“ Pathan is not merely a race
but in fact a state of mind there is a Pathan inside
No oral lore or even written record of Alexander's
passage through this country in the local languages
is available. It is only through Arrian, a military
historian who wrote the Anabasis, and other classical
Greek and Latin sources that his passage through this
country is documented. The Hellenic influence seems
to have persisted and come into its own under the
Graeco-Bacterian kings. Arrian the main authority
was a contemporary of the Roman Emperors Hadrian,
Antonius Pious and Marcus Aurelius and served as Counsel.
He probably lived to 175 A.D. and was thus writing
five hundred years after the event.
According to Wheeler it was not Greek but Roman influence
that had "the most penetrating and enduring impact"
upon "the Eastern world". A major source
of Western influence on Gandhara sculpture has been
traced to Roman Alexandria. Gandhara civilization
and Mahayana school of Buddhism in turn served"
as the source of much that is fun¬damental in
the ecclesiastical art of Tibet, China and Farther
Asia generally." The earliest cultural impact
on the Province was, arguably, of Buddhism mixed with
Kushan mores.Though Hinduism had been widespread prior
to the rise of the more egalitarian Buddhism, the
latter rapidly found acceptance among the people.
Under Hinayana Buddhism, Buddha was a man of, not
a, God. In Mahayana Buddhism, Buddha the wise human
being became divine. This elevation found full creative
expression during the reign of Kanishka .
Under Asoka and Kanishka numerous stupas and major
monastery-complexes were built across the empire.
When Kanishka converted to Buddhism and raised a commemorative
tower at Shahji Ki Dherij "The King's Mound"
outside the Ganj Gate of Peshawar, the royal stamp
of approval. was given. Buddhism which has started
as a doctrine based on ideas and symbolism began to
manifest in the visual and the tactile. From the religion
of the intellect it also evolved into a religion of
the masses. Prompted by imperial patronage, the Golden
Path of the Enlightened One found extensive expression
in the chisel of the sculptors. He became the "focus
of every composition." These images, perhaps
more than the sacred Sutras, helped spread Buddhism
among the common man who could more readily relate
to these tangible objects than the rigours of ascetic
life and philosophical discourse. From a symbolic
icon he metamorphosed into an idol. From being venerated
as a sage, he began to be worshipped in all his godly
The Fasting Siddhartha, one of the greatest sculptures
of the world, belongs to this period when the Greek
chisel met and merged with South Asian spirit. Found
in the Frontier, it was transported to the only museum
at that time, the Lahore Central Museum where it now
sits in splendid display.
When the Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hien visited Gandhara
in 404 A.D, he found 500 monasteries. In the seventh
century his counyrtyman Hiuen-Tsang lamented the decline.
A hundred years later U-K'ong found only 300 monasteries.7
The more famous ruins of these centres of learning
can still be seen at Charsadda, Naogram, Jamal Garhi,
Kharaki, Takht-i Bahi, Sehri Bahlol or the Fort of
Bahlol, the Lodhi ruler, Therali in the Peshawar district;
at Adh-i Samudh near Kohat, the Akra mound in Bannu
and Kafir Kot in Dera Ismail Khan. The most valuable
of inscription relics are the Kharoshti rock-inscriptions
at Shahbazgarhi in Peshawar district and at Mansehra.
The ruins of the monastery at Takht-i Bahi show how
developed the tangible and intangible culture was.
There are meditation cells and communal living quarters
integrated into the overall scheme, and constructed
not to impose on, but blend with, the terrain looking
out and down to the plains. A natural setting that
engenders detachment and provides perspective on life
The Peshawar Museum also has a fine collection of
images related to the Buddha in stone, terracotta
and plaster. These reliefs and free-standing works
narrate the life story of Buddha from his birth and
princely upbringing to his fruitless fasting and asceticism,
meditation, ultimate enlightenment or nirvana and
subsequent preach¬ing and death. These core subjects
are supported and supplement by Buddhisatvas, the
deities, monks and votaries. Some of the figures support
turbans and headgears which in modified forms can
still be spotted in the Frontier. The loose pants
or shalwar, introduced by the Kushans and reflected
in some Gandharan works, have now become a part of
the national dress of Pakistan. The type of footwear
and musical instruments, the jewellery and ornaments,
the agriculture implements depicted in these works
are in use to this day.
The dominant language of the Province, Pashto, belongs
to the Irani branch of the Aryan family of languages.
It has two main dialects: Pakhto and Pashto. Pakhto
is the hard or north-eastern version spoken in Bajaur,
Swat and Buner, by the Yusufzai, Bangash, Orakzai,
Afridi and Momand tribes. Pashto is the soft or south-western
version spoken by the Khattaks, Wazirs, Murwats and
other tribes in the south.8The earliest Pashto works
were composed in the Yusufzai dialect which is considered
classical. It is the purest and the clearest form
of the language.
Pashto Literature is illuminated by the works of
Khushhal Khan Khattak (1613-89), a chief of the powerful
Khattak tribe. This "renaissance" man was
known not only for his prowess as a warrior but also
for wielding the pen. He is reputed to have authored
about 350 works of poetry and prose on subjects as
wide-ranging as ethics, philosophy, religion, jurisprudence,
medicine, sports and falconry.
Khushhal Khan's father had been confirmed by the
Mughal Emperor Shah jahan as chief of the tribe as
well as entrusted with the responsibility of protecting
the Grand Trunk Road from Attock to Peshawar. Khushhal
accompanied the impe¬rial armies on various expeditions,
succeeded his father as chief of the tribe in 1640
and also served the Emperor Awrangzeb. Victim of court
intrigue, he soon fell out of favour and was imprisoned
in the Fort of Gwalior. During his incarceration he
composed many poems. His poetry remains a high-point
in Pashto literature and gives eternal expression
to Pathan values and the intellectual collective.
Sensitive to the impact of nature on body and soul,
in many ways he has much in common with the English
His patriotic poems, however, are inspired by two
passions: his hatred and contempt for Emperor Awrangzeb
and his own pride, which he calls the nang, the honour
of the Pakhtun. He celebrates the fortitude and simple
manliness of the Pathan and sees life as a clash of
opposite. The tyranny he suffered at Awrangzeb's hands
is attacked bitterly. Awrangzeb had deprived him of
the ferry and highway tolls enjoyed by his forefathers
since they were granted by Akbar to Akoray. He speaks
at length about contemporary history and his own experiences
in the great current of contempo¬rary affairs.
Many of his sayings were collected by his grand¬son
Afzal Khan in Tarikh-i Murassah / "jewel-studded
History". In his works Khushhal refers admiringly
of the emperors jahangir and Shah jahan. While he
did not know jahangir, for the emperor died while
Khushhal was still in his the teens, Shah Jahan he
had served and knew personally. to He died a lonely
man at seventy-eight at Dambara and was buried at
the foothills of Cherat.
The other great luminary is.Abdur Rahman (1650-1715).
Popularly known as Rahman Baba, he is renowned for
his poetry and also venerated as a Sufi, though there
is no evi¬dence he was ordained in any formal
Sufi silsilah / "order". He was born in
a village south of Peshawar called Bahadur Kalal.
He later shifted to another village, Hazar Khawani,
where he lived and died. Unlike his contemporary Khushhal
Khan, he did not travel far and wide. He was influenced
by the immortal Persian poets, Rumi, Hafiz and Sa'adi
and pre¬ferred to compose on, and sing of, the
inward. His verse is imbued with the spiritual and
the longing for the Divine. His only extant work is
a collection of poems, the Diwan-i Rahman.
With the coming of the British and the establishment
of edu¬cational institutions along European lines,
both the colonists and the colonized worked for the
spread of Pashto language and literature. The rich
oral tradition was accorded written form subject to
the standards of western scholarship of the time.
