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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


BY Sakhi Arsala Khan

Bacha Khan is the towering personality standing high in the most
magnificent grandeur and glory among his contemporary leaders in the
world. He was basically a pakhtun reformer to cure the maladies
afflicting the pakhtun society who was constrained to leap in the
political arena to lead a grand freedom movement with non-violent
convictions. He wanted to serve his illiterate, backward, dispersed,
rivalry-beaten and feud-ridden nation to give it a respectable and
dignified posture in the comity of nations. His "Anjuman-e-Islah-e-
Afaghina", switched over to "Khudai Khitmatgar" movement which was
called "Red-Shirt Movement" by the British due to the color of the
uniform of its volunteers. Bacha Khan knew that the illiteracy
lurking in the pakhtun society was the greatest detrimental menace
to the progress of this nation. He established the first open school
in Utmanzai in 1910, which proved as the first ever harbinger of
dawn in the pitched darkness languishing in the pakhtun society. The
tide of the time compelled Bacha Khan to organize Khudai
Khitmatgars, a band of selfless volunteers to serve the community.
The Khudai-Khitmatgars were required to take an oath to qualify for
this movement, which went like, "As Allah needs no service, I shall
serve Him by serving His creatures selflessly. I shall never use
violence. I shall not retaliate or take revenge, and I shall forgive
anyone who indulges in high-handedness and excesses against me….I
shall lead a simple life, do well and refrain from wrong doing". An
analyst is astonished to see that, "For a martial race like pakhtun,
framed for gun totting, for revenging slight and nursing feuds from
generation to generation, the pledge was wholly contrary to the
grain, yet such was the force of Bacha Khan's charismatic teaching,
and personality that pakhtuns strictly adhered to this pledge and
acquired a devoted, undaunted and un-wavering acclaim in the pakhtun
society. Khudai Khitmatgars remained commited to non-violence
throughout their struggle in the event of un-matched atrocities and
barbarous brutalities perpetuated against them. In the aftermath of
1930's tragedy, the Muslim leadership of the sub-continent remained
averse and indifferent towards Khudai khidmatgars but the congress
extended a helping hand and hence Khudai Khitmatgar movement went in
alliance with the congress to wage a grand battle for freedom in the
annals of the history. During the freedom movement Bacha Khan spent
every third day of his life in the British jail. He remained for
fifteen years behind the bars in the colonialists' prison but most
ironically he underwent eighteen years of solitary confinement in
the Pakistani jails after partition. He was more in grandeur and
convictions than the living legend Nelson Mandela, but alas his
people had too little minds to take cognizance of the stature of
this great man. As a learned writer puts it, "Bacha Khan who
languished for almost thirty-six years in the soul killing
loneliness of prisons, affronted the fury and torture of every sort
of hardship and persecution at the hands of his alien masters the
English and suffered the ignoble infliction of his own brothers in
the prisons of this home- land called Pakistan".

The rest is a history of chequered freedom struggle, the ever
lasting wrinkles on the face of time, the long tale of an
unprecedented political career and the volley of abuses, insinuation
and character assassination of this grandest pakhtun hero.

Even his worthless people, still wandering in the wilderness are
destitute to know his position and worth in the recorded history of
political expeditions, which have been shrouded in mystery and
absurdity by the pakhtun's adversaries. His life struggle and
personality tarnished by the rivals, have been thoroughly debated by
several writers, intellectuals and analysts, therefore I feel no
further need at this juncture to narrate the whole story. However I
venture below to show a few aspects of the epoch-making teachings of
this splendid teacher and leader in his own words of as told to
different biographers, historiographers and men of letters.

Let's share the convictions and strong beliefs of this legendary
pakhtun stalwart. Bacha Khan said;

"I have one great desire. I want to rescue these gentle, brave,
patriotic people from the tyranny of the foreigners who have
disgraced and dishonoured them. I want to create for them a world of
freedom, where they can live in peace, where they can laugh and be
happy. I want to kiss the ground where their ruined homes once
stood, before they were destroyed by savage strangers. I want to
take a broom and sweep the alleys and the lanes, and I want to clean
their houses with my own hands. I want to wash away the stains of
blood from their garments. I want to show the world how beautiful
they are, these people from the hills and then I want to proclaim,"
show me if you can, any gentler, more courteous, more cultured
people than these."''

"The history of my people is full of victories and tales of heroism,
but there are drawbacks too. Internal feuds and personal jealousies
have always snatched away the gains achieved through vast
sacrifices. They were dispossessed only because of their own
inherent defects, never by an outside power, for who could oppose
them on the battlefield?"

"The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came into this world and taught
us "that man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but
who works for the benefit and happiness of God's creatures. Belief
in God is to love one's fellowmen."''

"I have one great dream, one great longing. Like flowers in the
dessert, my people are born, bloom for a while with nobody to look
after them, wither and return to the dust they came from. I want to
see them share each others sorrows and happiness. I want to see them
work together as equal partners. I want to see them play them their
national role and take their rightful place among the nations of the
world, for the services of God and humanity."

"One learns a good deal in the school of sufferings. I wonder what
would have happened to me if I had an easy life, and had not had the
privileged of tasting the joys of jail and all it means."

"Is not the Pathan amenable to love and reason? He will go with you
to hell if you can win his heart, but you can not force him even to
go to heaven. Such is the power of love over the Pathan."

"There is nothing surprising in a Muslim or a pathan like me
subscribing to the creed of nonviolence. It is not a new creed. It
was followed fourteen hundred years ago by the Holy Prophet all the
time he was in Mecca, and it has since been followed by all those
who wanted to throw off an oppressor's yoke."

"I am giving to you such a weapon that the police and army will not
be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet. That
weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand
against it."

"I consider it a crime to be a slave. Therefore, until we
established in the country a true people's government under which
every community secures equal opportunities for expansion, you will
find me struggling for freedom, no matter who dominates the scene."

Bacha Khan, who went to his grave without befitted recognition in
his life time due to a grand vilification campaign and equally due
to apathy of his mute and senseless people, has turned a beacon of
inspiration for all the pakhtuns after his death. It is true that
dead nations only adore their dead heroes.

Picture courtesy: Sakhi Arsala Khan Peshawar

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