The Way I Lived
Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, solemnised as Khan Shaheed following his assassination on December 2, 1973 in Quetta, endured protracted years as a political prisoner in solitary confinement. Prior to the partition of the subcontinent, Abdul Samad Khan’s resistance against the British raj often escorted him to the harshness of prison. Post partition, the uncompromising, principled politics of Samad Khan did not turn docile neither did the regimen of internment become redundant. Khan Abdul Samad Khan spent more than three decades of his life serving jail sentence by the British and later by the government of Pakistan.
Abdul Samad Khan began writing his memoirs in jail, covering the period of his birth in 1907 to serving sentence at district jail, Lahore in 1952. Originally written in Pushto, the memoirs entitled, ‘Zama Juwand’ (My Life) were transliterated into English by Samad Khan’s son, Mohammad Achakzai who also served as governor Balochistan from 2013 to 2018. It took Mr Achakzai more than seven years to translate his father’s opus written in haute Pushto into English. Later, the original Pushto edition was also translated into Ukrainian by high ranking diplomats, Mr Vasili Ivashko and Dr Ghulam Sarwar. Both of the versions, English and Ukrainian, will out of press by the end of November.
Mohammad Achakzai ensured not a single word was added or subtracted to his father’s memoirs. “I wanted to maintain originality of my father’s thoughts, his style of writing and even the time sequence is the same as in the original Pushto version,” revealed Mr Achakzai.
The Way I Lived’ unfurls to the birth of Khan Abdul Samad Khan quickly taking the reader to the patrilineal labyrinth of his ancestry. Samad Khan introduces his great grandfather, Inayatullah Khan, son of Bostan Khan and finally Barkhurdar Khan the founding patriarch of his family. He writes: “Our ancestors since the time of Barkhurdar Khan remained connected to the national Afghan court and government and were apparently educated and well versed in the ways of courts and governance…. It is being related that Burkhurdar Khan was a contemporary of Ahmed Shah Baba (Durrani) the founder of present day Afghanistan.”
More than his style of writing, Samad Khan’s unreserved thoughts on religion, jargas, drug addiction, homosexuality and other afflictions violating his beloved Pukthun and Pukhtun society force the reader to hasten to the next page. “In the year 1928 I got married. To get married was the done thing so did I. The truth however is that for many years I did not understand the profound and lasting value and meaning of marriage,” writes Khan Abdul Samad Khan. His memoirs are replete with similarly unexpected personal revelations, not ascribed usually to a Pukhtun.
n July 1931, Abdul Samad Khan went to Bombay to meet Mohandas Gandhi, referred to as Gandhi ji in the memoirs, to request him to raise the British Balochistan question at the Round Table Conference held in London. He stayed with Gandhi for 15 days. For a Pukhtun it was indeed an enormous shift from cultural indoctrination of showing bravery through physical might. “I realised that indeed contrary to my belief non-violence was the ultimate courage …… particularly to those that are brave but intolerant like the Pashtoon that often ruin their personal and collective lives due to their excessive intolerance,” writes Khan Shaheed.
In July 1931, Abdul Samad Khan went to Bombay to meet Mohandas Gandhi, referred to as Gandhi ji in the memoirs, to request him to raise the British Balochistan question at the Round Table Conference held in London. He stayed with Gandhi for 15 days. For a Pukhtun it was indeed an enormous shift from cultural indoctrination of showing bravery through physical might. “I realised that indeed contrary to my belief non-violence was the ultimate courage …… particularly to those that are brave but intolerant like the Pashtoon that often ruin their personal and collective lives due to their excessive intolerance,” writes Khan Shaheed.
A substantial part of memoirs covers Abdul Samad Khan’s life in different jails, his struggle to keep up his printing press, his commitment to unite the Pukhtun of the North West Frontier Province and British Balochistan. He writes: “The problems and difficulties of the Pashtoons were ignored because of our small population of just eight million that was divided by the British for their own evil designs into various administrative units of Tribal Areas, Agencies, States, the Settled Districts and British Balochistan.”
Simplistically written Khan Shaheed’s memoirs need to be read to understand the multi-layered Pukhtun identity valiantly converging to thwart exogenous threat but endogenously fissiparous. These memoirs can be significantly instructional in allaying the current Pukhtun political despondency. Shehar Bano Khan
We, at Khan Shaheed Research Center are committed to the cause of researching and publishing about the life and literary achievements of Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai. Publishing of his memoirs in English and Ukrainian is the first milestone we will achieve.
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