Is Pashto Academy a teaching department?
Dr Humayun Huma
It is an open secret that Pashto Academy of the University of Peshawar was established in 1955 for doing research of high caliber in Pashto language and literature but now it has been turned into a teaching department and its researchers are earning money by producing Ph.Ds.
Let me start from the establishment of the Pashto Academy. A young man from Hyderabad Deccan, Yousaf Ali Khan was appointed as a senior clerk at the University of Peshawar. He belonged to the allustrious family of late Bahadur Yar Jang. Basically, they were Pashtoons.
Yousaf Ali Khan, who was a young man working in the academic section of the university suggested for the first time that Pashto Academy may be established in Peshawar University. Yousaf Ali Khan was later on promoted as planning and development officer and then registrar.
It seems that the suggestion in writing was not taken up seriously by the then competent authorities but that idea was later on taken up by late Prof Muhammad Hussain, who was the Minister of Frontiers Regions. He wrote a DO letter to Mr Chundrigar, the Governor NWFP about the feasibility as well as the desirability of the scheme. Syed Rasool Rasa, a renowned poet was working as Deputy Secretary with the Governor for Tribal and Afghan Affairs. He had also worked with Mr Chundrigar in Afghanistan as his press attaché when he was Pakistan's Ambassador over there.
The Governor sent the relevant file to Rasa Sahib for his comments and strongly recommended the establishment of Pashto Academy in Peshawar University. Both politically and culturally it was a sound proposition. It would serve in the long run a useful purpose for the propagation of Pashto language and literature which is now an integral part of the broader Pakistani culture.
As a matter of fact, Pashto is the only language in Pakistan which is being spoken and written by cent percent Pashtoon Muslims. No non-Muslims can be accepted as Pashtoons. When somebody is racially a Pashtoon he is automatically a Muslim. Again Pashto is the oldest living language of the world. Hence, its preservation is also important from the philological point of view.
Mr Chundrigar strongly agreed with the note of Rasa Sahib sent a DO to Prof Mahmood Hussain recommending the establishment of Pashto Academy but the central government did not agree to it due to Pakhtoonistan stunt of those days.
When Sardar Abdul Rasheed Khan became the Chief Minister of NWFP, he suggested the establishment of Pashto Academy in Peshawar University in his own capacity. That time the central government approved in principle the establishment of Pashto Academy. Mian Jaffar Shah was the provincial education minister at that time. He was also keenly interested in the establishment of Pashto Academy but meanwhile the era of One Unit started and the provincial government was dissolved, however, Sardar Abdul Rasheed persued the idea and ultimately it took roots and Maulana Abdul Qadar was appointed as the first director of the academy.
He came on deputation from Radio Pakistan where he was a news editor. He was on deputation till his retirement and served the Peshawar University, both as director of Pashto Academy and chairman of the Pashto Department when the later came into being.
Prof Razi Uddin Siddique was the Vice Chancellor of Peshawar University and Prof Hashim Khan, who later, became the education minister of NWFP, worked with him as deputy registrar. On the administrative side, Abdul Hashim Khan took an active interest in the affairs of the academy. Thus the structure of academy came into being.
The main purpose of academy was, as I stated in the beginning, to do research in Pashto language and literature, Pashtoon culture, history, traditions and other relevant fields, but the academy in its early years of establishment, did research work and published some old deevans of classical poets, however, it is a fact that nobody in the academy was ever trained in modern and scientific research methodology. (To be continued)
The writer is a senior columnist, author, poet, playwright and educationist based in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.