Saturday, July 28, 2007
Sher Zaman Taizi: Silent Revolutionary
Dr Sher Zaman Taizi is a known literary figure in the world of Pushto literature. With typical Pakhtoon features, he is a soft spoken and well-articulated man of letters. His contribution to Pushto literature is born from his love of the language and his commitment to a cause - the promotion of Pakhtoon culture which may or may not be achieved in his lifetime. His understanding of the Pakhtoon psyche, his perception of the lifestyle of the people of the Frontier and his insight into their political vision have been appreciated and acknowledged by all and sundry.
"I drew inspiration from the poets of folklore who composed excellent versified stories in Pushto. In 1955-58, I was in Thall and there I had an opportunity of a lifetime. I got to meet Mohammad Din Muqayyed, an austere and reclusive type of person, and spent some time with him, Taizi recalls.
"In those days, daily Anjam was published from Peshawar; Ajmal Khattak was its editor, Mehdi Shah Mehdi, probably, edited the Pushto page for it. I wrote something which was published in that page. I knew Ajmal Khattak, as he was a teacher at a public high school in Pabbi and I was a student there. Ajmal Khattak had cordial relations with our family elders."
Taizi was born in the house of Kator Shah at Pabbi, District Nowshera, in 1931. He went to the Islamia Arabia Primary School, Pabbi, which had been founded by Bacha Khan and Hazrat Mahmood-ul-Hassan of Deoband.
After having matriculated from the National High School Pabbi, Taizi joined the Intelligence Bureau and was sent to Kabul where he worked as Assistant in the Pakistan Embassy for over seven years. It was really very hard for a man of literary tastes to cope with a job of this nature. But, Sher Zaman used the time to enrich Pushto literature with his ostentatious and elegant style of prose writing.
"Whatever I am doing, and whatever the other writers have done, needs to be done not by anyone else but the Pakhtoons themselves. They have to make their presence felt in the new global political scenario. It is now or never for them. The whole world is passing through a cultural identity crisis. The Pakhtoons have a rich cultural heritage. Unfortunately they have been denied their rights because the invaders always had an edge over them due to their lack of awareness and education," he says. He believes the pen is a powerful weapon but the Pakhtoons must recognize its worth.
Gul Khan was Sher Zaman's first novel which was published in 1964. It won him much applause and he was acknowledged as an accomplished fiction writer. This masterpiece shows deep insight into and empathy with the socio-political and cultural life of the Pakhtoons. It won immediate recognition and was prescribed for the BA course.
The second novel came soon after under the title of Amanat. Based on the issue of the class struggle, the book is the story of Mo'tabar, the central character who emerges as an iconoclast. He cleanses the society of the class differences, which divide it.
The nature of his work, gave Dr Taizi the subtlety and vision to weave detective stories. He can rightly be called the pioneer of suspense and detective novels in Pushto.
His book, Ghunday, is a bitter satire that exposes the dual character of a village Khan who vitiates the peaceful social environment of his home. Wadah O' N'sho is another fascinating novel by Dr Taizi. Warsho and Soma are poetic collections which testify to his ability to versify his emotions skillfully and elegantly. He has also composed some odes, eulogies and elegies. He sums up the underlying philosophy of his poetry in the remark, "revelation with knowledge and labour can make good poetry".
Teendak and Karhkech, which were telecast from PTV's Peshawar station, and Gulpana, which was published as a book, are popular titles in the domain of Pushto drama in which Dr Taizi has earned a name for himself. Karhkech has a detective theme, and is a pioneering effort in the field. All the characters in the three dramas are quite realistic, reflecting the author's desire to see every Pakhtoon ready to face the harsh realities of life with courage and tolerance and to prepare himself for the challenges of the 21st century.
Dr Taizi has emphasized the need of brushing aside the evils of superstition, abject poverty, insularity and abysmal ignorance. He has worked with the Frontier Post for its weekly Pushto literary page in 1992-1995. He has translated countless poems and short stories of Pushto into English. He has written innumerable prefaces to literary books.
He is now attached to the Tribal Women Welfare Association as consultant andis editor-in-chief of its bilingual quarterly Neway Zhwand (New Life). During his service with the Intelligence Bureau, Sher Zaman had spent more than 15 years in the tribal areas, having lived in every tribal agency, and more than seven years in the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Sher Zaman Taizi has a PhD degree from the Area Study Centre, Peshawar University. His thesis researched the Saur Revolution (1978) in Afghanistan. His published works in Pushto include:
Warsho and Soma (poetry collections)
Shpelae (short stories)
Gul Khan, Amanat, Rahman Koroona, Ghunday, and Wade o' N'sho (novels)
Nara Zhebe (research article on Pushto language)
Suqut-i-Afghanistan (Translated from English)
The published works of Dr Taizi in English are:
Polar Bear (Translated from Pushto)
The Pakhtuns' Unity (Translated from Pushto)
Abad Khan (Translated From Urdu),
Rahman Baba:the Outstanding Painter of Thoughts, The Saur Revolution, Afghanistan: From Najib to Mojaddedi (booklet in two volumes), Afghanistan: A Clash of Interests, Afghanistan: Two Governments and Three Capitals, Osama bin Laden and the Terrorist Attack on USA; Bacha Khan in Afghanistan and Terrorist Attacks in USA and US Attack on Afghanistan.
He has written hundreds of articles and book reviews in Pushto, English and Urdu for national dailies and periodicals. He participates in the meetings and mushairas of different literary organizations (tolanas and jirgahs). He is also the president of the Kamil Pushto Adabi Jirgas, Pabbi. The Political Analysis of the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan, the title of his PhD thesis, is a tremendous contribution on a very burning issue in international politics. Dr Sher Zaman Taizi is a humble and silent revolutionary who has both courage and conviction. His writings have influenced almost two successive generations of Pakhtoons and have paved the way for the upcoming poets and writers to break off the shackles of stifling traditions and expressions. His voice is distinct and his contribution to the promotion of Pushto language and literature is immense.
Image Credits: Damon Lynch
Article first appeared in Daily Dawn