Abdul Gaffar Khan
The peaceful warrior who redefined Islam, Pakhtoonwa and
Non-violence and built a resistance movement these three pillars.
This is the story of a warrior who lived true to his principles
till the day he died. I hope to tell
you about the gentleness and patience of Pathans, who
chose to follow Islam in the peaceful way preached by Prophet
Mohammed and yet managed to effectively protest against the
corrupt and repressive rule of a colonial power. Yes - you read it right, in this age, it might seem a paradox,
many people today cannot visualize a struggle of this nature,
is here that we all can learn a lot from the Khan Abdul Gaffar
Khan, the Frontier Gandhi.
It is simplistic to view the Indian Independence movement
as merely a story of non-violent protests. The protests did give
Indians a gradual victory
but we must also consider what happened to people spanning the entire undivided
India. Not every region got freedom, liberty
and justice. Under such circumstances how can we celebrate this so called Independence
Day? How can we ignore the most horrific partition
violence ? Let alone a day, not even a moment of silence to pay
respects to the tremendous grief and loss suffered by millions.
The genocide, the betrayal of freedom fighters, the screams of a
nation torn apart, apparently not important
enough an event for us?
Did we really get independence or did British just manage
to mangle and undermine us?
The country that had overcome tremendous odds with culture,
language, religion, caste, and race barriers to unite, yet
again, for the supreme dream of being free.
So did we get it? or did major political players in a haste
to get power, instead pawn our unity, the soul of our struggle;
that then came with the high interest of blood and land. First
installment paid in partition and through continual bloody
violence that we are paying till this day - Will we ever redeem
I will not say Happy Independence Day to you,
instead I will say - On this day, August 15, remember those who
fought and died, remember what price we had to pay, and then I
say “Heartfelt Remembrance and Resolution Day!”
“Shradhanjali aur Pratigya Divas” Here is to the
completion of the dream of our freedom fighters!
Listen to this story of a freedom fighter, who never gave
up the fight for his cause. Then, think of your part to redeem our unity, wipe away the tears and heal our nation
with festering deep lacerations, over five decades.
What would your resolution be?
life and times of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Sahab
Abdul Gaffar Khan was born to the Khan Behram Khan
of Utmanzai village in 1890. This is in Ashtanagar, a tract in
Charsadda tehsil of Peshawar district between rivers Swat and
Kabul. As there was no custom to note down birthdays in those
days, Gaffar Khan's birth date is unknown.
Both of his parents were unlettered but were a very broad
minded, loving couple who served every guest with equal respect
irrespective of their station. Behram Khan had renounced "Badla"
or revenge and chose to forgive who wronged him. This was
significant for a person in Pathan society to do so, since at
the time the society was all caught up
in the web of revenge and counter-revenge that snaked its way
through tribe after tribe and generation after generation. It
was a bold step to take at time when this poison was strong in the
At the age of five, Gaffar Khan was taught the Quran from
the Mullah. Behram Khan then sent Gaffar Khan to Peshawar for
primary education and then the missionary school.
Here he got a glimpse of service to the needy from his
missionary teachers and was influenced by their spirit of selflessness.
While in the last year of his high school, Gaffar Khan applied for
a Direct Commission in the British Indian Army which was considered very
prestigious in those days. He was selected, being a very well built young man at 6' 3”, almost matriculate,
however very soon he witnessed how the
British callously insulted his friend who was a cavalry officer
in the Peshawar regiment. He realized he did not want to be a
servant of the British government because it did not give one
respect and he left the Army. With his elder son's encouragement who was studying
medicine in London, Behram Khan arranged for Gaffar Khan to
study engineering in London, but his mother would not allow the
only son she had left to be sent to vilayat
, foreign lands from which nobody returned. Gaffar who
loved his mother very much, decided to not go, and instead serve
Gaffar Khan married twice, once in
1912, he and is wife were proud parents of two sons Ghani and
Wali, who later proved to be patriotic sons of Pakhtunistan.
