I Opyne

Polaroid Progressiveness

with 7 comments

God has created men and women to be partners in the development of civilization. They are the two wheels of humanity’s carriage which cannot run on one wheel alone”. (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan)

This is in response to the post titled: “Whither “Progressive” Bacha Khan’s Wife? – by Yasser Latif Hamdani, originally posted at Pak Tea House and then at LUBP.

The way Mr. Hamdani presents his case it sounds like one of those “my daddy can kick your daddy’s ass” type of arguments, goes without saying, that growing out of such thinking is an essential part of growing up. But, it might be “understandable” if he had done it as a response to someone else’s equally childish comparison, but still, Pak Tea House and LUBP should know better than to print these comparisons of progressiveness that are based on paparazzi coverage.

As a proof for Ghaffar Khan’s progressiveness, Mr. Hamdani demands a picture of Bacha Khan’s female kin. I might be mistaken but Mr. Hamdani does imply that Bacha Khan had a problem with his female kin being photographed or for that matter being active in politics.

But as it turns out, Ghaffar Khan actually does pass this test of  Polaroid Progressiveness… and with flying colors I might add.

Begum Nasim Wali Khan, the wife of Abdul Wali Khan, and the daughter in law of Ghaffar Khan began her political career in the 70s. As per the requirements of politics, Ms. Nasim Wali Khan was not only photographed in public, but filmed as well. Following are some of these “proofs of progressiveness”, which hopefully will prove that Ghaffar Khan let his “chattel” be filmed and photographed in public, just like Mr. Jinnah did. Because according to this test, a man’s progressiveness is tied to the fashion sense of his female kin, the shorter their skirts, the more liberal the man (read owner). The assumption of course is that no woman out of her free will could choose not to be in the public eye. But anyway, let’s see the progressiveness of Ghaffar Khan, as displayed by his daughter in law.

Here she is sitting next to Gohar Ayub Khan


Another one where she is sitting with a Mahrum as well as a “Na Mahrum”

Hugging her son in Public

Addressing a rally

And here is a video of her fixing a plate for Bacha Khan while hosting a lunch at her house, and then answering questions in an interview.

But what does this prove? That Ghaffar Khan is a champion of women rights? If that is the case, then the same could be said about Qazi Hussain Ahmad and his “progressiveness” given the publicly available picture of his daughter, Samia Raheel Qazi, as well as her videos.

Mr. Hamdani shouldn’t mind the hijab in this case, as he wasn’t asking for a picture of Ghaffar Khan’s wife in a “miniskirt”. Needless to say if a miniskirt is the standard of progressiveness, then the saris of Ms. Fatima Jinnah with her head covered also give a very “non-progressive” statement.

But what if Begum Naseem Wali Khan had decided not to participate in politics, and as the first female elected member from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, it is very likely that she could have been a housewife like her sister in law or a doctor like her daughter. What if she wasnt that easily searchable on google images or youtube? Should this then have been the proof of Ghaffar Khan’s lack of progressiveness?

Ghaffar Khan advocated gender equality and female education, at a time when only 4 out of a 1000 muslim women were educated. Not only did he start schools for girls, he also encouraged them to become members of the Khudai Khidmatgars (KK),  he was of the opinion that sons and daughters should get an equal share in inheritance.

He didn’t even spare Pakhtun customs, and as a very vocal critic of the practice of Wulwar (Bride Price), he used his own wedding as an example to discourage others from carrying out this practice.

The achievements of Ghaffar Khan in the name of women empowerment cannot be trashed just because there are no publicly available pictures of his daughter and wife. The same way, Jinnah’s efforts for female empowerment cannot be discarded because of his falling out with his daughter over the issue of her marriage.

Both Bacha Khan and Jinnah are icons of the independence movement, while both had their good as well as bad points, the subjugation of women is something that neither of them have advocated.


