(MENAFN – Kashmir Observer)
Peshawar- While the relationship of Turkish civilization with the centuries-old Indian subcontinent, certain figures strengthened this relationship in the early 20th century.
Realizing the importance of the media, when Turkish leaders established the global wire Anadolu Agency, exactly 100 years ago on April 6, 1920, South Asian-born Abdur Rehman Peshawari held the distinction of being one of his first reporters.
Born in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in 1886 in the rich Samdani family, Peshawari who was studying at the world-famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in India abandoned his studies to join the mission of the people to help Turkey during the war Balkan. Initially, a native of Kashmir, his family had settled in Peshawar to set up a business.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Peshawari’s niece, Mohammad Saleem Jan, said that his uncle had earned the nickname Lala Turkey and Chacha Turkey.
Lala, in Pashto, refers to an older brother.
“President Erdogan mentioned the contribution of my uncle who had attracted a lot of interest among people in Peshawar who, surprisingly, were not very aware of it,” he said.
Jan is also the grandson of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, known as Bacha Khan, the famous Pashtun icon and a leader of the towering Indian subcontinent, who fought against the British. The drawing room is decorated with photographs of his uncle, Abdur Rehman Peshawari, Bacha Khan and uncle of the mother Khan Abdul Wali Khan.
Peshawari’s niece Mohammad Saleem Jan spoke during an exclusive interview in Peshawar, Pakistan on April 5, 2020.
Anadolu Agency: You are Abdur Rahman Peshawari’s niece, can you tell us about his early life?
Mohammad Saleem Jan (MSJ): First I would like to thank President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for reviving Abdur Rahman Peshawari’s memories. Surprisingly, the people here are not very aware of it. As soon as Erdogan mentioned it, it aroused curiosity among the media people.
Peshawari soon contributed to Turkey, where he has carved a niche in history.
My grandfather had moved from Baramulla, India’s north-run Kashmir district to Peshawar. He came here and lived with his uncle. He started his business and did quite well and became a rich man in Peshawar. He has a large family, some of whom gained important positions during his life. Among them is Turkish Lala. We also call him Chacha Turkey [Uncle Turkey] because we connect it with Turkey. He is highly respected in the family due to his various achievements.
Medical personnel, fighters, journalists and diplomats
Q: How long did he stay in Peshawar?
MSJ: He was born in Peshawar in 1888. But some say his year of birth was 1886. He studied at Edwards High School. He is also a good athlete. For higher studies, he traveled to Aligarh and joined Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, now known as Aligarh Muslim University. The paramedic delegation will go to Turkey, to help the wounded in the Balkan wars. He is not a paramedic. But he took a course in paramedics, to qualify for membership in the delegation. And he qualified and then he became a member of the delegation, which went to Turkey in 1912.
Q: When he decided to go to Turkey, what was the reaction of the family?
MSJ: My father and other elders told me he was [Peshawari] knew his father would not let him go. So, to raise money, he sells his personal belongings. And then he came to Peshawar to meet his father, before leaving. The remaining mission members returned after eight months. But he remained in Turkey and joined the Ottoman army. He fought in Beirut and was part of the Gallipoli campaign during World War I. Because of his success in Pashto, Persia and England he was later appointed as Turkish ambassador to Afghanistan from 1920 to 1922.
He fought in the Turkish War of Independence with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turks. He was injured three times. He was assassinated in Istanbul in 1925, apparently mistaken Rauf Orbay Bey, Turkey’s first prime minister after the war for independence.
When we heard that the Armenians might want to kill Rauf Bey but they shot Abdur Rahman Peshawari, on his back, thinking he was the prime minister, because of his close resemblance. He was in hospital for a month but died of injury.
Married with the cause
Q: Have you ever visited his grave?
MSJ: I went in 2013 to visit the cemetery and I spent three hours there. The condition of the grave, I could not find the grave. But a few years ago, when my nephew left, his grave had been found.
Q: How was his life in Turkey. Does he have family?
MSJ: He was around 39 or 40 years old when he died. He is not married. The Turks gave him lots of love and affection, even Rauf considered him part of his family. His mother treated him as his son. They insisted he married in Turkey. But he will say, I’m married to my goal. And led to the struggle for the liberation of Turkey from imperialist powers. He achieved that goal.
I am very grateful to the Turkish government, the people and especially President Erdogan who brought him to the limelight.
Now after 100 years, his memory has been revived and he has been recognized. Our family which includes all cousins thanked the President for recognizing the sacrifice of Lala Turki.
Q: He never returned to Peshawar. Does he maintain contact with family?
MSJ: He never returned to Peshawar. He is related. The family had asked him to return, he refused and said that I would not return until Anatolia was under occupation.
Then when he became Turkish ambassador to Afghanistan, his father sent him another message to come to Peshawar and visit family. But he said he would not set foot in occupied India ruled by Britain. Then my grandfather and uncle went to Afghanistan, visited him and lived with him for some time. His father again tried to persuade him to return. But he did not do it.
Treasures in the British archive
Q: Do you have the memory in your hands?
MSJ: Unfortunately, we don’t have anything other than a picture. We were told that the medals, uniforms and milk products he used to write were all handed over to one of my uncles, Lawyer Abdul Aziz because he was his brother. But then they were confiscated by the British. And they are now with England. I have applied to the Pakistani and Turkish governments, that for 100 years now, they must try and get the diary and other property back.
The diary has historical significance. People can learn a lot about from the diary and it will open up the details of many historical events. Because for 13 years in Turkey, the letters he wrote, or whatever there was no record of that anywhere.
Once again through the Anadolu Agency, I urge the British government to return milk and other things that they keep in their files.
Q: Do you know Abdu Rehman Peshawari is also the first reporter and founder of Anadolu Agency?
SMJ: Oh, yes. I know it. I thank Anadolu Agency that you still remember it and from this Platform you keep my uncle’s values alive. We will never forget this love and affection.
Q: Peshawari is a pride for Pakistanis and especially for the Peshawar people because it belongs to this city. What do you think is your uncle’s single achievement?
MSJ: Being a family member cannot boast of how wonderful people are, our elders. Putting aside the relationship. If you see that man, and you look at sacrifice, and you see his commitment, his perseverance, the way he goes and devotes himself to a country far from his home, that makes me very proud. And I’m sure anyone who considers all these points will feel very, very proud. And I think the brotherly relationship between Turkey and Pakistan, no matter what you say, the fellowship and foundation relationship was laid by Abdur Rahman Peshswari and Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, who is the leader of the medical mission.
- Courtesy: Anadolu Agency (AA) . Anadolu Agency is Turkey’s global news agency and commemorates 100 years of operations on Monday. AA was launched on April 6, 1920.