The Victory in the fight of Indian Independence has been credited to Gandhi and congress up to large extent, or to be more precise almost the entire credit has been given to them. Any discussion on Independence can’t be relevant until and unless we talk about partition.
It is a usual notion that partition was an ill-conceived process which could have avoided by the then leadership of India, which was Gandhi and Nehru obviously. We lost millions of our citizens, lost property of Millions of dollars and there are some issues which have their point of origin, somewhere in the process of partition.
Kashmir issue is the biggest issue which was originated post partition and since then it has been a matter of grave concern and pain for both the Nations. However this article is about an important piece of land which was deliberately given to Pakistan, even the majority of people were not ready to become a part of Pakistan. We are talking about North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), which was a province of British India. It was established in 1901 and dissolved in 1955, after eight years as part of the ‘independent state’ of Pakistan.
And how would you feel if we tell you that it was Gandhi-Nehru’s betrayal to Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan which led to the massacre of thousands of Pathan and the entire NWFP went into the clutches of Pakistan?
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was known as Frontier Gandhi or Islamic Gandhi and revered by the Pathan. He was a very close friend of Gandhi. He founded the Khudai Khidmatgar (“Servants of God”) movement in 1929, whose success triggered an extremely harsh crackdown by the British Raj against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most severe repression of the Indian independence movement.
Khan strongly opposed the partition of India, while many Pashtuns were willing to work with Indian politicians, many other Pashtuns were sympathetic to the idea of a separate homeland for India’s Muslims following the departure of the British. Accused as being anti-Muslim, Khan was physically assaulted in 1946, leading to his hospitalization in Peshawar.
Nehru and Gandhi refused to give any attention to the efforts of Khan to prevent the partition. Instead Gandhi moved ahead and offered the position of Prime Minister to Nehru and Jinnah for India and Pakistan respectively. Once this news was out Bacha Khan and his followers felt a sense of betrayal by both Pakistan and India. Bacha Khan was extremely disappointed with Gandhi and his last words to Gandhi and Nehru were “You have thrown us to the wolves.”
When the referendum over accession to Pakistan was held, Bacha Khan, the Khudai Khidmatgars and the Indian National Congress Party boycotted the referendum. Despite the boycott, the vast majority of people in the Pashtun regions voted to join Pakistan. A loyaJirga in the Tribal Areas also garnered a similar result as most preferred to become part of Pakistan. Some have argued that a segment of the population voted was barred from voting.
Why Nehru was against Pathan?
Nehru visited NWFP once and when he arrived at Peshawar Airport, he was met with a large crowd of protesters. Further when he ventured out amongst the Pashtuns he had some pretty bad experiences including stones being thrown at his car and bullets being fired at his plane. This incident convinced Nehru that it will be useless the fight for NWFP and it’s better to get it into Pakistan’s clutches. Victoria Schofield covers this quite well in ‘Afghan Frontier: At the Crossroads of Conflict’, page 238.
After the partition, Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan, but he was frequently arrested by the Pakistani government between 1948 and 1954. In 1956, he was again arrested for his opposition to the One Unit program. Khan also spent much of the 1960s and 1970s either in jail or in exile.
People usually consider Nelson Mandela as the person who was jailed for most of the time of his life, but it was Gaffar Khan who spent 37 years of his life in jail, much more than Mandela.
Upon his death in 1988 in Peshawar under house arrest, following his will, he was buried at his house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad, although it was marred by two bomb explosions killing 15 people.
Considering all the turmoil that has afflicted Waziristan and FATA even to the present day, the backwardness of all Pashtun areas including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the relentless civil war in the Pashtun parts of Afghanistan. The roots of all these turmoil is nothing but thebetrayal of Nehru and Gandhi.