In memory of the hero Abdul Khaliq, The Martyr.
Saturday 5 June 2010, by Soraab Balkhi
Like a demon rising from the bog swamp, Nadir Khan rose and cast a hellish pall over Afghanistan. It is well-known today that Nadir Khan invited Kalakani, the then ruler, to join him in Kabul so that they could discuss the political upheavals and had signed an oath on the Qur’an so that Kalakani would believe he was safe. Unbeknownst to Kalakani that Nadir Khan would sell even his religion to get to power, the Tajik ruler accompanied the religious envoy sent by Nadir Khan to Kabul. Once there, he was brutally shot and then hanged. Nadir Khan’s trail of evil grew worse from then on.
When Nadir Shah seized political power, the first thing he did was execute all the famous or influential people of Afghanistan who were pro Amanullah Khan. He had them executed indiscriminately. From the Charkhi family alone, he had 18 members executed, including Ghulam Nabi Khan and Ghulam Jelani Khan, because of political differences. Their brother Ghulam Sediq Khan was out of the country during this time and so his life was unknowingly spared. Other people who were fortunate enough to escape the hand of Nadir Shah were Ghulam Jelani’s wife, Shah Bibi, and his daughters, Razia and Rabia. Everyone else was executed.
He would not tolerate any support or loyalty anyone had towards Amanullah Khan, regardless of who they were or their standings in the society. When Nadir Shah or one of his criminal stooges from his mercenary army saw even a wall which had so much as the name of Amanullah Khan written on it, they turn their cannons loose and destroy it. Even books were not spared. Book stores and libraries were torn down just for containing material that had Amanullah Khan’s picture or name. Such was the hatred and insecurity Nadir Khan felt towards Amanullah Khan.
While he went about executing all the supporters of the former ruler, at the same time he commenced looting the whole North of Afghanistan because the region was primarily Tajik. Some of the tribes that committed the atrocious acts for Nadir Khan were the Zazai, Mangal, Mohmand, with many more. With these clans, he attacked the Northern areas, terrorizing the Tajik homelands. They kidnapped female members of families, pillaged houses and then burned them down once they stripped everything of value from it, killed anyone who got in their way no matter who it was. They stole people’s valuables to budget Nadir Khan’s campaign.
The money was then put to waste. From the country’s treasury, Nadir Khan paid large sums of money to have people rewrite the current events so that he would go down in history the way he wanted to and kept the truth from printed paper. He had every pro-Amanullah Khan literature destroyed and replaced with his own propaganda i.e. literature and writings that praised him and his family. Chaos and destruction laid on everyone’s doorstep and not a word of it was to be recorded.
HAZARAS’ CURSE TO BEAR
Behsood, Hazarajat/ 2007
Nadir Khan is easily the worst despotic ruler. He was a tyrant, oppressive, and along the likes of Abdul Rahman Khan. Like Abdul Rahman, Nadir Khan had a burning hatred for the Hazara and Shia community of the country. It was as if he was the inheritor of Abdul Rahman’s legacy of hated and he took it upon himself to continue the former tyrant’s system of massive execution and oppression of Hazaras. And later on, Nadir Khan’s younger brother, Sardar Hashim, proved to be even worse than Abdul Rahman.
Nadir Khan and his Mahsibeen family, who were the former servants of Amanullah Khan, not only betrayed their former boss but they went beyond what was necessary to prove their disloyalty towards him by massacring anyone who spoke even a good word about Amanullah Khan. They had their spies infiltrate into the masses to find such support so that they could extinguish any threat of uprisings. Amanullah Khan had massive support among the Hazara people, which is one of the reasons why Nadir Khan hated the Hazaras so much. Because of this support, Nadir Khan used the most brutal methods to oppress and kill the Hazaras. Several generations of Hazara people endured the torturous reign of Nadir Khan; it still lives in their memories. The younger generation who were lucky to have survived told their narratives and stories of barbaric acts they witnessed against their own people.
For years the Hazaras were enslaved and lost their very livelihood. They were forced to abandon their homes and went into the mountains to seek refugee. Those who stayed behind in their villages and towns said they felt the oppression descend heavily over their town like a shadow. They knew there were spies of Nadir Khan around them but were not able to tell who they were. Their river ran thick with blood instead of water, the very air they breathed felt contaminated with obvious hatred, they lived with fear, not knowing which day would be their last. This misery had befallen their community for a long time and the Hazaras knew no other life but that of suffering.
