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WITH the installation of new government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the artists, civil society and intellectuals are of the opinion that the previous ANP-led government did a lot for the revival of art and culture in the militancy-plagued province but failed to prepare and implement a unified cultural policy reflective of diverse cultures and traditions of this soil and its people.

There is no denying the fact that the ongoing terrorism and militancy played havoc with almost every aspects of social, economic, cultural and political life in the province. However, the worst affected was and still is the art and culture of this culturally rich province.

Noted research scholar and former director of Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar, Dr Rajwali Shah Khattak told Dawn that they acknowledged that the ANP-led government was much keen and serious to draft a policy that could be truly representative of their collective cultural identity.

“However, I suggest that a comprehensive linguistic survey is need of the hour so that a clear picture of different cultural groups could come to lime light and interactive process among diverse ethnic and linguistic groups could be established, intrinsically Pakhtunkhwa has Pakhtun culture with tinges of other various small pockets of cultures,” he added.

He said that they were in cultural anarchy and therefore in dire need of comprehensive cultural policy that could pave the way for forward-looking and peaceful society.

“I hope the incumbent government will implement the policy draft without any further delay as it seems to be balanced and determined to bring about a positive social change,” Mr Khattak said.

Senior TV artist and head of Takhleeq Development Foundation (TDF) Arshad Husain said that his team on the desire of the previous government had intensively worked on a unified policy draft taking all the stakeholders, intellectuals, poets, writers, painters, research scholars and youth into confidence.He said that after a hectic effort, they agreed on a valid document and handed it over to the officials concerned but unfortunately, they were not serious about it.

“If they were keen about it they would have got it passed by the provincial assembly, but they were not. Yes the ANP government in a short possible time arranged numerous cultural activities and to a great extent helped artists. As far as I am concerned I have good information that the PTI-led government will announce a unified cultural policy for the province,” Mr Husain said.

Tariq Jamal, a seasoned TV artist-cum-director and chairman of Awaz Artists Association (AAA), said that strengthening of art and culture was the responsibility of the government.He added that with a comprehensive cultural policy artists would feel secure and their morale would be raised. “Those who have fled the country out of fear of militancy will be encouraged to come back and contribute to our own people,” he said.

Mr Jamal said that artists were looking forward as to how the new government would come up with a welfare package for the deserving artists and take serious steps for revival of the art and culture.

Prof Abaseen Yousafzai told Dawn that the draft cultural policy prepared by the ANP-led government was neither gender biased nor ethnic biased. It was comprehensive and complete at all respects, he added. He said that he did not know about the hurdles in implementation of that policy. “In this turbulent time, we need a valid cultural policy to be reflective of our regional and national aspirations. Views of stakeholders belonging to different cultural groups can be incorporated but its early implementation is a must,” Mr Yousafzai stressed.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, former provincial minister for information and culture, said that in less than two years the ANP-led government did so many things for the revival and preservation of art and culture that were not done in the last 60 years.

“We set up a full-fledged cultural directorate, gave a new courage to the artists, extended financial aid to large number of artists, singers and writers and arranged numerous festivals and cultural shows in every part of the province,” he said.

Mr Hussain said that preparing a unified and comprehensive cultural policy draft was their great achievement. “We even had got it approved by the provincial cabinet and the problem was that it was to be approved by the provincial assembly but unfortunately its time was up and it could not sail through the assembly. We hope the new government would get it done as early as possible but I don’t know about its priories,” the former minister said.