Haji Muhammad Qarib Burki - The Man as I Knew Him

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Haji Muhammad Qarib Burki - The Man as I Knew Him, Rozi Khan Burki
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, March 6 2016 (http://www.khyber.org)

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Haji Muhammad Qarib Burki - The Man as I Knew Him

Rozi Khan Burki

Publishing Date: Sunday, March 6 2016

The morning telephone call is generally not without peril. If it is from official source it brings about some message of official emergency and when it is from family or friends circles, it is normally indicative of somewhat more urgent situation. But this Friday's call from family back in Tank proved tragic when I was told that our popular tribal leader Malik Mohammad Qarib took his last breath just a few moments back and his funeral ceremony would be performed at around 2:30 pm soon after Friday Prayers. The shocking news I heard were like a thunderbolt and made me standstill for a while but soon recovered and decided to rush back and meet not only the bereaved family but also the whole tribe even if I could not catch the funeral prayers due to the long distance from Islamabad to Tank via Talagang, Mianwali, D I Khan and Tank.

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On the way the first call I made to was Irfanud-Din, his nephew and besides the usual words of consolation I told him to ensure the burial of the great son of Kanigram within the soil of Kanigram as throughout his life he fought for protection of its soil against some of the neighboring encroachers. The thought of his services as securing the rights of not only the Burki tribe but also as an arbitrator of disputes among the Mahsud and Wazir sub-tribes took me to my past personal interaction with him. I re-called one of the occasions in mid-seventies when the news of erupting fire among two sub-tribes of Behlolzai Mahsuds came up and he immediately gathered a lashkar of hundreds of Bekai tribe to rush to the Badder Valley to secure a ceasefire before it was too late. I was also accompanying him as one the Lashkar members and he clearly and unequivocally ordered us. "Get divided into two equal parts, go into the trenches of each side and drag them out; anybody who refuses to withdraw, give them a good doze of your rifle-butts and snatch theirs". Thanks to the warring parties, the moment they saw our aggressive posture, they did comply as the word circulated within the warring tribes was very loud and clear "It was Crep Haji's Lashkar and everybody was supposed to cease fire without fail". Immediately he took custody of dozens of rifles from both sides as security and to forfeit them out-rightly in case of violation by any one.

On the negotiating ground he would always talk from a position of strength. He had an immense knowledge about the history, structure, psyche, strength and weakness of each and every tribe and sub-tribe of Waziristan and beyond. He would frame his arguments for and against an issue and verbally explain things in the simplest but the most convincing manner. Nobody including his foes would remain without being impressed from his sagacity and charisma. He was at the same time a brave and courageous man and would never allow desperation or fearfulness. On another occasion when all lengthy litigations and negotiations on a common land owned by a few Burki men including Haji Saab in Baterai area and occupied by Dzilly Khel Wazirs failed, he ordered forcible vacation from the rival party. When we entered our tractors into the land which they had sown, they came in groups to resist our entry. They started pelting stones at our men and the tractor drivers. In the struggle one of our men hit by a sharp-nail in the leg fell down and a few others injured to bleed. He asked someone to take the injured home and ordered others to fight back till their crops are destroyed fully. We did follow and made the rivals turn on their toes. Finally they lost the ground and ran away. During the whole episode Haji Saab remained completely calm and composed and never lost his nerves till the end.

Like every human being he had many strong and weak points but he knew the art of how to exploit his strength and how to turn the challenges into opportunities or otherwise make compromises. To quote a few ones, he had inherited a family feud from his father with his cousins. His father was a single son of his grand-father having no other brothers and faced hostility from his many cousins. He had to leave his locality and started living first with Alam Khel at Saam area and then with my grandfather Mehr Dil Khan who had consoled and supported him in his difficult hours. This had obviously made the young Qarib bitter against the society where numerical manpower was considered the determining factor. He felt obliged to those who had supported his lonely father. He was one of the best friends of my father and all my uncles and had family relations with us. I still remember late Ansar, Haji Saab's lonely son mentioning our old family relations when we were students of the same school although he was 3/4 years senior to me. Haji Saab himself loved me for taking keen interest in history and particularly the history and genealogy of our tribe and the area around. He would discuss the subject for hours and would feel happy when I would add information from sources other than he had already. Although he had the imposing personality, he would always respect the difference of opinion I had on some issues. I had developed an interest in preservation of Ormuri language against the threat of extinction faced by it from University time and when his attention was invited to play his role towards the need of its preservation in one of a meeting in Karachi his response was not up to the mark as I expected. He said that our tribe faces many other problems and language preservation was not that important. I did try to convince him but I could not impress him. However, when we faced the en-block exodus of the Burki tribe from Kanigram as a result of the operation against the militants he realized the increasing threat to the language and I felt extremely happy when I came across his statement in one of the leading Newspaper stressing the need of language preservation. As the saying goes that "it's never too late" the Burki youth would take an impetus from his public statement that their popular leader also wanted them to preserve their historical asset and identity.

He had a great sense of humor and would render his critic speechless by his spontaneous response. He had a wide Eating-mat (Darterkhwan) despite his financial constraints. He was fond of eating and generous in offering hospitality to others. He had an open and a rich heart of typical tribal nobility. He loved to have guests and enjoy sumptuous food in the company of his friends and acquaintance.

Haji Qarib was a gem in the jewel of Waziristan. The space and the time constraint are not allowing me to make a pen picture on other aspects of his life and personality. It would take hours and days to put light on his multi-faced personality. He was an all-rounder of the kind and a man of wisdom and sagacity, a best friend and a worst enemy, a charismatic leader, a brave and outspoken advocate of the rights of downtrodden and a great statesman. His death has left the Burki tribe orphans and the vacuum so created would perhaps never be filled at least in the near future. May God Almighty grant him "maghferat" and give him a place in the best of Janna. May Allah Almighty grant patience to his near and dear ones and the whole of his tribe to bear the irreparable loss they suffered from.

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Haji Muhammad Qarib Burki - The Man as I Knew Him, Rozi Khan Burki
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, March 6 2016 (http://www.khyber.org)