Two million minutes of rare audio at PBC under threat
By Shahid Husain
Karachi: Two million minutes of rare audio recordings, comprising speeches, interviews, drama, music and Mushairas from pre-partition days to date, available with the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), are under threat because of paucity of funds to preserve them.
“The audio include speeches of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatama Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Liaquat Ali Khan, Bahadur Yar Jung, Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardi, Mountbatten, and even Hitler and Mussolini are available at the headquarters of PBC in Islamabad. However, it faces threat because PBC has a budget shortfall of Rs 100 million,” a highly-placed source told The News on Friday.
The treasure is not only a great heritage but could also be used as source material for researchers and scholars interested in unearthing the ups and downs of the national liberation movement and the people keen to understand the Pakistan politics in its true perspective. The rare audio collection could also help in understanding the rise and fall of fascism and unearthing malignant aggression of personalities such as Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Mussolini.
“While the democratic government does not mind in spending colossal amount in holding cabinet meeting in Gwadar, it is not interested in preserving such rare archives,” the source lamented.
The rare audios also include music and dramas but in all likelihood the tapes would become redundant if the authorities fail to take timely action. It may be pointed out that the subcontinent has produced some of the finest musicians and singers in the world but connoisseurs of art and culture are likely to loose this treasure trove because of bureaucratic hiccups and general apathy towards culture.
“PBC needs to digitise the audio tapes immediately,” the source said.
“Despite the advent of TV and other media outlets, radio has a special significance, especially for the third world countries like Pakistan because the vast majority of our population lives in rural areas and relies on radio. Therefore, the authorities should pay heed to preserving these rare audios,” said Prof. Saher Ansari, an eminent poet, critic and educationist.
“Successful experiments in FM radio have proved that people listen to radio keenly but it’s a pity that while we don’t mind spending billions for non-productive activities, we are not ready to preserve our heritage,” he said.
“Can’t we cut some expenses on the Prime Minister House and the President House to safeguard our national treasure?” questioned eminent short story writer and columnist Zahida Hina. “We already have lost much of our heritage due to myopia. If the government is short of funds to preserve these rare audios, it can auction it so that it is preserved. I think the British Broadcasting Corporation and All India Radio will be keen to purchase them because it will help researchers, students of history and art and culture in understanding our national liberation movement, and evolution of art and culture in this part of the world,” she said.
Source: The News