Superior Science College Peshawar - Pukhtoogle (1)

Superior Science College Peshawar - Pukhtoogle (1)
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Ajab Khan Afridi - Pukhtoogle

Ajab Khan Afridi - Pukhtoogle







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Description: Ajab Khan is perhaps the best-known hero of these stories from the NWFP and at the time the events occurred, they made newspapers in both the United States and England. The first notice in the London Times was a small article of April 16, 1923, head-lined, "Another Frontier Outrage: One Lady Killed and One Kidnapped," with the information that Mollie Ellis, the daughter of Major Ellis, was kidnapped and her mother killed in a bungalow adjoining that of the Commanding General of the Station of Kohat. A few days later (datelined April 18 from Simla, then the summer capital of the British Raj), the event came to the attention of the New York Times with the headline, "Captive English Girl is Seen with Savages big, rawboned, devil-may-care fellows of great strength and hardihood, many of whom devote their whole existence to hunting, fighting, and brigandage." On April 23, the New York Times headline was, "English Girl Saved from Afghan Captors" and the subhead, "Woman Physician rescues Mollie Ellis Whom Tribesmen had kidnapped"; the tribesmen were referred to as "semi-savages." By April 27, Mollie was said to be in Peshawar, telling of her sufferings when her only protection from the severe cold of the hills was "a coat belonging to a brutal Afridi, named Shahazada (sic) the man who killed her mother." That ended notices in the New York Times, but the London Times, which had been giving more attention during those two weeks to the wedding of the Duke of York than to events in an outpost of the British empire, printed occasional updates of the case over the following months as the process of attempting to catch the kidnapper, still unnamed, continued.

Nowhere did the New York Times indicate that there might be any motivation for this action. The London Times (April 24) said "the crime was the result of a vow by the ringleader to avenge the humiliation inflicted on him when some police rifles were recovered from the Bosti Khel"; it appeared that "the women taunted him to such an extent as to make his life unendurable, and in conformity with a Pathan custom, he swore with the Koran in his hand before his mother, who had been prominent in reviling him, that he would perform such a deed as had never been heard of before." The stealing of guns and British efforts to retrieve them were, however, an on-going series of events during this period; thus although newspaper reports do not mention any violation of women's purdah in Ajab Khan's village, it is not unreasonable to assume that in fact this British search party was particularly insensitive to Pathan customs.

In spring, 1983, the now elderly Mollie Ellis returned to Pakistan; popular monthlies as well as both Urdu and English newspapers replayed the events, publishing pictures taken in 1923 and giving a romantic cast to the story. Rumors continue to accumulate; a Pakistani journalist told the translator that a friend in London had met Mollie Ellis' nanny on the subway. The nanny said that Mollie had fallen in love with Ajab, but that he had insisted that he was making a political point and that no other kind of relationship was possible.
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