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Kolkata to witness rally for Pashtunistan next month

KOLKATA: India-Pakistan relations may have more twists in store than meets the eye. Yasmin Nigar Khan, great granddaughter of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, better known as Frontier Gandhi, now plans to meet Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi to urge him to stand by the Pashtuns as he did in the case of Balochistan.

The Kolkata-based 45-year old leader of the Pashtuns living and working in India told the Hindustan Times that she also plans a rally in the city against atrocities of Pakistan on the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

“We are happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of Balochistan. Similar atrocities are regularly being committed by Pakistan on Pashtuns in NWFP. We want Modi to highlight the plight of Pashtuns and help in their struggle to get freedom from Pakistan. The Pashtun people are equally oppressed by Pakistan,” said Khan on Friday.

Yasmin Nigar Khan president of All India Pashtu-Jirga-e-Hind, an organization based in Kolkata that has been spearheading a movement for secession of Pakhtunwa area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and its merger with Afghanistan. The area is situated near the de facto border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

She claimed there are about 10,000 Pashtuns living in Bengal, mostly in and around Kolkata.

“NWFP were given on lease to the British for 100 years. But more than 120 years have passed by,” she claimed, adding “NWFP has no business staying in Pakistan.”

“Our leaders are holding meetings in Kolkata to press our demand. We are planning to organize a rally against Pakistan in Kolkata after the Pujas at Shahid Minar. By the end of the year we will meet the Prime Minister,” said Khan.

The Pashtun community comprises basically the Pathans who are from Afghanistan and also from the Pakhtunwa area. In Kolkata, a section of them who have settled more than 100 years ago, are better known as Kabuliwalas (money lenders).

Khan alleged that the condition of the Pashtuns living in NWFP is appalling and the Pakistan government is not keen on any development in the region.

“Like Balochistan, Pakhtunistan too is deliberately neglected. the Pakistan government is keeping the mass uneducated so that they do not demand their rights. The area is used for breeding terrorists Pakistan is using Taliban to spread terror in the region. We will soon hit streets over the issue,” added Khan.

Many of the Pashtuns living in Kolkata have relatives there and they worry about Taliban threats.

“We want to highlight Pakistan’s atrocities in NWFP and condemn attacks on India. Pakistan should be declared a terrorist state by the international community,” she added.

The Pashtun leader stated that during a program at the union ministry of culture on May 20 this year (to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Frontier Gandhi), she appealed for a university to be set up in Bengal on the name of her great grandfather.

In 1996 after the death of her father Lala Jan Khan, Yasmin took over the mantle of the organization that looks after the interests of Pashtuns.—(Hindustan Times)

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