Whoever is born, shall die

Life can’t even stand a thud,

much like the house of cards

I, Ahmad Khan, shall fight the British with the vigor

that a moth fights with the flame

 

Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal was born in 1803 in Jhamra village of Sahiwal. During the revolts of 1857, Kharal was one of the local chiefs asked to provide recruits to the British army. Unlike most of the other chieftains of the Punjab who helped the British in order to avoid any troubles, Kharal refused and stood up against the British. His revolt infuriated the British and Berkely, the assistant commissioner of Sahiwal, was sent to suppress all the local revolts inspired by Kharal. In order to punish the locals, the British also burned down a number of villages along both the banks of river Ravi. Kharal was also killed while offering his prayers. After him, no one resisted the British conquest till Multan. After his death, Ahmad Khan Kharal has become a legendary folk lore hero who has been praised for his bravery.

We have been taught to think about our history and culture only through the communal lens, to justify our separation from the Hindus of the sub-continent. The loopholes in such a nationalist narrative are only becoming evident with time. Instead of insecurely protecting a selective, communal national culture and history, we need to diversify their focus to appreciate such multiple other heroic, brave, local figures as Ahmed Khan Kharal along with Muhammd Bin Qasim and Mahmood Ghaznavi.