IDEAS Book Talk & Book Signing

29 February 2024

IDEAS is pleased to invite you to attend the next event in our Book Talk Series:

  • Guest: Ayaz Achakzai (Co-Translator & Editor)
  • Book Title:  My Life & Times – Autobiography of Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai
  • Moderator: Maryam S. Khan (Research Fellow IDEAS)

Please note the following details for the event:

  • Date: 29th February, 2024 (Thursday)
  • Time: 05:00 – 6:30 PM
  • Address: IDEAS, 19-A, F.C.C., Syed Maratib Ali Rd, Gulberg IV, Lahore (Google Maps)
  • Registration Link:

This is an open event, however space is limited so please reserve your seat by registering at the link provided. For any queries, please contact us at <>


My Life and Times is an autobiography of legendary Pashtun nationalist leader Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai (1907-73), commonly known as Khan Shaheed. It was originally written in Pashto, translated in English by his son Muhammad Khan Achakzai (ex Governor of Balochistan), and grandson Ayaz Achakzai. Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai wrote the bulk of his autobiography while he was in prison during the Ayub Khan regime (1958 – 1968). It is a very candid first person account of his life and not just a political memoir.

The book explores & critically reviews the dynamics of Pashtun nationalism in the Indian Subcontinent, the other side of the Freedom Movement and All India Muslim League, British Imperialism in the Indian Subcontinent, the politics of Indian National Congress, Pakistan beyond inception and the continuity of colonial legacy. It also outlines the story of overturning the 1956 Constitution of Pakistan, implementation of One Unit Scheme, General Ayub’s martial law and Samad Khan’s 14 years of imprisonment, and finally the fall of Dhaka.

Politically, it is the only self-written autobiography from Balochistan of a major Pashtun figure that has been translated into English. In the book he details his reasons for siding with the Indian National Congress instead of the Muslim League prior to independence, provides an account of his meetings with Gandhi and Jinnah and his 1956 statement to the Lahore High Court details his vision for a democratic Pakistan. It also charts the arc of his transformation from a Balochistani (he chaired the first ever Baloch conference which was in Sindh) to a Pashtun nationalist. An addendum provides an eyewitness account of his meeting with Bacha Khan in Kabul during the course of which their break, primarily over the conception of Pashtunistan, became formalized and led to his departure from the leftist National Awami Party (NAP). Also printed are letters to Liaquat Ali Khan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Wali Khan, Ajmal Khattak and pamphlets recording his views on the current province of Balochistan and comments on the proposed 1971 constitution.

The book would be of relevance for those interested in the geopolitics of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Through autobiographical accounts, the author talks about the role of his forebears in seminal events of Afghan history stretching back to the formation of the state in 1747 and ethnic, linguistic and tribal ties that continue to affect the politics of that country. Those interested in India will find a fascinating and perhaps unique first-person perspective on pre-independence politics. Similarly, it sets forth in detail the dynamics of the newly independent Pakistan and his vision for a democratic future of the country. 


Ayaz Khan Achakzai is a public policy expert and development economics practitioner. His work in international development includes stints at the World Bank, United Nations, private consulting and non-profit organizations. He was educated at Colby College, Oxford University and Princeton University. Ayaz is the co-translator and editor of My Life and Times.