Written by Imran Khan

August 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

7 Responses

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  1. Nice write up but slightly wasted as it is based on a old controversy caused by someone with a very strong bias and even more limited knowledge of the facts..

    anyone who can do basic academic research will know.. Bacha Khans wife died in Palestine, following his Hajj. They may also know Wali Khan supported Fatima Jinnahs candidature, and Nasim Wali was the 1st directly elected female MNA in Pakistan history.

    They might also know that Wali Khans first wife was protesting at Babrra against his arrest in 1948 when Muslim League Chief min Qayyum Khan ordered a lathi charge and shooting off unarmed protestors. They may also know that the injuries she suffered are likely to have contributed to her subsequent death.

    Obviously for some people a picture is more important than the facts..


    August 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    • Thanks Takhalus, yes the post came as a shock, that’s why I wrote the rebuttal. Although I agree with you, the bias of some might make this a futile exercise, but nevertheless, I think Ghaffar Khan is one icon from our past whose achievements have been largely ignored. That wrong needs to be corrected.

      Imran Khan

      August 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm

  2. Grand daughter of badshah khan

    saleem khan

    August 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

  3. Imran LaLa!

    Excellent rebuttal! Have you watched THE FRONTIER GANDHI: BADSHAH KHAN, A TORCH FOR PEACE
    A Film by T.C. McLuhan. To your pleasant surprise, he was nominated twice for Noble Peace Prize besides championing the women rights. How come such a stalwart like him can be declared as a “misogynist”? Such baseless accusations reflect an outright racism.

    Here is synopsis of his charismatic character:

    Twenty-one years in the making, THE FRONTIER GANDHI: BADSHAH KHAN, A TORCH FOR PEACE (a feature length documentary – 92 minutes) launches into orbit the epic story of a remarkable Muslim peacemaker born into Pashtun warrior society of the strategic North-West Frontier Province of the Indian subcontinent — now Pakistan’s frontier region Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Pronounced “a miracle” by Mahatma Gandhi, Badshah Khan (1890-1988) raised a 100,000 strong nonviolent army of men, women, and young people — the Khudai Khidmatgars, or servants of God — drawn from the multi-ethnic traditions of Afghanistan and India. Muslims, as well as Hindus, Christians, Parsees, Sikhs, and Buddhists came together in the cause of peace, social justice, religious tolerance, and human dignity for all.
    In partnership with Mahatma Gandhi, the 6’5” charismatic Khan (also known as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) led a nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century. He openly championed women’s rights and spoke of the inherent compatibility of Islam with nonviolence. He challenged his own highly volatile culture to change its vengeful ways and to turn to the spiritual and moral strength of nonviolence. He opened schools, fought for the social improvement of the least fortunate, and was unceasing in his compassionate embrace of the poor.
    Nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, Badshah Khan’s improbable life and legacy remain little known. He died in 1988 at the age of 98 having spent nearly 35 years in solitary confinement for his efforts to humanize humanity.
    Filmed in Afghanistan, Khyber Pass, Pakistan, India, United States, and Canada, the film includes rare historical footage, surprisingly candid interviews with world leaders, testimony from 63 of Badshah Khan’s nonviolent warriors — most beyond the age of 100 years — and a score by acclaimed world music pioneer David Amram. Legendary Indian actor, Om Puri, brings alive the thoughts and writings of Badshah Khan.
    Badshah Khan’s example and legacy advance a greater, broader, and inspired understanding of what is currently perceived as Muslim, Pashtun, and Afghan. His heroic life offers a profound message of hope for these increasingly troubled times.”


    Inam H. Marwat

    August 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm

  4. Nasim Wali Khan is the daughter in law. Not wife… not daughter… not sister. How can this article be a rebuttal to what I wrote?

    I am sorry but you’ll have to try again.


    November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  5. I love when you went the other-way round about Nassem Wali.
    You made day! As I have to speak on something similar: Afghan values & Islam at Somerville Collage Oxford – tomorrow.


    Faraz Janan Khattak

    November 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm

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