Back In Time: The ‘Frontier Gandhi’ No More -1988

Back in Time is a newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.

For this incident, we go back in time to 1988.

1988, January 20: Mr. Khan, better known as the ‘Frontier Gandhi’, and emblem of dignity, recipient of the India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, passed away at the ripe age of 98. His relentless efforts as an independence activist against the British Raj shall carry his legacy forward for centuries to come.


He breathed his last in the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar where he was hospitalised with a severe stroke. Before this terminal hospitalisation, he was being treated in India where the doctors saw the little scope of recovery with brain functions being extremely disabling.

Burial of Ghaffar Khan

He will be buried at his house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where a thousand mourners have already gathered to pay their last respects. The Indian Prime Minister shall be visiting Pakistan to pay his tributes to the lifelong pacifist though General Zia-ul-Haq is trying to stall his attendance for security reasons. The Indian Government has declared a period of mourning for five days to honour him. A cease-fire has been announced in the Afghan Civil War to allow the funeral to take place.

Contribution to India’s struggle for independence

A devout Muslim and staunch ally of Gandhi, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He founded the ‘Khudai Khidmatdar’, literally translated as ‘servants of God’, to represent the non-violent struggle against the British Empire by the Pashtuns and to also serve the society. He strongly opposed the All India Muslim League’s demand for the partition of India and pledged allegiance to Pakistan when the Congress accepted the proposal without consulting the ‘Khudai Khidmatdar’.

He stood for women’s right and violence meted out to them. His liberal views earned him the reverence of the people around him.

Stay in Pakistan

Since his stay in Pakistan post-1948, he had been arrested, exiled and placed under house arrest innumerable times. In 1962, Abdul Ghaffar Khan was named an “Amnesty International Prisoner of the Year”.

Khan is survived by three sons and two daughters. His idealism and message of non-violence shall live on for years to come.


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