During this period the most comprehensive work on
the language was undertaken by Henry George Raverty,
a Lieutenant in the Bombay Army. Posted in the Frontier
from 1849 to 1850, he wrote an account of the Peshawar
district. He is also credited with introducing the
tradition of compil¬ing the Gazetteers of the
newly conquered territories. He published A Grammar
of Pukhto, Pushto or Language of the Afghans (1855),
A Dictionary of the Puk'hto, Pus'hto, or Language
of the Afghans (1860), The Gulistan-Roh: Afghan Poetry
and Prose (1860), Selections from the Poetry of the
Afghans (1862), Gospels (1864), Fables of Aesop AI-Hakim
in Pashto ( 1871 ) and The Pashto Manual (1904). The
pioneer¬ing work of Raverty laid the academic
foundations for others. With the spread of education,
textbooks in Pashto were writ¬ten for the Munshi
Fazil and Adeeb Fazil courses by Mir Ahmad Shah Rizwani,
while Rev. T.B. Hughes' Ganj-i Pashto (1897) was used
for lower classes. Later scholars not only produced
practical manuals and linguistic works to facilitate
the administrative machinery, but also explored history
and undertook translations from, and into, Pashto.
Maulvi Abdur Rahman Khan Muhammadzai was prompted
to translate the Old Testament and John Bunyan's Pilgrims
Progress into Pashto, thus adding to, and opening
new areas of interest in, Pashto prose.
Education played a pivotal role in the evolving culture.
The two institutions which acted as catalysts were
Edwardes College and Islamia College. They not only
pro¬vided a common platform to all clans and tribes
but were instrumental in project¬ing common Pathan
identity and cultural underpinning. They shaped generations
of Pathans who were to spearhead the struggle for
freedom and take on the respon¬sibilities of the
new nation and contribute to its cultural vibrancy.
The Islamia College and the Collegiate School were
founded in 1911 on the site where the bat¬tle
between Akbar Khan and the Sikh General Hari Singh
Nalwa had taken place. The impressive foundation-stone
laying ceremony, held in March, was attended by elite
of the Province. Tribal leaders in their traditional
dresses and turbans, mixed with high-ranking civil
officers, both British and Pakhtun, religious divines
in their flowing robes, mingled with bemedalled and
beribboned officers of the armed forces on the dusty
flat near the mouth of the Khyber Pass. That historic
day in spring marked the realization of a vision shared
by two unusual individuals. One was Sir George Roos-Keppel,
the Chief Commissioner of the NWFP who was fluent
in Pashto. Of mixed Dutch-Swedish-English blood, he
had an impressive adminis¬trative record and cut
a dashing figure. The other, a distinguished son of
the soil, was Nawab Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qaiyum Khan
K.C.S.I.E., K.B. (1863-1939). He came from a religious
family of the Topi village in the Swabi area. After
his basic education he joined the Edwardes Collegiate
Mission School, passed the vernacu¬lar and English
examinations, and in 1887 joined the Commissioner's
office as a translator and reader. From here his dedication
to work and sound and timely advice to his British
superiors led him from one honour to another. It was
not long before his innate qualities placed him amongst
the leading figures of the Frontier. Together with
Sir George, he saw the necessity of an education in
which tradition¬al disciplines and Western arts
and sciences were imparted.
In 1908 or 1909 Sir George and Sir Sahibzada had visited
the Muslim University at Aligarh. The Pathan students
there had raised about sixty rupees as a token towards
the establishment of a College in Peshawar. That token
took root. Over the next few years Sahibzada Qaiyum
worked tirelessly to realize the desire of those far¬sighted
students. Donations were solicited and pledges cashed.
Appeals were published in Pashto, Persian and Urdu.
Then a site spread over 121 acres, three miles from
the cantonment of Peshawar, was purchased. It was
a great undertaking and one which was to spawn a full-fledged
University in decades to come. The first Principal
was Mr. L. Tipping. His wife ren¬dered a water-colour
of the College building, as it stood in those early
years in splendid isolation, as if challenging the
Khyber mountains, with its meticulously executed details
in man-made, kiln-baked bricks. The library of the
Islamia College has a fine collection of rare manuscripts.