The former ruler, Amanullah Khan, was a secular open-minded king. He advocated reforms and modernization of the country, and he was a friend to the Hazaras. Through his presidential decree, he banned the slavery of Hazaras. This was a huge relief and great moment in history for the Hazaras who have suffered under the tyrannical hand of former rulers i.e. Abdul Rahman. However, this celebratory abolishment was short-lived. In the time of Nadir Khan and of his brother Sardar Hashim Khan who succeeded him, all the social injustices returned. Once again, it was a dark time for the Hazaras but this time it seemed like Nadir Khan was taking out a personal vendetta against the Hazara people. Aside for punishing them for supporting Amanullah Khan, it was as if he wanted to punish them for even existing in the first place. The Hazaras’ suffering grew tenfold for every minute moment of happiness they might have known in the past. They had no political representation and therefore their pleas and protests fell on deaf ears.
Who was there to witness the terrorization of the Hazaras? Nadir Khan and his family of marauders threw innocent Hazaras down wells, kept them in cages, and left them to rot in jail. Even non-Hazara politicians who tried to bring about even a small change or show a hint of support towards the Hazaras were not spared. It was a dark time for social justice indeed. For a little over a century, the Hazaras have been treated in the most inhumane way possible; oppressed by the likes of Abdul Rahman to the fascistic government of Nadir Khan, Zahir Khan, Daoud and Hashim Khan. They were condemned racially and religiously with no chance of defending themselves. The governmental policy towards the Hazaras was to kill the male family members, keep their women as slaves, and torture the children until they cursed the name of Hazara.
The policy was aimed at destroying the whole social structure of the Hazaras by reeking havoc on their life, driving them out of their ancestral land, and deny them of their identity. These polices were so sever and harsh that it made the Hazaras seem like criminals. It came to be that it was a curse to be a Hazara; the very name ‘Hazara’ was equivalent of a social curse. This fed into the minds of the people and had the other ethnic groups as well as some Hazaras look down upon the group as a whole. Hazaras were ashamed of themselves for reasons unknown to themselves. They thought something was wrong with them but could not figure out what it was that made them despicable and so they blamed themselves. They were victims of abuse, psychologically traumatized and forever stigmatized. They were collectively seen and treated like second-class citizens. Later on, in the time of Hashim Khan’s premiership, a decree was issued which banned the children of Hazaras from attending higher educational institutions, and military and police academies. They were also denied scholarship funds, employment opportunities in the foreign ministry, intelligence agency, and governmental institution. These tyrant rulers literally kept one quarter of the country’s population oppressed and denied them the rights any human being is free to have. They had no qualms in advertising their prejudices against the Hazaras.
A Kuchi-Talib in Behsood, Hazarajat/ 2010
During Nadir Khan’s time, the brutal treatment of the Hazaras was at its peak. Nadir and his brothers and their mercenary clans were cutting the heads of people who were struggling and fighting for social justice and equal representation. They would openly cane them on the streets and throw boiling oil on their heads to have them serve as examples to everyone else. They made “human vests” out of innocent people, a horrendous act of cutting the heads and arms of people; they pulled their nails out as a form of torture; held public hangings, etc. All of this was the norm of the day during Nadir Khan’s reign. In this Market of Blood, the blood-sucking spies and traitors were profiting from the death and torture of Hazaras and Hazara supporters; there were monetary rewards as well as prestigious titles and posts to be awarded for anyone who aided Nadir Khan in his path of destruction.
With the consultation of the British, Nadir Khan likened to a madman, holding a sword and blindly and indiscriminately cutting people’s heads off in various communities. He didn’t care who came in contact with the sword as he swung it in various directions – be it a woman, little child, old man, an intellectual or a day laborer as long as it was a Hazara. He did as much damage as he could; he poisoned their water wells, looted from them, and basically changed their homeland to a massive grave yard.
The history of Afghanistan lies in the reality of these brutal and tyrannical rulers who emerged from the tribal society. History was made by these bloody tyrants of tribal people who never hesitated to eliminate those who were different from them. The barbaric rulers would shut the voices of the people to keep them from crying out against the injustices that were inflicted on them; as British mercenaries they used religion – and anything else they could get their hands on – as a tool to manipulate the masses and gain control. This is how they created history.
Remembering all the injustices and sorrowful events that have taken place in Afghanistan, it is quite clear what is lacking: social justice, democracy, equal representation. The only way to save a society or a nation is to have these vital things. But Afghanistan has always had a problem with a small minority who has always called the region their own homeland. The tribal people have figured that the only way for them to survive is to abolish social equality and justice for the rest of the ethnic groups. Thus, they have gained political power through manipulation and have been used and abused by other foreign powers for their own agenda and benefit. Their main goal has always been to massacre and oppress others. However, it is important now more than ever for Afghanistan to establish democracy, social justice, and equal representation. If they are not set up, it will then just prolong the suffering and prolong the miserable state that the people are in. The Pashtuns have always claimed that they are the rightful rulers and guardians of the country. And if they continue to think like that, then there will be no remedy for the country and the hatred born of this injustice will always be there.
