Frontier Gandhi

Hindi movie, Pathan these days is winning hearts of movie-goers and minting money all across the globe, entering the list of the highest grossing Indian movie of all time.

But today I’m going to talk about a Pathan (Pashtun or Pakhtun) in real life, who was born on this day in 1890 in Peshawar valley of the then North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.

He was the Pashtun Independence activist, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Bacha Khan or Badshah Khan, and honourably addressed as Fakhr-e-Afghan (Pride of Afghans).

He met Mahatma and entered politics in 1919 during the agitation over the Rowlatt Acts. He espoused non-violent nationalist agitation in support of Indian independence and sought to awaken the Pashtuns’ political consciousness.

Due to his similar ideologies and close proximity with Mahatma Gandhi, Khan was nicknamed Sarhadi Gandhi or the Frontier Gandhi. We have all read a lot about Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent methods to secure independence, but this Frontier Gandhi also played a very significant role in his area.

He founded the Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) commonly known as Red Shirts Movement in 1929 against the British colonial rule in India. Its success earned him and his supporters a harsh crackdown from the British rule.

Badshah Khan strongly opposed the Partition of India, and sided with the Indian National Congress and All India Azad Muslim Conference against the All India Muslim League.

He was in favour of creating a Pashtunistan, but when he was not heard, and the Congress accepted the partition without consulting him, he felt betrayed and cryptically stated to Mahatma Gandhi, “You have thrown us to the wolves.”

Due to his political leanings, he was arrested many times. He also went into exile to Afghanistan for a brief period. He breathed his last on January 20, 1988, in Peshawar, but as per his will, he was buried at his house in Jalalabad (Afghanistan).

In 1987, he became the first non-Indian to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the Republic of India.

Frontier Gandhi was the foremost 20th-century leader of Pashtuns, an ethnic group of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this time of intolerance and bigotry, his life and teachings, like those of Mahatma Gandhi, are more relevant than ever before.

He was of the considered view that
“Non-violence is love, and it stirs courage in people. No peace or tranquility can descend upon the people of the world until non-violence is practised.”

–Kaushal Kishore



  1. Thank you, Kaushal, for writing about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a noble and wise man. The partition of India was arranged according to the latest findings (secret letters and documents hidden in the UK) and was unjust, unnecessary, and
    wholly wrong. The philosophy of non-violence echoes the famous mantra:
    “Those who use violence have to start by digging two graves.”
    Thank you, Kaushal, again for highlighting the important period in the history of India, not many people here know much about.
    If you want to know about the uncovered secret manipulations, that led to the partition of India, please let me know.
    Thank you for the interesting presentation, as always.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for this beautiful comment. I’m glad you liked this post on Frontier Gandhi. Partition of India was a black spot on Indian independence. I would like to know more about it. I would be grateful if you share such documents. Thanks again!


    1. Thank you, Anita for your kind comment. I’m glad that you liked this post on Badshah Khan, who was in favour of merging his state to the Indian union, but Gandhi declined. Do watch Pathan movie for entertainment, but you won’t find even a shred of that real Pathan.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mainstream writing in Indian history has failed to give enough credit to regional nationalist leaders of the freedom struggle.
    Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan aka “the Frontier Gandhi” should be recognised in this regard.
    Well shared, KK. Thank you. :⁠-⁠)

    Liked by 1 person

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