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December 7, 2019

Aspects of Pashtun culture discussed at Urdu Conference


December 7, 2019

While addressing a session on the Pashtun culture at the Urdu Conference on Friday, poet Abaseen Yousafzai said some of the old traditions in Pashtun society are on the verge of extinction.

“One of those traditions was the Hujra which used to be a traditional place where guests, elders, and youth would get together. They would discuss social issues and daily life. The Hujras were used to be a place of hospitality, social and recreational functions. But these days, Pashtuns prefer to build small spaces for guests instead of building Hujras, the oldest social institution of the Pashtun society,” said Yousafzai.

The session was moderated by Sindh School Education and Literacy Department Curriculum Wing Head Dr Fouzia Khan. Another panellist at the session was Pukhtoon Thinkers Forum General Secretary Advocate Qadir Khan.

Yousafzai discussed some aspects of the Pashtun culture that needed to be changed. He said in a developing society, many customs and traditions pass on with the passage of time. The poet was of the view that it takes tens of years for any norm to be established.

Norms are only set if people find them to be in accordance with their culture, he said, adding that the Pashtuns had rejected the customs like ‘Swara’ under which a Jirga (a traditional gathering of tribal elders and leaders) decided to hand a minor girl for marriage over to an aggrieved family as compensation to end a conflict between families.

Yousafzai said despite the fact that violence in Pashtun areas has badly affected their culture, people were well aware nowadays. They want to educate their kids and youth which is evident from the increasing number of female students at varsities, colleges, and schools, he remarked.

Reciting a verse by Khushal Khan Khattak, Yousafzai at one point said the Pashtuns were the descendants of a lost tribe of Israel. His viewpoint, however, was challenged by some audience members during the question-answer time at the end of the session.

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