Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Political Oppression, Resistance and Leadership Change: The Rise of Nasim Wali Khan as a Leader

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Political Oppression, Resistance and Leadership Change: The Rise of Nasim Wali Khan as a Leader

Article excerpt


The general elections of 1970 provided a unique opportunity to Pakistan i.e., democratic transition based in popular politics. However, the succeeding regime of Z.A. Bhutto dented it through his authoritarian style of governance. Z. A. Bhutto was a highly educated, charismatic and popular leader from Sindh, who ruled Pakistan from 1971 till 1977 (cf. Wolpert, 1993). Z.A. Bhutto after occupying the helms of affairs used coercive measures against those who challenged his authority and question his abusive acts. Intimidation, police harassment, imprisonment and torcher were various tools used by Bhutto to deal with his opponents. Bhutto's oppressive measures were not only limited to political figures but included journalists, lawyers and all those who publically opposed Z. A. Bhutto. During his tenure, political violence was rampant; 'political murders and assassinations became routine' and 'official use of terror and violence' became 'widespread' (Ziring, 1997, p. 381-383). In such acrimonious situation, Nasim Wali Khan was chosen to lead an opposition party and resist the repressive measures of Bhutto regime.

Nasim Wali Khan is from a progressive political family of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Her father had close association with the Khudai Khidmatgar (KK) movement of India, which was a reformist and anti-imperialist movement led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Likewise, her maternal uncle was also a prominent political leader of the time. Later, she became the daughter-in-law of the founder of KK movement, i.e., Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) through marriage to his son and successor Abdul Wali Khan. In South Asia, Bacha Khan is still remembered as a political stalwart who resisted British imperialism in India. Being raised under Bacha Khan's patronage, Nasim Wali's political acumen developed considerably and this helped her take the ardent task of party leadership in crises (Yousafzai, interview,2017).

The primary question under investigation in this paper is how Nasim Wali Khan as a Pakhtun woman leader rose up and confronted the oppressive regime of Z. A. Bhutto? Qualitative research method is used in the collection of data. In order to answer the question, we have collected data from the primary and secondary sources. For in-depth analysis, we conducted semi-structured interviews from 26 respondents including 1 journalist, 2 academicians, 4provincial ministers, 3 professionals (lawyers from the Mardan Session Court and 1 from Supreme Court) and the rest from her close associates and political workers acquainted with Nasim Wali Khan. We also have conducted numerous sessions of semi-structured interviews with Nasim Wali Khan in her house. We also used secondary sources in form of published materials to get information regarding Bhutto regime. Secondary data was collected from the books, journals, internet, Nasim Wali Khan online interviews and from different newspapers articles. Different reports and documents referred to women political leadership in Pakhtun society was employed to get meticulous data and enhance the quality of a research paper.

The first part of this paper sets the context for this study by briefly discussing the crisis during Bhutto's era and most specifically the oppressive measures used by Z. A. Bhutto government against its political adversaries. The second section is about the emergence of Nasim Wali Khan within her conservative Pakhtun society and the courageous confrontation she posed to the oppressive regime. It also elaborates on her resistance strategies against the oppression. Finally, the paper concludesits findings within the broader analytical framework focused on Pakistani politics and leadership change.

Setting the Context: Political Conflicts, Opposition and Suppressive Regime of Z. A. Bhutto

In the general elections of 1970, the then National Awami Party (a nationalist political party) won a significant number of seats i-e 13 as compared to Muslim League Qayyum who won 10 seats, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam secured 4, 3 by Pakistan Peoples Party, Council Muslim League 2, Conventional Muslim League and Jamaat-i-Islami secured 1,1 seat while independent won 6 seats out of 40 constituencies in the province of NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). …

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