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20th Monthly Study Circle

Tuesday, 10 April 2018 17:47
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BKTEF organizes 20th Monthly Study Circle for Baacha Khan Fellows

The Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation (BKTEF) held 20th monthly study circle at the BKTEF head office on April 7, 2018. The study circle was attended by almost 45 participants belonging to different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA including Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Charsaada, Swabi, Shangla, Hangu, Dir, Waziristan, Khyber Agency, Mohmand agency and Tank. The text selected for the study circle was a Pashto Novel “Nawe chapay” written by Hamza Shinwari. The novel was written in 1941 and was published in 1958.

Various excerpts from the novel were discussed by the participants in detail. Syed Afzal Shinawari, while giving a detailed account of the story and plot of the novel said that the main crux of this novel was integration of the Pashtuns. The different characters mentioned in the book, including Saleem Khan, a philosophical and nationalist poet and his sister Gulrukh who was an educated but a traditional girl, want to visit their region through the route of Tira, a valley of Khyber agency. In the course of events, the siblings go through trying times until they meet Akbar Khan, a friend of Saleem. Safia was another character in the novel that happened to be Akbar’s sister and was a modernist as opposed to Gulrukh, the traditionalist. Together they had a strong debate over western culture and traditional norms and values.

Meanwhile, Akbar makes Saleem meet three of his friends in his guest house (hujra). Each of the characters belongs to different political parties i.e; Asmat Ullah belongs to Khudai Khidmatgar movement, Khan Bahadur Yousaf Khan belongs to Muslim League and Rafiq Khan belongs to Ahrar Tehreek. They are talking about the presence of political parties and their impact when Saleem suggests that there is a need of a movement that is not associated with any of the parties and anyone can participate in it. Together they agree on “Pukhtun Milli Ittehad” movement and a declaration is made for the Tehreek eventually. Saleem returns to Tira valley and hears melody of Pukhtun autonomous land from everywhere around in nature.

The story later unveils tales of women who are involved in the movement including Safia and Gulrukh.

Syed Afzal Shinwari further pointed that after being published, this particular novel was banned in 1958 which was later republished in 1993.

Afsar Afghan said that the novel depicted a very soft image of Pashtun nation. The writer discussed Khudayi Khidmatgar Movement as a non violent movement and Khaksar movement which was in fact a military movement. He said that the character of Gulrukh defends Pashtun culture in a very sophisticated manner which was appreciable.

The other participants, including Yelda, Anwar Khan Orakzai, Shahzad, Abbas, Imad, Azmat, and Bilal collectively maintained that the present state of Pashtuns in the light of this novel was very much the same. A movement, as depicted in the novel had risen from our soil as well. But the question was if we were in a situation to compare it with a movement that’s decades old and had gone through the struggles and hardships to acquire their rights.

It was argued that competition between an organized political party and a short term movement should be avoided. Also, vacuum should not be made by the political process for people to promote their agendas. They usually did this by bringing distance between the movement and the political party.

The discussion was concluded by Dr.Khadim Hussain on the note that political process was not homogenized. The increase in political parties might ultimately lead to increase in the political representation. He said that diversity, in any form that may be, whether that was human diversity, natural diversity, intellectual diversity or psychological diversity, should be promoted which would in turn lead to evolution. He continued that each new process was a continuation of the old process and it should be kept in mind that liberty was not to be attained only, it had to be sustained as well.

Dr.Khadim Hussain further talked about the challenges faced by this region since hundreds of years. He said the first among these challenges was that of war economy, which strode to dissolve the indigenous identity of a nation entirely. War economy involved internal and external stakeholders who needed to be engaged through dialogue and negotiation. Such a move was not possible without the presence of organized political parties.

Similarly, cultural degeneration was another challenge that the Pashtun nation faced. Our culture had been taken from us which needed to be countered with an alternative cultural narrative.

Economic dependence was yet another hurdle which needed to be countered by negotiation for which the presence of  systematic political parties was mandatory.

Another major challenge to the Pashtun society was environmental degradation and seasonal changes.

He further said that national empowerment was possible only with political process. A systematic political process had no alternative.  Political process was the process of evolution, of finding alternatives and of creating space. Therefore, allowing a group of people who direct, script and implement their agendas behind short term movements would be fatal for the human agency.

He ended the discussion on the note that nothing and nobody should lure us to indulge in another war.

The next study circle was decided to be held on May 5, 2018. Text decided for the next study circle was Dar-ul-Aman written by Dr.Liaqat Taban.

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