Unfortunately, his first wife died six years into the marriage. Gaffar Khan
married again in 1920, sadly his second wife died in 1926, in an accident
in Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to Holy Harams and the
Masjid al Aqsa. His second wife had borne him a son and a daughter.
Before the coming of Islam, the Pathans had been Hindus,
and the misconception that “education is only for brahmins”
still prevailed in their society, the result of which was that
they created divisions amongst themselves very much like caste
The common people were not interested in education.
Moreover, the British broke down the Pathan social
structure with draconian laws. In 1901, Pathan province was
separated from Punjab and Frontier Crimes Regulation Act was
introduced. Under this law, the police could start a fictitious
case against anyone the British happened to dislike. No proof or
evidence was necessary. The British used it in such an atrocious
manner that it created communalism, disharmony and mutual enmity
amongst Pathans. All
this to keep the Pathans backward so they could control
Afghanistan and Pakhtunistan.
In this environment, Gaffar Khan had the vision to see that
education and learning would be the first step to remove Pathan
from this misery. Gaffar Khan had no idea how much trials and
tribulations that lay ahead of him!
He was sent to jail, in fetters too small that cut into his
ankles leaving a life long scar. He was made to walk 4 miles in
blazing heat with no water or food, chained to a vehicle, kept
in jail with no food in extreme cold with torn flea ridden rags
for cover. All because he had opened schools to give basic education to
The British were so afraid of the Pathan strength that they
were threatened even by this.
As the British injustices piled up, it only strengthened
Gaffar Khan's resolution.
When the schools started flourishing, the British warned
Behram Khan about his son, when that did not work, they arrested
Gaffar Khan under Section 4 of Frontier Crime Regulation,
sentenced to 3 years rigorous imprisonment.
In Peshawar, he was pushed into a criminal's cell with a
chamberpot full of last occupants excrement. They kept him
locked day and night, with the food shoved in through a barred
opening in the door. Usually prisoners were kept in solitary
cells for a week, but Gaffar Khan spent 2 months. After that he
was transferred to Dera Ismail Khan, meant for habitual
prisoners. The food was inedible, with even the prison cat
refusing to eat the vegetables! With all this, he had to grind
20 seers of corn every day on a grindstone.
A few months later he was transferred to Dera Gazi Khan
There was an interesting incident at Dera Gazi Khan prison
that Gafar Khan relates in his autobiography. This was an
example of the false impressions the British had given to the
Hindus in India, about Pathans:
One day a Hindu friend told Abdul Gaffar Khan:
“I have been told that the Pathans drink Human blood. Do
they really ?”
his friend cried out.
Then he asked again; “But why do they drink it?”
“Because it is very tasty,”
his friends cried again.
Then Khan asked him: “My friend, from where did you get
this idea? Have you ever been to the Pathan country ? Have you
ever seen a Pathan, for that matter? Except me of course.”
“No, I haven't,”
the friend admitted.
"Then who told you this?”
Khan asked him.
His friend replied that he had read about it some time back in a
Such my dear readers was the state of India in that
In 1924, after his release Gaffar Khan started thinking
about a national newspaper. Finally in May 1928 it bore fruit
and the first issue of Pakhtun
was published. It became very popular. In fact it became so
popular even in Afghanistan that the king Amanullah Khan
published another journal Jagh Pakhtun, and also wanted to make
Pashto the national language. Apart from this, Amanullah was
always working for progress, which also impressed the Pathans
As always, British could not tolerate any progress and with
a conspiracy with local Mullahs pronounced him a Kafir and drove king Amannullah out who then went to Italy. Then
started the destruction of Afghanistan that deeply hurt the
Pathans. Gaffar Khan went to India to collect money for their
cause. Thus, in 1928, Gaffar Khan met Gandhiji and Nehruji for
the first time in a Congress meeting. Gaffar Khan's elder
brother and Nehruji had studied in the same University in
London, who gave Gaffar Khan a letter of introduction.
