Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Abdul Ghaffār Khān (Pashtoعبدالغفار خان‎; 6 February 1890 – 20 January 1988), also known as Bādshāh Khān (بادشاه خان‎, ‘King Khan’), Frontier/Simant Gandhi or Bāchā Khān (باچا خان‎, ‘King of Chiefs‘) and honourably addressed as Fakhr-e-Afghan (فخرِ افغان‎, ‘Pride of Afghans‘), was a Pashtun[2] independence activist against British colonial rule in India. He was a political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition and lifelong pacifism; he was a devout Muslim and an advocate for Hindu−Muslim unity in the Indian subcontinent. Due to his similar ideologies and close friendship with Mahatma Gandhi, Khan was nicknamed Sarhadi Gandhi (Hindiसरहदी गांधीlit.‘Frontier Gandhi’) by his close associate Amir Chand Bombwal.In 1929, Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgar, an anti-colonial nonviolent resistance movement. The Khudai Khidmatgar’s success and popularity with the Indian people eventually prompted the colonial government to launch numerous crackdowns against Khan and his supporters; the Khudai Khidmatgar experienced some of the most severe repression of the entire Indian independence movement.

Khan strongly opposed the proposal for the Partition of India into the Hindu-majority Dominion of India and Muslim-majority Dominion of Pakistan, and consequently sided with the pro-union Indian National Congress and All-India Azad Muslim Conference against the pro-partition All-India Muslim League. When the Indian National Congress reluctantly declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he felt deeply betrayed, telling the Congress leaders “you have thrown us to the wolves.” In June 1947, Khan and other Khudai Khidmatgar leaders formally issued the Bannu Resolution to the British authorities, demanding that the ethnic Pashtuns be given a choice to have an independent state of Pashtunistan, which was to comprise all of the Pashtun territories of British India and not be included (as almost all other Muslim-majority provinces were) within the state of Pakistan—the creation of which was still underway at the time. However, the British government openly refused to comply with the demands of this resolution. In response, Khan and his elder brother, Abdul Jabbar Khan, boycotted the 1947 North-West Frontier Province referendum on deciding whether the province should be merged with India or Pakistan, citing that it did not have the options for the Pashtun-majority province to become independent or to join neighboring Afghanistan.

After the Partition of India was brought into effect by the British government on 14 August 1947, Khan pledged allegiance to the newly created nation of Pakistan, and stayed in the now-Pakistani North-West Frontier Province; he was frequently arrested by the Pakistani government between 1948 and 1954. In 1956, he was arrested for his opposition to the One Unit program, under which the government announced its plan to merge all the provinces of West Pakistan into a single unit to match the political structure of erstwhile East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). Khan was jailed or in exile during much of the 1960s and 1970s. Following his will upon his death in Peshawar while under house arrest in 1988, he was buried at his house in JalalabadAfghanistan. Tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the Khyber Pass from Peshawar towards Jalalabad. It was marred by two bomb explosions that killed 15 people; despite the heavy fighting at the time due to the Soviet–Afghan War, both sides, namely the SovietAfghan government coalition and the Afghan mujahideen, declared an immediate ceasefire to allow Khan’s burial.

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