In wake of Pakistan university attack, the voices grow louder – stop glorifying the dead

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Bacha Khan University, with some 600 faculty members and 3,000 students from around the country, is a symbol of peace and education – both anathema to the militants.

On the day of the attack, about 600 guests were expected for a poetry recital due to start at 11 am to commemorate the 28th death anniversary of Pashtun nationalist leader and freedom fighter against the British rule, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, after whom the university is named.

Known as “Badshah” (king) or Bacha Khan, he was a devout Muslim – the kind the Taliban would term an apostate – who founded a non-violent red-shirted army of Khudai Khidmatgars (servants of God).

Bacha Khan’s creed of non-violence and friendship with “Mahatma” Gandhi earned him the nickname of the Frontier Gandhi. Initially opposed to the creation of Pakistan, he pledged allegiance to the new country when it was formed in 1947. But subsequent Pakistani governments looked upon him with suspicion and jailed him several times. He died in Peshawar in 1988, while under house arrest.