PESHAWAR: The authorities of Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar, here on Saturday claimed that a rare copy of 17th century Pashto manuscript had been secured from the shelf devoted to Persian old manuscripts in the main library of King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.

The manuscript written in old Pashto script was authored by Ghulam Ibne Sher Khan, highlighting the traits of the life of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in Pashto around H. 1050 corresponding to 1640 AD, the officials revealed.

“The old manuscript will help us resolve issues surrounding Pashto script with regard to its evolution through different phases till present day,” they said.

Officials say it will help resolve issues regarding evolution of Pashto script

The officials said the manuscript was first identified in 2015 on a webpage titled ‘Muqashafi’, which was no longer available. However, an official said the Pashto Academy through some research scholars got access to officials of the King Saud University who helped them in providing a copy in Portable Document Format (pdf) of the said manuscript.

When contacted, Pashto Academy director Prof Dr Nasrullah Jan Wazir told this scribe that some bloggers and research scholars had mentioned earlier about the old Pashto manuscript detailing salient features of the Holy Prophet’s personality in the verse form in old script form, which was common in the time of Khushal Khan Khattak. He said it took them a month to confirm its existence in the shelf.

Coincidently, he said, a teacher of UET, Peshawar, who was on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, was contacted by Osman Marwat of Fast University, Peshawar campus, to get to the staff of the King Saud University where it became possible to secure the manuscript retrieved in pdf form.

“The Pashto Academy will first seek official permission of the King Saud University’s authorities through proper channel for doing research on the manuscript and its display for public view. There is a claim about two other copies of the same manuscript. Our experts on the subject will dig out the linguistic aspect in detail,” Mr Wazir said.

He said the Pashto Academy had preserved around 1,500 rare manuscripts, but it required adequate funds to conduct comprehensive research work on an individual document and train young philologists.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2022

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