PESHAWAR: Legendary Pukhtun poet Khushal Khan Khattak’s life was brought to stage on Monday in a play organised by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Culture.
The play has been scripted by senior playwright and poet Noorul Bashar Naveed and directed by former Pakistan Television Corporation director Masood Ahmad Shah.
The two-hour-long drama has 23 scenes with 23 different set designs. It focuses on Khattak’s life in the 17th century when he united the Pukhtuns and fought against the tyranny of Mughals.
“Pukhtuns are going through a hard time just like they did during the times of the Mughals. Growing militancy and sectarianism have not only harmed our institutions and customs, but has also destroyed graves of Pukhtun heroes and Sufis as they were blown up. Khattak predicted this years ago,” said a member of the audience Sultan Hussain.
The show began with the depiction of the coronation ceremony, more commonly known as Dastar Bandi, of Khushal Khan Khattak. The ceremony was followed by the traditional Khattak dance. Actor Kalim Khan played the lead role as Khattak with Meena Shams as his wife.
During Khattak’s time, Raja Jagat Singh governed Kohat and Kurram Agency. Khattak inspired and united Pukhtuns against Singh, and later defeated his army.
The following scenes showed the despotic attempts of the Mughals to govern the Pukhtuns, which was a cause of major discontent. Khattak was arrested after being accused of conspiring against the rulers. The Kabul governor at the time sanctioned Khattak’s arrest and he was imprisoned for five years.
Scenes displaying life in prison and captivity kept the audience light-lipped. Dialogues were based on themes of unity against a foreign force and standing firm to do what’s right.
Songs dedicated to Khattak’s life and achievement were periodically played in the background.
“We must show the world that Pukhtuns have great leaders and luminaries like Khushhal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba, Bayazid Ansari and Bacha Khan. They had a similar message of peace, humility, tolerance and enlightenment,” said K-P Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
The play will run until today.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2013.