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Last Updated: 03/19/2012Is Peace through Nonviolence Possible in AfPak?
Jahan Zeb comments on the enduring contribution of historical figure Bacha Khan to transforming conflict through nonviolence in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Bacha Khan was beaten, jailed, and exiled by the British rulers of United India because they thought that his reforms may be converted into a freedom movement if he were allowed to reform his people. When his reforms were blocked, his Khudai Khidmatgars movement joined hands with the Indian National Congress to raise a voice for their victimization. At that point, they started their struggle for the freedom of India from the British rulers of the time.
Universal global context
The West resisted the philosophy of nonviolence and the struggle for freedom of Bacha Khan due to the Cold War rivalry and politics between the USSR and the West. Thankfully, this mindset is slowly changing because violence can no longer be confined to specific countries and regions. It is in this context that the current US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, quoted Bacha Khan in an Iftar dinner (Islamic month of Ramadan breaking of the fast) she hosted: ”Now, this time of self-reflection and clarity reminds us that the principles that are the hallmark of Ramadan – charity, sacrifice, and compassion – are also values we cherish as Americans. They guide us towards good stewardship of our families, our communities, our country, and our world. It is, as… summed up in the words of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, that we need to be inspired by our leaders to fight poverty, injustice and hate with ‘the weapon of the Prophet—patience and righteousness.’ Well, that, to me, sums up much of what we celebrate tonight as we break fast.” 
Conclusion and possible actions
Today, over two million courageous followers of Bacha Khan are fighting the worst forms of militant violence, as well as social and political instability in Pakistan with the philosophical nonviolence weapon that Bacha Khan gave to them. Pashtuns are not only fighting this fight against militancy for their own survival but also for broader regional peace and global security.
 Khan, A.G., (1983). Zama Zhwand au Jaddo Jehad (My Life and Struggle). Kabul.
 Anpuae, 2011. Afrasiyab Khattak ! Baacha Khan and Nonviolence (Kabul Seminar). [video online] Available at: < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3bXL3G2R1U>
 U.S. Department of State, 2009. Remarks at the Annual State Department Iftaar Dinner. [online] Available at: <http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/09/129232.htm > [
 McLuhan, T.C., (2008). The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace. [A Film]. Available at: <http://www.thefrontiergandhi.com/about.html>
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2011. Opening Remarks Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Available at: <http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/statements_102811.html> [
Jahan Zeb is co-founder of the Art, Peace and Education Exchange in Canada and Research Associate with Bacha Khan Research Centre in Pakistan. His opinion and comments on peace building in the AfPak region appear on Voice of America Radio and the Hamilton Spectator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.