Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KPK) in general and the once thriving city of Peshawar in particular, have long been drooling in a state of confusion stemming right out of the bloody War on Terror which has now entered its 13th successive year.
The extremists took hold of the cultural reigns of the region at the beginning of last decade, altogether changing the way that people have led their lives for centuries. The following years witnessed several Cinemas gutted down, traditional festivities gradually faded into darkness and there was nothing left but an eerie silence of fear and restlessness among the scared Peshawarities.
The General Elections in the later years brought the Islamists into power further tightening the noose around those who have been striving to bring some sense in the declining cultural norms of the province.
The reign ended in 2008 bringing in moderates into power and although the Awami National Party did not prove to be any less corrupt and inefficient, it has managed to rekindle the dwindling Pakhtun Identity in the region.
Mushtaq Ahmed, one of the only Rabab maker left in the city narrated his ordeal of how he has been able to hang in with his diminishing skill of Rabab making.
“There was a time when a Pathan’s hujra (guestroom) would be incomplete without a chillum (pipe) and Rabab, but now trends have changed,” said Mushtaq. “The law and order situation in the city has greatly affected my business”, he added.
“When security problems worsened in Peshawar and cultural events came to a halt, the instrument lost its place in the public realm,” said Malik Nisar, a rabab player in Peshawar. “New musicians love Rababs and some even buy it these days”.
Cultural Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain inaugurated the Pashto Cultural Museum at the University of Peshawar, on December 4th, further strengthening the hope of the stricken Peshawarites.
The Museum will work towards the promotion of Pakhtun cultural identities ranging from handicrafts, traditional dresses, lifestyles, ancient weapons, jewelry and musical instruments.
Dr. Salma Shaheen, the curator of the museum lamented the dearth of such facilities across the province where the new generation can have the chance to see and learn the true colours of their fading culture.
Dr. Shaheen said that the museum will provide the necessary impetus for the betterment of Pashto language, literature, history, art and other fields of study.
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.
Hussain lauded the hard work done by Dr. Shaheen, the University’s Vice Chancellor Qibla Ayaz and other people involved in the creation of the museum.
He said, “The museum is a very good initiative that also highlights the services of those who have rendered sacrifices for Pakhtuns in the past”.
The Fashion Show organised by the Iqra National University, Peshawar Campus, also created ripples when several beautiful models walked down the aisle, showcasing the latest fashion trends in the country.
Peshawar’s bold leap in fashion was arranged at Deane Trade Centre on December 5th and was attended by several dignitaries and fashion icons of the country.
As the Great Inoki revisits Pakistan after a lapse of 36 years, the name has rung so many bells in the minds of all those who have been caught up in an imaginary showdown between Inoki and the Great Gamma since their childhood, where the later came out victorious and invincible as ever.
Although no such fight between the two legendary wrestlers ever took place, the two giants from the world of wrestling have mesmerized children providing them all the necessary material for fantasies. Inoki still considers Gamma as one of the most revered wrestlers of all times.
Having recently embraced Islam, Muhammad Hussain Inoki (formerly known as Antonio Inoki) is on a state visit of the country on a personal invitation of the Chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif.
Inoki arrived in Lahore on December 1t and has met several dignitaries in his week long visit. He was then taken to Peshawar where he was given a warm welcome by thousands of fans in the Qayyum Sports Complex on Wednesday , Dec 5th.
Inoki and his team of wrestlers entertained the spectators with their fine display of professional wrestling skills, winning praise from the crowd of Peshawarites who have long forgotten this entertainment in the bleak security scenario in the province.
Inoki lauded the arrangements and praised the warm welcome he has received during his stay in the country and vowed to launch a training academy in the country.
Inoki said that he would deliver peace message from Pakistan through the successful holding of wrestling event. “By having world’s best grapplers in action in Lahore I will be promoting the freestyle game in Pakistan,” said Inoki. “The Pakistan wrestlers of full of talent and all they need is proper training. I will dig out the talent and provide them freestyle training to the selected wrestlers so that they would compete at international level,” he added.
The 6.4 feet Yokohama native started his professional wrestling career at the age of 17 from the Japanese Wrestling Association. From the years 1966 to 1972, Inoki kept switching professional wrestling careers from Japan to United States and finally joined the New Japan Pro Wrestling and defeated WWF Champion Bob Backlund in the year 1979.
Inoki has been rated as one of the few free style wrestles who have not confined themselves to only one form of wrestling.
Inoki faced many opponents from all dominant disciplines of combat from various parts of the world, such as Boxers, Judoka, Karateka, Kungfu practitioners, Sumo Wrestlers and wrestlers.
He also challenged Muhammad Ali in 1976 where the bout ended in a draw.
Inoki announced his Retirement from professional Wrestling in the year 1996 and was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame being the only Japanese to receive the accolade.
Inoki also revealed that he has been warned not to visit the country in wake of the fragile security situation but his past visits and his old acquaintances in the country provided him the assurances.
“I have been to Pakistan on four occasions during the period from 1976 to 1984. Now I was being asked not to visit Pakistan because of security threats but I have deep attachment with Pakistan so I said that I would like to see for myself that how much dangerous this country is,” he maintained. “But everything is good here and we are enjoying our stay”.
Earlier, Inoki and the team of 10 wrestlers visited the graves of Akram Pahlwan and Jhara Pahlwan at Mohni Road, Lahore and paid homage.
Talking about his conversion to Islam, he said that he embraced Islam in 1990 in Iraq but still do not know completely about Islam but wish to know as much as he can.