Afghanistan: The misinterpreted land of Gaffar

by Ravi Nitesh

Sitting at home,  surfing TV channels here in India  curiously for international issues, the only news about Afghanistan, we are now bound to watch is about Taliban. The only scene, we are now used to seeing, is the vast desert with jeeps carrying rifles. Is this the real situation of Afghanistan? Is this the ‘natural’ order in Afghanistan? Is it only Taliban that reflects the culture of Afghanistan? Is Afghanistan is bound to live in this situation forever? Is this the only reality of Afghanistan or is it deformed news? Is this the part of their life or is it imposed on them… Many such unanswered questions remain with us, while we, in India, try exploring the facts and the values of our neighbour country.

This situation cannot be said to be nice, because no culture, no religion and no values permits you to behave with cruelty. Moreover, if Afghanistan is bound to live in this situation, since many years, then the real Afghanistan should emerge out to gather support. Everyone should know that this land was once famous for its rich culture, quality education and politeness. Many people travelled to this land to get knowledge and many other went out to spread message of peace and harmony among other parts of the world. And even after all these positiveness, people of this land are facing war at every moment, and the pity situation is that, the war is not limited to geographical borders, but it has also entered inside them to rebuild their identity, an identity reflecting the values that their land has been once famous for.

The land of Gaffar that means ‘merciful’ reflects the real culture of this land. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan of this land had started a people’s movement, with the name of Khudai Khidmatgar. Khudai Khidmatgar literally means “the servants of God”. The movement had spread as a fire across the region and beyond. It was a movement of peace, harmony, progress and hope. It was Gaffar Khan who made Afghanistan famous through this initiative and sent a message to the world.

During Afghan war, both sides(Russia and Afghanistan) announced ceasefire to allow burial of Badshah Khan (people called him by this name). The message of Afghanistan was not just welfare of their own; instead it crossed the boundaries and also supported the Indian independent struggle. Bonding between India and Afghanistan, through Badshah Khan can be seen in such a way that on one side he was famous as Fakhri Afghan, while on other side, he also received the highest award of India ‘ Bharat Ratna’. Who will not be impressed by such an example, where you can see a life dedicated towards the people?

India is also known as the land of Gandhi. During the independence struggle, Gandhi developed and propagated his non violent and peaceful methods. Thus the two persons made  history by not just recognizing the need of the hour, but to set an example, an example to work for humanity and non-violence, an example to work on the path of truth and to give recognition, value and love without recognizing the geographical boundaries and religions.

Was this message not enough to tell that Afghan people have every right to be recognized as peaceful? Has the term Taliban become so powerful that it is overshadowing the values of Afghan? People of any country are just people, a human being and hence, it cannot be believed that they belong to certain type of nature. If their nature is different, it is mainly because of the external factors. Afghanistan, in this context, is situated at a very strategic location. It is affected by neighbouring politics and the global strategy of political polarization. The extremism, the internal conflicts, external attacks, and neighbour’s actions, all these all made this land, a land of suffering.

Though, it is true that we cannot change the scenario in a night, but it should be noted that the change is required and it is required from the side of people. Initiatives of political platforms are many times restricted due to their limits, but it is the common people who can contribute a lot towards the change. Afghanistan is already a member of SAARC, it also has a record of good relations with India and so now the need of the hour is to establish and to promote the people’s association. The objective should be to spread message of love and peace among people on the grounds of humanity and if this objective will be done by heart, relations between countries will become better automatically.
Some initiatives are already running with Social Activist, Faisal Khan’s revival of Khudai Khidmatgar in India, symbolizing the contribution of Afghanistan towards humanity. We know now that Afghanistan was the land of Gaffar. Being a part of the initiative, i know now  the emotions of a common Indian. He does not hate Afghans, instead he wants to establish communication to know more about Afghan and their culture which has some parallels with Indian culture. Today, many individuals and organizations in India are ready to collaborate with Afghan people and organizations, for a common cause of spreading the message of friendship and peace. Some of the initiatives are still running while many such moves are required, especially the one to join the hearts of the common people on both sides. Political restrictions will be there, but still each step taken together can become the stepping stones of this bonding.
I see the Talibanism as a temporary and less important phenomenon in Afghanistan and hope that we all (people of India and Afghanistan) will move together towards establishing a new phase of relationship. The land of Gaffar will get its real glory by the message of humanity and to achieve this, a collective effort is required, by the hearts of the people of both countries.

Ravi Nitesh is an Indian social activist. He is a member of Khudai Khidmatgar. He is also pursuing a PG Diploma in Human Rights at Indian Institute of Human Rights, New Delhi. This article was originally published in an Afghanistani Newspaper, Outlook Afghanistan

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  1. Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires… many tried their fate, for some it proved to be the end of the their tyranny, for some it proved to be the beginning of the end… If India tries to play some extra role in Afghanistan, then I would serious doubt their future as well, it may mark the beginning of the end.

