Exploring the culture of the ancient people of Sindh through the ancient tradition of Memorial Stones of Tharparkar, author Zulfikar Ali Kalhoro said that the reason he is fascinated and writing on the subject is to preserve the heritage of Sindh. Kalhoro is the author of Memorial Stones of Tharparker.

Kolhoro’s session was moderated by writer Salman Rashid. He presented the findings of his research with a session full of illustrations from his book and shared the experience of discovering the ancient artefacts in Tharparkar.

He said that he became curious about the stones after reading a book by historian Romila Thapar on memorial stones of Rajhistan. However, he said, the archeology department was unaware of the memorial stones in the region. “The stones were not ever documented in the region”, he maintained.

Kalhoro said after being unable to gather any information about the stones, he got in touch with Rashid. He said that Rashid told him about the stones in the Tharparkar region. “I conducted extensive survey of the Tharparkar region and found the stones which were used to mark graves”.

He said that he acquired the help of locals to find out about the history of the stones as there were no records present with the archeology department. During the course of his work, Kalhoro said, he found more than 3,000 memorial stones in Tharparkar. He said that many more were lost as the locals had used them in their homes or were sold.

Kolhoro said the stones were used to mark graves as well as to commemorate saints and heroes. “My research led me to different sects present in the ancient Hindu traditions. Traces of those ancient sects were also present in images on the stones,” Kolhoro said.

In another session titled “In recognition of Hamza Shinwari: Literature and Sufism in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa”, the works of the historic Pashto poet Ameer Hamza Shinwari or Hamza Baba as he is commonly known, was discussed.

The speakers termed his works a combination of classical and modern poetry and said that his work presents a unique blend of Sufism, Pashto tradition, romanticism as well as mysticism. Speaking at the session, Akbar Hoti said that Hamza Baba’s poetry also had a strong messages of nationalism, patriotism and humanity. “Hamza Baba also contributed to writing prose and has also written dialogues for various Pashto films and dramas.

Tracing his roots, Kainat Khan said that Ameer Hamza Shinwari was born in Landi Kotal in 1907. She said that Shimwari wrote poetry from his school days and his works could be classified as a combination of classical and modern Pashto poetry.

Other speakers also reflected on various aspects of Shinwari’s life and his contributions to Pashto literature, including being the first poet to write Pashto ghazals.

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