Chitral Today
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Yet another feather in MIER’s cap

It gives me immense pleasure to have the fourth (October to December 2013) issue of Khowar Nama in hand. With its publication, the Mother Tongue Institute for Education and Research (MIER) has succeeded in bringing out all the numbers/issues of 2013. 

Khowar Nama, a quarterly periodical aimed at promoting Khowar prose, is indeed the result of the tireless and sincere efforts of the stakeholders of MIER and the volunteer contributors to it. My friends at MIER, including Athar, Raza, Danish and Javaid, deserve a big round applause for their initiative. We congratulate them not only for successfully bringing out all the issues of Khowar Nama in 2013 but also for preparing pre-school course in Khowar and for their initiative to establish the first ever multi-lingual school in Chitral which will impart education in ECD level in Khowar language.

Books for this purpose have already been printed. Complying with the latest research undertaken by international organizations, MIER believes that initial education in mother tongue will help the child develop conceptual understanding of things and will boost their critical mental faculties. Khowar Calendar 2013 is also a praiseworthy achievement of MIER.

Without exaggeration, 2013 proved the annus mirabulus for MIER for they succeeded in bringing out all the four issues of the quarterly. Till recently, Khowar writing (either poetry or prose) was not in vogue. The reason was that since long Persian was prevalent in Chitral as well as in adjacent areas. Therefore, little interest was shown towards writing Khowar and in Khowar.

However, it is pertinent to note here that in 1740 AD Muhammad Shakoor Gharib was the first Chitrali poet to write something in Khowar. He managed to write a few Khowar verses in the end of his Persian ‘Dewan’. It was only after independence in 1947 that the preservation of Khowar literature was undertaken seriously.

Well-known educationist, writer and researcher Dr. Inayatullah Faizi writes in one of his articles published in the book “Chitral or Ilhaq-e-Pakistan” that “Traditional Khowar literature and its affiliated cultural values since three thousand years had been preserved and transferred to us orally. After World War-II, language, literature, culture and civilization made itself felt to be preserved in written form.” As a logical response to this need, Anjuman Taraqi-e-Khowar was established and the foundation of Chitral Student Association was laid in 1957.

Both these organizations have done valuable services for Khow culture. The Anjum is doing its job positively but Chitral Student Association has lost its previous grandeaur because of many reasons. Later, Jamhoor Islam Khowar and other periodicals came to the surface. Individual writers like Dr. Faizi, Prof. Israruddin, late Gul Nawaz Khaki, late Rehmat Akber Khan Rehamat, Gul Murad Khan Hasrat, Yousuf Shahzad, Aminur Rehamn Chughtai, Sher Wali Khan Aseer, Mukaram Shah, Inayat Jalil Amber and many others contributed a lot towards Khowar prose writing.

Institutional efforts in this regard were undertaken by Central Anjuman Taraqi-e-Khowar and its various affiliated chapters. The periodicals like Jamhoor-e-Islam Khowar did a lot for the promotion of Khow culture (language and literature). But they could not withstand the test of time and with the passage of time disappeared from the scene. Now MIER is successfully doing the job of its predecessors in promoting Khowar culture. Its Khowar Nama is an excellent step towards preserving, promoting and standardizing Khowar prose writing.

I had the opportunity to read almost all the issues of Khowar Nama. The permanent series of this quarterly includes the humorous writing of Sherzad Ali Hyder, who is known as Mushtaq Yousufi of Chitral, and the introduction of other languages of Chitral. Till now the introduction to ‘Yadgha’ and ‘Damiri War’ have been published. Essays (Inshayeya), stories (Afsana) and feature are also seen in the pages of Khowar Nama. Feature of late Gul Nawaz Khaki and Mubarak Khan have been published till now. The translation of literature from other languages to one’s own language is considered a very important step towards promoting one’s own language.

Keeping this need in mind, the translation of literature from other languages to Khowar is also seen in Khowar Nama. Following the good tradition of’s “Deh ba Deh” series, the management of Khowar Nama has included a portion entitled “Ma Deh Ma Ziarat”. In this portion, historical significance, nomenclature, geography and climate of a specific village is presented to the readers.

The “Mashqulgi” portion of Khowar Nama is a permanent series and it has become a new and latest genre (sinf) in Khowar literature. I can trace back the origin of this genre to the initiative of Chitrali students studying in Peshawar University back in 2007-08. Some like-minded friends at Peshawar University organized a platform called “Anjuman Tahafuz Saqafat Chitral” in 2007 and under this platform a literary activity under the name of “Mashqulgi” was frequently organized. The well-known name and the great Sufi of Chitral late Merajuddin used to grace the occasions.

Mashqulgi was organized at the Convocation Hall and the Aga Khan Auditorium at the University of Peshawar. Hundreds of Chitrali male and female students used to attend this literary activity, where the honourable late Merajuddin continued his Mashqulgi for hours. At that time, Mashqulgi used to be in spoken form or oral narration but now MIER has made it a new genre by giving it the form of written expression. As it is said that there is no path un-trodden, but maintaining and improving the trodden path is called ‘contribution’.

MIER’s contribution is praiseworthy. We hope that MIER will continue to contribute its share to the knowledge-based society and Khowar Nama will not meet the fate which Jamhoor Islam Khowar and other periodicals met in the past. We pray for the continued and non-stop publication of this periodical. Our culture needs the sweat, toil and blood of its sons. If one can’t offer blood one should at least offer his/her sweat and toil. The sweat and toil of MIER will bring fruit one day. Let me dedicate a piece from Chughtai’s poetry to all those who work for our culture. “Nazm-e-qudrat ari dudayri mo rour Dunyo ulfata biti their mo rour Boyan Zubano wajhain Qaumo Shinakht Shair Adeebot an gadayri mo rour”. 

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