Writers oppose one-nation-one-language theory
ISLAMABAD: An international writers’ conference concluded here on Tuesday with a call for measures to protecting indigenous cultures and languages from designs of hegemony and to promote pluralistic society as well as democratic norms.
The conference was organised by African-Asian Writers Union (AAWU) Pakistan chapter in collaboration with Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO).
Delegates from Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Uzbekistan and various parts of Pakistan in a joint declaration at the end of the three-day conference called on their respective governments to respect peoples’ right to their culture, language, peace and democracy.
Writer Ahmed Salim read out the declaration.
Writers supporting the Pakistani government’s efforts to rid country of terrorism urged for a pro-people administrative strategy to rehabilitate the affected population in the tribal regions and invest in the tribal regions for the prosperity of people.
Another key plank of the declaration was that all languages spoken by the people are the national languages. They rejected the one-nation-one-language theory.
It asked the government to fulfil its constitutional responsibility of investing in national languages and cultures.
The delegates affirmed that there should be no discrimination among the people on the basis of caste, creed, race, religion and sex as all citizens irrespective of their faith are equal in the eyes of the state.
It hoped that writers from Pakistan and Afghanistan will play their role for peace in the region.
Lauding the peace overtures between India and Pakistan, the declaration read, writers can help forge strong relationship between the two countries and there should be visa-on-arrival facility for writers of both the countries.
The declaration concluded by offering support for peoples’ efforts to establish democracy in Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq through transparent elections.
On the first day of conference, Dr Anwar Ahmed in his welcome speech highlighted certain pertinent issues that plagued the politico-literary movements in and around Pakistan and how that space has been captured by the rightist forces. For the benefit of the young and not-so- young participants who were born during 80s and 90s he recalled how Progressive Papers Limited was taken over in 1958. And before that how Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Gul Khan Naseer, Sheikh Ayaz, Ajmal Khattak and others writing in the national languages were termed as traitors.
He was caustic when he moved to events that took place after the takeover by General Ziaul Haq. “Nurseries formed by Zia were behind the mess we face today,” he said.
The tiny hands that used to weave carpets are sent to either seminaries or the Middle East to be camel jockeys or wear suicide jackets.
Earlier the delegates deliberated in groups key questions related to the theme of the conference. Dr AH Nayer, Dr Jafar Ahmed and Arshad Waheed conducted discussion in their respective groups.
Like it or not
Mixed reactions were offered from the participants and observers on the conference.
While many called it a step in the right direction, some said it was a hasty, ill-planned and ill-attended event with no concrete follow up plan expressing fears it will turn out to be a one-off event.
Organisers of the conference, a few individuals with partial support from the Pakistan Academy of Letters and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), announced on the first day that the delegates themselves have borne all their travelling expenses.
That explained the confusion that many had in their minds as to why some famous literary figures from the participating countries as well as from the four provinces were not there?
Though the conference has concluded with the launching of the Pakistan chapter of the AAWU, it remains to be seen whether the union will be able to overcome the resource constraint that the organizers mentioned as the main reason behind the thin attendance.
A participant, who has been part of such initiatives in the past did not know about the event until a friend told him, said “it is a writers’ meeting that even most of the writers do not know about.”
Another participant alluding to the fewer participants said if they looked around, they could have roped in organizations that were willing to offer help.
An audience member commenting on the decline of the once vibrant writers’ body said that it started in the times when anti-imperialism wave was at its peak and the world was clearly divided into two blocs. The political leadership also had realization that without literature their vision of a pro-people system was not possible.
“But with time the left leaning movements who were acting as an umbrella waned and the literary movements such as AAWU also faltered,” he remarked.
Dr Jafar Ahmed, one of the organizers, in his address expressed the hope that this conference does not become just an event and there will be concrete plans to follow it up so that the union’s Pakistan chapter does not meet the same fate as its parent body.