Sindh Writers/Artists Convention: Writers look at their own failings at raising awareness on Balochistan
KARACHI: Writers have not done enough to promote human rights causes in Pakistan, was the consensus of panellists at a session at the convention.
Urdu columnist Zahida Hina read from her paper during the discussion on the role of writer. Her paper recalled the work of the White Rose – a resistance group of the Nazi Germany comprising six writers of Munich University who were later caught by the Gestapo. She talked about the writers and poets in the US who opposed the Iraq and Vietnam wars.
But closer to home, there was criticism of writers for not doing enough, specifically for Balochistan. Almost everyone compared the situation in the province to that of former East Pakistan.
Hina referenced Sabir Zafar, a poet from Balochistan, who wrote a moving poem on the people who had died because of the unrest in the province. She said that though Zafar had written 30 books he wasn’t prominent publicly, which highlights just how serious the communication gap is.
Sindhi writer Karan Singh said that if writers had been more active during the crisis in East Pakistan then the situation might have been different now. “Priorities have changed,” he said. “We also need to change our educational institutions and how children are taught there.”
He recalled the work of the Progressive Writers Association and how Sindhi writers had opposed the One Unit System implemented by General Ayub Khan more vociferously than their peers in other provinces.
Artist Khuda Bux Abro, who works as an illustrator for Dawn, said that artists and writers don’t even talk to each other anymore. “When we were studying art we were told to study poetry first,” he said. “Art has been limited to galleries and is not easily accessible to the general public.”
Biztek Rector M A Siddiqui, who is also the president of the Progressive Writers Association, believes that our society considers the concept of human rights as an alien one. According to Siddiqui, discussing human rights is natural in the West because they have a 700-year-old history of the Magna Carta.
Siddiqui said that while the responsibilities of writers stay the same, what matters is their contribution to society.