March 31, 2023

“Peer Ali Khan: The Political and Social Advocate for Pashtun Rights in British India”

Peer Ali Khan, also known as Sardar Ali Khan, was a prominent political figure in the North-West Frontier Province of British India (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan) during the early 20th century. He was born in the small village of Shaidu, near the town of Nowshera, in 1888. His father, Mohammad Azam Khan, was a prominent tribal leader and landowner in the region, and Peer Ali Khan was brought up in a privileged and influential household.

Peer Ali Khan received his early education in a local madrasa, and later attended the Edwardes College in Peshawar, where he studied law. After completing his studies, he returned to his home region and began to work as a lawyer. However, his political ambitions soon took over, and he became involved in the Indian National Congress, which was then a major force in the struggle for independence from British rule.

In 1920, Peer Ali Khan was elected to the provincial assembly of the North-West Frontier Province, and he quickly established himself as a leading figure in the political landscape of the region. He was a strong advocate for the rights of the Pashtun people, who were then living under British rule, and he spoke out forcefully against the policies of the colonial authorities.

One of Peer Ali Khan’s key concerns was the issue of the Pashtun tribes who lived along the border with Afghanistan. These tribes had a long history of resistance to British rule, and had often taken up arms against the colonial authorities. Peer Ali Khan argued that the only way to bring peace to the region was to grant the tribes a degree of autonomy, and to allow them to govern themselves according to their own traditional customs and practices.

Peer Ali Khan also played an important role in the Khilafat movement, which was a campaign to support the Ottoman Caliphate following its defeat in World War I. He was a close associate of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, a leading figure in the movement, and he worked tirelessly to promote its aims and objectives.

In 1923, Peer Ali Khan was appointed as the President of the All India Khilafat Committee, which was responsible for coordinating the activities of the movement across the country. He traveled extensively throughout India, speaking at public meetings and rallies, and building support for the cause of the Caliphate.

However, as the Khilafat movement began to lose momentum, Peer Ali Khan turned his attention to other issues affecting the Pashtun people. In 1928, he founded the Anjuman-i-Islah-i-Afghan, an organization that was dedicated to promoting social and educational reform in the region. The organization established a network of schools and colleges, and worked to improve the lives of ordinary people through a range of social and economic programs.

Despite his efforts, Peer Ali Khan was never able to achieve his ultimate goal of securing full independence for the Pashtun people. However, his tireless efforts to promote their rights and improve their lives made him a beloved figure in the region, and he continued to play an important role in the political and social life of the North-West Frontier Province until his death in 1942.

In addition to his political and social work, Peer Ali Khan was also a respected poet and writer. He wrote extensively on a range of topics, including religion, politics, and culture, and his work remains an important part of Pashtun literary and intellectual history.

Overall, Peer Ali Khan was a key figure in the struggle for independence from British rule in India, and an important advocate for the rights of the Pashtun people. His contributions to the Khilafat movement, and to the broader cause of Indian independence, helped to shape the political and social landscape of the North-West Frontier Province in British India.

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