Is Pashto Academy a teaching department?

Part III

Dr Humayun Huma

Before I record my critical appreciation of a dictionary recently published by Pashto Academy of the University of Peshawar, I would like to narrate some glimpses of Farhang-e-Asafia, a master piece of its kind. It was compiled and published single handedly by Maulvi Syed Ahmed Dehlavi. It’s compilation took only 10 years. Maulvi Sahib was from Delhi, started to write this dictionary in 1868, completed some parts of it in 1878. The compilation of the dictionary ended in 1892. Meer Usman Ali Khan, the former Ruler of Hyderabad provided him financial aid by granting him a cash award of rupees 5,000 and sanctioned to pay him a scholarship of rupees 50 per month. The Ruler Meer Usman Ali also paid all the expenses for the publication of this dictionary printed in two volumes. Each volume contains two parts. The first volume consists of 430 pages while the second one is comprised of 1900 pages. Maulvi Syed Ahmed passed away on 11th May 1918 at the age of 72 years.

What difficulties Maulvi Sahib faced in compiling the dictionary and what were its main features, it will be discussed on some other occasion but here, I only want to say that there is one example in our Pashto and that is Zafarul lughat. This dictionary was compiled by Syed Bahadur Shah Zafar Kakakhel, a middle school teacher, which was completed in 30 years. This dictionary is comprised of 403 pages and contains 2500 words. One will be astonished to know that the second edition of the dictionary, published in 1981 is still lying with the publisher.

As I said in the beginning, Pashto Academy published a dictionary, titled Pashto Academy Lughat (Pashto to Pashto) in 2019. It bears the name of Dr Khyal Bukhari as compiler while Dr Nasrullah Jan Wazir, the present director is shown as editor (Mualaf) and corrector (Samaona).

This dictionary contains 15 volumes and is comprised of 1867 pages. In the preface of the publication, five previous directors of the Academy have been mentioned for supervising the compilation as well as six researchers for compiling the dictionary. The name of the originator of this huge dictionary, Dr Anwar-ul-Haq is not mentioned anywhere. Furthermore, the dictionary almost took 64 years in its completion i.e. 1955-2019.

To begin with during the tenure of the first director, the staff of the Academy started writing a triangular dictionary in three languages e.g. Pashto, Urdu and English because nobody in the Academy was trained in modern lexicography, so they wrote only 60 pages of the dictionary in 13 years and even those 60 pages were of no use. It was a big wastage of government money. Among the staff, nobody was qualified in Urdu and English which resulted in the failure of the triangular dictionary.

The first director, entrusted this important work to Dr Anwar-ul-Haq. Though he was matriculate but a very hard working person. Before joining the Academy, he was homeopathic doctor in his village Shaidu. He had been collecting Pashto words, idioms and verses for the last so many years and he brought that valuable stuff to the Academy. Dr Anwar-ul-Haq was not a trained hand in modern and scientific lexicography, so he along with his untrained team of assistant lexicographers could not do the job on scientific lines but it was a haphazard attempt.

It goes to his credit, however, he evolved his own method, though crude and unscientific, for writing a dictionary and trained a few persons of the Academy in his own methodology. He imitated the style of the Oxford Dictionary minus the research of the roots of the words and other requirements of the modern lexicography. The academy lacked a trained philologist and hence nobody could trace the origin of the words. As a result the dictionary was left in the void. (To be continued)

The writer is a senior columnist, author, poet, playwright and educationist based in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He can be reached at:

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