This morning Khan Abdul Wali Khan died. Many of the current younger generation probably know less than little about the man. In remembrance of this fine and upright individual it is only appropriate that your Blogger (who is non-Pukhtoon, by the way) provides you with an honest anecdote which might help reveal something about the person that Wali Khan truly was.
Many years ago there were a bunch of young men from Downunder who travelled the length and breadth of Pakistan, meeting people of all ilk. It was their unfortunate experience that they ended up meeting with a shade too many politicians and business, social and military grandees wherever they went – for example the likes of ‘Chandi’ Abida Hussain in Lahore and Governor Fazle Haq in Peshawar. Because of their Pakistani host they ended up unexpectedly as guests of Khan Abdul Wali Khan for afternoon tea at his house at Charsada.
At Walibagh the discussions at tea revolved around growing roses, the sights of Eastern Europe and finding a decent meal in London, among other things. As they headed back to their accommodation the Downunder lot came across graffiti written in English painted on many walls in central Peshawar, most of these scrawls in those days simply read ‘Free Wali Khan’. The coincidence suddenly dawned upon one of them who asked, ‘We just met a Wali Khan. They couldn’t be referring to him, surely could they?’ When the answer was affirmative and they were told that Wali Khan had recently been the Leader of the Opposition, they appeared visibly dumfounded.
When asked about the cause of their all too obvious amazement, their collective answer was delivered with traditional Downunder bluntness, “The Pakistani big shots we have met so far has been so bloody full of themselves that they can’t talk about anything other than about how great and marvelous they bloody are. Today we met with a man who was actually interested in who we were, what we did and what our thoughts were. He never even bothered to let us know how important he might be politically or otherwise. In comparison with that hollow mob, Wali Khan seems to an amazing man.”
And so we now bid farewell to a remarkable individual. A man who believed in principles and lacked completely the sin of arrogance, a man who had the courage to face the worst without fear and never bowed his head or accepted the corrupt crumbs from those prepared to make him infinitely wealthy.
God Bless him. Years ago the Establishment deemed him a traitor but little did these self-righteous haramis bother to realise that Wali Khan was one of the very few selfless and well-meaning leaders this country ever had.