    The ghaffar khan was not representing the whole Afghanistan, Afghanistan is land of Afghans, we are not Indians or Pakistani’s to just live under the name of one individual like gandhi or jinnah or something, remember, every individual in Pukhtoon clan is a king for himself, so never try to call Afghanistan as Land of Ghaffar khan or something, you are actually insulting the whole Afghan Nation. Better call it Land of Afghans or Land of Pathans…

    And just to correct your facts a bit… in post 1893 world, when the Durand line was finalized, the North western province of Pakistan, now known as KPK and the tribal belt of Pakistan became part of the Indo-pak… So ghaffar khan struggle was basically a pure politically motivated inside the indopak border… just because he is buried in Afghanistan does not make him representative of Afghanistan.

    But at the end, in 1947 the fate of North western fate was to be decided on a public referendum, it was the time for Ghaffar khan to ask his people to vote for India and be part of that, because as a congress man it was his duty, what he did was that he decided to boycott the referendum, which paved pay for Muslim League to gain 51% majority in the referendum and thus the Britishers decided to give that province to Pakistan… and Today, the grand son of Abdul Ghaffar khan is the head of ruling party of that province and is leading one of the most corrupt government in the history of the province.

    The article seems to be based on ghaffar khan and praising a non existing relation of India Afghanistan. The India has always used Afghanistan for its purpose, some of the facts are the current existance of India in Afghanistan, where the sole purpose of India is just to use Afghanistan as a battle ground against Pakistan…
    And if you are trying to link India with Afghanistan through ghaffar khan as a link, then the writer has severe lak of knowledge about this issue, because ghaffar khan was just a political person of a small state WITHIN the territory of Indo-pak, so there is nothing as such to link the whole of our Afghanistan to India…

    I would be glad to see India’s role in Afghanistan apart from sending their covert military groups and the I would be happy to hear that India has finally stopped sending the gorkha’s rifle people to Afghanistan to create mischeif across the border! Your Indian war against Pakistan is and will hurt the land of Afghanistan, and remember, you hurt Afghanistan, Afghanistan is going to bleed you slowly to death…

  2. A very interesting article. So much that i didnt know. And i agree with you, relations between countries can change if people change mentalities. Diplomatic talks and agreements do very little to build relations.

  3. In today’s world, a country is often not understood by through experience compared I guess to the times of Marco Polo or even more recent travelers. Today much is understand in terms of how news is crafted. Afghanistan and the middle east are two areas where this state of affairs is more clearly seen. This what Edward Said tried to explain in his book ‘Covering Islam.’ At the same time, Afghanistan of today is not Paradise; it is in many ways a dangerous place; I should know something about dangers of war coming form a former war zone myself. Yet, as the essay asks is there nothing other than the Taliban and war that is Afghanistan? If we forget its unpleasant politics both internal and international for a moment, what else is there in Afghanistan the world does not read about?the world does not are about? Don’t Afghans write poetry, don’t they sing and don’t they narrate stories? Don’t young people fall in love and aren’t some of them interested in fashion? Aren’t yet others into music that defies local and regional borders? If we also think about these and many many other things which might be very mundane and therefore not capturing the attention of global news media and self proclaimed experts, we will get a fuller picture of this under-understood country without underestimating the politics of violence that continues to consume Afghanistan.

    • [quote]”Don’t Afghans write poetry, don’t they sing and don’t they narrate stories? Don’t young people fall in love and aren’t some of them interested in fashion?”[/quote]

      Afghan’s write poetry about the scenery of war, the bravery of the warriors, about the endless battles against the tough life and the wicked enemy… They often just say poetry without planning, as Malalai did while she was holding the flag of army against the britishers and said:

      “With a drop of my sweetheart’s blood,
      Shed in defense of the Motherland,
      Will I put a beauty spot on my forehead,
      Such as would put to shame the rose in the garden.”

      They sing for their soldiers in the battle grounds, who hold their land and and does not step back even an inch! They sing for the warriors who nurtured the soiled with their blood of martyrdom… They sing for their motherland…

      They narrate stories of Malalai of Maiwand, who wrote a story that will be remembered by history… they narrate stories of how their forefathers fought for their survival…

      And Young people fall in love with their motherland, and their bloodline of warriors… for there is nothing beautiful than the pride of the bloodline and love of motherland…

      And you see the weapon hanging around the young Afghan’s shoulder, with his white color and good height, white clothes and a topi on their heard…. thats called fashion… See the shine of revenge in his eyes, and the redness the thirst of enemy’s blood in his looks… This is what fashion is for them….

      Remember, as the Po said in kungFu Panda, that the “Hardcore cannot understand”! You people who has nothing related to Afghan and have little to no interaction, would never be able to understand what it is like! The joy of victory is far sweeter than spending a romantic moment with a nymph!

  4. This article is fully wrong Afghanistan is not land of Pathans of Ghaffar Khan Afghanistan is home to 72 different ethnic groups and 42 different languages please do some research before making any kind of claims

  5. Dear Mr. Afghan, the author has not claimed this land to be solely of anyone ethnic group. This article highlights another issue…and does not, in any way, give the ownership to anyone. The land belongs neither to the afghans, the pathans or the 72 different ethnic groups…it belongs to human beings.

  6. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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