It was in India that Gaffar Khan saw the people so full of
nationalistic fervor. He went back and spoke to his country men,
combining India's nationalism and king Amanullah's progressive
Thus the idea about an organization to bring about social
reforms was conceived and realized in 1929. They called it
Khudai Khidmatgars or Servants of God, and everyone joining had
to take a vow to be non violent, renounce revenge and anger
towards wrong doers and oppressors, treat every Pathan as his
brother and friend, and serve humanity in the name of God.
This revolutionized the society to a great extent. The
British torture and oppression only drove more people to join.
Gaffar Khan was arrested again in 1930 and sent to Gujarat
prison in Punjab. British drove trucks into a human wall of
protesters, killing several people. They then ordered soldiers
to shoot on unarmed men, and women, Only the Garhwali regiment
refused to shoot at their countrymen and embraced severe life
imprisonment for this transgression at Qissa Khana Bazaar.
Number of peaceful protesters died under British shoot orders.
Not just this! the British used to round up Khudai Khidmatgars,
remove their clothes, beat them mercilessly, and once they were unconscious
throw them into ditches. Then the were made to stand
naked on house tops with their faces and back sides blackened
and their women-folk forced to watch this humiliation. They
still could not make the Pathan break his word, his vow to non
violence, his allegiance to Khudai Khidmatgars.
They sodomized these brave men with tent poles, castrated
them, they put sieges on villages, attacking homes, destroying
food, blocking supplies, starving the women and children to
They still could not make the Pathan break his vow.
the love and respect the Pathans had for their organization and their
leader Gaffar Khan.
The cruelty, the barbarity of British knew no bounds, they
had sealed off the whole province so no one could even get a
whiff of what was going on.
Two Khidmatgars Mian Jafar Shah and Mian Abdullah Shah
escaped and managed to meet Gaffar Khan in the prison to inform
of the horror. It was decided that the two should continue to
Lahore, Delhi and Simla to
get help from friends in Muslim League. A few months
later, the two returned with no success.
The Muslim League leaders said they could not take the
Pathan's side since the Khudai Khidmatgars were opposing the
British. The British, they said, was protecting them in order
that they could fight the Hindus.
Desperate for help, they decided to ask Congress. Until
then there had been no connection. When Congress promised all
possible help if the Pathans on their part would join the
freedom struggle for India, the proposal was put forth in the
Frontier province, and was accepted by the Khudai Kidmatgars.
When British heard of this, they came back with promises to
reforms, more than what was given to any part of India –
Although people in the prison advised Khan to be diplomatic,
Gaffar khan refused to be a hypocrite, he refused to
break the promise made to Congress and sent back his reply to
British “You have no confidence in us, and therefore we cannot
have any confidence in you”
Now that Congress was with them, Vithalbhai Patel sent a
delegation to the Frontier Province to inquire into the
incidents. They were not allowed to enter, so the delegates
wrote a long report from Rawalpindi on the atrocities, and sent
it all over India. Although the British seized the report,
Congress had already sent copies to America and England for
Gaffar Khan continued to be repeatedly arrested, one time
he was beaten so severely by an inspector called Kushdil Khan
that two of his ribs were broken. Gaffar Khan wrote “he
certainly did no credit to his name which means happy heart!”
With long imprisonments, totaling 15 years, Khan got a good
chance to study people from other religions. He felt the reason
why the Sikhs could put so much more feeling and emotion into
their religious practices than the Hindus or the Muslims was
that their Holy Book the Guru Granth Sahib was written in their
mother tongue. Therefore they understood the teachings and the
prayers of their religion better. He observed that the Hindus
said their prayers in Sanskrit and the Muslims in Arabic, and
many Hindus and Muslims said their prayers without really
understanding the meaning.
