Pakhtoons across India worried about kin in Afghanistan, says great-granddaughter of 'Frontier Gandhi'
Yasmin Nigar Khan, the Calcutta-based great-granddaughter of 'Frontier Gandhi' Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, on Tuesday said that she has been receiving SOS calls from Pakhtoons across India, urging her to request the Ministry of External Affairs to ensure the safety of their kin after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Khan (50), who has been living in central Calcutta for generations, is the president of the All India Pakhtoon Jirga-e-Hind, the apex body of the community in the country.
"We are in constant touch with the central and West Bengal governments, but the situation is fluid and very little information is trickling in from Afghanistan. Phone lines are jammed and visuals from Kabul are disturbing. Those living in India are distraught," Khan, who has barely slept in the last two nights, told PTI.
She said that the 1,000-odd Pakhtoons in the state and lakhs living in other parts of the country for generations have no chance of returning to their native place but almost everyone has relatives in Afghanistan or north-western Pakistan.
"They regularly spoke with their relatives in Afghanistan even a few months back but are not able to contact them now. Whatever little information they are getting is through those living in Pakistan. Many of the kin have been killed in the aggression of Taliban, which is a monstrous force with no respect for liberty, dignity and freedom of women," Khan said.
"During the previous Taliban rule, they abducted young widows to marry them off to their members. They don't want girls to study or go to school. What they describe as Islamic law is in fact a travesty of the religion. Don't girls study in madrassas? Even in Islamic countries, women are encouraged to get modern education and work alongside men. The Taliban wants to take women back to medieval ages," she said.
Her great-grandfather had set up a school for girls in the present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan in 1921. "The school has been closed now. I don't know what will happen to it later," she said.
Khan said that her organisation will approach the United Nations to intervene in the humanitarian crisis. The outfit was formed by Frontier Gandhi's adopted grandson Lala Jaan Khan in 1949 and Yasmin Nigar Khan became its head in 1996.