It is now housed in the original College for the Ulema/
"religious scholars" and the Oriental Hostel,
their boarding house. One of the College hostels,
Grant Hostel is named after Sir Hamilton Grant, Chief
Commissioner in 1919.
The Quaid-i Azam had declared: "…You will
get your University sooner than you can imagine"
on one of his visits to Peshawar. "This was a
promise and a prophecy". Two years later the
first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaqat Ali Khan inaugurated
the University of Peshawar on October 13,1950. Over
the years this University has hosted students and
scholars from many countries including China, Saudi
Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first Vice-Principal, and later first Muslim Principal,
was Allama Hayatullah Mashriqi. A brilliant graduate
of Cambridge University, England, he aquired four
triposes (B.A's) with distinctions in five years in
such diverse subjects as Mathematics, Natural Sciences,
Mechanical Sciences and Oriental Languages (1907-1912).
He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Art
(F.R.S.A.) in 1923, Fellow of the Geographical Society
of France (F.G.S.) and Fellow of the Society of Arts
of France (F.S.A.). He was offered an ambassadorship
in 1920 and a Knighthood in 1921 by the British Indian
Government but being a man of simple living and high
ideals he refused these and several subsequent offers
of political and administrative import. Instead he
founded a Muslim militia, the spade-weilding "Khaksars"
during the freedom movement.
Among educationists who acquired a lasting reputation
in the Frontier was Prof. LA. Thakurdas, a much-loved
teacher of English literature, lawyer, poet, musician,
singer, badminton champion and a fine cricketer. Born
a Brahmin, he converted to Christianity in 1913. He
started teaching in 1936 and continued to do so, at
Edwardes College and later privately in Peshawar till
1980 when he died. His lectures became famous for
continued disregard of the stipulated periods to the
consternation of his colleagues and the amusement
of his students. He is still remembered as an academic
who could be seen riding a bicycle clutching Shakespeare.
As a lawyer he graciously accepting bread or chicken
from the poor as his legal fees. As a radio broadcaster
during World War II he had the lover's temerity to
dedicate a song to his beloved despite the highly
conservative society.He cut an eccentric, amiable
Another was the Englishman, H.M. Close. A Cambridge
graduate, he was teaching at St. Stephan's College,
Dehli when World War II commenced. In 1940 he got
a regular commission in the army. During the Independance
period he was. active in the rehablitation of refugees.
He came to NWFP in 1947 and dedicated himself to the
cause of education. He taught at the Islamia College
for three long decades and then at Edwardes College
from 1982 to 1996. Besides being an academic, he was
a historian, author of several books, social worker
and a Missionary. He died in Peshawar, widely mourned,
in 1999. Dr. Phil Edmonds, another devoted teacher,
was an Australian. His twenty-three years (1955-1978)
at Edwardes College are remembered for his keen endeavour
and personal interest in raising the academic standards
of the institution and to produce well-rounded students.
With the importation of the printing press from the
Punjab to Peshawar, the technology spawned an interest
in current affairs and popular literature. Newspapers
printed in Urdu and Pashto gave impetus to journalists.
The first newspaper Murtazai a weekly was published
in 1853 but ceased in 1858. Pioneers of journalism
include Hakim Syed Abdullah Shah of Afghan, a newspaper
current in 1909.Other early Pashto publications include
the magazine Sarhad (1926) and Pakhtoon (1927).
The printing process involved the lithographic technique
and created thriving work schools of calligraphers.
Amongst the more famous Ustad / "Master"
calligraphers was M. M. Sharif. He designed the currency
notes of the State of Swat and also rendered newspaper
mastheads and titles for Urdu and Pashto magazines.
The mast head for the Daily Tarjuman-i Afghan is not
only reflective of the Pathan' s love of arms but
is a most innovative interpretation of the nasta'liq
Qazi Ahmad Jan is reputed to have introduced a "lucid
style" and prompted'the "new genre of short
story" in Pashto. Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari (b.1910)
trained in the Bombay film industry, acted in, and
directed, the .first Pashto film "Laila Majnu".
Soon however, the spirit turned to other calling.
