The Pashtun south and east of Afghanistan have been the most volatile area of the country for the past three decades, especially after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and toppling of the Taliban regime. Similarly, on the other side of the border in Pakistan, the two provinces that have Pashtun population are Khaibar Pakhtoon Khwa (KPK) and Balochistan, both of which have witnessed a huge amount of violence in the past ten years. Not only the Taliban insurgency severely affected the region, but other violent acts such as ethnic and tribal conflicts and criminal violence is also at its peak in the region.

This is the time when the new generation of Pashtun needs to be reminded of their positive ideals and historical personalities who lived by the principles of non-violence and achieved great strides. One of these Pashtun ideals has been Ghafar Khan, who was also known as "Pashtun Gandhi".

Bacha Khan

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988) was a Pashtun political as well as a spiritual leader known and respected for his non-violent resistance to the British Rule in India. A lifelong pacifist, a devout Muslim, and a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi, he was also known as Badshah Khan ("King Khan") Khan maintained a very close friendship with Gandhi, who advocated adherence of non-violent methods for winning back freedom from the hands of the British. The two of them nurtured deep love and respect for one another and worked in alliance till the time India gained its independence in the year 1947. The leading Khudai Khidmatgar organization, of which Abdul Ghaffar Khan was reverent member, worked in close partnership with the Indian National Congress against the British Empire.

His entire life, Khan's trust in the non-violent methods or in the compatibility of Islam and nonviolence never waned. So strong was his kinship with Gandhi that in India that he was often referred to as the "Frontier Gandhi".

In 1985 he was nominated for the Nobel peace prize. In 1987 he became the first person not holding the citizenship of India to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. Upon his death in 1988, he was buried in Jalalabad, despite the heavy fighting at the time, both sides in the Afghan war declared a ceasefire to allow his burial.


This project is aimed at revitalizing the principles Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the new generation of Pashtuns by developing and implementing a mobile theatre drama in nine provinces in the South and East of Afghanistan. The messages of the drama include:

"The life of service and sacrifice that Bacha Khan lived, to tell the younger generation and posterity that there once was a man of the stature and caliber of Badshah Khan who lived and sacrificed his all for the sake of what he believed to be right."

"Badshah Khan passion is freedom for the Pathans. He wants them to serve humanity. And play an honorable role in Asian Affairs. He detests slavery and his heart weeps at the sight of misery.  This is what Islam means to him. He is a great crusader. It is an irony of fate, that in freeing the subcontinent from foreign rule, Badshah Khan has been deprived of his own freedom. And his people, the proud Pashtuns, have been denied the opportunity for all-round development."

"Having put his whole soul into his cause, he remains indifferent as to what happens. It is enough for him to realize that there is no deliverance for the Pastun except through out and out acceptance of non-violence. He believes that the Pashtun have been exploited and kept in ignorance. He wants the Pashtun to become braver than he is and wants him to add true knowledge to his bravery. And this can only be achieved through non-violence."

To make these messages effective, a participatory communication approach that directly engages key audiences to challenge them to think differently about their current behavior is essential.

Amanuddin Foundation in partnership with Sayara, decided to create a mobile theater on the life of Abdul Gaffar Khan.

Mobile theatre is one of the most effective modes of participatory communications in Afghanistan, and Sayara has played a unique and pivotal role in its history, having revitalized the mobile theater industry (essentially recruiting pre-Taliban era actors) for the 2004 presidential elections. Mobile theatre makes the issue of violence and non-violence personal for a community – and a launching pad for sustained engagement on the issue. By attracting a diverse crowd, Sayara can communicate messages immediately through performance.

The crowd also allows Sayara to seamlessly manage the monitoring and evaluation of the program.  Before the performance begins, Sayara will conduct baseline focus groups with audience members in order to evaluate the community’s initial knowledge and beliefs about non-violence principles and ideals. Then, each performance will end with a quiz session that will test the community’s knowledge after the show. The following day, we will conduct a second focus group discussion to assess the impact of the show. Comparing the answers from the focus groups before, and the focus groups after, the performance will allow for a more precise assessment of the shows' actual impact in terms of the community’s knowledge and beliefs on the life and beliefs of Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his ideals.

With Sayara's history mobile theatre and social marketing, we can energize the crowd through entertainment, motivate them to become change agents in their communities, and instill a sense of collective responsibility to make their communities safe, prosperous and non-violent.


