Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

A Flag and a Battle Plan

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

A Flag and a Battle Plan

Article excerpt

'Tere mathey pe ye aanchal bahot hi khoob hai Ickin/

Tu is aanchal se ik parcham baña leti to achcha tha/

(Your headscarf looks lovely, my dear, but yield!

Why not make a flag from it for the battlefield?)'

The poem by Majaaz Lucknavi belongs to the 1930s but it seems to echo an event in distant Afghanistan half a century before.

Malalai of Maiwand died on the battlefield in July 1880 when she was 17 years old, engaging British and Indian troops in the Second Afghan War. It is said that Malalai - also spelled and pronounced as Malala - actually fashioned a flag from her veil to rally her Afghan compatriots in the do-or-die struggle.

She was a much-loved poet too. Her exhortation, as she mustered support for Ayub Khan, the charismatic Afghan commander and son of the deposed amir, was recorded for posterity thus:

"Young love! …

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