He became a Sufi, wrote prose, plays and poetry and
introduced new facets in the Pashto ghazal. Maulana
Abdul Qadir laid the foundations of the Pashto Academy
in Peshawar University. He was born in the backward
area of Gadoon Amazai in the village of Pabinin of
Swabi district. A graduate of Islamia College Peshawar,
he joined the Aligarh University and obtained degrees
in English, Arabic and Law. After World War II, he
joined the All India Radio. Following the Independence
of Pakistan, he served as a diplomat in the Pakistan
Embassy in Kabul. A polyglot he spoke and wrote in
five languages: Pashto, Urdu, English, Arabic and
Kalandar Mohmand is one of the leading intellectuals
of the Frontier. He was born in the village of Bazikhel
and worked as a journalist for many years acquiring
a rep¬utation in several literary genres. His
lasting contribution is the compilation of a comprehensive
Pashto dictionary called Samander. Khatir Ghaznavi
was a moving spirit behind the literary and cultural
activities in the Province and is the author of several
books of poetry and prose. He started his professional
career from Radio Pakistan Peshawar, then joined the
Urdu department of Peshawar University and also worked
as a Director in the Pakistan Academy of Letters,
Islamabad. He taught at the University of Malaysia
and the Beijing University, China.
Mohsin Ahsan is another front-rank poet of Urdu and
has published several vol¬umes of verse. Dr. Raj
Wali Khattak who head the Pashto Academy is a poet
and well-known critic. G.J. Pareshan Khattak (b. 1930),
an accomplished scholar was the Vice-Chancellor of
the Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, the Chairman
of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad, the
Vice-Chancellor of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University,
Muzaffarabad and Chairman of the University Grants
Commission. He has published numerous books and received
national and interna¬tional awards and honours.
Dr. Ahmad Hassan Dani (b. 1920) is the country's leading
authority on paleologra¬phy and archaeology. A
polyglot, he was the first Muslim student at the Benaras
Hindu University and also the first Muslim student
to receive a gold medal for top¬ping in the M.A.
He later trained under the legendary archaelogist
Sir Mortimer Wheeler in Taxila. In 1955 he obtained
a Ph.D from the University of London. He has explored
the region extensively, studied ancient cultures along
the Karakoram Highway and has written prolifically
on the proto-history in Gandhara, anthropolo¬gy,
history and allied subjects. He established the Taxila
Institute of Asian Civilizations and has long been
associated with UNESCO. He is probably the most decorated
scholar in the country whose work has been recognised
by numerous countries through honours and awards.
Ahmad Faraz (b. 1931) ranks amongst the foremost
Urdu poets of the post¬ Independence generation
and has published thirteen volumes of poetry. Born
in Kohat to a father who was himself a poet of Urdu
and Persian, Faraz became known at a young age. He
began his career as a lecturer in Urdu at Islamia
College, Peshawar. Later he joined the Central Government's
National Centres network, like many intellec¬tuals,
to promote national cohesion, between the provinces
especially East Pakistan, through the arts and culture.
His anti-establishment poems landed him in jail but
the Supreme Court came to his rescue. He was the Chairman
of the Pakistan Academy of Letters. A most sought-after
poet, he has won several national and international
awards. His work has been translated into Chinese,
Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Macedonian,
Russian and Swedish. Amongst the poets who adopted
English as their medium of expres¬sion, the most
well-known is the late Daud Kamal, a profes¬sor
of English at the Peshawar University. He published
several volumes, translated the work of eminent Urdu
poets into English and won international awards.
Western education and technology opened out new ways
of expression. One important area of creative realization
was western-style painting. Abdul Ghani Khan (1914-1996)
was a man of many parts: poet, philosopher, painter,
politician. Eldest son of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, he joined
the Indian National Congress like his father and was
active in the polit¬ical struggle against the
British. Yet he is now remembered for his book Pathan,
written in English and as a pioneering practitioner
of the modern idiom in poetry and painting. He joined
Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan College of Arts
in 1934, where he "discovered" himself both
as a poet and a painter. The subjects of his five
volumes of Pashto poetry range from "freedom,
love of God, land and people, nation¬alism, fate,
the mysteries of life and death, the joys of com¬munion,
and the woes of separation." 16aln his paintings
the influence of the Bengal School and pre-Islamic
heritage of the Frontier make bold and contemporary
Amongst the most well-known and versatile artists
of the country is Gulgee. Born in Peshawar in 1926
he has, over the decades, acquired an international
reputation both as a painter and Calligraph-artist.
