By Sher Alam Shinwari
December 4, 2005
The first ever world Hindko conference, with an aim of promoting the Hindko language and culture, was held recently in Peshawar under the auspicious of the Gandhara Hindko Board, a literary cum cultural organization. Attended by some 200 delegates who represented the Hindko speaking community in Europe, America, the UAE, the conference also attracted delegates from Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Multan, Bahawalpur, Abbotabad, Mansehra, Kashmir, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Potohar and Chitral.
On the occasion linguists, researchers and scholars read out papers on the origin, history and evolution of the Hindko language and literature produced in the language. The notion that Hindko is a dialect of Punjabi was rejected as according to an epitaph written in Khurashti script that was excavated from a well in Taxila, the Hindko language is as old as 5,000 years.
Held over two consecutive days (November 19 and 20), the conference had six sessions. The NWFP Senior Minister Sirajul Haq, District Peshawar Nazim Haji Ghulam Ali and two state ministers, Dr Naseem Ashraf and Anisa Zeb Tahir Kheli, represented the provincial and federal governments ,respectively. They supported the demands of the Hindko conference organizers. Sirajul Haq announced a Rs2,50,000 grant for this sole purpose while Haji Ghulam Ali, in addition to his Rs1,00,000, also promised to allocate free land for the establishment of a Hindko academy. Similarly, the state ministers announced Rs1,00,000 each for the Gandhara Hindko Board.
Professor Dr Zahoor Ahmad Awan, Chairman Gandhara Hindko Board (GHB), while introducing the board informed the audience that the Hindko Literary Society (HLS), an active literary organization has been rendering laudable services for the promotion of the Hindko language since its inception. It had founded the Gandhara Hindko Board, a literary cum cultural organization in 1993. The main objectives of the board were to create awareness among the Hindko speaking community besides encouraging the promotion of Hindko. Being a research institution it has brought out more than a 100 books on a variety of topics including a Hindko dictionary containing over 40,000 words along with phrases and translation of the Holy Quran in Hindko. It must be pointed out here that it did this without the financial support of the government.
The GHB since then has organized numerous literary seminars, conferences and mushairas. It also brings out a monthly literary magazine Hindkowan and arranges regular critical sessions on a weekly basis under its literary wing, the Gandhara Adabi Aikhat, which was founded in 1997 to encourage young writers of the language and to improve its readership. Syed Muhammad Ameer Shah Qadri Gillani is the founding patron of the Gandhara Adabi Aikhat while Syed Zafar Ali Shah is its patron-in-chief. Syed Noorul Hasnain Gillani (Sultan Agha) is a patron of the GHB. The cabinet includes Prof Dr Zahoor Ahmed Awan (chairman), Haji Muhammad Haleem Jan (chief organizer), Dr Adan Gul (vice chairman) and Muhammad Ziauddin (secretary). The workers coordinate with the cabinet members comprising Dr Salahuddin, Zafar Naveed Jani, Ahmed Nadeem Awan, Muhammad, Rafiq Kamran, Aftab Ahmed, Liaqat Hussain, Ijaz Hussain, Khalid Sultan Khawaja, Sharif Farooq and Yawar Naseer.
Speaking on the occasion, Sirajul Haq said that if they could establish departments of subcontinental languages in European countries then why can’t we do the same here by establishing a Hindko department. Dr Syed Amjad Hussain Zaidi (Baba-i-Peshawar), in his remarks, pointed out that the Hindko language suffered greatly during the British raj. Tribal wars and so were given more importance than the promotion of local culture. Sabir Hussain Imdad in his research paper revealed that the Hindko language can be traced back to Hazrat Adam (AS) and Hazrat Nooh (AS). Baba-i-Hindko, Mukhtar Ali Nayyar, said Hindko is spoken in Peshawar, Kohat, D.I. Khan, Hazara, Nowshera, Akora, Potohar, Jhelum, Kashmir (occupied and Azad) and parts of Karachi. It is taught in India and there is a separate Hindko department in Kashmir University.
Mukhtar Ali Nayyar elaborated on the workings of GHB’s well-equipped library and research cell. They are busy carrying out substantial scientific research in many fields pertaining to Hindko prose, poetry, linguistic, history and culture. “The main objective of the board is to promote Hindko language and literature and popularize the Hindkawan culture. To save the historic monuments of the walled city from further ruin is yet another important aim of the organization,” he maintained.
Prof Khatir Ghaznavi in his research paper titled “Hindko da mustaqbil” (The future of Hindko) said that Hindko was the mother and not the daughter, of other languages. He observed that the language had potential to maintain its identity in the global village.
