Afghan crisis: Granddaughter of Frontier Gandhi says world powers must intervene

Updated on Aug 17, 2021 10:44 PM IST

Family members say Khan’s father, Khan Lala Jaan Khan, was adopted by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, better known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’, to continue the struggle for Pashtunistan from India.

Yasmin Nigar Khan. (HT photo)
Yasmin Nigar Khan. (HT photo)

As Afghanistan plunged into a state of panic and chaos while Taliban fighters poured into Kabul on Sunday, more than 2,000 kilometres away in Kolkata, 50-year-old Yasmin Nigar Khan prayed for the safety and security of the people there. She hopes for world powers to intervene to end the crisis.

“What we are hearing and seeing on media is very worrying. I am not sure what’s in store for the future. But this should come to an end. I hope the world powers, the United Nations would intervene and put an end to this,” said Khan.

Family members claim Khan’s father, Khan Lala Jaan Khan, who died in 1996, was adopted by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, better known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’, to continue the struggle for Pashtunistan from India.

Khan Lala Jaan Khan settled in Kolkata and formed the All India Pakhtoon Jirga-e-Hind (an organisation of Pakhtoons or Pathans in India) in 1949.

“I visited Kabul with my father for the first and last time in 1986 to attend a meeting of tribal leaders from across the world. I have very fond memories of the country. Back then, I saw girls wearing jeans and skirts even though they had their hijab on. But look at the country now. It is shattered. Four decades of war have ruined everything,” said Yasmin.

She took over as the president of the All India Pakhtoon Jirga-e-Hind after her father’s death. A laminated picture of Frontier Gandhi and a portrait of him along with Mahatma Gandhi could be seen on the table in her office at Karim Hussain Lane near Park Circus in southeast Kolkata.

“Even though I don’t have any relatives in Afghanistan, there are many Pakhtoons in Kolkata and West Bengal who have their loved ones back in that country. They are getting calls every day. What we are seeing on media could be just the tip, as social media has been blocked and people are afraid of saying anything in open,” said Arshad Ahmed Danish Khan, her brother, who is the secretary of the organization.

In 1892, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote the iconic short story, Kabuliwala - a tale of an Afghan citizen living in Kolkata. In 1957, noted director Tapan Sinha made a film on it.

“My father was sent to India by Frontier Gandhi and he settled in Kolkata. The Pakhtuns have always had an emotional attachment to Kolkata,” said Arshad, who, along with her sister Yasmin, was born and brought up in Kolkata.

The family says that most of the Afghan people would not like the Taliban, as they are not from Afghanistan. They are ‘outsiders’

“I am sure 90% of the citizens in Afghanistan would not like the Taliban. When I went to Afghanistan back then there were the mujahedeen. Even they were better than the Taliban. The Taliban fighters are a proxy army created by Pakistan. I am sure if people’s mandate is taken, they would not get even 10% votes. We all want peace,” said Yasmin

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Joydeep Thakur is a Special Correspondent based in Kolkata. He focuses on science, environment, wildlife, agriculture and other related issues.

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