Murad Shinwari and Free Verse in Pashto

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Murad Shinwari and Free Verse in Pashto, Sher Alam Shinwari
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (

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Murad Shinwari and Free Verse in Pashto

Sher Alam Shinwari

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

Modern Pashto poem took many shapes in the last century. Progressive poet's emphasis on poem rather on ghazal mainly brought about a remarkable change in the structure, Form and subject matter of the poem. They made it a vehicle for expressing their lofty, revolutionary and creative ideas. The poets affiliated with Khudai Khidmatgar Tehrik, Fazal Mehmood Makhfee, Ghani Khan, Abdul Akbar khan Akbar and the progressive poets, Qalandar Moomand, Ajmal Khattak, Saif-u Rehman Saleem, Ashraf Maftoon Yousaf Khan, Abd-ur-Rahim Majzoob with a slight change in their approaches towards, social problems and political issues, gave Pashto poem, a new spirit, and new artistic vision.

Murad Shinwari, the only son of Baba-e-Pashto Ghazal Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, is one of the pioneers for introducing new trends to the modern Pashto poem.

He was born in 1928 at Landi Kotal (Khyber Agency). He was a year old when his mother died.

He received his early education from Govt. High School No.1, Peshawar and passed middle standard examination from there.

Murad Shinwari took up a job with Rahat Zakheli a prominent writer as an assistant Editor Afghan a representative newspaper of Pakhtoons at that time. During the same time, he wrote Palwashey a collection of short stories which unfortunately is not available in the market. It bore him a wide appreciation and gave him a prestigious place as a fiction writer in the domain of Pashto literature. His thirst for further education took him once again to get employment in the Khyber Rifle's as an instructor from where he was sent to Army School of Education Murree. There, he received the necessary army training and passed all the education crops examinations with distinction and was awarded the degree of B.T by the University of Punjab. He did his master's in Pashto privately from University of Peshawar and received gold medal for his outstanding performance.

He joined Pashto Academy in 1958 as Librarian but he also worked as lexicographer and translator there, the atmosphere of the academy was more suitable for his literary mental make-up.

Mohammad Wali Babar a resident of Nagrahar and newscaster of All India, Radio Peshawar, was the main source of importance and a moving force, responsible for moulding the progressive ideas of Murad Shinwari. Babar introduced him to many literary giants of the time and would often bring him literary magazines, books and newspaper's Clippings carrying or having any material on progressive elements and trends. It was during the same that Murad exhausted the Urdu classics, along with Saad Hassan Manto, Kareshan Chander and many other fiction writers. At Pashto Academy, he exhibited his skill as an excellent translator, lexicographer, and editor of 40 rare manuscripts and compiler of dictionary. He translated the Merchant of Vince by Shakespeare, and The lady of Shalott by Alferd Tennyson in Pashto free verse.

An anthology of 41 poets, the book contains critical commentary and a brief introduction of each poet.

After developing some differences with Maulana Abdul Qadir, the founder director of Pashto Academy, Murad Shinwari switched over to Radio Pakistan, Peshawar as a staff artist.

His famous book, Da Khyber Adab was published in 1958.

This was a major breakthrough in the world of Pashto literary criticism. It received a huge applause from all the literary circles

Khyber Adab is still considered a historical document, which is more often, consulted by the research scholars.

The atmosphere of radio was also encouraging for displaying his literary talent. He wrote some memorable, features like Hujra, Maraka highlighting social evils which continued for many years and he wrote also a few dramas, the record of which, unfortunately, has been lost. If Murad Shinwari could produce the copy of Quetta-based Pashto monthly Pakhto in which according to him Bara the firstever Pashto Azad Nazam (free verse poem) would acclaim Murad the pioneer of this genre in Pashto literature.

Even if that happened, still Murad would not consider himself a pioneer, but a revivalist of the genre because he thinks; Pashto language has not borrowed Azad Nazam from English, Urdu or French. "Because many of our own folk songs are in free verse" argued Murad Shinwari. His other famous poems Daulat Kaka, Khaiber, Tatara, Rahman Baba, Dost Mohammad Kamil, Hamza Baba, Khatir Afridi and Shaheed Ta Khitab are considered sublime, creative and reflective of the literary talent of Murad.

The literary stature of his legendary father could not eclipse his unique style and he emerged as an innovative poet, fiction writer, journalist, and critic.

Murad Shinwari life took another turning point when he plunged into the world of Pashto films. This was probably the beginning of the golden era of Pashto films.

He wrote dialogues, scenarios, and songs for more than hundred films, out of them, the hits Urbal, Bangree Au Hatkarrey, Juram Au Saza, Naway Da Yawe Shpey, and Multan Khan Afridi. He has even directed and added music to some of these films. He left it forever, it when some vested interests tried to present a distorted image of the Pakhtoon culture.

Many of his fans are of the opinion that Murad has wasted his talent in the showbiz that is why he posses a least number of ghazals and poems which now he wants to publish them in a book form. Hundred of memorable Pashto film songs sung by Gulnar Begum, Khial Mohammad, Kishwar Sultan and other singers are on his credit.

Murad Shinwari has contributed his poetry and articles on different, social, political and literary issues to Laar, Qand, Szuand, Pakhto, and Ghuncha and Pashto newspapers, Hiwad and Wahdat.

"The literary forums Ulasi Adabi Jirga and Pakistan writers Guild were very encouraging for grooming up the talents of many Pakhto poets and writers, now there is no such forum" he painfully recalled.

Kalim Shinwari has divided the poems of Murad into four categories Historical events, Pakhtoon culture and values, humanism and poetic sketches of some literary figures. Khaiber Afridi termed him the father of the modern Pashto poem. Murad Shinwari has the analytical approach of a scientist, the shaping eye of an artist and the power of expression of a poet. He freed the metre as well as the language from the conventional bonds that is why he paved the way for the emergence of the modern Pashto poem.

In this sense alone, he innovated the modern Pashto poem to a large extent. The critical consciousness of Qalandar Moomand, the revolutionary poems of Ajmal Khattak, and the prose style of Tahir Bukhari and Dr.Rajwali Shah Khattak inspired Murad Shinwari.

After getting retirement from Radio Pakistan, Peshawar in 1989, the reputed poet is living a miserable life. Despite his tremendous contribution to the Radio Pakistan, Peshawar, the golden era of Pashto films and Pashto language and literature, Murad Shinwari is not receiving any stipend or financial assistance from provincial cultural department or Academy of Letters, Islamabad (PAL) to support his large family. However, the septuagenarian poet sees a bright future of Pashto language and literature.


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Murad Shinwari and Free Verse in Pashto, Sher Alam Shinwari
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (