Khudai Khidmatgar

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Bacha Khan & Gandhi meeting Khudai Khitmatgar activists Gandhi at Peshawar meeting.jpg
Bacha Khan & Gandhi meeting Khudai Khitmatgar activists

Khudai Khidmatgar (Pashto : خدايي خدمتگار; literally "servants of God") was a Pashtun non-violent movement against the British Empire by the Pashtun people of the North-West Frontier Province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) of British India (now in Pakistan).

Pashtuns ethnic group belonging to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India

The Pashtuns, historically known as ethnic Afghans and Pathans, are an Iranian ethnic group who mainly live in Pakistan and Afghanistan in South-Central Asia. They speak the Pashto language and adhere to Pashtunwali, which is a traditional set of ethics guiding individual and communal conduct. The ethnogenesis of the Pashtun ethnic group is unclear but historians have come across references to various ancient peoples called Pakthas (Pactyans) between the 2nd and the 1st millennium BC, who may be their early ancestors. Their history is mostly spread amongst the present-day countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, centred on their traditional seat of power in that region.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as North-West Frontier Province, is one of the four administrative provinces of Pakistan, located in the northwestern region of the country along the international border with Afghanistan. It was previously known as the North-West Frontier Province until 2010 when the name was changed to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the 18th Amendment to Pakistan's Constitution, and is known colloquially by various other names. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the third-largest province of Pakistan by the size of both population and economy, though it is geographically the smallest of four. Within Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shares a border with Punjab, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Islamabad. It is home to 17.9% of Pakistan's total population, with the majority of the province's inhabitants being Pashtuns. The province is the site of the ancient kingdom Gandhara, including the ruins of its capital Pushkalavati near modern-day Charsadda. Originally a stronghold of Buddhism, the history of the region was characterized by frequent invasions under various Empires due to its geographical proximity to the Khyber Pass.


Also called Surkh Posh or "Red Shirts", this was originally a social reform organisation focusing on education and the elimination of blood feuds; it was known as the Anjuman-e-Islah-e Afaghina (society for reformation of Afghans). The movement was led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, known locally as Bacha Khan or Badshah Khan. [1]

It gradually became more political as its members were being targeted by the British Raj. By 1929 its leadership was exiled from the province and large numbers were arrested. Seeking allies, leaders approached the Muslim League and Indian National Congress; after being rebuffed by the former in 1929, the movement formally joined the Congress Party. Due to pressure across India, the British government finally released Bacha Khan and lifted restrictions on the movement. As part of the Government of India Act 1935, a limited male franchise was for the first time introduced in the North-West Frontier Province. In the subsequent election, Bacha Khan's brother Dr.Khan Sahib was elected as Chief Minister.

All-India Muslim League political party within the Indian Empire

The All-India Muslim League was a political party established in 1906 in the British Indian Empire. Its strong advocacy for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state, Pakistan, successfully led to the partition of British India in 1947 by the British Empire.

Indian National Congress Major political party in India

The Indian National Congress(pronunciation ) is a broadly based political party in India. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa. From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire.

Government of India Act 1935 1935 UK parliament act

The Government of India Act 1935 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It originally received Royal assent in August 1935. Until 1999, it was the longest Act (British) of Parliament ever enacted at that time. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 surpassed it in length. Because of its length, the Act was retroactively split by the Government of India Act, 1935 (Re-printed) into two separate Acts:

  1. The Government of India Act, 1935, having 321 sections and 10 schedules.
  2. The Government of Burma Act, 1935, having 159 sections and 6 schedules.

The Khudai Khidmatgar movement faced another crackdown for its role in the Quit India Movement after 1940; in that period it started facing increasing opposition from the Muslim League in the province. Its Congress affiliate won the 1946 election again.

Quit India Movement Katra Neel Chandni Chowk Delhi

The Quit India Movement, or the August Movement, was a movement launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942, during World War II, demanding an end to British Rule of India.

The Khudai Khidmatgars strongly opposed the proposal for the partition of India, siding with the Indian National Congress and All India Azad Muslim Conference. [2] [3] [4] When the Indian National Congress declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, Bacha Khan, the leader of the Khudai Khidmatgars, felt very sad and told the Congress "you have thrown us to the wolves." [5]

Opposition to the partition of India

Opposition to the partition of India was widespread in British India in the 20th century and it continues to remain a contentious issue in South Asian politics. Most individuals of the Hindu and Sikh faiths were opposed to the partition of India, as were many Muslims in that country.

The All India Azad Muslim Conference, commonly called the Azad Muslim Conference, was an organisation of nationalist Muslims in India. Its purpose was advocacy for a united India, opposing the partition of India as well as its underlying two-nation theory put forward by the All India Muslim League. The conference included representatives from various political parties and organizations such as Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam, All India Momin Conference, All India Shia Political Conference, Khudai Khidmatgar, Krishak Praja Party, Anjuman-i-Watan Baluchistan, All India Muslim Majlis, and Jamiat Ahl-i-Hadis. The Canadian orientalist Wilfred Cantwell Smith felt that the attendees at the Delhi session in 1940 represented the "majority of India's Muslims". The Bombay Chronicle documented on 18 April 1946 that "The attendance at the Nationalist meeting was about five times than the attendance at the League meeting."

In June 1947, the Khudai Khidmatgars declared the Bannu Resolution, demanding that the Pashtuns be given a choice to have an independent state of Pashtunistan, composing all Pashtun territories of British India, instead of being made to join Pakistan. However, the British Raj refused to comply with the demand of this resolution. [6] [7] In response, the Khudai Khidmatgars boycotted the 1947 NWFP referendum about the province joining Pakistan or India, citing that it did not have the options of the NWFP becoming independent or joining Afghanistan. [8] [9]

The Bannu Resolution, or the Pashtunistan Resolution, was a formal political statement adopted by Pashtun nationalists on June 21, 1947 in Bannu in the North-West Frontier Province of British India. The resolution demanded the British to offer the option of independence for Pashtunistan, comprising all Pashtun territories of British India, rather than choosing between the independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The British, however, refused the request and the North-West Frontier Province voted in favour of joining Pakistan in the July 1947 NWFP referendum. However, Bacha Khan, his elder brother and then Chief Minister Dr Khan Sahib, and the Khudai Khidmatgars boycotted the referendum in response, citing that it did not have the options of the NWFP becoming independent or joining Afghanistan.

Pashtunistan Region

Pashtūnistān is the geographic historical region inhabited by the indigenous Pashtun people of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, wherein Pashtun culture, language, and national identity have been based. Alternative names historically used for the region include "Pashtūnkhwā" (پښتونخوا), "Rōh" (روه) [citation needed] and "Afghānistān" (افغانستان), since at least the 3rd century CE onward. Pashtunistan borders Punjab to the east, Persian and Turkic-speaking regions to the west and north, Kashmir to the northeast, and Balochistan to the south.

After the partition, the Khudai Khidmatgars faced a backlash from the new Pakistani government. The government of the Khudai Khidmatgars was dismissed and their movement banned. The Babrra massacre occurred on August 12, 1948.

Conditions prior to the movement

At the beginning of the 20th century Pashtun society was colonized, stagnant, violent, worn down by feuds, inequalities, factionalism, poor social cooperation, and plain ignorance. [10] [11] Education opportunities were strictly limited. Pashtuns are Muslims; and religious leaders and Mullahs were known to have told parents that if their children went to school, they would go to hell. Khan stated that “the real purpose of this propaganda” was to keep Pashtuns “illiterate and uneducated”, and hence his people “were the most backward in India” with regard to education. [12] He also stated that by the time Islam reached his people centuries earlier, it had lost much of its original spiritual message. [12]


Formed out of the Society for the Reformation of Pashtuns (Anjuman-e-Islah-e-Afghan), it initially targeted social reformation and launched campaigns against prostitution. Bacha Khan as its founder seemed to be influenced by the realisation that whenever British troops were faced with an armed uprising they eventually always overcame the rebellion. The same could not be said when using non violence against the troops.

The movement started prior to the Qissa Khwani bazaar massacre, when a demonstration of hundreds of non violent supporters were fired upon by British soldiers in Peshawar. Its low point and eventual dissipation was after Pakistan's independence in 1947, when the Muslim League Chief Minister Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri banned the movement and launched a brutal crackdown on its members, which culminated in the Babra massacre. At its peak, the KK movement consisted of almost 100,000 members.


Initially the movement focussed on social reform as a means of improving the status of Pashtuns against the British. Ghaffar Khan founded several reform movements prior to the formation of the Khudai Khidmatgar, the Anjumen-e Islah ul-Afghan in 1921, the farmers' organisation Anjuman-e Zamidaran in 1927 and the youth movement Pashtun Jirga in 1927. Trying to further spread awareness on Pashtun issues Abdul Ghaffar Khan founded the magazine Pakhtun in May 1928. Finally in March 1930, almost on the eve of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar Massacre the Khudai Khidmatgar were formed. [1]

"The Red Shirts"

Khan drew his first recruits from the young men who had graduated from his schools. Trained and uniformed, they served behind their officers and filed out into various villages to seek recruits. They began by wearing a simple white overshirt, but the white was soon dirtied. A couple of men had their shirts dyed at the local tannery, and the brick-red colour proved a breakthrough, it was this distinctive colour that earned the Khudai khidmatgar movement activists the name "the Red shirts" or surkh posh. Other reason for the choice of red color was a symbolic adherence of the anti colonial movements to the revolutionary and socialist discourse.


Volunteers who took the oath formed platoons with commanding officers and learned basic army discipline. The volunteers had their own flags: red in the beginning, later tri-colour and bands: bagpipe and drums. The men wore red uniforms and the women black. They had drills, badges, a flag, the entire military hierarchy of rank and even a bagpipe corps.

Khan set up a network of committees called jirgas, named and modelled after the traditional tribal councils. Villages were grouped into larger groups, responsible to district-wide committees. The Provincial Jirgah was the ultimate authority.

Officers in the ranks were not elected, since Khan wanted to avoid infighting. He appointed a salar-e-azam or commander-in-chief, who in turn appointed officers to serve under him. Other ranks included Jarnails (Generals). The army was completely voluntary; even the officers gave their services free. Women were recruited too, and played an important role in the struggles to come.

Volunteers went to the villages and opened schools, helped on work projects, and maintained order at public gatherings. From time to time they drilled in work camps and took long military-style marches into the hills.


Khudai Khidmatgar Nv-army-gray BG.jpg
Khudai Khidmatgar

Under the influence of Abdul Ghaffar Khan the movement advocated non-violent protests and justified their actions through an Islamic context. Khan did not find Islam and non-violence as incompatible. Despite that the movement was intrinsically non-sectarian, including Muslims, as well as some Hindu members. [13] In more than one occasion when Hindus and Sikhs were attacked in Peshawar, Khidmatgar members helped protect their lives and property. To this end, the Khuda Khidmatgar espoused Hindu-Muslim unity. [14] [13]

“The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into this world and taught us ‘That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God's creatures.’ Belief in God is to love one's fellow men.” – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

“There is nothing surprising in a Muslim or a Pathan like me subscribing to the creed of nonviolence. It is not a new creed. It was followed fourteen hundred years ago by the Prophet all the time he was in Mecca.” – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Pledge of the Khudai Khidmatgar

Example 1 [11]
Example 2 [15]

In the presence of God I solemnly affirm that:

  1. I hereby honestly and sincerely offer myself for enrollment as a Khudai Khitmatgar.
  2. I shall be ever ready to sacrifice personal comfort, property, and even life itself to serve the nation and for the attainment of my country's freedom.
  3. I shall not participate in factions, nor pick up a quarrel with or bear enmity towards anybody. I shall always protect the oppressed against the tyranny of the oppressor.
  4. I shall not become member of any other organization, and shall not furnish security or tender apology in the course of a non-violent fight.
  5. I shall always obey every legitimate order of my superior officers.
  6. I shall always live up to the principles of non-violence.
  7. I shall serve all humanity equally. The chief objects of my life shall be attainment of complete independence and religious freedom.
  8. I shall always observe truth and parity in all my actions.
  9. I shall expect no remuneration for my service.
  10. All my services shall be dedicated to God, they shall not be for attaining rank or for show.