ABDUL KHALIQ: SYMBOL OF HOPE
Abdul Khaliq, the martyred hero, had fought against tyranny and oppression. His goal was to bring about social justice and equality, especially for his people. He sacrificed his life for such a noble cause. This brave hero and son of the proud Hazara nation had felt the injustice with his very flesh and bone. At a young age, he understood the brutalities and oppressions that had befallen on his country, on his people as well as the non-Hazaras. The top head of the pyramid of this oppressive regime had to be eliminated and so he took the mission upon himself, to sacrifice himself in order to save the whole nation, particularly the hopeless Hazaras. He made a silent promise and was determined to carry out his plans, knowing that there could only be one answer, one conclusion, to such a reign as Nadir Khan’s.
Afghanistan had to be purged of such a cruel and barbaric person as this Nadir Khan, who never tired of sending out his prejudiced and hate-filled decrees and new ways of torturing and killing Hazaras. Abdul Khaliq refused the idea that he was the one born guilty, as was the mentality of most Hazaras because of the laws of Nadir Khan. He knew it was the ruler himself who was not only born guilty but was, in fact, digging his own grave. Khaliq knew that by eliminating the tyrant he would go down in history and be remembered by such a noble cause. No matter how young he died, he knew that his name would at least live eternally. And yes, the people of the world and of the region, especially the Hazaras and non-Hazaras, have realized that indeed, young Abdul Khaliq had taken a noble mission as his own personal duty. This has become even more evident in the past few decades as people realized just how big of a despot Nadir Khan really was. In the beginning, the news and media were all manipulated by Nadir Khan’s family but now that people are less afraid to report and write the truth, the shadow of lies have slowly been pushed aside, revealing the facts and reality. In the last few decades, people have been writing the no-longer censored truth and Abdul Khaliq changed from a “John Wilkes Booth” to a shining star for those who suffered for too long under tyrants, he became to be known as a symbol of freedom, equality, and justice.
The dark times led Abdul Khaliq to his life’s mission. The monarchs and their mercenary family openly admitted to terrorizing groups of people in order to keep their precious crowns and their position of power. They kept the masses in the dark, kept them from being educated so that hardly anyone would be able to tell what was right and what was wrong. It’s been recorded that Abdul Rahman Khan has committed genocide against the Hazara, eradicated 62% of their population. Those who lived were forcefully removed from their ancestry lands of Urzogan, Zabul, and Kandahar.
Abdul Khaliq’s family was among those that were forcefully removed. His grandfather was from Daya, Foland and for a short time they were settled in Dahzangi and Ghazni. During Abdul Rahman’s time, Abdul Khaliq’s grandfather was forced to run away with his family in order to save their lives. Their positions, money, and any valuables along with their land were taken away by Amir Rahman Khan. Their lands were to be given to kuchi nomads who were moved in from Indian or other areas. Abdul Rahman’s grandfather had no other choice but to helplessly watch half of his family be executed; those that couldn’t escape were murdered to make sure they would never come back. Abdul Khaliq’s grandfather was survived by two sons by the name of Mawladad –Abdul Khaliq’s father – and Khodadad. Both of them found work with the family of Charkhi. Mawladad worked for Ghulam Sediq while Khodadad worked for Ghulam Jelani. Later on, when Abdul Khaliq was old enough to work, he worked alongside his uncle for Ghulam Jelani.
Mawladad, Khaliq’s father, was a very educated man. He was self-taught and read whenever he could get the chance. He would often accompany Ghulam Sediq on short business trips to Europe and learned how to fluently speak German, English, and Russian. He was also very politically opinionated, well aware of everything that was happening around them. Abdul Khaliq and his family came under the influence of movements for social justice and democracy. Abdul Khaliq was especially moved by these ideas and at a younger age was influenced by the movements. He witnessed the struggle for freedom and social justice and willfully became a partner and follower himself to fight against the tyranny of the puppet region of the British.
Abdul Khaliq was born in 1916 and his father, Mawladad, had a special hand in his upbringing from the start. He showed special attention to his young son and was very much involved in Khaliq’s life. When his son was old enough, Mawladad applied and got Abdul Khaliq admitted to Lycee Nejat. Abdul Khaliq developed a special relationship with the members of the Charkhi family and was especially close with Shah Bibi Khanum, the wife of Ghulam Jelani, whom he highly respected and considered to be like his own mother.