He trained as an engineer but acquired fame as an
artist during Ayub Khan's rule. He start¬ed with
realistic work, acquired remarkable facility in drafts¬manship,
executed some of the most memorable works in lapis
lazuli mosaic including the portraits of the present
Aga Khan and his grandfather Aga Khan III, rendered
abstract murals in free gestural expressionism for
many public and private collections. His contribution
to the new international movement in the visual arts,
Calligraph-art is phenomenal.
Other contemporary painters of standing include Tayyeba
Aziz, a fine water-colourist who is also an academic.
The paintings of Naveed Shabbir and Naheed Saleem
figure in several military and public collections.
Sabir Nazar who trained as a painter is known for
his cartoons. Nasir ud-Din Mohmand, a senior artist,
has for several decades painted the people and places
of his Province.
Another new medium was the motion picture. The Frontier's
contribution though often over-looked, is substantial.
During the early twentieth century, a centre of film
industry emerged in Bombay attracting talent in all
branches of movie-making. Actors, with and without
stage experience, gravitated to the dream-factory
emulating Hollywood. The legendary Prithviraj Kapoor,
the incomparable Dilip Kumar and the screen siren
Madhubala all hailed from the Frontier. They went
on to conquer the South Asian silver screen as no
character actor, hero or heroine has done since.
Prithviraj Kapoor was born in Samundari, near Lyallpur
now called Faisalabad, in Punjab. After schooling
in Lyallpur and Lahore, he went to Peshawar where
his father was a Police official. He graduated from
Edwardes College, studied Law for a year before the
celluloid lured him to Bombay in 1928. An interesting
anecdote is told of his racial tenacity. Baburao Patel,
editor of the top cinema magazine of the 1930's, Film
India remarked to him: 'There is no place in the films
for uncouth brawny Pathans who think they can make
it as actors!" To this the young Prithviraj replied:
"Baburao do not provoke this Pathan. If there
is no place for me in the Indian films, I shall swim
across the seven seas to Hollywood!" But there
was no need to undertake such a tiring swim. He not
only became a successful actor and producer but spawned
the Kapoor dynasty that for five generations is involved
The other male actor who dominated Bollywood like
a colos¬sus was Dilip Kumar. Born in Peshawar
in 1922 as Yusuf Khan, he ruled the South Asian silver
screen from the late t 940's till well into the t
980's. Unmatched in the clarity of dialogue delivery,
master of various rustic dialects, chaste Urdu of
Lucknow and Dehli, and the vast repertoire of expressions,
he came to be celebrated as 'The Monarch of Tragedy".
From lead romantic roles - tragic or swashbuck¬ling,
rustic or comic - to character parts, his repertoire
and charismatic presence remains unparalleled. He
is the Olivier of Bollywood.
Widely acknowledged as "the most beautiful actress
of her generation", Madhubala hailed from Mardan.
In the epic romance "Mughal-e-Azam" these
three Pathans, the great¬est actors of their time,
were immortalized in leading roles: Prithjviraj as
Emperor Akbar the Great, Dilip Kumar as the rebellious
son, Prince Saleem later to inherit the empire as
Emperor Jahangir, and Madhubala as the tragic Anar-kali
/ "Pomegranate-blossom", the dancing-girl
who dared to love the Prince. Even the current Bollywood
icon Shahrukh Khan (b. t 965), lOVingly called "King
Khan", has his ancestral house in Peshawar.
In the years after Independence, Radio Pakistan Peshawar
and theatres played vital roles in training performers
and actors. Some of the early luminaries include Khalil
Khan, F.R.Qureshi, Kazim AIi, Sheikh Shareef and Ms.
