Pata Khazana – a response to its attackers!




Lately a lot has been heard about the anthology of Pashto poetry - Pata Khanaza. These critical voices regarding its authenticity have come from a very less likely source than expected. In this context one would think that these concerns have been presented by individuals with at least some sort of education in Pashto literature and history. However this has not been the case here. It becomes even more conspicuous since all of these individuals have appeared under a pseudonym. The mystery becomes even more intriguing when no evidence for supporting their baseless claims is offered. Everything comes directly from their guts and preconceived notions about Pashtuns and the Pashto language and poetry.

Without any academic education in Pashto language, literature, history and anthropology these “mysterious individual” have given themselves the right to attack this anthology of Pashto poetry savagely. These attacks have not stopped there. They have delivered personal insults to the author of Pata Khazana - Professor Habibi, a prominent and highly respected Pashto author, linguist and historian. This issue has been turned in to a racist and fascistic instrument for embarrassment and insulting of Pashtuns. These are just a couple of examples done in the name of literary critique. However these individuals have left the academic arena for literary studies long ago and in stead joined forces in a Nazi-style cruelty against a certain ethnic group and their history. This is not a civil way of doing business.

In the light of above, let’s seriously scrutinize the scepticism regarding authenticity of Pata Khazana and settle the matter once for all. It will save a tremendous amount of time for all of us and we could focus on other important issues which concerns our war torn country. Quarrelling on such a low level is only time consuming. Let’s give it some academic and humanistic value.
The first question which has always been raised is the matter of evidence. And without providing any sort of proof these individuals have totally dismissed Pata Khazana as a “creation” or “fabrication” of Pohand Abdul Hai Habibi. At the same time they claim that no other academician of any repute is willing to testify to its authenticity. They get even bolder and suggest that it has never existed. Mark carefully that these allegations have been made without any factual backup.

In order to conduct academic research, write, defend or reject an academic thesis it is required to possess extensive knowledge of the subject, some intelligence, common sense and a critical mind. Further more enormous amount of research material and sources are needed. And these individuals should have these qualities and access to academic reliable sources in order to maintain some scholarly level in these discussions. I think these simple and basic principles have been gravely and savagely violated in a quest for racial and linguistic superiority.

It is absolutely essential that we do not forget our integrity, morals and ethics while dealing with delicate issues concerning Afghanistan and its people. Attacking and blaming a certain ethnic group is an everyday activity among contemporary populist politicians whose main agendas are exploiting racial issues and tensions. These misdeeds are committed in the name of freedom of speech on daily basis. Those people have a hidden program and agenda which does not serve our country’s best interest. It might give them some temporarily pleasure and popularity but our brave nation will never prosper.

In this article I will show that they are wrong about Pata Khazana and at the same time they have turned a blind eye to the overwhelming amount of evidence and proof which corroborates that Pata Khazana is an authentic anthology and encyclopaedia of Pashto poets. These allegations and accusations regarding “fabrication” and “falsification” are easily disputed and dismissed as pure baseless nonsense. I hope that in the future – before rejecting and repudiating this historical book – my findings will serve as an academic complement.
About Pata Khazana
Pata Khazana which means Hidden Treasure is an anthology and encyclopaedia of Pashto poets from 7th century A.D. to 18th century A.D. This important historical book was gathered and written by Muhammad Hotak during the renaissance of Pashto language in Kandahar in 1728-29 AD in Afghanistan. Many ancient and important and precious pieces of Pashto literature and poetry have been saved and catalogued by this ambitious and young author. The earliest poet mentioned in Pata Khazana is Amir Krorr, who died in 771 AD and the list continues chronologically till Muhammad Hotak’s contemporary poets.
Professor Abdul Hai Habibi edited and published Pata Khazana in 1944 from an older handwritten manuscript.
Scholars and academicians about Pata Khaza
1. Alessandro Bausani

Alessandro Bausani (1921-1988) was Professor Emeritus and Director of the School of Oriental Studies and the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Rome "La Sapienza", and he was a member of the "Lincei" National Academy. He was well-known in academic and cultural circles for his unceasing search after knowledge, expressed through his publications, essays and articles.
Pata Khazana has been cited extensively by Professor Bausani, in his Le letterature del Pakistan et dell 'Afghanistan, in the section, la lingua e la letteratura pashto. This book was published in 1968. Studying Professor Bausani’s work and reading about his character one realises that he was a man of great integrity, knowledge and wisdom, who spent most of his life researching. If there was a doubt about the authenticity of Pata Khazana he would have not cited it that extensively in his book.

2. Georg Morgenstierne
Georg Morgenstierne (1892 - 1978) was professor of Indo-Iranian languages at the University of Oslo, Norway (UiO). The National Library of Norway, Oslo department and the Institute of East-European and Oriental languages at the UiO contain source materials originating from Morgenstierne’s study tours to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran.

Morgenstierne and Bausani – two prominent scholars who always thoroughly and carefully examined their sources - have already discussed Pata Khazana with each other. The account of one of these discussions has been documented in Bausani’s Le letterature del Pakistan et dell 'Afghanistan.

Bausani cites a letter written to him by George Morgenstierne. Bausani writes, "We can concur with the opinion of the eminent Norwegian linguist who writes that one can believe ‘in the authenticity of Pata Khazana as the work of Muhammad Hotak, during the national renaissance of Kandahar in the first half of the XVIII century, when it was important to lay claim to the antiquity of Pashto poetry in relation to Persian poetry. There is no reason to doubt that he was able to save many precious fragments of ancient poems. How ancient, I think it is impossible to say, but I think that we possess in the Pata Khazana the most ancient Pashto texts in existence.’

Morgenstierne’s statement regarding the authenticity of Pata Kahzana is based on his extensive research and knowledge of our country and Pashto language. He is still considered one of the greatest authorities in linguistics of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India. His work provides a huge treasure of knowledge and enormous research archive in Norway.
Pata Khazana in 2003
On November 22, 2003, an article on Pata Khazana by Magda Katona appeared in Magyar Nemzet Magazin of Budapest in Hungary.  The author states that a manuscript of Pata Khazana is preseved in the Armin Vambery Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. It was obtained by Armin Vambery in 1859 A.D. from Yakub Khan of Herat.  

Armin Vambery - a Hungarian Orientalist and traveler - was born in 1832. After initial education he acquired some twenty Oriental languages and dialects. He visited Teheran, Mecca, and spent several months with dervishes in rough and squalid travel through the deserts of Asia. He succeeded in maintaining his disguise, and on arriving at Khiva went safely through two audiences of the Khan. Passing Bokhara, they reached Samarkand, where the Emir, whose suspicions were aroused, kept him in audience for a full half-hour; but he stood the test so well that the Emir was not only pleased with "Reshid Effendi" (Vambery's assumed name), but gave him handsome presents. He then reluctantly turned back by way of Herat, where he took leave of the dervishes. In Heart he met Yakub Khan, who gave me a manuscript of Pata Khazana. After that Armin Vambery returned with a caravan to Teheran, and subsequently, in March 1864, through Trebizond and Erzerum to Constantinople.

Two prominent academicians – Alessandro Bausani and George Morgenstierne - have used Pata Khazana in their academic work and have even expressed their expert views regarding its authenticity and antiquity. These two outstanding Orientalists are renowned for their extensive work on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran. Just Afghanistan is not their area of interest and neither is Pashto. The most important fact is that they do not have any connection to Pashtuns what so ever. They have expressed their opinion regarding Pata Khazana in pure scholarly and academic way. Even if a word of the claims - made by some ethnofascists and Pashtun-haters - was true then so many prominent and respected scholars would have not gambled their reputation on this “fabricated” anthology.


The question of authenticity is answered by Morgenstierne and Bausani. Now remains the issue of its existence. Apart from the manuscript that has been presented by Professor Habibi, there is now another and much older copy in Hungary. This manuscript predates even Professor Habibi’s birth. I am aware of the fact these fascists would claim that why this copy of the manuscript was not found earlier. The reason for that is no body had actually looked for it in the archive. Armin Vambery gathered thousands and thousands of books on his trips and adventures in Asia and Middle East which are kept in the distinguished Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. When this manuscript was discovered and recognized articles were written about the fascinating journey it had made from Heart Afghanistan to the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Currently many Pashto researchers are looking into this manuscript and I have not taken those results here for the reasons that are explained in the following.


Abdul Karim Baryalai – a prominent Pashto researcher – whose extensive research results have been collected and published into a book called “Pata Khazana de Haqiqat pa Ayena kshe” (Pata Khazana in the mirror of research) in year 2003. Despite the existence of this credible and powerful source I deliberately chose three non-Afghan and non-Pashtun references in order to avoid the question of neutrality and credibility in this article. The results of Mr. Baryalai’s research have not been presented in this article.

 After examining the evidence from reliable sources and material it leaves no room for doubt about the authenticity of Pata Khazana. The whole campaign against this historical book is a product of these ethnofascists’ fantasy and has no value in the academic circles.


Questions to these attackers

1. When you question the authenticity of Pata Khazan, what are your academic credentials? Are you a linguist? Do you have a PhD in Pashto literature history in order to be able to give your opinion in this matter?

2. How can you question someone’s work who had dedicated his whole life to Pashto and he knows everything about this language? You don’t even know a word Pashto so how can you be right and Professor Habibi be wrong?

3. Are there any academicians of same level as Bausani and Morgenstierne who would corroborate your version of the matter?

4. A manuscript of Pata Khazana is preseved in the Armin Vambery Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. That copy was given to Armin Vambery in 1859 A.D. long before even Professor Abdul Hai Habibi was even born. How can you prove your claim that Pata Khazan was the brainchild of Professor Habibi when in fact a copy from 1859 A.D. exist in Hungry?

5. What drives you so fiercely to show that Pata Khazana is not authentic? Is it racism? Inferiority complex? Pure hatred? A maniac fixation?
What is it?  




Ajmal Maqsudi

Laguna Niguel, CA, USA








1. Le letterature del Pakistan et dell 'Afghanistan by Alessandro Bausani, 1964.








5. Rejtett kincstár – an article by Magda Katona, published in Magyar Nemzet Magazin of Budapest, Hungary, November 22, 2003.


6. ”Pata Khazana de Haqiqat pa Ayena kshe” by Abdul Karim Baryalai, 2003.




8. Hidden Treasure (Pata Khazana) by Mohammad Hotak, Khushal Habibi, Cloth. Univ. Press of America, UK, 1996