Preserving history: Pashto Cultural Museum inaugurated

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The Pashto Cultural Museum was inaugurated at the University of Peshawar on Monday. Director of the museum, Dr Salma Shaheen, said the museum will serve to promote Pashto language, literature, history, art and other fields of study. The museum also aims to promote Pakhtun culture and heritage, and encourage research.

The museum is open for public and will display an array of traditional Pakhtun crafts, ranging from ancient weapons and traditional clothes and jewellery, to musical instruments. The items have been collected and contributed by Pakhtuns from across the province.

Dr Shaheen said that people are welcome to donate any old artifacts so that they may be preserved and be put on display for all to see.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Provincial Culture Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain – who is also the information minister – said Pashto culture is largely ignored and subject to foreign influences. He urged researchers at the Pashto Academy to make Pashto literature more accessible so that more people start reading Pashto texts.

“The museum is a very good initiative that also highlights the services of those who have rendered sacrifices for Pakhtuns in the past,” said Hussain. The provincial government will provide support to preserve the culture of the province and its different dialects, he added.

University of Peshawar’s Vice-Chancellor Qibla Ayaz said Pashto had gained great importance in recent times, and that as Pakhtuns it was their duty to protect it.

The museum had been a work-in-progress since 2006. The foundation stone of the museum was laid down by then governor Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai in October of the same year, with funding provided by the Higher Education commission.

In a more recent development, the lower portion of the museum was inaugurated in May 2010 by the then vice-chancellor of the University of Peshawar, Dr Azmat Hayat Khan.

The remaining portion of the museum was completed with funding of Rs25 million, which was provided by the HEC. The commission said it was aimed at preserving heritage, not only for locals, but also to inform students from outside the area about the region’s rich cultural heritage.