Muhammad Gul Khan Momand
(M. Ibrahim Nasar, University of Wollongong Australia)
man of letters and the sword, a literary figure and a true symbol of the
Afghan code of life, Pashtoonwali, Muhammad Gul Khan Momand was born in
1885, in Kabul. Like his father Khursheed Khan, grandfather Momen Khan
and greatgrand father Abdul Kareem, who played key roles in politics,
the administration and the army of Afghanistan under the then rulers,
Amir Dost Mohammad Khan and Abdul Rahman Khan, Muhammad Gul Momand is
well known for his services in all three areas and for his great contribution
to Pashto language and literature.
After a basic education, Muhammad Gul Khan Momand entered
the military school in 1909. He joined the Royal Guards and became a Unit
Commander and an instructor for some units. After serving as the principal
of the Military School, he later became deputy commander-in-chief and
then commander of the Royal Guards.
In 1919, he was a member of the delegation, headed by Mohammad
Wali Badakhshani, which visited Europe to announce the sovereignty of
Afghanistan under Amanullah Khan.
In 1924 he served as civil and military governor of Pakthia
and, in 1927, as Chairman of the inspection team of Mazar-e-Sharif and
then civil and military governor of Ningarhar.
Soldier and Administrator:
Muhammad Gul Momand had been endowed by God with great qualities
as an administrator and a soldier. During King Amanullah Khan's time when,
different tribes in the Khost and Ningarhar areas revolted against his
policies of modernization, Amanullah Khan asked Muhammad Gul Momand to
visit the areas. It was through his popularity as a great leader and a
true and honest man among the people that within a short time an atmosphere
of peace prevailed in the area. And later he took the responsibility of
the governorship of Ningarhar and subsequently of other adjoining provinces.
Besides being a good administrator, he was also a great
soldier and he played an important role in the uprising, which brought
Nadir Shah to power. When a small group of people took over Kabul and
terrorized the city, he left the city and went to Ningarhar. He later
joined army of resistance, taking command of several units from the south
in Ningarhar and within a couple of weeks his lashkar had reached outskirts
of Kabul. When Kabul was attacked by the army from three sides, under
the command of Sardar Shah Wali Khan, Sadar Shah Mahmood Khan and by a
third Lashkar under the command of Muhammad Gul Momand, the bandits were
defeated at Logar, Siahsang and Bagrami, and the resistance army soon
managed to get control of the city center. This paved the way for the
success of the rebellion and, as a result, Nadir shah became King of Afghanistan.
It was because of the important role that Muhammad Gul Momand played in
the revolt that Nadir Shah assigned him the responsibility of Interior
Minister in his cabinet.
In 1930 he became the governor of the Capisa, Parwan, Kandahar
and Farah provinces, and after 1933, he served as the governor of Badakhshan,
Mazar-e-Sharif and Maimana.
He also performed the duty of deputy chairman of Loya Jirga
(Grand Assembly), convened in 1955.
to Pashto Language and Literature
Muhammad Gul Momand can best be compared to Khoshal Khan
and Rahman Baba as a poet, a good writer and an orator. Apart from Pashto
and Dari, he had command of the Turkish and Russian languages as well.
But he was a strong advocate of the purification of the Pashto language.
His literary work mainly deals with Pashto language. He wrote several
books and compiled a Pashto dictionary, De Pakhtu Sind. De Pukhtu De Zabe
Lyara (on Pashto grammar) and another book entitled De Pashto Landaki,
are other great contributions to the Pashto language. His letter to Abdul
Rauf Benawa regarding the importance of language for the nation and the
responsibilities of writers and leaders towards their language was published
tract form in fifty three pages by Pukhto Adabi Tolana, Kabul. "This
essay counts all the virtues of human life in relation to Pashto and Pashtunwala."
(Hamish Khalil, 1995)
He always urged the importance and advancement of Pashto language according
to the needs of the time. It was this search, which inspired him to gather
and consult Pashtoon writers and tribal leaders, when he was governor
of Kandahar, to seek ways of working for the advancement of the language.
At the end of this gathering, a historic step was taken and the first
ever association for the advancement of the Pashto language came into
being under the name De Pashto Adbi Anjuman, in 1932 in Kandahar. Later,
branches of the Anjuman were also established in other parts of the country.
Muhammad Usman Khan Barakzai was selected as its first head and a committee
under Muhammad Gul Momand (known to his countrymen, Pashtoon Baba) worked
out the guidelines and objectives of the organisation. The Anjuman served
the language by publishing historic books about the language and its grammar;
searched for lost words by visiting villages and kochies (nomads) where
such words were still alive; translated into Pashto from Farsi and from
some international languages books which were of scientific, historical,
political or economic importance for Afghanistan. It also started publishing
the first Pashto magazine Pashto and a second one under the name Da Mualim
Pashto as well as publishing many other books for the teaching and learning
of Pashto language. It was with the help of Pashtoon Baba that the Farsi
language Thalo e Afghan magazine, was, from 1935 published in Pashto.
The Anjuman fulfilled its activities in Kandahar till 1935
and later worked in Kabul for two years, until it was replaced in April
1937 by the Pashto Academy. The Pashto Academy was also the brainchild
of Muhammad Gul Momand. According to Pohand Rishteen, Abdul Hai Habibi
was in Kandahar when he was called to Kabul and invited by Muhammad Gul
Momand to become the first head of the Academy.
Muhammad Gul Momand was universally known and loved. He
was awarded the medal of Lmar A'lee (Sun-1) He was known by many names,
such as Wazir Sahib, Pashtoon Baba and Loe Afghan.
Muhammad Gul Momand died in Kabul on 18th of August 1964,
at the age of 80. His funeral was attended by high-ranking officials and
tribal chiefs from all around the country, including the then prime minister
Sardar Dawoud Khan. Zahir Shah, in the midst of his busy schedule, spent
the whole day at the fatheha and delivered a speech and paid homage to
the great man, calling him his guide and savior of the Afghan nation and
Note: Most of the information of this article is
taken from the works of Syed Sabir Shah (Loe Afghan, 1998), Ismail Yoon
(Da Mummad Gul Khan Momand Annd ao Zwand ta yawa Kathana, 1994), and Hamish
Khalil (Muhammad Gul Khan Momand, 1995)
Thanks to Dr. Asad. Z, Noorullah Khan Attal, Nancy Syed and Breshna for
their contribution and help in this article.
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