Abdul Khaliq was a very serious young man from the start. He was emotional and hot-headed and people always said he had the characteristics of a real man even at a young age. Determination resonated from his very being; he was a decent and honest man, always kept his word and was punctual, was handsome and athletic, particularly fond of gymnastics and soccer. All his life he was surrounded with politically-motivated figures and was aware of their stance and of the situations around him. It wasn’t unusual that he himself became revolutionary; after all, he did not have a normal childhood, one of carefree days and equal footings. The special attention his father bestowed on him by keeping him educated and informed made it seem as if Abdul Khaliq had accomplished ‘the destination of one hundred years of travel in one night,’ thus giving him the experiences and knowledge of a much older person. He was changed to a fighter, not scared of anything and was able to fight against tyranny.
Martyr Khaliq became a member of the secret organizations and the young revolutionary Hazara wanted to show he was fully committed to them. He wanted to prove that he was capable to perform any mission and he made contacts with people anywhere that he could. The Charkhi family was a very political family and they admired his willingness. In his school, Lycee Nejat, several of the teachers were politically motivated as well and they helped Khaliq establish contacts. One of his teachers, Mohammed Azim Khan, and the Vice Principal, Mohammed Ayub Khan, would often discuss such politicized issues and Khaliq grew more aware from these people. He constantly thought about the future of his country and of ways he could help.
Khaliq of the Hazaras was the son of a disadvantaged society, who were denied basic rights. He would gaze upon his vast underprivileged people, the inheritors of suffering. Just as how a blacksmith shapes steel by first placing it in a fiery furnace, Khaliq was shaped the same way. He endured the fiery furnace of poverty, of unbearable and unfair disadvantages of his kind and was thus shaped into a man of steel; nothing could hurt him after what he had witnessed first hand. In this continuous struggle of his people, he became the torchbearer and knew he had to do something about the injustices that had wrongly befallen his people.
He came to understand what his sole mission in life was and knew he would be the one to accomplish it. And so he looked for every opportunity to carry out his task. One day, in Kabul, parts of a fortress were to be rebuilt and Nadir Khan was placing the first foundation stone as a ceremonial gesture towards the reconstruction. Abdul Khaliq attended the function with plans of executing his mission there but other circumstances arose and he was not successful and so, he had to wait for another day. Abdul Khaliq then had hopes of performing his duty during the month of Sunbolah, on the anniversary of when Nadir Khan overthrew Kalakani’s government and taken over power. But again, circumstances arose that kept Khaliq from accomplishing his task. Then, Khaliq was given a chance on November 8th, 1933. On this day, Nadir Khan was planned to attend the final examinations of Lycee Nejat as well as act as a judge on the Fall sport tournaments. He was scheduled to go to different classes and observe while the students took their final exams.
One of the classes he attended was Abdul Khaliq’s. Nadir Khan walked through each row, glancing around him without a care and reached the row where Khaliq was standing. He took that first auspicious step and his fate was sealed. As Nadir Khan took a few more steps into the row, Khaliq stepped out of his place and came forward to meet Nadir Khan in a calm and relaxed manner. His gun rose as call to battle and Khaliq pulled the trigger and fired a bullet aimed at the tyrant in front of him. Before anyone could react, he pulled the trigger again and once again and Nadir Khan’s body shook with each hit before dropping to the floor, motionless once and for all. Abdul Khaliq had finally accomplished his task, killing one of the worse tyrants in history, the puppet of the British, an evil and unprincipled man who had betrayal running through his veins.
Abdul Khaliq was neither ashamed nor scared of his actions. He did not run away to hide or to escape; he was a man and wanted to face the circumstances. It did not take long for Nadir’s henchmen to give the news to Nadir’s brothers. All the freedom-loving people and those against the tyranny and injustice had cause to celebrate; they said they would always remember this day as the victory of righteousness over evil. Abdul Khaliq surpassed even placing the “bell around the cat’s neck” and went straight to eliminating the cat altogether.
However, even in death, Nadir managed to spread injustice like a toxin spilling over. Nadir Khan’s brothers and clan wanted to kill every single student in the school for what had happened to the ruler. The rest of the governmental officials intervened and consulted with them and convinced Shah Mahmood, Nadir Khan’s brother, that the killer and the supposed accomplices were arrested and that the other 2,000 students had nothing to do with it.
