11th Urdu Conference opens at Arts Council
KARACHI: The 11th International Urdu Conference commenced on Thursday at Arts Council of Pakistan with an opening address by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. The CM claimed that Karachi is the largest city of Urdu speaking people.
“It [Urdu] is the language of love and fraternity. It has the ability to remove the communication barriers among people of different languages and has enabled them [people of Pakistan] to interact easily with each other,” said Shah. He said that Urdu literature, through poems and prose, has always tried to foster a sense of community among people of different languages, religions and sects.
“The people who did linguistic and sectarian politics gave nothing to this city but bodies in gunny bags, destruction and divide,” said Shah, adding that the peace-loving people of the city, rejected them [in general election] and supported the government in its pursuit of returning peace, prosperity and light to the city. “Through the platform of this conference, I assure the people of Sindh that a bright future belongs to them because they believe in pluralism and co-existence. This is what our Sufis, our leaders and our Urdu writers have taught us,” he said.
The CM applauded the efforts of his government which works hard to promote literature in national and regional languages. “Our culture department has printed a lot of books in Urdu and Sindhi languages and is one of the best in the world since it has a loud and clear message of respect for everyone, irrespective of discrimination,” said Shah.
The CM recalled literary works by Fahmida Riaz and said that her death was a great loss to the country. He reiterated the importance of writers and literary figures in the political fabric of the country. “It was a dark era in the history of Karachi when people were being killed, their properties were burnt and shutter down and wheel jam strikes had become the order of the day,” he said, referring to political unrest, and added that even in those days our writers rejected the strike calls and launched target operations via their pens by writing poems, prose and articles. “Today the contribution of writers and journalists in restoration of peace cannot be ruled out,” he said.
Shah said that he was proud to be in the midst of leading literary figures of the Subcontinent and Europe and welcomed the guests who were in the city to attend the conference.
Writer, critic and columnist, Nasir Abbas Nayyar, also spoke at the conference. He said that under the leadership of Ahmed Shah, literature and culture has become an important part of the Pakistani calendar. “We began from consuming books but now we are consuming humans. In olden days, books were burnt if there was something objectionable in them, but now we burn humans if they say something illicit,” he said, adding that raising questions has now become intolerable and despite that, we yearn for a saviour. “Artists and writers are the ones who kill evil in society because they occupy both, the world of society and the world of imagination,” said Nayyar.
Notable Indian writer and critic, Shamim Hanfi, in his address on the occasion, said that our mistake has been to modernise without having understood the soul of modernity, and on an intellectual level this hasn’t benefitted us much. Critics and literary figures present us with what they observe in the society, he said. He emphasised that literature is eternal and our creative potential begins from there, but traditional society has been losing its intellectual insight.
Noor Zaheer from India, Arif Naqvi from Germany, Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Asad Mohammad Khan, Iftikhar Arif, Raza Ali Abidi, Peerzada Qasim, Masood Ashar, Ameena Saiyid and others were also present at the conference. Arts Council of Pakistan Secretary Prof Aijaz Ahmed Farooqi gave a vote of thanks to those present at the programme which was hosted by Huma Mir.