The Oath of the Khudai Khidmatgar

Anthem of Khudai Khidmatgar

We are the army of God
By death or wealth unmoved,
We march, our leader and we,
Ready to die!

In the name of God, we march
And in his name, We die
We serve in the name of God
God's servant are we!

God is our king,
And great is he,
We serve our Lord,
His slaves are we!

Our country's cause
We serve with our breath,
For such an end,
Glorious is death

We serve and we love
Our people and our cause
Freedom is our aim,
And our lives are its price.

We love our country
And respect our country
Zealously we protect it
For the glory of God

By cannon or gun undismayed
Soldiers and horsemen,
None can come between,
Our work and our duty. [16]

British Raj tactics against the Khudai Khidmatgar

British troops employed a wide variety of tactics against KK activists.

"The British used to torture us, throw us into ponds in wintertime, shave our beards, but even then Badshah Khan told his followers not to lose patience. He said 'there is an answer to violence, which is more violence. But nothing can conquer nonviolence. You cannot kill it. It keeps standing up. The British sent their horses and cars to run over us, but I took my shawl in my mouth to keep from screaming. We were human beings, but we should not cry or express in any way that we were injured or weak." – Musharraf Din (Baldauf).

Another tactic employed against non-violent protesters who were blocking roads was to charge them with cars and horses.

In 1930, soldiers of the Garhwal Rifles refused to fire on non-violent protests led by Khudai Khidmatgars in Peshawar. By disobeying direct orders, the regiment sent a clear message to London that loyalty of India's armed forces could not be taken for granted to enact harsh measures. However, by 1931, 5,000 members of the Khudai Khidmatgar and 2,000 members of the Congress Party were arrested. [17] This was followed by the shooting of unarmed protestors in Utmanzai and the Takkar Massacre followed by the Hathikhel massacre.

In 1932, the Khudai Khidmatgar movement changed its tactics and involved women in the movement. This unnerved many Indian officers working in the region as in those days of conservative India it was considered a grave insult to attack women, more so in a conservative Pashtun society. However the brutality increased and in one case five police officers in Benares had to be suspended due to "horrific reports about violence used against young female volunteers".

The British bombed a village in the Bajaur Valley in March 1932 and arrested Abdul Ghaffar Khan as well as more than 4,000 Khudai Khitmatgars. The British bombardments in the border area continued up till 1936–1937 because, “India is a training field for active military training which can be found nowhere else in the Empire", a British court concluded in 1933.

Other alleged tactics ranged from poisoning [18] to the use of castrations against some Khudai Khidmatgar activists. [19]

After the anti-war resignation of Dr. Khan's Ministry in 1939 because of the events of World War 2, British tactics towards the movement changed to employ divide-and-rule tactics through the instigation of sectarian and communal tensions over brute force. Governor George Cunningham's policy note of 23 September 1942, called for the government to ‘continuously preach the danger to Muslims of connivance with the revolutionary Hindu body. Most tribesmen seem to respond to this’, while in another paper he commented about the period 1939–1943: ‘Our propaganda since the beginning of the war had been most successful. It had played throughout on the Islamic theme.’ [20]

Relationship with the Indian National Congress

Ghaffar Khan & Gandhi Badshah Khan.jpg
Ghaffar Khan & Gandhi

The movement was facing intense pressure by 1930 and the leadership under Ghaffar Khan was actively seeking political allies in India to help reduce the pressure on it by the British authorities. Previously in December 1928, Barrister Muhammad Jan Abbasi invited Bacha Khan to attend a Khilafat conference. The session ended badly with Maulana Shaukat Ali nearly being attacked by one member from the Punjab.

Despite the initial closeness between Ghaffar Khan and Ali, the harshness of their critique of Gandhi contrasted poorly with the patience shown by Gandhi in Ghaffar Khan's eyes. Another attempt was made by senior KK leaders to approach Sir Fazli Hussain a senior Punjabi leader of the Unionist party pleading for assistance against the crackdown which was dismissed.

The Congress subsequently offered all possible help to the Pathans in exchange on their part to joining the Congress party for the independence struggle. This offer was put forth in the Frontier province, and was accepted by the Khudai Kidmatgars on August 1931. The move shocked the British authorities who were forced to ease pressure on the KK.

From mass movement to political party

More, with the introduction of provincial autonomy under the Government of India Act 1935, The first limited election were held in NWFP in 1936. Ghaffar Khan was banned from the province. His brother, Dr. Khan Sahib, led the party to a narrow victory and became Chief Minister. Ghaffar Khan returned to Peshawar in triumph on 29 August 1937 on what the Peshawar daily Khyber Mail called the happiest day of his life. During the two-year stint of the Congress party under Dr Khan Sahib as Chief minister, major reforms were introduced including land reforms, promotion of the teaching of Pashto and the release of political prisoners.

On Congress directive the ministries in eight out of eleven provinces resigned in protest against Britain's not promising India independence after the War. The decision to resign proved a pivotal moment in Indian history, in the Frontier it was instrumental in giving those groups that opposed the Khudai Khidmatgar movement the opportunity to broaden their constituency.

Subhash Chandra Bose

The KK's activists role in helping Subhash Chandra Bose's escape in 1943 has largely been ignored till recently. In 1943, Amir Khan Khattak along with four other people received Subhash Chandra Bose at Nowshera Railway Station. He had come to make his escape to Nazi Germany via Afghanistan. Disguised as a Muslim, Subhash was taken to Khattak's village Dak Ismailkhel on the request of Mian Akbar Shah from Faqir Chand's house in Peshawar. He stayed with him for two days before leaving in a Pashtun attire for the German Embassy in Kabul leading to his journey to Germany and finally Japan.Agha Haider Ali of the Afghan National bank, helped Bose get in touch with the Kabul authorities and with his travel plans. [21]

Conservative backlash

The increasingly liberal movement faced an increasing backlash from conservatives because of its support for the Congress party amidst growing support for the Pakistan movement. The decision of Dr. Khan Sahib to support his daughters marriage to a Sikh soldier led to some senior associates of Bacha Khan to leave. [22] [23]

Similarly his son Ghani Khan's criticism of feudal landlords angered many conservative "Khans" and Nawabs, some formerly sympathetic to the movement. [20]

This coincided with a determined effort by the British Raj to discredit the movement with the assistance of mullahs and ulema allied with the British. [24] The British Governor, Cunningham, instructed the big khans to meet each mullah on individual basis and tell him to serve the 'cause of Islam' for which he would be duly paid. The Mullahs were told that in case of good progress they would also be considered for government pension. A Cunningham policy note of 23 September 1942 reads: 'Continuously preach the danger to Muslims of connivance with the revolutionary Hindu body. Most tribesmen seem to respond to this', while in another paper he says about the period 1939–43: 'Our propaganda since the beginning of the war had been most successful. It had played throughout on the Islamic theme. [20]

Fall of the Khudai Khidmatgar

The Khudai Khidmatgar movement decline can be traced back to two decisions the first was the Congress decision in 1939 to resign from power in protest against British World War II policy. This move gave an opportunity to the Muslim League to develop and for the British authorities to alter their strategy.

In 1940, a split occurred within the Pakhtun Zalmey, the youth organisation affiliated with Bacha Khan's Khudai Khidmatgar movement. It occurred after Bacha Khan refused to accept the results of the internal party 1940 elections in which Salar Aslam Khan of Kohat won the contest as president of Pakhtun Zalmey with overwhelming majority. The refusal by Bacha Khan to accept Salaar Aslam caused a great damage to the party in southern districts of the province where Khudai Khidmatgars won all the seats of the provincial as well as national assemblies in the previous elections. Salar Aslam was also a member of the Forward Block and Bacha Khan's argument was that he could not trust anyone but his elder son, Ghani Khan, whom he wanted to lead Pakhtun Zalmey. "It was a mistake of Bacha Khan. He was not happy about his decision later, but had to argue that at that sensitive stage of the political struggle, he could only trust Ghani Khan. [21]

The party also faced attempts by the British Raj to discredit it by portraying it as an irreligious group trying to promote a pro Hindu and pro communist agenda. [25] Despite these attempts, the movements political wing contested and won the 1946 provincial elections.

