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May 2, 2019

ANP to promote Pashtun cultural activities in Karachi

Karachi

May 2, 2019

Since he became the cultural secretary of the Awami National Party’s Sindh chapter, Karachi’s prominent Pashto poet Sarwar Shamal has been taking measures to promote Pashtun culture and language in the province, including Karachi, by making party’s provincial office as a hub of literary activities.

Shamal, 58, has been active in the politics and literacy activities since 1988. Last month, after the ANP’s provincial intra-party polls, he was tasked with running the party’s cultural affairs in the province.

“I am very thankful to the party’s leadership, especially provincial chief Shahi Syed, and council members for giving me this honour,” Shamal told The News on Wednesday. He said the ANP always gave respect to artists, poets, writers, and intellectuals and considered their role pivotal for the formation of a forward-looking and tolerant society.

He said the Pashtuns permanently residing in Karachi were known for being hardworking and devoted individuals, who loved their mother language and culture more than anything else. “Karachi’s Pashto literati contributed to Pashto literature despite difficult situations. Now the party plans to promote their work,” he said, recalling that literary activities in Pashto in Karachi existed as early as during 1950s when two Pashto poets, Ghulam Qadir and Pir Muhammad Shariq, published a monthly Pashto magazine, ‘Abaseen’, from the city.

On the model of Baacha Khan Markaz, Peshawar, which is the ANP’s central headquarters in Peshawar, the party has been planning to establish a library in the party’s provincial office, situated in Karachi’s Pirabad neighborhood. “Also, publishing a quarterly bilingual [Pashtu and Urdu] magazine featuring literary and political activists in Sindh, and conducting Pashto language classes at Baacha Khan Markaz, Sindh, are also in the party’s future plans,” he said.

Pashto poets in Karachi are mostly from the working class who often gather on Sundays under the banner of their association mainly at a friend’s guest room or a park. However, when it comes to organising literary gatherings and book launch ceremonies, they face immense problems.

Poets are poor and cannot afford to book halls for such activities, Shamal said, adding that now they and literary organisations can use Baacha Khan Markaz’s hall to hold literary gatherings and book launch ceremonies.

Shamal also plans to connect Pashto literary circles with organisations working for promoting other languages and cultures. “Multi-culture society is, in fact, Karachi’s beauty and it is the need of the hour to work together with other cultures, such as Urdu, Sindhi, and Balochi, to promote cultural harmony in the city,” he said.

Shamal hails from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Swabi district. He migrated to Karachi in the 1970s and in 1988, he was made the secretary general of the Karachi Adabi Loya Tolana, a newly formed Pashto literary outfit, the president of which was Raza Khan Natar.

After the demise of Natar in 2007, the outfit became dormant and Shamal, along with other literary figures, such as Haibat Khan Sherani and Amanullah Faiq, formed the Latoon Adabi Kaltoori Sangar, another literary group. On the political front, Shamal has been associated with the ANP since his boyhood and served at various posts in the party.

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