The Frontier Gandhi

Pashtun Pacifist

Frontier Gandhi

Aditya Arya Archive

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, The Frontier Gandhi
1890 –  1988

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, proud Pashtun and devout Muslim from Charsadda in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, traveled the length and breadth of the subcontinent preaching the power of passive resistance and nonviolence.
Close friend of Gandhi’s, his followers formed his non-violent army made up of Pashtuns, one of the most fierce warrior groups. The members of his army vowed to turn their backs on violence, revenge, and retaliation.  They believed in the power of non-violence, education, and women’s rights.
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Jailed by the British numerous times, he said, “With love you can persuade a Pashtun to go to hell, but by force you can not take him even to heaven.”
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Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, his role in winning independence from British rule has been largely forgotten.  His actions redefined the Pashtun concept of honor and courage.
Thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the historic Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad. A cease fire was announced in the Afghan war to allow safe passage to the funeral procession.
Father and Daughter, Afghanistan, 1984
The world  could use another giant of a man like Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.

26 Responses to “The Frontier Gandhi”

  1. Brilliant Captures!

  2. Ranjana Bobde Says:

    Great men, like great epochs, are explosive material in whom tremendous energy has been accumulated —Friedrich Nietzsche
    Badshah Khan brave yet proponent of non-violence in true spirit. His life is living example of how it is possible to live in peace& with cooperation for humanity..

  3. Lot of wears and tears one should undergo in order to achieve something for the sake of country and people.

  4. thank you for sher photos of pashtun دير شه مننه

  5. I am remembering the past times of mahatma gandhi. It is great to see photographs with story. Thanks

  6. […] The above posted image has been taken from […]

  7. It is saddening that I have to learn about this noble person through a blog and not through the hundreds of history lessons taught in my Indian schools.

    However I am glad I have come across this wonderful piece of history through your heart piercing images, it will always remain vivid in my memory for years to come.

  8. You are the best photographer that I know. Please, If you want, please tell me if I have any chances to became photographer ?
    Yhank you

    my portofolio

  9. Ana Oliveira Says:

    Through your photos i can see everything: The love, the hate, the indiference, the suffering, the innocence, the reality just as it is.
    Thank you! Each and all of your photos make me “richer”.

  10. liked the storytelling.

  11. […] The Frontier Gandhi « Steve McCurry's Blog […]

  12. increible los ojos de esta gente, se ve paz, se ve que luchan pero sus ojos no tienen nada mas que una sola mirada, la mirada que busca la paz…

  13. My own thoughts explorered here with regards to this incredible human being.

  14. ehsan Says:

    Wonderful. Please write something about the relevance of Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s non-violence philosophy in todays world.

  15. Captivating shots. The feeling,intimacy,closeness,emotion all elements are there in these photographs.
    The words “With love you can persuade a Pashtun to go to hell, but by force you can not take him even to heaven.” describes beautifully the characted of the community.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Partha Pal,India

  16. Steve !
    These is amazing! Nowadays where prejudices and discrimination against muslins is a every day topic your blog is really refreshing. With your images and words you show that we are all humans and there are no reasons to fear muslims or their culture. I’m curious what do you think about the laws that certain europeans governments are trying to pass forbiding the burka? Personally I don’t think that wearing a burka is a matter of security or that slaves the women wearing it. Hopefully you can post about this topic

  17. hi

    very nice image…i like these photos

  18. A Yusufzai Says:

    Thank You for such a nice blog on the Badshah of Pukhtuns.

    The world needs to know that We Pushtoons are not Terrorists, except for the past 30 years, where we have been dragged into wars that were never ours.

    I believe you are doing a great service for the people of this part of the world through your photos and blogs. Wish you all the best ahead in life.

  19. magnific and impresionant photos!!

  20. powerful !
    un saludo

  21. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Powerful words …


  22. Powerful images. They say so much. If only the world will listen.

  23. Yes indeed the world could use another Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan…

    My thoughts are stuck in the United States for the moment focused on Arizona’s new law permitting the incarceration of illegal immigrants prosecuting them as criminals.
    Your blog continues with piercing pictures and few well chosen words to provoke preconceived ideas about the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan, about the Muslim faith… Thank you for introducing me to Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. I will share this link in the hopes that many will look, turn inward, reflect, and reconsider..
    With Appreciation, Stephanie Alt, MS

  24. Ugly Shoelace Says:


  25. These are incredible – both the images and the story behind it.

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