Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar

                                                         Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar

                                                       Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat

            Abdul Akbar Khan was born in 1899 at Umarzai village of Charsadda. His father Abdul Qadir was a wealthy landlord from a well known Muhammadzai clan, whose father Arsala Khan was known as Sakhi (the generous) Arsala Khan. Abdul Akbar Khan received his early education in his village and was then sent to Islamia high school Peshawar city in 1909 for further education. In that school he was inspired by headmaster Taj Muhammad Khan who, later on, played an important role in the freedom movement along with the Haji Sahib of Turangzai. Abdul Akbar Khan passed his matriculation examination from Islamia collegiate, Peshawar, in 1916 and joined Islamia college in the following year. In the same year, he father died.
            Abdul Akbar Khan was interested in reading and was curious about the role of Indian educationists and revolutionaries in Kabul, the Young Turks, Turko-German mission and the activities of those who had been dubbed Ghadarists (rebels) outside India. In those days, the press in the frontier was under strict censorship . In collaboration with his two room-mates, Abdul Akbar Khan managed to get copies of Al-Hilal, Comrade and Amrita Bazaar Patrika from the political circulus. The study of these newspapers as well as the inspiration from Day, a Bengali professor of Botany in Islamia college, aroused his sentiments to publish something in their own mother tongue, which resulted in the outcome of a Pukhto monthly Wraz (day) in 1919.
            Subsequently, Abdul Akbar Khan left Islamia college and went to Aligarh. There he met his former college fellows, Mian Abdul Maruf and Muhammad Azim Khan of Badrashi etc. He got admission in the Jamia millia Aligarh, which was later shifted to Delhi. During those days, Abdul Akbar Khan worked for the cause of independence and made contacts with the Khilafat leaders. After getting honorary degrees, he returned his native village.
            Abdul Akbar Khan, a luminary of Pukhto literature, was not only a famous poet but one of the eminent and versatile prolific writers and dramatists. He started writing poetry from his early age. But the turning point in his life came when he met Fazal Mahmood Makhfi at Ghaziabad, Mohmand territory. Makhfi himself was a revolutionary writer and had the honour of being a teacher of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Makhfi and Akbar are, perhaps, the pioneers of revolutionary poetry in Pukhto, which transformed it from shallow romanticism into patriotic and nationalist revolutionary poetry.
            In his political career he was sent to jail many times by the British government of India, and after independence by the governments of Pakistan. With the declaration of India as Darul Harb (abode of war) by ulema in 1920, the Khilafatists launched Hijrat movement. According to various authentic sources round about 70,000,000 people migrated to Afghanistan. Abdul Akbar Khan joined the mainstream of the Hijrat movement and migrated to Afghanistan with a group led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
            Majority of the Indian muhajireen returned to India but Abdul Akbar Khan along with a number of others left for Russian Turkistan (Central Asia). He narrated the  eventful `travel in 1920 to Russian Turkistan and Afghanistan in connection with liberation of the Indo-Pak sub-continent.' In Tashkent, he met some other Indian revolutionaries including MN Roy, Acharia and Maulana Abdul Rab Barq. After the death of Jamal Pasha, Abdul Akbar Khan came to his village and assisted Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in laying the foundation of the Azad high school at Utmanzai in 1921.
            Like other Asians, Akbar Khan was influenced by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 in Russia. In his journey to Afghanistan and then to Central Asia and Moscow, he studied not only the miserable condition of the Muslim Khanates but also saw the revolutionary activities of the Bolsheviks. He wanted such a change in the Pukhtun society. Even in his old age, while addressing a meeting of the National Awami Party at Tangi, in April 1973, he pleaded necessity of Pukhtunistan and threw light on Communism.