Gaffar Khan studied the Gita with equal reverence, as he
did the Quran, he listened to the Guru Grant Sahib read out to
him by his fellow Sikh prisoners. He considered his religion to
be truth, love and service to God and humanity.
He felt every religion that had come to the world had
brought the message of love and brotherhood. And those who were
indifferent to the welfare of their fellowmen, those whose
hearts were empty of love, those who harbored hatred and
resentment in their hearts, they did not know the true meaning
He followed the way of life shown by Prophet - 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.
After a lengthy imprisonment, when Gaffar Khan was released
in 1945, he stayed with the Birlas, where Gandhiji was also
staying. Here is an excerpt from one conversation between these
Sahab: “Gandhiji, you have been
preaching non violence in India for a long time now, but I
started teaching the Pathans non-violence only a short time ago.
Yet, in comparison, the Pathans seem to have grasped the idea of
non-violence much quicker and much better than the Indians. Just
think how much violence there was in India during the war in
1942. Yet in the North West Province, in spite of all the
cruelty and the oppression the British inflicted upon them, not
one Pathan resorted to violence, though they too possess the
instruments of violence. How do you explain that?”
Gandhiji replied: “Non-violence is not for cowards. It is
for the brave and the courageous. And the Pathans are more brave
and courageous than the Hindus. That is the reason why the
Pathans were able to remain non-violent.”
Political Views: Elections and Referendum
Gaffar Khan explains in his autobiography about Elections
“I was not in favor of the elections of 1945-46. I
thought that even if we won the elections, what good would it do
if we could not work for the people? After all we did not want
to win the elections or form a ministry for the sake of ruling
over people, but for the sake of serving them.
I attended the meeting of the Congress Working Committee
and the Parliamentary Board in Calcutta. After I had reported to
Gandhiji on events and conditions in the frontier Province, I
told him that I did not want to take part in the elections.
Gandhiji agreed with me. The Parliamentary Board tried hard to
make me change my mind but they did not succeed.
After the Working Committee Meeting was over I returned to
my village and continued my work. I was soon absorbed in our
movement again and I started touring the province. That also
gave me a chance to study the government machinery that had been
put into operation against me. I found out that government had
closed Islamia College at Peshawar as well as other schools and
colleges all over the province and that the students were being
made to canvas votes for the Muslim League.
I saw British ladies going around canvassing too. They
would go to people's homes, and cleverly making use of the
custom of exchanging scarves when greeting a visitor, they would
“I have come to visit you, so you must give me a dupatta (scarf). But the dupatta I want is your vote.”
Large number of students from Aligarh Muslim University and
from Islamia College, Calcutta and workers and leaders of Muslim
League from many parts of India had been brought to the Frontier
Province. The Government and the Muslim League had also
recruited religious leaders from Punjab and the frontier
Province to work in this election campaign.
When I saw how hard and how enthusiastically these
Britishers and their wives were working on behalf of the Muslim
League, I changed my mind and decided that I would also take
part in the campaign. There was only one month to go before the
The issue at stake in this election of 1946, the last
general election in United India, was:
India or Pakistan, Hindu or Muslim, Islam or kufr,
temple or mosque.
The Muslim League canvassers asked people: “Are you
giving your vote to the mosque or to the temple?”
Unlike the other Muslims in India, however, the Pathans
were politically awake, they had perception and nobody could
mislead them in the name
of Islam. The knew the real meaning of Islam. They had learnt
this in their nationalist movement, they had learnt to make
sacrifices to serve their country. Nowhere else in India had the
Muslims participated in this kind of Nationalist movement.
The polling day came. The British went all out to help the
Muslim league and hinder the Khudai Khidmatgars. But by the
grace of God the Muslim League was defeated and we won the
elections with a large
Thus in July 1946, Maulana Azad and I were elected by the
Khudai Khidmatgars and the Frontier Assembly to be the members
of the Central Assembly, the purpose of which was to give India
a Constitution. There were three members for the Frontier
Province, Maulana Azad, myself and the third was a resident of
Hazara district where the Muslim League had been active and its
candidate had won the election.
The fact that we had secured such a clear majority in an
election which was fought on very clear issues, and under
conditions in which the government had allied itself with the
Muslim League and had used all the Muslim Leaders in India and
all its power against us could only mean one thing; that the
majority of people in the country were behind us.”
After the horror of communal violence, Gaffar Khan had
tirelessly toured Bihar and other ravaged areas in 1947.
Speaking of partition he writes :
“I had gone to Delhi to attend the meeting of the
Congress Working Committee. It was the meeting at which
partition of the country was discussed.
Gandhiji and I were against the partition. I cannot say
what the other members felt about it, because I had not talked
to them yet. But Sardar Patel and Rajagopalachari were in favor
of partition and they were putting pressure on others.
The question of a referendum in the North-West frontier
Province was also discussed. Gandhiji and I were against the
referendum too. I said there was no need at all for a
referendum. Less than a year ago, the election in the province
had been fought on the issue of India or Pakistan. We had won
with a large majority and the Muslim League had lost , it was as
simple as that. Sardar Patel did not see eye to eye with us and
they put a lot pressure on the Working Committee and argued
about the desirability of referendum at great length. Finally
the Working Committee agreed with them and voted in favor of
both partition of the country and the referendum.
On this occasion I told the Working Committee and Gandhiji
that we Pathans were standing side by side with them in the
struggle for the freedom of India and that we had made great
sacrifices for the cause. “But you are deserting us now, I
told them and throwing us to the wolves.” Is there any doubt
about what the Pathans wanted? That was one reason we do not
want the referendum. And another reason is that India has left
us in the lurch. So why should we have to have referendum over
India or Pakistan?”
Whereas everywhere in India the representative Assemblies
had been asked to decide whether they wanted to remain in India
or go over to Pakistan, the North West Frontier Assembly had not
been given this right to choose. This was an insult to the whole
nation of Pashtuns, which we could not tolerate.
Under these circumstances and after such treatment by the
Congress, the question whether I wanted to remain in India or
Pakistan is not only unnecessary, but improper, because the
Congress, which was the representative body in India, not only
deserted us but delivered us into the hands of our enemies. To
meet them now is like killing all my Pathan self respect, ethics
That is why we said that if there was to be a referendum at
all, it should be on the question of Pakhtunistan or Pakistan.
But nobody listened to me and the referendum was forced
As we refused to take part in this referendum the way was
clear for the Muslim league, and they used all the cunning,
deceit and force they could command."
The Colonel Bashir told Gaffar khan that when he and
his unit were stationed at Litambar near Bannu, on the
day of the referendum, he had taken his company out to the
polling booths three times, so that the soldiers could vote in
favor of Pakistan.
The government servants, their henchmen, the Muslim league
registered thousands of false votes in the names of Khudai
In spite of all that and the British looking the other way,
or supporting this farce, they got only 50% of the votes, which
was nowhere enough to decide the fate of a nation or fate of a
country. But as the Pathans looked on, the noose tightened and
choked their freedom.
The decision to boycott
was not “just an emotional reaction” from a Pathan
whose pride had been hurt.
The gentle Gaffar Khan realized the value of his poor
Pakhtuns in the eyes of Congress, that day, which hurt him very
deeply. The ones he had considered his comrades, did not think
of him the same, and considered him and his brave simple Pathans
He was also intelligent to see through the tactics played
by the British and Muslim league , the British had never planned
to let go of their control of NWFP since it was the gateway to
India, a very strategic land which they could use to wage wars
against Russia and control the region in future. The British
knew that the Pathans would never agree to this, whereas the
Muslim league who were nothing but British henchmen would agree
to their nefarious schemes and serve them in the years ahead.
Also, the British along with Muslim League especially hated
the Pathans for steadfastly standing up against
them, supporting Congress, being the only Muslim group in India
to do so amongst the hundred million Muslims. It was an eye sore, a
blatant slap in in the face of two nation theory. Despite all
their repeated cajoling, and incentives, the Pathans had refused
to dishonor their friendship with Congress and their principles.
Gaffar Khan also knew that this was a tactical cruel move
by Muslim League that had already bathed the country in blood,
waiting to see what the Pathan would do now.
In choosing to boycott the referendum Gaffar Khan and his
Khidmatgars decided with their heart, since they did not want
innocent Pathans to be butchered through instigated fights and
their precious unity that they had built, with so much care, to
be snuffed out.
They did not want to make their Pathans sacrificial pawns
in an inhuman political mockery.
There was the possibility that Congress could have been
very particular not to give any other option than India or
Pakistan since other regions especially Kashmir could also then
demand Option C. But why did Congress force a totally farce
redundant referendum down their throat, in effect, completely
turning a blind eye to their friendship, their principles and
the official Pathan representation ?
It is difficult, almost impossible to know whether Congress
was completely naive playing into the hands of Muslim League or
there were calculative negotiations in the cold surgical
vivisection of India or a combination of both.
Sadly, in all this politics, the precious unity with the
only group of Muslims who shed blood for united India
unanimously, and underwent inhuman tortures more cruel than any
where else in India, was killed in cold blood. The irony was
that Pathans fought for India's freedom and their own freedom
was made a sacrificial lamb. Back Stabbing never had a more
Yet, the Pathans, the Khudai Khidmatgars never resorted to
violence. They chose to express their deep anguish in the only
peaceful way they could, by boycotting.
They remained steadfast in their path to follow Islam
Long after partition, in a public speech
Gaffar Khan said
“Where is the
democracy that British gave us? Ayub Khan robbed us of it. And
what did he give us in return ? He gave us his own version of
democracy which does not even deserve the name of democracy.
Look at our financial position, look at our language,
culture, society. He has taken it all. Look at our schools, our
colleges, the education and instruction of our children. And
look at his manners. I am always surprised at these people who
keep telling us:”We are making such progress. Pakistan has a
target and we are fast approaching it.” Actually there are
several jokes in circulation about that. I will tell you one. It
goes like this:
A woman said to her husband, warmly embracing him:
“Darling, I want a diamond nose-ornament!” The husband
replied: “Actually I was considering how I could cut off your
All we are asking is for a nose ornament, it does not even
have to be diamond. But Pakistan is thinking how they can cut
off our nose altogether.”
Jokes aside, he was very frank and candid about the
seriousness of the dangers facing Pathans. Continuing the speech
“I want you and the Pakistani leaders to take a look
at the misery which our Balochi brothers are living in. They
have been asking and crying and shouting for their rights for
the last twenty years. When nobody listened to them they had no
choice but to take up arms. You all know what happened to them,
the tyranny they had to suffer, the cruelties that were
committed. Now Pakistan has found that the question cannot be
solved by cruelty and oppression, and these poor people are
told; Come on, let us sit down together and settle our dispute.
It did not take me long to find out that in the heart of
Pakistan there is no room for any Baluchi or Sindhi or Bengali
or Pakhtun. Therefore I want my Baluchi brothers to know
that the Sindhis and the Pakhtuns are just as oppressed and that
our aim and objectives are the same. Pakistan's real design will
be clear if you look at Punjab. The Punjab leaders met and had
discussions and consultations with their Jirga.
They said “look at the Pakhtuns, they are all very rich. They
have electricity you know. Then they said; look at the Sindhis,
they have so much land. About the Baluchis they said, they have
in their country wealth of mineral resources and gas.
Brothers, all this is trickery and they are only saying all
this because they want it for themselves: the electricity of
Pathans, the land of Sindhis and the minerals of Baluchis. Then
they have this idea of “one unit”. Work it out for
yourselves, is this in harmony with Islamic belief? Does Islam
tell you to rob one brother of electricity, another brother of
his fertile land and take possessions of the mines and minerals
And you, ignorant and misguided Pathans, you do not even
stop to think whether this is Islam or not, you just swallow
anything you are told.”
