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Bacha Khan

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, born on February 6, 1890, will always live in hearts and minds of Afghan people. He has become immortal the day when he waged war against extremism, occupation and injustice—without firing a single bullet. The non-violent soldier of Islam is highly revered and loved by Afghans and Indians. The larger than life Bacha Khan spent 33 years in prison. No person of his caliber has spent so many years behind bars. But nothing could shake him because he knew that Afghans living on both sides of the Durand Line would face several and severe problems in coming decades. He never cursed or slapped his enemies. Such was his greatness. Enemies of Bacha Khan were afraid of him even when he died. Two bomb blasts claimed lives of 15 mourners. In 1988, the warring parties in Afghanistan announced ceasefire to allow Bacha Khan’s burial in Jalalabad.

Unfortunately, the Afghan government had not commemorated the 29th death anniversary of this great leader on January 20 (Friday). Bacha Khan has been forgotten by his own brothers in the hall of power. Lack of interest on part of the government authorities give birth to serious questions. A key question that the inattention begot is that whether Bacha Khan is becoming a mystery for Afghan government too. When the mujahideen and government forces could announce ceasefire to allow the burial then why Kabul cannot commemorate Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s death anniversary? He is part of our history. No group, except Pakistani extremists, can target anything associated with Bacha Khan. Therefore, the argument of law and order situation—if there is any—would have no ground to stand on. Gladly, there is no such concern but the relevant authorities are too slow.

It is better to be late than never. The government should commemorate the death anniversary of this Pashtun leader with great enthusiasm. Although, he is no more with us but President Ashraf Ghani should announce civilian awards for Bacha Khan, and name roads after him. The government shall organize conferences in and outside Afghanistan to spread Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s message of non-violence, because importance of his message is felt more than ever. Through his message we can convince the militants to shun violence and build the country for the coming generations. Bacha Khan has received highest civilian award of India, Bharat Ratna, for his work. But he has not been recognized by the international community as a great man who defied odds to fight extremism through education and social reforms. Afghan government must launch a worldwide campaign to educate the international community about life and work of Abdul Ghaffar Khan because his message is universal.

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