Santosh Russell, a Christian lady popularly known
as Santoshi. Qavi Khan began his professional career
in 1952 from Radio Pakistan, Peshawar, where he learnt
his craft from some of them. When television came
to Pakistan in 1964 he was the lead in the first television
play "Nazarana". Since then he has continued
to perform on radio, stage, film and television in
' tragic and comic roles with equal facility, and
win numerous national awards. His younger contemporary
Firdous Jamal (b. 1954) also began as a radio artiste
in Peshawar. His first television play was from the
Rawalpindi Station. Since then he has performed in
all the languages of Pakistan on radio, stage, film
and television and received awards like his senior
colleague. Rangeela, the versatile comedian of the
Pakistani silver screen, who delighted audience for
over three decades, was also a Pathan.
Singers such as Muzaffar Khan, the late Gulnaar Begum,
Khiyal Muhammad and Zarsanga have acquired a lasting
fol¬lowing and reputation in the Province. Their
senior contem¬poraries who contributed to Pashto
music and singing included Ustad Abdullah Jan, Ahmed
Gul, Ahmed Khan, Qamro Jan, Baacha Zareen Jan. Rafiq
Shinwari pioneered the fusion of folk singing with
ghazal rendering and so created a new style. The musician
Muneer Sarhadi is a master of the Saranda, an indigenous
stringed instrument played with a bow. On the current
pop-culture scene, Rahim Shah has emerged as a major
vocalist. His songs have been plagia¬rized by
Predictably traditional sports such as hawking, hunting
with dogs and shooting hare and partridge have waned.
The tra¬ditional sports such as ram-fighting,
wrestling, cock-fighting are only occasionally seen.
However, horse riding, polo and shooting remain popular
as ever. Polo in its traditional form still draws
large crowds when it is played annually at the Shandoor
festival in mid-summer.
This widely attended festival takes place at the highest
polo ground in the world. Nine hours by winding road
from Chitral, in the Shandoor Pass at about 11 ,000ft,
the six best teams, three from Chitral and three from
Gilgit continue the tradition which was formalized
in the 1920's. The game is played following the centuries
old rules set by a descendant of Chengiz Khan. Unlike
his blood-thirsty ancestor who played the game with
the heads of vanquished enemies, Ali Sher Khan tamed
the game to set rules. It consists of two chukkars,
in which each player is allowed only one pony and
if one player ceases to play, so would the player
from the opposing team. Smaller than the standard
polo-field, the shandoor ground is 60 yards by 220
Contribution of a different kind came from the village
of Naway Kallay, now subsumed in the growing Peshawar
cantonment. It has acquired international fame for
producing a string of world champions in squash. The
first generation of champions such as Roshan Khan
(1927-2006) and Hashim Khan groomed the next generation
of champions: Azam Khan, Mohibullah Khan, Qamar Zaman,
Jahangir Khan and Jan Sher Khan. These world-class
players, for many decades dominated the intense sport.
Roshan Khan won the British Open, Dunlop Open, Canadian
Open and Egyptian Open in one big sweep in 1956. The
following year he won the Pakistan Professional Championship
and the Australian World Series. In 1958 and 1960
he won the US Open and in 1962 the Canadian Open.
He rounded up his carreer by winning the Pakistan
Professional Championship for the last time in 1967.
His son Jahangir Khan, was the youngest ever winner
of the International Squash Raquet Federation World
Amateur Championship in Australia. In 1981 he defeated
the great Australian Geoff Hunt in the World Open
in Toronto and lifted the British Open trophy in 1982
in a historic win. He remains a record-holder with
ten successive wins at the British Open and six wins
at the World Open Championships.
Qamar Zaman having won the Pakistan Open in 1973 went
on playing the international circuit till 1989, winning
numer¬ous championships including the World Open
Championship in 1975 and the World Masters' Open Championship
in 1997 and 1978. During 1975, 1978 and 1980 he was
number one in the world ranking. These men not only
put Pakistan on the map of the squash world, but helped
strengthen and spread the game in the country.