In the afternoon of December 19, 1933, when it was so cold that even a stone would crack, injustice was administered once more upon Khaliq and his people. Not only was Khaliq arrested but several innocent people were taken as well: Mahmud Khan, his teacher; Mawladad his father; Khodadad his uncle; Qurban Ali, the cold water seller; his mother’s brother Rabbani; Mustafa and Latif, the youngsters of the Charkhi family; Ali Akbar Meshir; Mahmud, the employee of Anis Press; Students Mir Masjidid, Mohammed Zaman, Mohammed Aziz, Mohammed Eshaq; Mohammed Ayub, the Vice Principal of Lycee Nejat a.k.a Amani High School; Mohammed Azmeem, a teacher. Aside from them, 21 of Abdul Khaliq’s family members, friends and acquaintances including two of his uncle’s little children Abdullah, 9, and Abdul Rahman, 11, were taken as well. They were all taken towards the southern gate of Ark to be shot and then hanged. There was no trial, no chance to defend oneself, nothing. 17-year old Khaliq was condemned to be martyred. Many others were imprisoned for no stated reason, like Hafiza, Khaliq’s 9 year old sister, who ended up dying in prison because of mistreatment.
Abdul Khaliq was tortured before he was killed. Though the human body could only take so much, Khaliq showed incredible endurance. His animalistic punishers dried to demanded to know who his accomplices were and who the mastermind behind his mission was. They wanted him to name names and would not relent the severe punishment until he spoke. But all Khaliq would say was that he took full responsibility and that only he should be punished and no one else. It fell on deaf ears, however.
One of his friends, Mohammed Eshaq, was tortured so much, he could not control his emotions and anger any longer. While screaming and moaning in pain, he yelled at Abdul Khaliq, saying “What kind of damn friend were you? Why didn’t you tell us and trust us with your plan? Why did you keep it a secret? Together, we would have killed the entire team of these bastards. We would not have left one of them alive. And so, it’s your fault we are in this position, we could have gotten rid of them all.” They were his last words to Khaliq before he was hanged.
Khaliq saw his only regret was that he did not confide in anyone else. He said, “Yes, he was right. My precautions were all meaningless. I was consumed with the need to rid us of Nadir Khan that I did not consider his marauders would be so unjust. Please forgive me.” Khaliq’s body was cut into many pieces, slowly and one by one, he was shown his severed body parts before they were tossed away. There was nothing left of him to hang.
Khaliq and his friends and family will always be remembered by the people of Afghanistan for their courage and the elimination of such an evil and corrupted man. They lost their lives, had sacrificed their lives for the Hazaras, Tajiks, and other people. These were the brave people of our nation, standing up to face tyranny in the face.
One should ask, because of Khaliq’s actions, why did others have to be killed? Why did the barbarians murder Khaliq’s father, his uncle, his mother’s brother, his 9 and 11 year old cousins, his classmates, teachers, and various other people? Why did other have to be locked up in prisons for something they obviously had no part in? Years later, the skulls of those people were found in the jail cells. What kind of mentality did these barbarians have? How could any civilized person think this was right? Human beings are not capable of this kind of cruelty, only the tribal mentality would lead someone to punish innocent people so severely. This is beyond the cruelty of Changiz Khan, who has one of the worst reputations of being brutal. Even Changiz did not kill his own Mongolians so how could Nadir Khan and his inhumane clan members kill their own countrymen? The soulless yes-men of Nadir Khan did everything for money or perhaps out of fear; they wrote books and articles insulting and badmouthing Khaliq. They have eliminated every single member of Khaliq’s family until there is no trace of his bloodline left. They were able to murder innocent people and children and yet they are the ones condemning one single act of Khaliq’s.
Before the hero Khaliq pulled the trigger, he had surrounded himself to God. He said, “Almighty God, I am doing this to save my people from this tyrannical dictator. I will sacrifice my life so that my people can have a chance of a better future. You are the only Witness I need. With my blood, I seek peace for my nation. And so, I am asking you to forgive me.” And then he pulled the trigger.
That trigger pushed Afghanistan into the next chapter of its dark history as Nadir Khan’s brother and son rose to power like a multi-headed beast. But for that one second before the bullet escaped the chamber, there was a glimmer of hope that perhaps Abdul Khaliq would not die in vain.
• Essays About Lands and Dignitaries of Hazarajat by Hussein Naheel, spring 2000, Published in Iran.
• Afghanistan in the Past 5 Centuries by Mir Mohammed Seddiq Farhang, First Edition, Part Two. Published in Iran 1992.
• Voice of Hazaraistan Publication 11th Edition, 3rd year. February 1999.
• Hazara narratives