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Pak media blacks out death anniversaries of Pashtun leaders Bacha Khan and Wali Khan

A girl prays for the victims of a militant attack on the Bacha Khan University, during a candle light vigil in Peshawar, Pakistan January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Khuram Parvez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Islamabad [Pakistan]: The joint death anniversary of Khudai Khidmatgar Movement founder and Pashtun independence activist Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988), popularly nicknamed Bacha Khan or Pacha Khan and his son, Khan Abdul Wali Khan (1917-2006), also a Pashtun leader, and former president of the Awami National Party (ANP) was observed in Charsadda on Sunday.

A public meeting to commemorate the event was held at the Sugar Mills ground in Charsadda. It was attended by tens of thousands of Pashtuns and was addressed by ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, provincial president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and other Pashtun leaders amidst tight security.

Taking to her twitter handle, Bushra Gohar, a Pakistani liberal politician and development practitioner, besides being a senior vice-president of the ANP and a former Member of the National Assembly, said, “#Charsadda, January 22, 2017: #ANP commemorated #FakreAfghan #BachaKhan & #WaliKhan’s death anniversaries – it was a jam packed gathering.”

The event, however, was virtually blacked out by major media houses of Pakistan and invited criticism on social media from Pashtuns from all walks of life.

Responding to Bushra Gohar’s tweet, one of them, Abid Ali Khan took to twitter to say, “@BushraGohar bacha khan must be cursing Wali khan to have a son like Asfand, look respect he gave to his step mother.”

Haider, another Pashtun follower, said, ” @BushraGohar had media give coverage to this ANP Jalsa,looks like there is only one Party PTI in country in the eyes of media. shame on media”

Khurshid Ahmad Khan, squarely criticizing ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, said, @BushraGohar Bekaar insaan. Done nothing for pukhtoons.”

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a political and spiritual leader known for his non-violent opposition, and a lifelong pacifist and devout Muslim. A close friend of India’s Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, Bacha Khan was nicknamed the “Frontier Gandhi” in British India.

He founded the Khudai Khidmatgar (“Servants of God”) movement in 1929, whose success triggered a harsh crackdown by the then British Empire against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most severe repression of the Indian independence movement.

Badshah Khan strongly opposed the All-India Muslim League’s demand for the partition of India. When the Indian National Congress declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he felt very sad and told the Congress “you have thrown us to the wolves.”

After partition, Badshah Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan, but championed the cause for the creation of an autonomous “Pashtunistan” administrative unit within the country. As a result, he was frequently arrested by the Pakistan government or kept in confinement. He spent much of the 1960s and 1970s either in jail or in exile. Upon his death in 1988 in Peshawar under house arrest, tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad.

His son Khan Abdul Wali Khan was also a prominent Pashtun nationalist leader, activist and a writer. He was also a controversial figure in Pakistani politics because of his association with the Congress Party in India which opposed the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

A respected politician, he contributed to Pakistan’s third Constitution and led protests for the restoration of democracy in the 1960s and 1980s.

In the 1970s, he also served as the parliamentary leader of opposition in Pakistan’s first directly elected parliament. (ANI)