Pioneer of Pashto journalism in Pakistan, the daily Wahdat is the only Pushto language newspaper, which has been continuing its regular publication for the last 32 years following the principles of creative, positive and investigative journalism. Originating from Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province now being renamed as Pukhtoonkhwa, the paper also reaches the hands of millions of other Pakhtoons living in Afghanistan and Middle East countries besides United States, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Russia and Iran. Pakhtoons living in these countries consider Wahdat as the single source to update themselves about the events taking place in their homeland, about their culture, language and traditions. Reading Wahdat is part of their daily routine, whether it is online newspaper or the one that they receive by Air mail under special arrangements by the Wahdat management. Wahdat is available online through its website (www.dailywahdat.com.pk), which is also unique in character as it contains a lot of informative and educative material about the land of Pakhtoons as well as Pakistan. Contents of the webpage include latest news, analysis, political comments, articles on different topics, research articles and material on Pashto literature, culture and customs.
The paper was founded in 1976 by Peer Sufaid Shah Hamdard, a well-reputed, well known and elderly figure in the field of Journalism in Pakistan on the advice and with the cooperation of outstanding writers, journalists and intellectuals of the area. Initially it was a weekly newspaper but later on, in 1983, it was converted to a daily. The high profile Pashto laureate, scholar, critic, researcher, poet and story writer Mr. Qalandar Momand (late) was the first Editor of Pashto daily Wahdat. The paper was then gradually joined by many other prominent journalists. It played a historic and an outstanding role in pursuit for armed uprising against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Daily Wahdat was then considered the media organ of Afghan fighters as well as Refugees, virtually furthering their plight, supporting their cause and creating an atmosphere of brotherhood and harmony between the uprooted Afghans and local population. This was an exclusive role of Daily Wahdat, which won recognition and appreciation from cross sections of people and leaders of both Pakistan and Afghanistan on different occasions and counts. The then President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq also confirmed the role of Wahdat in Afghan Jehad when he presided over the attend anniversary function of the daily in Peshawar on 18-2-1988. He found the Wahdat anniversary function as a perfect and appropriate platform to speak out his mind on the Afghan issue. Then he disclosed many important policy measures of the Government about the Afghan imbroglio including his reservations about the historic Geneva Accord on Afghanistan, which the then government, headed by Prime Minister Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo was about to sign along with other stakeholders under UN indirect talk arrangement. The President also offered many incentives, concessions and facilities to the paper (Wahdat) to make it a more perfect, stable and strong Pashto newspaper. In his speech on the occasion the President eulogized the services of the paper for the cause of Pakistan as well as Afghan struggle against Soviet occupation, its policy of creating harmony among the people of Pakistan and their Afghan brethren, taking refuge in Pakistan and mustering unprecedented support in this regard.
The paper has been toeing a three pronged policy to further its mission and objectives about journalism in this particular and sensitive part of the world. The three basic principles are:-
1. to create awareness and consolidate the spirit in pakhtoons for their language, literature and culture and persuade them to get development in all spheres of life;
2. To explore ways and means for peace and tranquility in the region and the world as a whole; spread the message of love and harmony and raise voice for the rights of suppressed and subjugated nations and communities;
3. To update Pakhtoons on their rights and privilege and equip them with, instead of gun, the knowledge and intellect, so as they are fully prepared to face the upcoming challenges and pace with the world in the field of science and technology.
Practice and performance
Following these three basic principles the paper has achieved many distinctions and appreciations from its Pakhtoon readers across the world. Pashtu Literary circles in Middle East, Germany, USA and elsewhere on the globe have many a times paid tributes to Wahdat for its pragmatic policy and valuable services for the cause of pushto language and literature. It’s the unique character of the daily that its pages contain rich and valued literary articles, research papers, short stories and interesting political and non-political, humorous and entertaining columns besides varied pieces of Pushto poetry of high caliber and standard. Its weekly editions are also rich in contents as it carries special reports on political and geo-strategic topics with particular reference to the situation in Afghanistan and the region as a whole, the war against terrorism and efforts for political settlement of the issues rather than use of force. The activities of political and literary circles, both within the country and abroad are also given wide coverage in its weekly editions through special reports.
