My Life and Struggle
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Affectionately known as ‘Bacha’ Khan or ‘King’ Khan amongst his people, Ghaﬀar Khan’s life was dedicated to the social reform of the Pukhtuns, who traditionally adhere to a strict code of life, ‘Pukhtunwali’, governed by rather rigid tribal norms. His life-long struggle to modernise Pukhtun society and his decades-long non-violent defiance, adopted by his Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) party during the struggle for independence against the British, have earned him a stature that few other anti-colonial leaders in the Sub-continent can match. Few are aware that the Khudai Khidmatgar lost the greatest number of workers compared to any other party that was part of the anti-colonial movement.
An increasing consciousness amongst the Pukhtuns against oppression and war, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has led to a resurgence of the teachings of Bacha Khan. His powerful political weapon of non-violence, his emphasis on including women in all walks of life, his belief in religious tolerance and his legacy of speaking truth to power, are, today, values that bear increasing relevance to the people of a much-troubled region.
“Bacha Khan’s message of the power of peaceful protest for liberty, equality and justice changed our culture and customs forever and inspires me every day in my activism for girls’ education and women’s empowerment.”
-Malala Yousafzai, Youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate
“As a student activist, what struck me the most about working with Bacha Khan was the strength of his compassion and his disarming humility. He would insist on walking long distances even in old age to reach the marginalised to help them or to at least express solidarity with them. The publication of English translation of his Pakhto autobiography is coming out at a time when younger generations are rediscovering Bacha Khan’s life and struggle.”
-Afrasiab Khattak, Former Provincial President of Awami National Party, former senator, writer and analyst of regional affairs.
“This compelling story is more relevant now than ever. Bacha Khan’s tireless struggle against oppression and division was non-violent and uncompromising, principled and creative. Readers will be enthralled and inspired.”
-Mukulika Banerjee, Author of The Pathan Unarmed, 2001.
“The life story of a man of peace and non-violence, born amidst mayhem and conflict across the Sub-continent, still carries a powerful message in the turbulent times we live in. The autobiography of Bacha Khan in English, for the first time in a lucid translation from the original Pakhto by Imtiaz Ahmad Sahizada, is a landmark publication. The history of modern South Asia has been incomplete without a better understanding of how and why the fierce Pashtun tribes embraced the Gandhian ideology of non-violent defiance. My Life and Struggle introduces a new and younger generation to the tribulations of the Pashtuns.”
-Ahmed Rashid, Author of Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 2012.