The great-granddaughter of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, after whom the Bacha Khan University is named, has accused Pakistan of being behind the attack on the institution, dismissing claims that the Taliban was responsible for the assault.
Yasmin Nigar Khan, who heads the All India Pakhtoon Jirga-e-Hind, argued the man known as the Frontier Gandhi is held in such high esteem in Afghanistan that even terrorists from that country would not attack anything named after him.
The accused the Pakistan government and terror groups backed by Islamabad for Wednesday’s attack on the university that killed 21 people, saying it was done to “vitiate the minds” of Pakistani Pashtuns against the people of Afghanistan.
“It’s unbelievable that any Afghan would attack a university that is named after Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. So the popular notion that Tehrik-e-Taliban is responsible for the attack on the Bacha Khan University is a cooked up story,” Yasmin told Hindustan Times.
“I firmly believe none — not even any terrorist organisation from Afghanistan — can do any harm to any institutions associated with Bacha Khan.”
Yasmin said she believes the Taliban were also not responsible for an attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in 2014 that left nearly 150 people dead.
“The Pakistani government and terrorist outfits supported by Pakistan are responsible for both the attacks. They have a dual mission: first to vitiate the minds of the Pakhtoons from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan against the Afghans because Afghanistan is supporting the cause of an independent Pakhtoonistan,” she said.
“Second, Pakistan wants public sentiments to be (once again) in its favour after the recent attack on the Pathankot airbase by terrorist outfits from Pakistan,” she added, sitting in the ground floor room of her house in Park Circus.
The room is also the office of the All India Pakhtoon Jirga-e-Hind, a pan-India association for the 3.2 million Pashtuns living in India. Yasmin has been president of the association for the past 20 years.
The attack on Bacha Khan University coincided with the death anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The 2014 attack on the school in Peshawar was claimed by a Taliban faction led by Omar Mansoor, who has said he also ordered the assault on the Bacha Khan University.
The leadership Tehrik-e-Taliban’s leadership has distanced itself from the assault on the varsity.
Yasmin, 42, has never visited Pakistan because she fears she might be arrested for supporting the cause of an independent Pakhtoonistan like her great-grandfather. She went to Afghanistan once in 1996 with her father to take part in a Loya Jirga or international conference of Pashtuns worldwide.
“From the experience of my visit to Kabul and from my constant touch with my relatives and other high-ranked officials in Kabul, I can assure everyone that the Taliban are not responsible for the attacks in Pakistan,” she said.
“The Pakhtoons are very much part of Afghanistan. Then, why would the Taliban attack the North West Frontier Province every time, instead of striking in the Punjab or Sindh provinces?”