Waziristan fast turning to modern approach towards cultural ways

Sher Alam Shinwari

PESHAWAR: Prof Shakirullah Ansari, a resident of Waziristan in his doctorate thesis submitted recently to the Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar has concluded that most of the old and outdated customs and traditions had been replaced owing to modern-day education and hi-tech era awareness. The doctoral study comprised eight chapters covering untouched topics regarding customs and traditions evolved through the ages.

The research study would change biased perspectives on Waziristan and its residents, speakers said and added that such project was long due and should be published for public knowledge. They said that culture of Waziristan was always misinterpreted especially British authors but a few local research scholars had touched upon main aspects focusing only political side leaving values and norms governing social fabric of the people.

Defending his doctoral study, titled ‘Da Waziristan Dod Dastoor’ (Customs and Traditions of Waziristan) he pointed out that internal displacement of the local residents exposed to modern ways of life alongside hardships and it caused many to change the old taboos regarding girls’ education, domestic violence and several other old-fashioned so-called social order prevalent in the region. “Though, research was not my forte but it was a great wish to correct the vision and general view of the people in the light of the authentic sources which I have gathered,” he said.

“It took me almost four years to complete my in-depth study on Waziristan’s culture with an objective to clarify misconceptions of both the local and foreign research scholars and also to bring to light things least mentioned but mattered a lot in the overall set up of the region so that a clear image could come to the fore,” he stated.

Prof Ansari is presently teaching mathematics at a local state-run school in Waziristan but had a keen interest in conducting research on how customs and traditions required to be replaced by modern ways of life without hurting the basic societal fabric. He said that culture was dynamic and underwent drastic changes when it came to needs and demands of the people.

“Being a local resident myself, I have observed numerous changes in the general attitude of the residents of Waziristan during the last over almost three decades towards girls’ education, jarga system and one could see that awareness on it has spread across the region as girls are getting access to quality education and even are allowed to serve in offices,” the scholar argued.

Mr Ansari stated that his thesis covered several aspects of the local culture including jarga system, adding that domestic violence had witnessed a spiral down during the last two decades with young generation focusing on women rights, peace and economic prosperity in the area.

“I have dug out all kinds of customs and traditions–from birth to death of a child and also the form, structure and function of jarga of Waziristan where extended families live together but some norms are being changed with the passage of time. He said that Waziristan enjoyed a rich folklore songs encompassing the local history of war and peace,” Mr Ansari remarked. 

“The futile war and destruction in the region proved a good omen triggering an intense desire among the local residents to reconstruct and jump to fast development by readjustment to social change through dynamism of culture and do away with those old and outdated customs and traditions that earlier earned them a bad name,” he elaborated.

Commenting on the research study, Prof Dr Nasrullah Jan Wazir said that if translated and published in English, it would change the outlook of the readers about the residents and their practically ‘visible change’ in their attitude towards many things.

“I have supervised the study filled with revealing the facts about the current dynamic culture of Waziristan–vibrant festivals, dress, food, music, folk poetry and even dance that keep the society open-minded and brimmed with hospitality. It is a fine kaleidoscopic portrayal of Waziristan cultural history from biased British writers through the modern-day genuine lens,” Mr Jan opined.

The study was supervised by Prof Dr Nasruallah Jan Wazir and Prof Mohib Wazir of the Bacha Study Centre, district Charsadda served as the external examiner while Prof Farkhanda Liaqat, Dr Syed Zafar Ullah Bakhshali of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan remained on the research committee.

The last chapter has suggestions for improvement and promotion of Waziristan–South and North now merged tribal districts so that the residents could further be brought on a par with other KP districts and areas.

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