Pashtun Culture Day; a public celebration in silence?

Pashtun Culture Day, celebrated on the 23rd of September, was designated in order to promote the mesmerizing Pashtun culture at the World Pashtun Conference held in Quetta in 2015. Renowned Pashto literary personalities from Kabul, Kandahar, Canada, and Germany had participated in the conference, which focused on discussing the history and importance of the Pashto language. Since then, a few Facebook posts and hashtags appear on social media every year on this day…but, unfortunately, that’s where the “celebrations” end.

Pashtun culture is highly under-represented in our mainstream media; there are no doubts about that, but for it to continue being swept under the rug on a day assigned to it is deeply saddening. On top of that, the Pashtun community is also stereotyped to be violent and dangerous, lacking any sort of morals. It was further made evident in the recent ad campaign warning people against sectarianism in Muharram, which included pictures of Manzoor Pashteen; a human rights activist from South Waziristan. Despite being taken off the air, apologies issued and punishments carried out, the damage had been done.

It is a great need of the time for a more positive representation of these people. Active efforts need to be made to further increase our understanding of the Pashtun community’s culture and also to help the people reclaim their own image which has been infested with violence, militancy, and socio-economic crises.

One of the most effective ways to correct the wrongs done to this community would be through our growing film industries. Increased representation and exposure would result in the general public seeing them in a brighter light. It will also help the Pashtun youth step out of the shadows and engage with the rest of the country.

Let us take this opportunity to highlight some tweets glorifying the Pashtun culture: