Call to protect writers, artists from extremists
Karachi: Writers, poets and artists belonging to Sindh called upon the state on Saturday to provide opportunities for all national languages and cultures to grow freely and also provide them protection against non-state actors.
“The identity of different groups in Pakistan on the basis of their languages, cultures and traditional values is no less than a blessing. Dividing the people by making these cultural peculiarities a source of confrontation is not proper at all,” said a declaration issued after a convention on “Writer and Artist and the Requirements of the 21st Century’.
The convention was oragnised under the aegis of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at a hotel here. Noted writers and poets and artists, including I A Rehman, Dr Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, Prof Sahar Ansari, Ghazi Salahuddin, Muneeza Shamsi, Dr Pirzada Qasim, Nazir Leghari, Atiya Dawood, Zahida Hina, Zubeida Mustafa, Karan Singh, Niilofur Farrukh, Mehar Afroz, Noorul Huda Shah, SM Shahid and Tauqir Chughtai, participated in the event.
“It’s mandatory for the state to discard the practice of treating educational, cultural and literary rights of the citizens as inferior to their political and economic rights, and to allocate sufficient funds for the promotion of these rights,” the speakers said.
They observed that acquiring education and creating art and literature were basic human rights of the Pakistani citizens, irrespective of gender and social status. “In order to promote these rights, there is a need to promote a society were everybody has equal opportunities to acquire education and has access to art and literature.”
They speakers vowed to work with determination to promote a system based on humanism, love and equality. They also promised to continue working to defend their right to the freedom of expression.
The declaration said that it was necessary for the progress of any nation that opportunities continue to grow for the people to benefit from the collective wisdom of teachers, poets and artists. For this to happen, they said, respect for the freedom of expression and debate on societal matters was a must.
“That is why no restrictions should be placed on the freedom of expression, the choice of topics and the use of the media. It is the duty of the state to not impose any such restrictions but also to provide writers and artists with protection from non-state actors,” the speakers said.
The participants of the convention agreed to continue working with sincerity and seriously to face the challenges of the time. “It’s the responsibility of the state and society to guarantee an environment that promotes possibilities of creativity. The state and society should perform this responsibility seriously. Writers, poets and artists should also provide the people with opportunities to benefit from their individual and collective opinion.”
The speakers were of the view that language, literature and art constituted the basic assets of the culture of every nation and community and the same must be kept alive.
Although the present-day boom in the media had opened many venues for writers and artists, many rival forces had also emerged at the same time that had the potential to put them in the clutches of the exploitative industrial and business culture, they observed.
They resolved that in the prevailing circumstances the country’s writers, poets and artists would not let the struggle for keeping aloft the great human values weaken.