The campaign will be implemented in four main components, which include:

  1. Conceptualization
  2. Planning & Preparations
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring & Evaluation


As an initial activity of the campaign, Amanuddin Foundation and Sayara creative team, which will include the experienced Afghan researchers, scriptwriters and production designers with the guidance from Sayara’s international experts and creative director, will start the conceptualization of mobile theatre campaign focusing on the life and principles of Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The enabling factors of the concept will be derived from different situational analysis and atmospheric reporting that Sayara conducts in different provinces and regions of Afghanistan via its regional network for enriching its communications programming. The analysis will include focusing on the:

  1. Role of violence in the lives of the people in the targeted area
  2. The causes of the violence.
  3. Influence of the violence.
  4. Strengths and weakness in approaches dealing with violence.
  5. Benefits and points of concern.
  6. Who to target.

Additionally, the conceptualization phase will also include the audience preference analysis, which will be a vital part of the concept to ensure higher penetration rate. This will include strategizing the different elements of the program, such as:

  1. Good entertainment to ensure the audience attention, but shouldn't be overdone;
  2. Content from the real incidents that will match the current situation of those specific targeted areas; and
  3. The program should be prepared culturally relevant to the area, so that the audiences can relate with different aspects of the content delivery, such as accent of the actors, culturally relevant jokes, knowledge of the area, etc. Those aspects are deemed to be the most important factors for producing any communications tool in Afghanistan, because they can play a vital role in the success of the program and achievement of the intended results.

Planning & Preparation

Once the conceptualization phase is completed, Sayara’s experience staff in collaboration with Amanuddin Foundatiion will start preparations and planning for the actual execution of the campaign. The preparations will include activities such as, but not limited to:

  1. Recruitment of the theatre teams in three different regions, which are:
    • Loy Nangarhar – covering Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces.
    • Loya Paktia – covering Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces; and
    • Loy Kandahar – covering Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.
  2. Scriptwriting and pre-testing the scripts.
  3. Rehearsal of the pre-tested and approved scripts by the theatre teams (i.e. actors and directors)
  4. Developing the M&E plan.
  5. Development of the roadmap of the theatre teams, which will include coordination with different Government of Afghanistan civilian and security organs at national and sub-national level.


The mobile theatre campaign will be implemented in three regionalized phases. Three provinces will be covered in each of the regions. The provinces of the regions will be collated together where the cultural and social similarities are significant. For example, Nangarhar Kunar and Laghman are similar, if not the same, in terms of cultural, social and tribal specificities.

For three months, the teams will conduct around 75 shows in each of the regions.
In tier one provinces, which are the regional centers (I.e. Kandahar in the south, Nangarhar in east and Pakita in southeast) 40% of the total regional shows will happen and the remaining two provinces will have 30% each.

In addition, Sayara will hire actors and directors from the same regions where they will be required to perform the shows. This will ensure that the accent of the actors is the same as the audiences and the actors and directors of know what works in a specific region and what does not.
The filming will be conducted regionally and then edited by Sayara teams in Kabul.

Monitoring & Evaluation

Before the rounds of mobile theater performances begin, baseline focus groups sessions will be conducted in order to evaluate the audiences’ initial knowledge and beliefs on subject.

Monitoring and Post-evaluation
Each performance will end with a quiz session, where the participants will be asked questions to test their understanding of the show. In addition, focus groups discussions will be conducted the day following each performance to assess the impact of the show.

The impact of the performances will be evaluated from 2 perspectives:

  1. Have the audiences understood the show?
  2. Have the audiences learnt something and will apply it in their daily behavior?

Comparing the answers given during the Focus Groups Discussions (FGD) against those given at the pre-evaluation stage will allow for a more precise assessment of the shows’ actual impact in terms of the audiences’ belief and understanding of the topic.

Moreover, for the participants of the FGDs not to be influenced by what the others say, as well as to avoid putting them under the pressure of finding the "right answer", the formulations will be as open as possible, and participants will not consecutively be asked the same questions.

Specific questionnaires will be designed for pre and post performance focus group discussions, which will be pre-tested before applying in the field.

Bacha Khan and non violence


Peace One Day

Peace Jam

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Metta Center For Nonviolence

One Billion Act Of Peace

Off The Mat Into The World

United States Institute of Peace

The Center for Compassion And Altruism Research And Education

The Dalai Lama Foundation


Sonima Foundation


Mindful Schools

Search Inside Yoursel

Charter for Compassion