            Abdul Akbar Khan was a man of immaculate character. He believed in humanism. His impact on the socio-political conditions of his time proved that he was an institution in himself. He spent a long time with Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. He had once been elected as the president of the Anjuman-e-Islah-e-Afaghena, and in 1929 as the president of Da Sarhad da zalmo jarga. He died in October 1977 at the age of 78.
            The pen of Akbar Khan was his sword with which he championed the cause of the weak, poor and oppressed people. His story is the story of a revolutionary saga who was in search of an ideal, self-denial and independence. He criticised in his writing those leaders who exploited the people for their own selfish ends. In his dramas, he tried to awaken the downtrodden masses. But Akbar is the playwright who had introduced stage drama in Pukhto lituerature. Not for the sake of popularity orfinancial gains but for a noble cause of or , having written some scripts
            The works of Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar include:
a)      Dramas: Tarboor (cousin, in common parlance this term is referred to the sharer of ancestral heritage, and hence an enemy. 1926), Tahzeeb jadeed au ta'leem-e-jadeed (modern civilisation and modern education. 1927), Dre yateemaan (three orphans. 1928. It had been staged in 1924. Distinguished poet Ghani Khan and Rahbar-e-tahreek ANP Wali Khan with one other boy had played the roles of the three orphans which had moved the watchers to such a degree that, at the end, an old man came on to the stage and patted Wali Khan on his head. While still wiping his tears, he offered two rupees to Wali Khan, saying; "Don't be distressed son! take flour for you at this money." One may imagine the value of two rupees at that time.), Khudai Khidmatgar (1930), Jungara (hut, which was once the election symbol of NAP, 1945), Karwaan rawaan day (the caravan is moving on, 1957).
b)      Translation: Da Hindustan qabaelee sarhad and Masnavi of Maulana Rum.
c)      Travelogue of his travels to Russian Turkistan and Afghanistan. This a document of historical importance and a masterpiece of Pukhto literature.
d)      Others: Zamoong Nabi Muhammad Arabi PBUH (Our Prophet Muhammad Arabi PBUH, 1949), Rokhaaniaan da Maghulo Tareekiaan (Roshanites, who had been dubbed apostles of darkness by the Mughals, 1968), Adabi Paanga (treasure of literature, 1967), Khwaage traakhe (1958), Masnavi Islam au Musalmanaan, Sarhadaat,
e)      Unpublished: Da barr-e-sagheer Pak-o-Hind pa azaadae ke da Pukhtano barkha (share of Pukhtuns in liberation of the Indo-Pak sub-continent), zamaa zhwand sara tar'lee haalaat (events related to my life, autobiography).
            Abdul Akbar Khan also had to his credit numerous articles published in different periodicals i.e. Pukhtoon, Laar, Ghuncha, Abasin, Rahbar, Aslam, Dauran, Nan-paroon, Gulistan, Jamhuriat and Pukhto.
            The poetical works of Akbar reflects his individuality in all respects. He loved extremely the Pukhtun as well as their land:
I love my land, and the race of Pukhtuns,
This love, I pray for, here and Hereafter,
I would forego all the beauties of the world,
For every Pukhtun youth, be he a black or white.
            No one can deny that every youth has to pass through a romantic phase. This romanticism may stem from the love for a beautiful face or abstract love for an ideal, such as liberty. In the case of Abdul Akbar Khan, the ruling passion of his love was for the liberty of Pukhtuns. He would accept every hardship and offer every thing for his ideal. When he was sent to jail, he expressed his feelings in a song as:
There's a sweet pain in my heart,
I don't know what is it?
No sleep, no mirth, the night passes in weeping,
No body knows about it.
            Abdul Akbar Khan, popularly known as Khan Baba, was sent to jail several times. He was tortured mentally and physically but he sustained all the hardship with utmost courage. Even in the dark cell of the jail he would see the glow of freedom:
Though I'm in prison, yet I dream of Laila,
I see glow of beauty in this pitch darkness,
Why the preacher thinks that farming of freedom futile,
I perceive flowery spring in each grain of the seed,

Unless everything is put at stake for the nation,
I don't think, the nation would flourish and prosper,
The crops of freedom has ever grown with red blood,
They get freedom whose heads roll in the field.
(Courtesy: Celebrities of NWFP – Volume I & II – ed. Dr Parvez Khan Toru and Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Mar; Pakistan Study Centre, University of Peshawar, NWFP, Pakistan; 2005)


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