, VI Conference of BRICS Initiative of Critical Agrarian Studies

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Transforming Socialist Peasant Movement in Mansehra (Pakistan) into Ethno-Lingual Movement & Its Implications: From 1980 to Present
rashid mughal, Adil Khan

Last modified: 2019-01-31


Since the dawn of civilization, no human thought has ever laid deep imprints on human societies around the globe as Socialist thought did so. Socialist thought penetrated in every social movement and thus interpreted and reinterpreted to only serve the just cause of the oppressed classes according to the changed objective realities and geographical contexts. Socialist thoughts, not only, spearheaded urban workers’ movements, but also reinterpreted to serve to organize the peasant movements in different parts of the world. However, the leading layers from amongst the layers of the oppressed classes, of both urban and rural social movements, have always been trying to intentionally avoid to develop class consciousness to further the movement according to changed objective realities by concealing the inherent contradictions of a particular phase of the social movement. As a result, the movement is transformed, on the basis of false consciousness, into ethno-lingual at micro and national discrepancies at macro levels. Consequently, this false consciousness proves to be detrimental to the just cause of the social movement as the advance layer of the oppressed classes misleads the lower layers towards obtaining immediate economic benefits by converting social movement into a struggle of trade unionism.

Rashid Hussain Mughal & Adil Khan

The peasant movement of District Mansehra is investigated in this context as Socialist thought travelled from Soviet Russia and diffused through Moscow returnees into peasants of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP, henceforth) in late thirties of the twentieth century. As a result, these thought created a class consciousness amongst the peasantry of KP and thus a peaceful peasant movement was organized against the oppression of feudal lords. The socialist ideologues helped diffuse the socialist thought to create stirrings in the oppressed peasantry by constituting peasants’ committees and charting out programme and strategies for their emancipation from the forced labor and various other taxes levied by feudal lords. Though, peasant movement started from Ghala Dher in 1938, however, its impacts had stretched to a completely different ethnographic and geographical society of Mansehra in 1939, however, it also possessed similar mode and relations of production. For the first few decades of the twentieth century this movement remained peaceful in Mansehra, however, it had transformed later on into an armed struggle at Siran and Kunhar valleys of Mansehra during late 1970s and 1980s. Though, it was successfully culminated in abolishing some of the exploitative practices, however, the peasants failed to acquire ownership rights of the lands till yet. Post conflict period of the movement saw another interesting transformation wherein some of the peasant leaders of the upper layer co-opted with the feudal class for obtaining immediate economic benefits. As a result, the feudal productive relations had remained intact as peasant leadership failed to transform the movement into succeeding phase of socialism. On contrary, these peasant leaders adopted the parliamentary way by transforming the vertically polarized peasant society into a horizontal polarized society, wherein, identity of Gujjar (the largest peasant group in Mansehra) was constructed, which began posing a threat to other ethnic groups such as Swati and Syed. Consequently, Gujar leadership emerged to enter into power corridors by building alliances with feudal lords for power sharing in Mansehra.

Rashid Hussain Mughal & Adil Khan

Keeping in view this historical context this paper revolves around such questions as: how socialist ideas diffused amongst the peasantry of Mansehra? How this class based struggle transformed into an ethno-lingual movement? What were the implications of this transformation? And what are the prospects of revival and resurgence of this movement? The answers to these questions may help in developing a theoretical paradigm for understanding such transformations in other agrarian societies. Although the study by and large relies on primary data, yet primary and secondary sources are juxtaposed to develop arguments and draw conclusions.


Peasant Movement, Class struggle, Mansehra, Ethno-lingual identity, Pakistan

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