An exception to the rule of nonviolence occurred when Badshah Khan's son Ghani Khan on 26/27 April 1947 founded the breakaway group Zalmai Pukhtoon (Pashtun Youth), a militant, organisation of Pukhtoon youth, carrying fire-arms, the aim of which was to protect the Khudai Khidmatgars (Servants of God) and members of the Congress Party from violence feared at the hands of Muslim League activists. It had no connection as such with the Khudai Khidmatgars.

Nehru's fateful visit to the Frontier in October 1946 and its tragic aftermath in a gradual erosion of the popular base of the incumbent Khan Sahib Ministry. Despite this, the movement stayed true to its non-communal leanings, when the Khudai Khitmatgar came out to protect thousands of Sikhs and Hindus worried they would be attacked in the increasing pre-partition violence between Hindus and Muslims. [26]

Post Partition

Pakistan's Independence in August 1947 marked the beginning of the end of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement. While the Congress government remained in power briefly it was eventually dismissed by the Governor under the orders of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Dr. Khan Sahib was replaced by former Congressite Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri. He successfully stopped an attempted rapprochement between Ghaffar Khan and Muhammad Ali Jinnah by stopping a planned meeting between the two citing security threats. [27] With that, Jinnah gave Qayyum Khan Kashmiri a free hand in dealing with the Congress and the Khudai Khidmatgars. The crackdown that followed culminated with the Babrra massacre.

Despite the provocation and its obvious ambivalence over Pakistan's creation, the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders reconvened at Sardaryab on 3 and 4 September 1947 and passed a resolution [28] that stated, "The Khudai Khidmagars regard Pakistan as their own country and pledge that they shall do their utmost to strengthen and safeguard its interest and make every sacrifice for the cause; The dismissal of Dr. Khan Sahib’s ministry and the setting up of Abdul Qaiyum’s ministry is undemocratic, but as our country is passing through a critical stage, the Khudai Khidmatgars shall take no step which might create difficulties in the way of either the Provincial or Central Government; After the division of the country the Khudai Khidmatgars sever their connection with the All-India Congress organization and, therefore, instead of the Tricolor, adopt the Red Flag as the symbol of their party."

You have thrown us (Khudai Khidmatgar) to the wolves.

Bacha Khan addressing the Mahatma after Partition of India.

However, Qayyum Khan Kashmiri and the central government had already decided that there would be no accord with the movement. The Khudai Khidmatgar organisation was declared unlawful in mid-September 1948, mass arrests followed and the centre at Sardaryab (Markaz-e-Khudai Khidmatgaran), built in 1942, was destroyed by the Provincial Government. This crackdown ultimately led to the Babra Sharif massacre. [29]

The movement was also hit by defections as party members switched sides out of fear or for benefit. Those members that wished to survive politically rallied behind a former ally, turned opponent of Qayyum Khan Kashmiri, the Pir of Manki Sharif. The Pir created a breakaway Muslim League, however, it proved no match for Qayyum who engineered his re-election in 1951. [29]

The movement lingered on till 1955, when it was again banned by the central government because of Ghaffar Khan's opposition to the One Unit. An aborted attempt was made to bring Ghaffar Khan into the government as a minister as well as turning the KK movement into a national organization, but Ghaffar Khan turned down the offer. [30]

Although the ban on the movement was lifted in 1972, the Khudai Khidmatgar movement had been broken.

