Bacha Khan’s background as a Muslim and a Pashtun made his non-violent struggle appear unique. In a way, he was able to change the common discourse that Pasthans are short-tempered people. Bacha Khan famously proclaimed that “we would have fared ill if we had not learnt the lessons of non-violence. We are born fighters and we keep the tradition by fighting among ourselves… This non-violence has come to us as a positive deliverance.”
Yet following the collapse of the British Empire and creation of Pakistan, Bacha Khan found himself and his nonviolent philosophy increasingly pushed out. This stemmed from two factors: first Bacha Khan’s opposition to the creation of Pakistan, because of its communal foundation, and subsequently his opposition to the continued incorporation of Pashtun areas that had been divided by the British by drawing an artificial line, named as the Durand line. This led to him being imprisoned for much of his life. Second, growing radicalization of religion stemming from the alliance between Pakistan’s military and the mullahs, coupled with huge flow of armaments into the region by the West after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, did much to undermine Bacha Khan’s work.
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