Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Badshah Khan: A Torch for Peace

Yesterday evening, I saw the film The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace, which played at the Marina Mall as part of the Middle East Film Festival, Abu Dhabi 2009. The film is an amazing documentary on the life of the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a towering giant of heart and stature who was, is and will always remain a Pashtoon King of Peace, known as Badshah/Bacha Khan. He was a key figure in the Free India movement and this of course, invited the wrath of the British, even towards his peaceful cause.

As a Pashtoon, Bacha Khan showed the people that he loved a very different way - he challenged the opinion that Pashtoons could only be known for the gun and as a result could only remain backward. Bacha Khan was a good friend of Mahatma Gandhi and, like Gandhi, managed to mobilise the masses to resist injustice through peace. His movement of Khudai Khidmatgars (Allah's helpers) were taught to stand on their feet and bring about a positive change in themselves and their society through peace and social work. In the film, his daughter talks about his 'love for the poor people'.

Peace: Long live the King

His peace movement invited trouble and for a third of his time on earth, Bacha Khan was prisoner of conscience - in 1962 he was named by Amnesty International as Prisoner of the Year - overall for every three days of his life, he spent one day in British or Pakistani jails, often in solitary confinement. He continually challenged the validity of the British laid-down borders and later found sanctuary in Afghanistan - a natural home for the Pashtoons, travelling extensively and asking to be buried in Jalalabad when he was dying. When Bacha Khan's family said it would be difficult to arrange visas to cross the border, his reply to his family was "One day all this will be one".


  1. I get chills when I read about Bacha Khan's struggles and efforts. With people like him as leaders, we WILL be able to prosper, but not many Pukhtuns know about him to be influenced by him.

    Thank you, Tor Khan, for writing this. This should be spread around as much as possible.

    And the documentary! I haven't seen it yet, but I'm longing to.

    Peace be upon you, Bacha Khan, and the rest of this world!

  2. I, too, get the chills - I have such deep regard for the man. Peace be upon him.

    The story of Bacha Khan is one that has been deliberately hijacked and distorted by people who would like Pashtoons to remain backwards and incompatible with peace because for once here was a Pashtoon whose powerful message and personal example was a challenge to the stereotype of the Pashtoons as only being people of the gun.


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