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In unison, Pakhtun youth hold Attanr dance for peace

In unison, Pakhtun youth hold Attanr dance for peace

PESHAWAR: Pakhtun youth from Quetta, Kandahar, Peshawar and tribal areas whirled together to the beat of drums on the green lawns of Bagh-i-Naran in Peshawar to send out a message of peace to the extremists in the country and abroad.

In response to the violent disruption of a cultural dance at a spring festivity last month in the Punjab University, Lahore, the Pakhtun nationalist youth in Peshawar held “Attanr for peace” at Bagh-i-Naran on Friday. Irrespective of their different areas, youth, older men and even some women activists joined the gathering of about 500 who were all prepared with their traditional turbans to show their love for Attanr by participating in the dance.

Tariq Afghan, a young political leader, said that the purpose of holding the event was to send out a message of peace in response to how extremists treated Pakhtuns and their culture.

“Just like all the dancers whirl together in Attanr, it is symbolic of unity of Pakhtuns,” said another organiser Shafique Gigyani.

Some Pakhtun women rights activists were also there to show their support and be part of this peaceful cultural activity.

“We would be holding an Attanr event for women too,” said Sana Ijaz, a rights activist.

Palwasha, another nationalist activist, said that this beautiful dance showed to the world that Pakhtuns were not violent or extremists. They have a beautiful culture and they love peace.

Malak Ambar from South Waziristan said that he could not help dance to the beat as it was not just a dance, it was our culture. “Terrorism cannot eliminate this culture. This dance is a symbol of our culture. This is how we respond even if we have faced terrorism,” he said.

Taj Wazir, a Pakhtun Students Federation leader, said that youth should not forget their culture. He said that this dance would unite and remind the youth of how peaceful their culture was.

It was an impressive show where progressive young men and middle-aged men irrespective of their political and social backgrounds danced in unity and celebrated their culture.

There was no competition, no political rivalry, no age or status difference – all danced in harmony to the beat of traditional Dhol and Surnai (traditional trumpet). It provided a simple and pure fun to all who rarely found such an opportunity to celebrate their cultural dance. Ironically, the provincial government could not hold such an event on national days or any other normal days, but a few youth hurt by what happened to Pakthun students in Punjab University during a spring festivity – driven by sheer passion for their culture and values – invited everyone to join them in the dance for peace. Since it was held in a public park anyone who came to the park happily jumped in the circle to swirl and whirl to the beat of drums.

Shahzadeen, a resident of South Waziristan, was of the view that men and women all perform Attanr. It defined Pakhtun way of life.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2017

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