After India's independence, The Pakistani Government kept
Gaffar Khan in jails for 15 years in inhuman conditions that completely
broke his health, but it did not break his spirit. All through
they had kept him in solitary confinement, turning a deaf ear to
his requests for company, and even if at all they did, it was
either a mad man or someone with a disease which was even worse.
Nor did they give any proper timely medical care.
The Pakistani government did not leave the Khudai
Khidmatgars alone either; they destroyed their offices, murdered
thousands of them, tortured them in a very inhuman ways in
prisons, called them 'Hindu lovers' shaved half of their beard
and mustache and made them ride donkeys, dishonored their women,
shut down the Pakhtun newspaper, in short choked the Pathan
ruthlessly, in manner worse than what is done to animals.
It is such an cruel irony that the ones who were British
henchmen, did everything to thwart Congress and our freedom
struggle, walked away with Pakistan, and the ones who fought for
India's freedom got more years of imprisonment and torture.
Despite all this, Gaffar Khan continued tirelessly with his
quest to unite the brotherhood of Pakhtuns from Baluchistan to
Chitral and an autonomous statehood, in a non violent way. He
chose to not harbor hatred while being true to his mission.
Gaffar Khan was the same fiery bold self while talking to
Pakistani officials also.
One time the Pakistani Minister of Foreign affairs Manzur
Qadir had come to see him over a statement made by Russian Prime
Minister Khrushchev about Pakhtuns.
Gaffar Khan relates,
“He talked for four hours. First
about democracy. He said, “Because here in Pakistan democracy
did not work, we do not give the people democracy anymore”
I asked him, “Where was this democracy in the first place
? You never had democracy, so how do you know whether it works
or not? In India they have
had three or four elections. When did you last have
elections in Pakistan? Did you ever?
Have you ever asked the people what kind of government
they want ?”
Ultimately, when Gaffar Khan was very dangerously ill in
prison, he was released. His doctors advised him to go to
London. But since the weather was not agreeing, they decided to
go to America. The cunning Pakistani government ensured
American embassy denied him a visa. After this Gaffar Khan
decided to go to Afghanistan, and despite every effort to thwart
the plan, reached Kabul. Although Pakistan used to request him
to come back, Gaffar Khan had had enough. He spent his days in
Kabul and Jalalabad.
He did come to India after 22 years, for Gandhiji's
centenary celebration on Oct 2 1969 and then for the last time
in 1987 for a treatment. However tragically on that occasion he had a heart attack and went into
Gaffar Khan never woke up after that. He was taken to
Jalalabad, where he breathed his last on Jan 20 1988. When he
died, Russia called a truce with Afghanistan, and people poured
into Jalalabad to bid farewell. Rajiv Gandhi , then Prime
Minister of India, also postponed his other plans to pay his
This great being, who held no post, had the power to make
one of the world's most powerful nations, Russia, to call a
highest officials of nations and governments pay their respects.
Even in his death, he remained the Badshah, the King of Kings.
My life and struggle, Autobiography Abdul Gaffar Khan
Seemanth Gandhi Badshah Khan by Madalsa Narayan
Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Ek Jeevani by Ram Saran Nageena
The Pathan Unarmed by Mukulika Bannerjee
Badshah Khan by Omkar Sharad
Abdul Gaffar Khan, Faith is a battle by D.G Tendulkar
Sarhadi Gandhi by Pyarelal
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan (A Study of Freedom
Struggle and Abdul Gaffar Khan) by Attar Chand
Frontier Gandhi by G.L Zutshi
10. Khudai Khidmatgar and National
Movement, Momentous speeches of Badshah Khan By P.S Ramu
Sources: The images are all scanned from the book by D. G.
Tendulkar. The actual images are apparently copyrighted to
Government of India.