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Introduction

چه فولاد د وينے موړ په مينه مست شى

نو حيران او پريشان تار د ستار شى

Ghani Khan was born in Hashtnagar in 1914. He is widely considered the best pashto language poet of the 20th century and stands on a par with Khushal Khan Khattak and Rehman Baba. He was the son of the Red-Shirt Leader, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, aka Bacha Khan and The Frontier Gandhi. His wife Roshan came from a parsi family and was the daughter of Nawab Rustam Jang. The couple had three children, two daughters, Shandana and Zareen, and a son, Faridun.

He went to study at Rabindranath Tagore’s Shanti Niketan Art Academy and developed a liking for painting and sculpture. He visited England, and studied sugar technology in the United States, after which he returned and started working at the Takht Bhai Sugar Mills in 1933. Largely owing to his father’s influence, he was also involved in politics, supporting the cause of the pathans of NWFP. He was arrested by the Government of Pakistan in 1948 – although he had given up politics by then – and remained in prison till 1954, visiting various jails all over the country. It was during these years that he wrote his poem collection Da Panjray Chaghaar, and considered it the best work of his life. Aside from a few poems of his youth and early manhood, Ghani Khan’s poetry, like his temperament, is anti-political. His other two poem collections are: Panoos and Palwashay. He also wrote The Pathans, a short book in English prose, published in 1958, which like his sculptures and paintings, does not compare well to his poetry, keeping in mind that he is arguably the greatest pashto language poet. He died in March 1996.

The singular distinction of his poetry – aside from his obvious poetic genius – is a profound blend of knowledge about his native and foreign cultures, and the psychological, sensual, and religious aspects of life.

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