Another note-worthy objective of the paper is to encourage immature and new writers, columnist, reporters and editors. The paper offers internship to new graduates in the field of journalism and provides them every opportunity to learn, practice and polish their journalistic skill and make headway in the field of Pushto journalism. Particular preference is accorded to Pashto writers and poets and their literary contributions are accommodated in the paper for their due encouragement. This special attention has opened up new avenues for young writers and poets, many of them after going through the process have become perfect in their respective fields and are now enjoying the status of repute. In this context many of the Pakhtoon intellectuals consider Wahdat as an Academy for the young writers.
Daily Wahdat also have a remarkable contribution in the promotion and development of Pashto culture. The daily has been contributing valuable articles, features and special editions with particular focus on Pashtun culture and traditions. This practice not only keeps the Pashtuns informed of their valued culture and customs but also apprise other nations of this unique heritage.
Daily Wahdat has been trying very cautiously to teach the lessons of moderation, justice, peace, love and brotherhood to not only Pashtuns but all the other nations. It has been raising voice against war, enmities, social taboos, that were harming the very fabric of Pakhtoon society and the region as a whole. Daily Wahdat editorials mostly focus these issues and wish the world is peaceful and tranquil prevail over the globe thus opening vast avenues for all the nations to get progress and prosperity.
In the wake of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when millions of Afghans were forced to migrate and take refuge in Pakistan particularly in the North West Frontier Province and FATA, the Wahdat waged a campaign to force the occupational forces withdrawal from Afghanistan. The daily strongly supported pace in Afghanistan and activated the Afghans to continue their struggle till they achieve the goal which was not less than an independent and democratic Afghanistan. Similarly the daily also played a significant role in giving a voice to the Refugees, living in Pakistan, highlighting their problems and difficulties, creating harmony among the refugees and local population and keeping then update on the daily events of their interest.
Appreciation and response
Daily Wahdat was cheered by all for its outstanding role and services for the cause of Pakhtoon nation, language, culture, customs and traditions. Pakhtoon from Afghanistan considers Wahdat as their spokes organ. It has got special permission for its circulation within Afghanistan because of its popularity and public demand. Its circulation both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world has made Wadat as one of the largest circulated newspaper of Pakistan and the one and the only of Pashto language.
Recognizing the services of daily Wahdat, the Govt. of Pakistan has twice awarded its founder and Chief Editor Peer Sufaid Shah Hamdard with the high prestige national awards of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz and Pride of Performance. Similarly many national and international literary and media organization have also appreciated the services and role of daily wahdat through special awards. The pool of writers and other contributors of daily Wahdat itself speak of its high standard as it contains many big names having international repute like Ajmal Khattak, Qalandar Momand, Ayub Sabir, Hamesh Khalil and Salim Raz.
Progress and development
The daily has in the recent years achieved remarkably in all its spheres, particularly in its editorial, managerial and technical fields. Since 2003, the founder of the daily, Peer Sufaid Shah Hamdard has entrusted his son, Syed Haroon Shah, with the overall affairs of the daily. Syed Haroon Shan, being highly qualified and holding Masters Degrees in Political Science and Law has brought substantial changes in the daily to make it more reliable, attractive and read-worthy newspaper. Through his media approach, international outlook and visionary thoughts, he has given the paper a new look, making it more rich in all respects. A newly introduced field is that of Wahdat Forum, which holds seminars and discussions on different national and international issues, regional strategic topics and cultural heritage of the area besides other topics of people's interest like literature, poetry, national politics and social issues. These periodical discussions are being participated by people from cross sections of the society and addressed by imminent writers, intellectuals and leaders of public opinion.
Daily Wahdat is currently six pages newspaper with 50% space for both news and views. Moreover it also publishes weekly special editions, containing valuable articles on different topics including literature, history, culture, politics, health, education, economy, science and technology.