Pointing to looming dangers, Dr Sabir Kalurvi said that Hindko was under the threat of English, Urdu and Pushto words. He maintained that language has its roots in culture and civilization which makes no language great or small. In fact, he termed the Hindko dictionary mentioned earlier as incomplete as it lacked references to local culture and different dialects of Hindko. “No dictionary could be comprehensive and complete unless it carried words, phrases and idioms used by common speakers of a particular language,” he said.
Punjabi scholar Shafqat Tanveer Mirza said that regional languages are being ignored by successive governments. He called for a formation of an All Languages Restoration Alliance (ALRA) to serve better the cause of the respective people in the country.
Dr Sabir Afaqi, a scholar of Gojri from Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, in his scholarly paper titled “A comparative study of Gojri and Hindko” revealed that Hindko had a close linguistics relationship with regional languages especially with the Gojri language. “Gojri and Hindko in a sense are one name of the two cultures,” he observed.
Prof Dr Elahi Bakhash Awan, a renowned UK based Hindko scholar and author of 28 books, who wrote his first PhD thesis “The phonology of verbal phrase in Hindko” in 1974 from London University, in his paper observed, “The civilization of the Hindko homeland is over thousands of years old. This is not a slogan. Nor is it a sentimental statement. On the contrary it is based on strong historical, archaeological, literary and linguistic evidence. The myth that the Aryans brought civilization to this part of the world implies that there was no civilization in the subcontinent before their arrival. The fact is that the Aryans who invaded this land were ruthless enough to have destroyed the great civilization of the Hindko land when they occupied it.”
Raja, Rasalo, Dr Karimullah, Dr Ejaz Rahi, Inamullah, Prof Ghulam Ahmad Shad, Malik Safdar Awan, Mashkoor Saberi, Dr Anwaar Chesti, Muhammad Aslam Jan, Sultan Muhammad Shaheen, Sardar Khan Fana, Muhammad Jan Atif, Prof Mehrab Khawar, Wilayat Azhar, Farooq Jan Babar, Agha Anwar Gul, Prof Bashir Ahmad Soz, Haider Zaman Haider, Dr Inayatullah Faizi and Dr Shahbaz Malik read out their thought-provoking research papers on the comparative study of Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Kashmiri, Gojri, Potohari, Khowar, Torwali and Seraiki. At the end of the programme, 40 GHB awards and souvenirs were given away to the scholars and writers who contributed to Hindko language and literature.
Also, a grand world Hindko mushaira was held at the historical Gorghtree in which more than 80 prominent Hindko poets took part. Also messages sent in by the once residents of the walled city and prominent writer R.R. Chopra and Bollywood greats like Dilip Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Prof Dr Satiapal Anand and Prof Dr Anand Pamela (Professors of comparative studies in Washington DC) were read out in which they showed their love for Hindko and Peshawar. The visitors and participants took a keen interest in the Hindko bookstalls and bought many old and newly published books on various topics in the language.
A committee comprising Dr Elahi Bakhash Awan, Prof Dr Fazil Chesti, Dr Inayatullah Faizi, Prof Dr Fahmida Hussain, Sabir Hussain Imdad and Aftab Ahmad adopted 13 resolutions which were passed unanimously by the participants. These are as follows:
1. Hindko is the second main regional language of NWFP. The government should forthwith implement its decision of setting up a Hindko Academy so that research on the preservation and promotion of Hindko language and literature is conducted in an organized manner.
2. The Department for Hindko Studies should be set up at the University of Peshawar and the University of Hazara to facilitate higher research on Hindko language and literature.
3. An Institute of Hindko Language and Culture should be set up for the promotion of Hindko language and Hindkowan culture.
4. A Hindko Adabi Board should be set up under official patronage.
5. Arrangements should be made to introduce Hindko as a medium of instruction at primary level in Hindko speaking areas.
6. The state-run radio and television should give due coverage to Hindko language.
7. The birth anniversaries of great Hindko mystic poets Sain Ahmad Ali Peshawari and Sain Ghulam Din Hazarvi should be celebrated officially at the provincial level.
8. A Sain Ahmad Ali Chair should be set up at the University of Peshawar and a Sain Ghulam Din Hazarvi Chair at Hazara University to facilitate research work on these great Hindko mystic poets.
9. The government should construct a monument in memory of Sain Ahmad Ali Peshawari at his mazar.
10. The April 23, 1930 Qisssa Khwani firing incident should be included in the course of study to pay tributes to the people of Peshawar who laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.
11. Hindko should be inserted in the mother tongue column of the census form in the next population count.
12. The important places in Peshawar, Kohat, Hazara, Nowshera, Potohar and Kashmir should be named after prominent Hindkowan personalities.
13. Hindko speaking members of the NWFP Assembly should be allowed to address in Hindko and the assembly proceedings should also be recorded in their mother tongue.