For skiers and mountaineers, the Province is a challenge.
The only ski resort of the country is at Malam Jabba,
Swat but many peaks continue to beckon the more adventurous
climbers. Every year the daring come from all over
the world to test their stamina, strategy and tenacity
against the slopes and summits. In the summer of 1939
there was an unsuc¬cessful attempt to climb Trich
Mir. On the expedition's departure, two of the Sherpa
porters, Everest "tigers" named Anten Sing
and Tensing, remained with the Chitral Scouts for
four years, though for different reasons. They were
to carry out reconnaissance of all possible invasion
routes from Russian Turkestan, through the Wakhan.
Tensing who was to attain fame as one of the first
two men to reach the summit of Everest in 1953 was
a very good coole "His souffles con¬cocted
at 12,000 feet on a bleak mountainside were out of
this world, and his coffee- and chocolate-gateaux
Bill White, the leader of the expedition, the Sherpas
and selected Scouts were sent to reconnoitre fourteen
passes over the Hindu Kush, of which only two had
been visited by Europeans in the previous forty years.
They varied in height from Bang Gol (15,600 ft.) to
Kot Gaz (17,939 ft.). For this exploit Bill White
was awarded the medal of the Royal Geographical Society.
For the Frontier's material culture the Kissa Khwani
Bazaar in Peshawar provides a collective view. A broad
artery, criss¬crossed by narrow lanes and bye-lanes,
it is an important economic and cultural nucleus of
the Province. Here are found vessels in beaten brass
and copper, fine hand-woven woollen fabrics, leather-work,
hand-knotted rugs, namdas of beaten wool, and carpets,
caps made of mountain-sheep wool and lamb-skin, the
karakuli, finest quality woven fabrics with richly
worked end-pieces in bands of gold / tilla for lungis/
turbans, Chitrali cloaks of handspun and hand-woven
wool, and leather chappals in a range of traditional
styles besides a hundred other products, all vying
for space and attention. Not only native designs and
forms but influence of Greek and Arab, Kashmiri and
Persian, Central Asian and Tartar, European and Far
Eastern motifs are visible. All testi¬fying to
Peshawar's reputation as the place where cultures
The cottage industry consists mainly of fine embroideries
of phulkari variety from Hazara, chikan doz from Peshawar,
wood-carving with characteristic motifs of each region
espe¬cially from Swat and Kafiristan, marble inlay,
glazed earthen¬ware or faience from Bannu, lacquer-turnery
from Dera Ismail Khan and lacquer-ware of Bannu, metal-work
The Frontier has also spawned the true Pakistani"
Pop Art". Peshawar is the centre of the highly
popular 'Truck-art". The painters with bright
enamel colours cover almost every con¬ceivable
surface of the heavy vehicles, decorating each like
a bride. Bold and naive renderings of local fauna
and flora, cal¬Iigraphed verses, traditional or
folk motifs, portraits of male and female film stars
and political leaders are rendered with such unrestained
abandon that the result is the most eye¬catching
art galleries on the road. This has led to exhibitions
in museums at home and abroad.
The Frontier is seismically an active area and the
people over the ages have evolved their indigenous
architectural styles which are earthquake resistant.
The traditional architecture of mud bricks reinforced
with timber beams and supports seen in many of Burke's
nineteenth century photographs can still be seen in
Peshawar's old city. Some structures are several storeys
high. Up-country the Kalash, the herdsmen and the
peasants generally employ the traditional construction
methods which rely heavily on the use of logs, shaped
tim¬ber and rocks held in place by adobe and plastered
with mud and straw.
The Pathan celebrates social and political occasions
with verve and vigour. Firing guns into the air is
a common expression of joy. Another is the Khattak
sword-dance. This most popular and representative
dance involves loud music of drums and pipes and flashing
of blades while young men in full white shirts swirl
and toss their hair back and forward or flick them
from side to side in wild abandon. The cultural facets
of the Frontier are many, and many remain unexplored.