In recent years, On 20 January, 2011, young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan revived Khudai Khidmatgar at a function in Birla House, New Delhi. Khudai Khidmatgars has volunteers in 14 states and, according to Faisal they number about 10,000. [31] [32]


The Khudai Khidmatgar movement was a success in the terms of its opposition to British rule. However, the social effects of the movement have not survived. While the Ghaffar Khan family maintains a hold over the political philosophy of the movement, its history has largely been wiped out from official memory in Pakistan. The movement has also been criticized for its opposition to partition, and by that virtue the creation of Pakistan. [20]

As a result, it has been seen as a secessionist movement in Pakistan, and in the 1950s and 1960s it was also perceived as pro communist, an argument that was used by conservative elements to discredit it as anti-Islam. The movement's claim to total non-violence seems flawed as well; some critics argue that while the movement proved a success against the British, it like other non-violent movements would not have proved a success against another Imperial power. This is supposedly proved by its failure to pose a challenge to the Pakistani government amidst a crackdown that was far more brutal than any done by the British. [11] Others have also suggested that the Khudai Khidmatgar movement was not in fact as non-violent as its supporters would argue. Writers like Schofiled and Bannerjee have documented cases of attacks on British personnel and soldiers. [33]

See also

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Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre It is one of the defining moments of the independence movement in British India

The massacre at the Qissa Khwani Bazaar in Peshawar, British India on 23 April 1930 was one of the defining moments of the independence movement in British India. It was the first major confrontation between British troops and demonstrators in the city. Estimates at the time put the death toll from the shooting at between the official count at 20, and the figure of 400 dead put forth by Pakistani and Indian sources. The gunning down of unarmed people triggered protests across British India and catapulted the newly formed Khudai Khidmatgar movement into prominence.

Khan Bahadur Sahibzada Sir Abdul Qayyum Khan KCIE, hailing from Topi, Swabi District, British India was a distinguished educationist and politician. He became the first Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province on 1 April 1937. He is also known for establishing the Islamia College, Peshawar on the mould of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's policy of educating Muslims.

Babrra massacre

The Babrra massacre was a mass shooting in which about 600 unarmed Pashtuns, who were supporters of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement, were killed and more were injured on Babrra ground in the Hashtnagar region in Charsadda District, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. The massacre took place on 12 August 1948, on the order of the Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province, Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri.

Utmanzai, Charsadda Town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Utmanzai is a town in Charsadda tehsil of Charsadda District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is located at the border between Mohmand Agency and Charsadda District.

Fida Mohammad Khan was a Pakistani conservative economist and lawyer who served as the Governor of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province under the military government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq from 1986 until 1988. He was one of the founding members of the All-India Muslim League for its Northwest Frontier Province chapter before 1947.

Pashtun nationalism is a political and social movement which promotes the idea that the Pashtuns are deserving of a sovereign nation in their homeland of Pashtunistan, which consists of the Pashtun-majority parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pashtun nationalism is closely linked to the cause of Pashtun home rule and Pashtun independence. In Afghanistan, Pashtun nationalists look after the interests of the Pashtun ethnic group and has its support only from them. They favor the ideas of a "Greater Afghanistan". Therefore, the concept of Pashtun nationalism politically overlaps with Afghan nationalism.

The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace, a documentary released in 2008, is the first full film account of Pashtun leader and nonviolent activist Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Badshah Khan or Bacha Khan.

Islam does not have any normative tradition of pacifism, and warfare has been integral part of Islamic history both for the defense and the spread of the faith since the time of Muhammad. Prior to the Hijra travel Muhammad struggled non-violently against his opposition in Mecca. It was not until after the exile that the Quranic revelations began to adopt a more offensive perspective. Fighting in self-defense is not only legitimate but considered obligatory upon Muslims, according to the Qur'an. The Qur'an, however, says that should the enemy's hostile behavior cease, then the reason for engaging the enemy also lapses.

Qazi Ataullah Khan was born in 1895 in the house of Qazi Nasrullah Khan in Landi Arbab village of Peshawar. He was the second son of Qazi Nasrullah Khan who was a religious scholar of his area and a teacher. Being natives to Landi Arbab, this family is Khalil momand by caste and Qazi is the title given to Qazi Ataullah Khans great grand father Qazi (Haji) Talibuddin Rohani.

The All India Pakhtoon Jirga-e-Hind, commonly known as the Jirga-e-Hind, is an organisation representing the interests of Pashtuns in India. It is chaired by Yasmin Nigar Khan, the great-granddaughter of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.


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