A rich literary heritage

October 23, 2022

Peshawar’s literary groups are promoting Pashto, Hindko and Urdu literature Peshawar’s literary groups are promoting Pashto, Hindko and Urdu literature

A rich literary heritage


eshawar has been the hub of literary and cultural activities through the ages. It has also produced writers who have earned widespread fame both at the national and international level. The freedom movement gave an impetus to the literary interests, giving rise to a number of literary organisations where poets and writers educated newcomers and guided them on a number of literary, social and cultural issues.

The city has been home to literary activities of eminent literati including Hamza Baba, Ahmad Faraz, Ajmal Khattak, Prof Mohsin Ehsan, Zaitoon Bano, Qalandar Momand, Prof Khatir Ghaznavi, Farigh Bukhari and Reza Hamdani. These were literary giants who have left indelible marks on the minds of generations born and bred around the metropolis.

Early 20th Century witnessed the rise of anti-colonial thought to break the shackles of British imperialism, pave the way for freedom of expression and for building a peaceful, culturally sound society.

After Pakistan came into existence, poets, writers, scholars, intellectuals and researchers played a significant role in shaping up the national outlook. Several literary organisations and local chapters of some broader coalitions were set up in Peshawar to promote critical thinking, social cohesion and certain world views.

Being a centre of heterogeneous cultures, Peshawar has nurtured a broad vision especially among its poets and writers who have advocated linguistic diversity more than anything else. Pashto, Hindko and Urdu literati have been contributing to a strong literary tradition for decades. The linguistic diversity has strengthened unity and promoted love for the historic city that transcends ethnic lines.

Currently, over two dozen literary organisations and forums are arranging weekly, fortnightly and monthly events where young and old poets and writers share their works and ideas. A few rights activists hold monthly study circles to start debates on social, political, women, youth and minorities issues.

All the literary organisations arrange seminars, workshops, symposia and debates on a variety of topics including modernism, classicism, global literary trends, national issues and rapidly changing socio-economic situations across the globe.

Sahu Leenkunkio Adabi Maraka, a Pashto literary organisation founded 1962 by prominent fiction writer, literary critic and scholar Qalandar Momand, is said to be the first progressive literary forum set up in the city. It has helped almost four generations of writers, many of whom have received national and regional awards.

Talking to The News on Sunday, Zaland Momand, the organisation’s secretary, says the contributions of his organisation have an edge over most literary bodies in the city. “It is still a platform that provides a progressive environment for quality debate. To its credit, it has a critical point of view on a number of literary genres,” he says.

A rich literary heritage

Currently, over two dozen literary organisations and forums are arranging weekly, fortnightly and monthly events where poets and writers turn to share their thoughts and ideas. A few rights activists conduct monthly study circles to start debates on social, political, women, youth and minorities issues.

“The SLAM has produced poets and writers with a vision and substance. It is a research, critical discourse and publication forum. It has brought out over a dozen books and treatises on classical poets, including Khushal Khan Khattak and Rahman Baba. Our organization has also tried to promote literary debates since its inception among literary circles,” he says.

The Halqa-i-Arabab-i-Zauq has also been holding weekly literary sessions under the patronage of noted Urdu poet and writer, Prof Nasir Ali Syed.

Talking to The News on Sunday, Prof Syed says that the Halqa has been able to attract quite a number of poets and writers who have valuable literary works in Urdu. “Some of them have already earned recognition for their quality and substantive literary works whether poetry, fiction of criticism. Pashto poets, in general, have been carrying the legacy of Ahmad Faraz forward. Several others are writers of Urdu fiction. I believe it is very helpful in constructing a national identity,” hesays.

Bazm-i-Bahar-i-Adabi Hindko is yet another literary organisation that has been conducting literary events including weekly sessions and hosting debates on literary issues.

Set up in 2015, it has organised several events. It has been engaged in bringing out invaluable books on many aspects of Hindko language and literature.

Pohantoon Adabi Stoori, a literary body set up a decade ago at Peshawar University, is holding weekly literary sessions for the university students.

Mafkkora, a not-for-profit organisation, holds study circles, cultural dialogues and debates on a variety of social, literary and political issues.

Organisations like The Kitab Kahani and Dust on Books arrange monthly study circles where a large number of bibliophiles turn up and share their critical views on the book under discussion.

Nadeem Ahmad Khan Takkar, a noted young writer, points out that the cultural intimacy has a great role in shaping the attitude of the society.

“Such activities help mould the outlook of the masses. The KP has a rich linguistic diversity. Pashto, Urdu and Hindko literary organisations promote the cause of respective lingos but they also co-exist in a grand literary tradition towards building a pluralistic society,” he says.

“Peshawar city has evolved through several stages into a heterogonous literary and cultural milieu. Our youth today are more informed, culturally conscious and forward looking than the previous generation. The provision of literary platforms can help them bring out their latent talent,” he adds.

Shafeeq Gigyani, the rights activist, says that the younger generation is fast adopting a positive attitude towards the society.

The writer is a Peshawar-based journalist. He mostly writes on art, culture, education, youth and minorities. He tweets at @Shinwar-9

A rich literary heritage