Pashto as a language and Pashtoon culture as a whole are on the verge of retreat. Scholars are lamenting the fact that there are millions of Pashto speakers in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province and the adjoining tribal areas but out of these millions hardly few hundred can write what they speak. It`s so gloomy that we announce for funeral and weddings in Pashto but when it comes to writing the same announcement, we display it in Urdu or English not because no one will understand it if we wrote in our mother tongue but the fact that we can`t write it.
It seems now a capricious desire to introduce Pashto as the medium of instruction in educational institutions in pashtoon majority areas and it sounds babbling, something illogical and a conspiracy to drag us back to the stone-age. Credit must be given to the education system and the perpetual brainwashing of our young lot over the years. It has been computed in our mind that if we started writing Pashto or start reading it, we will be tagged backwards, orthodox and off the trend people.
Ignorance about our language in the written form (literature) has led us to face many repercussions. We have slowly forgotten what are our actual values, norms, traditions and dress codes. Scholar says that culture and traditions are not static and they should change for a good reason but not humiliated. We observed a practical experience of this on the occasion of “ Kaliwal Day 20th February 2014” at the Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar, (Photos).
There is no doubt that it was an honest idea to hold such an event to revitalize our dress codes specifically and show our fellows what and how do we look in our rural areas. The organizer- Sajid Khan Salaar -must be applauded for coming up with it and putting an untiring effort to give it practical shape and holding it successfully. Organizing an event like this require a lot of energy and dedication and he and his team delivered it.
But as the saying goes “Kam Qaam Ta Che Khapala Jaba Spaka shi Hagha Qaam spak Shi, Ao Kam Qaam Na Che Khapala Jaba Wraka Shi Hagha Qaam Wrak Shi” ( The nation who humiliate their mother tongue, gets humiliated as a nation in the end and the nation who have lost their mother tongue are lost from the globe). There were attempts that hurt the feelings of our rural students-Those hailing from villages and that too showed that we pashtoon as a nation are lost. I will try to mention few of them.
Girl Dressed as Guy
What kind of villages has that tradition? A girl who was dressed in men`s clothes, had a French cut and was wearing chitrali Pakol (guy hat). I was told by my friend that she is a girl and that she is not even a Pashtoon. There were mixed feelings; has someone in our pashtoon students told this girl that pashtoon girls in villages dress like that? Who is she humiliating, herself or that it is a deliberate concoction that pashtoon women`s beauty has lost the feather over time? I don`t know may be in her village women would dress up like pashtoon men to scare their men.
The Burqa Guy
Pashtoon consider their honour and dignity supreme to everything. They never want their women to be humiliated and insulted openly. Every pashtoon is strictly vigilant to his family honor and neither does he interfere in the affairs of others. Rural Pashtoons have been Islamized since the Afghan war starting in the 80s, the imposition of Deobandi narrative of Islam in Pukhtunkhwa and FATA in particular, caged women in the walled houses and if they had to go out they were asked to wear shuttlecock Burqa. Since then it has become part of our women dress. But when they go out despite that they are covered from head to toe, men have to bow their heads and not even come closer to them-something our Pakhutnwali teaches us.
So coming to this guy who has come in the disguise of a woman (wearing a shuttlecock Burqa), there were many shameful and vulgar scenes where she (he) was surrounded by her (his) male friends and were teasing her (him). Imagine if that happened to a woman in village and then think of the aftermaths. Well, kid! Hundred will die and the families of the boys would carry that shame from generations to generations.
This does not mean that I support the notion that women should wear shuttlecock Burqa. It is neither our cultural dress nor an accurate way of Islamic Pardah but those wearing it do not deserve the treatment you showed us.
There were many other things like having tails of antimony (surma) as long as the border of the ears, wearing Shalwar as short as skirts, wearing waskat (waist coat) as short as to the armpits and so on. These idiosyncratic and evasive steps ruined and sabotaged the positive aspects of the event and hence less attention was paid to the actual cultural dresses.
I would like to suggest few things to the management of the event and administration of institute of management Sciences.
(1) Change the name of the event from Kaliwal Day to Cultural exhibition. Because the word Kaliwal is too much stereotypical to the urban masses. Commit something foolish, say or do something which is off the trend and you will be tagged as Kaliwal “Mara Da Sa Kaliwal Harkatona Kay”. So this Kaliwal term has many implied and implicit meanings which are derogatory mainly.
(2) Poetic symposium (Mushaira) and essay competition on social topics in Pashto and Hindko should be held at the premises as language is the soul probably for every culture. Young poets and writers must be encouraged to participate in order to keep alive our regional languages.
(3) The organizers and administration should ensure that no such attempts are put forth as mentioned above by having a pre-Cultural Exhibition seminar, where students must be shown what their dresses used to be, how dresses of one district/division are different from the other. This would definitely help the urban students who have moved to the cities from villages decades ago and never looked back since then.
(4) Demos, Drama and video competitions should be arranged to highlight both positive and negative aspects of the non-written tradition life style of the indigenous pashtoon people which include Melamstiya( hospitality), Badal (revenge), Turah( Bravery), Ghairat ( Respect, honor and courage), Nang ( honor), Namus (Protection of women) and Nanawatay (Sanctuary).
Salute to all the tribal students specifically those hailing from Waziristan who were dressed elegantly.
Note: We discussed this whole thing in friends` circles, in class rooms and the decision was to give a written response. Please don`t get offended and consider it a humble request instead.