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PBC Peshawar sets up first digital archive library

By Muhammad Shahid
September 21, 2018

PESHAWAR: It was not easy to archive and digitalise hundreds of melodious voices of singers and audio dramas, but the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation’s Peshawar station has done its best with the Muhammad Yaqoob Bangash Memorial Audio Library that contains hundreds of spools converted into digital formats.

The facility is the first-ever digital archive library that has hundreds of cassettes and spools placed in proper order in cupboards, above which photos of known and old Pashto folksingers are also displayed. The library has preserved old audiotapes and rare photographs of old singers and artistes as well.

“We have digitalised 10,000 hours of recordings so far,” PBC Peshawar Station Director Laiq Zada Laiq told The News. He said the library has data of songs sung by around 500 singers while it also has an interview of the first station director of the station, Aslam Khattak.

The library has been set up in the name of Yaqoob Bangash, a former station director of the centre (1982-86) and his son Shaukat A Bangash had offered and bore all the expenses of the library’s establishment, says Laiq Zada.

To a question about why the digital archive library was set up recently (in July 2018) through the PBC station exists since 1935, the station director said: “We have to adapt ourselves according to the modern age and because these audio records are an asset to us, we needed this digital archive and hence decided to set it up.”

Discussing PBC Peshawar station’s history, he said that the then British rulers knew the importance of local Pashto language, that was why they inaugurated the Peshawar station in Pashto in 1935.

Shaukat A Bangash, chief executive officer of Quaid-e-Azam International Hospital Islamabad, told this scribe that he set up the library at Peshawar station of PBC in memory of his father. “My father served the Peshawar station as director for a long time. This is why we decided to set up this library because artistes did not have their records of past activities,” he added.

Senior producer at PBC, Bilal Khan, said that though the library has an archive of own productions since the Peshawar station’s establishment in 1935, they have also got older programs and spools gifted by people. “We also have catalogues of program details, such as names of the producer and other participants.”

Dr Humayun Huma, a drama writer associated with the radio since 1952 when he wrote his first Pashto drama “Salor Zara Rupai (four thousand rupees), said that he is glad to see the library’s establishment, but added that the government should provide funds to the PBC to enable it to produce dramas, songs and other programs. “The production has plummeted much nowadays due to the scarcity of funds,” he added.

Zar Sanga, a Pashto singer who has also performed at the famous Coke Studio, said: “It is a good effort because it would keep our voice alive for the coming generations.”