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The Unarmed Pathan

Bilal Pakhteen

Bilal Pakhteen

When we look back at our history, almost every country in the world has experienced some form of foreign occupation, colonization, massive violence and bloodshed simply based on either regional, religion, ethnic or racial conflict. And while most of the leaders who’ve led such warfare and occupations, have been violent and tyrannical. But there have also been a few, very few, leaders who have gone against the status quo and only believed in and promoted non-violence.

These exceptional leaders hailed from all over the world, of which one of the most prominent example is Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also widely known as “Bacha Khan”-translating to “King Khan” from Pashto, born in 1890, in the town of Utmanzai in NWFP (KPK) in the house of Behram khan.

Bacha khan dedicated major part of his life teaching his fellow Pakhtuns the value of tolerance. His main exertion of love centered on their education, mannerism, self-respect, well-being and self-reliance.

Bacha khan spent 30 years, 8 months and 22 days of his life in prison, which means one out of every three days of his life were spent in prison. Eventually even surpassing the number of years the legendary Nelson Mandela had spent in Jail. And this was mainly due to his activities towards the betterment of Pakhtuns, which worried both the religious leaders and British rulers who speculated threats to their power in the subcontinent. Because they knew that “Non violent Pathans are more dangerous than violent ones”. Following the partition of 1947, Bacha khan being a close friend of Gandhi and a staunch Pakhtun nationalist suffered severity at the hands of Pakistani establishment.

However, he never retreated to violence. He was still advocating the entire Pashtuns to remain peaceful in their Socio-Political endeavors. He was well aware of the philosophy of violence and it’s repercussions viz. Violence breeds violence. Hate can never generate love, however, only love can create love. Therefore he was advocating the philosophy of non-violence on both political and social front.

Bacha khan had found the path of emancipation and salvation for Pashtuns in the education. For this purpose he left no stone unturned to construct schools in each and every village of Pashtun areas for both girls and boys. He started his education campaign by establishing an Azad Madrasa (independent school) on 10th April 1921 in his village Utmanzai, Charsada. With the passage of time he extended the chain of these Madrassas’s through-out the province and he established about 134 Azad schools with 9567 students and 536 teachers teaching in it.

When he was in prison he kept hens, sold the eggs and sent the proceeds to the Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) centre. So that the process goes on and never stop because of economic shortfall.

The great leader is remarkably absent from many Pakistan history books, – or, worse, referred to in passing. He has rarely been mentioned even in the media. So, let’s commemorate this great man not only on his death and birth anniversaries, but every single chance we get. Do it in whatever manner you can; blog about him, write articles, make films, or just talk about him on social media – don’t forget your own. Let his struggles serve as a reminder that one doesn’t need to be violent in order to bring change, for change can be possible through peaceful means as well.

Time to think and follow the footprints of Bacha khan if we want to achieve all that respect and highness which once was in the feet of our fathers and grandfathers.

Writer: Bilal Pakhteen

The writer is a student of International Relations at QAU, Islamabad Pakistan. He can be reached at bilalsherani45@gmail.com


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