Dr Tariq Rehman
I HAD the pleasure of being invited to preside over a seminar on the Wakhi language held at the Institute of Folk Heritage in Islamabad recently. Outside the hall there were people in traditional woollen robes and caps, some embellished with feathers.
Their merchandise displayed an array of exotic clothes, gems, artifacts and a delightful array of edibles I had never seen before. The seminar addressed many of the problems of the Wakhi language, stressing that it was a threatened language.
Spoken in the area where the paths of the empires — the Chinese, Russian, Afghan and Indian — of yore crossed, the Wakhi people were perforce divided. They were on the move with their animals in search of better pastures and their language and traditions gave them a sense of belonging, a certain unity in dispersion and constant movement.
Besides the high valleys of Pakistan, the Wakhi people live in Tajikistan along the Pamir river and the Sarikol area of China.
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