PESHAWAR - The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is likely to set up a Hindko Academy for preservation and promotion of Hindko language, as it has announced Rs 5 million for the purpose.

The announcement was made by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary, Ghulam Dastagir, while speaking at the first day of the second International Hindko Conference that got underway at the Archives Hall.

A literary, cultural and social welfare organisation, Gandhara Hindko Board, has organised the moot that is being attended by delegates from different parts of the country and abroad.

The chief secretary said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was aware of the importance of the native languages. “This is why a decision has been made to teach various languages at schools,” the official said.

Ghulam Dastagir said that Hindko was an important language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said the provincial government was ready to offer scholarships to those carrying out research on Hindko and other languages as it had great respect for all the languages. He said a Department for Hindko Studies would also be set up at a later stage.

The chief secretary said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was making efforts to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the province. He said a decision had been taken to purchase and preserve the ancestral home of Indian cinema legend from Peshawar Dilip Kumar, though the process has been delayed due to some legal complications.

He said Sethi houses would also be saved to promote tourism.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Gandhara Hindko Board Chairman Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi enumerated the activities of the board. “ We have published 50 books and arranged a host of literary and cultural events apart from carrying out social welfare activities since the body was launched in 1993 by late Prof Dr Zahoor Ahmad Awan,” said the chairman, who is also a retired chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Meanwhile, The Cultural Journalists Forum held a meeting here at Peshawar Press Club with Ihtisham Toru in the chair in which the participants expressed great grief and sorrow over the sad demise of noted Pashto poet, critic, research scholar and prominent playwright Prof Dr Mohammad Azam Azam.

They prayed for the departed soul and expressed sympathy with bereaved family.

Dr Azam had passed away on Friday due to cardiac arrest in Peshawar and was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard Rajjar district yesterday (Saturday).  He was a trendsetter and has had contributed to Pashto language and literature immensely for more than four decades.   He served TV, Radio and stage with his powerful pen and kept romanticizing poetry lovers with his progressive verses.

He authored a dozen books both in Pashto and Urdu and also was responsible for introducing trends in Pashto poetry and prose.

He truly portrayed typical Pashtun village life in his plays and many of characters in his plays drew a widespread fame among the masses.