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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New trends in Pashto literature

New trends in Pashto literature
Monday, 11 September 2006
By Sher Alam Shinwari

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL), Islamabad, in collaboration with the Allama Iqbal Open University’s (AIOU) Pakistani Languages Department, recently arranged a seminar on “Modern trends in Pushto literature”. At the seminar Iftikhar Arif, PAL’s chairman, in his inaugural speech said that emerging new trends are the basic need of any living literature. Pashto is capable of absorbing modern literary trends since the dawn of the 20th century. Pashto writers have been rather successful in transmitting the national spirit among their readers and have given an outlet to new concepts and ideas in both prose and poetry. “Languages thrive on accepting new trends because it is their nourishment, and Pushto like Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Saraiki and Hindko is enriching its treasure trove with fresh new thoughts,” he explained.

Prof Dr Mahmoodul Hassan Butt, AIOU’s Vice Chancellor, said that the department of Pakistani Languages had already included “Modern trends in Pashto literature” as a separate subject in its MPhil course, so that the students of research could have up-to-date knowledge of the emerging literary trends in Pushto literature. A senior Islamabad-based Pashto poet, Hasham Babar, while presiding over the seminar, revealed that Pashto survived despite 700 years of suppression because of its indigenous potential to give vent to new thoughts. “Trend”, he said, has its origin in any remarkable socio-economic change which influences people and their outlook on life. “It is of great significance in the literary tradition of any language. Poets and writers exploit the new emerging literary trends to achieve their desired aims by adopting a particular form and style. Pushto literature is rich in modern trends,” Hasham informed.
Pashto is capable of absorbing modern literary trends since the dawn of the 20th century
Renowned research scholar and chairman of the World Pushto Conference, Salim Raz in his paper “Pushto literature and new trends” observed that Pushto literature had always been reflective of its contemporary situations and had never deviated from its set goals. Poets have experimented a great deal with Pushto nazm and prose during the past few decades. In every age, Pakhtoon writers have expressed themselves in all contemporary literary genres, be it drama, short story, novel, travelogue, pen-portrait, reportage, free-verse, blank-verse or haiku. “From Pir Roshan to Khushhal Khan Khattak and Rahman Baba, from classical literature to the Baacha Khan Khudai Khidmatgaar Tehrik’s struggle for independence and from the Progressive Writer’s Movement to the modern day literary trends, Pushto literature is spearheading in exhibiting new ideas in an effective manner,” said Raz. “The 20th century has proved to be a trend-setting epoch for Pushto,” he added.
He went on to say that Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari perfected the classical ghazal composition while Qalandar Momand set a new trend in modern Pushto fiction. Ghani, Ashraf Maftoon, Ajmal Khattak, Abdur Rahim Majzoob, Murad Shinwari and Qamar Rahi revolutionised the Pushto poem (nazm) while Ayaz Daudzai introduced the trend of literary appreciation to encourage new writers and poets. A prolific writer, Afzal Shauq while presenting his paper on “Universal trends and Pashto literature”, maintained that most Pakhtoon critics did not approve of the inclusion of world trends in Pashto literature; hence there was dearth of a universal images in the language.
He regretted that Pakhtoon writers had not given due attention to global changes emerging in world literature. Syeda Haseena Gul, a well known poet, in her thesis titled “Pakhtoon women’s contribution to Pushto literature” recalled that Pushto folk literature was precious to Pakhtoon women and it paved the way for many feminist movements. “Never in history have Pakhtoon women writers lagged behind their male counterparts in expressing their inner desires, wishes, feelings and problems despite social barriers. Alaf Jana Khattaka, Syeda Bushra Begum, Zaitoon Bano, Nasira Shabnum, Prof Dr Salma Shaheen, Naheed Anjum, Dr Zargoona, Safia Haleem, Naheed Sahar, Naureen Shama and Parveen Malaal are a few to name, who enjoy a good reputation for their bold and courageous literary expressions,” she added.
Aseer Mangal’s research paper was based on “Modern trends in Pushto fiction”. He commented that Pakhtoon fictionists have given a due place to the contemporary issues related to the tribal, urban and rural Pakhtoon societies. “Pushto short story has scaled the heights of success both in content and style. There is a hill of difference between the first short story written by an Englishman J.J. Lorimar in Romanised Pushto and the one being written today,” Aseer Mangal affirmed. Abdullah Jan Abid in his thought provoking research paper titled “Pushto poetry and freedom struggle” pointed out that Pushto poets who affiliated themselves with the Khudai Khidmatgaar Tehrik instilled the spirit of freedom, national solidarity and patriotism in the Pakhtoon masses. Those included were Fazal Mahmood Makhfi, Aslam Kamali, Mohammad Akbar Khadim, Abdul Khaliq Khaleeq, Kakaji Sanubar Hussain, Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar, Abdul Malik Fida, Ameer Nawaz Jalia, and Ghani Khan.
They composed inspiring poems highlighting the colonial aggression and urging people to raise their voice against the brutal British rule in the subcontinent. “To raise voices for freedom with great strength and genuine force was a new trend in Pushto poetical tradition. It was also a breakthrough from the conventional ghazal trend,” Abid observed. The director-general of PAL, Mohammad Anwar Khan and Dr Inamul Haq Javed, chairman of the department of Pakistani languages, AIOU, also spoke on the occasion. Abdullah Jan Abid, who conducted the seminar, concluded it with the announcement that the papers presented in the seminar would soon be published in book form for the benefit of wider- readership.

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