The unsung spring of Urdu’s literary journalism
By Rauf Parekh
A RAINBOW has appeared on Urdu’s literary horizon: literary magazines are making their debut and the ones launched in the recent past or long ago, too, are surviving somehow, bringing out their new issues. In this sea of literary writings, mostly unsolicited, quite a few are really remarkable and make you believe firmly that Urdu literature is alive and quite well – and is kicking, too.
What is more surprising is that some of them are monthlies and their new issues come out with clockwork regularity, something quite contrary to the traditions of Urdu’s literary journalism which has always been notorious for its tardiness. It is not unusual for Urdu’s literary magazines to have a Â‘double issueÂ’ published to compensate for a missed issue and that too without any genuine apology or explanation.
When I talk about the literary magazines being published regularly I do not have in mind the magazines of some government or semi-government organisations –such as Â‘Qaumi zuban’, a monthly published by Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu, or ‘Akhbar-i-Urdu’, the monthly journal of National Language Authority – but I mean literary magazines like ‘Takhleeq’ which are truly the labour of love.
Takhleeq’s editor Azhar Javed has shown the degree of devotion and dedication that has now become rare as journalism, whether literary or otherwise, is no more a mission it used to be in the subcontinent.
With a host of Urdu’s literary periodicals making their presence felt, one feels as if a thousand flowers have bloomed, all at once. Urdu’s literary journalism is having a spring time in Pakistan these days. Magazines with creative writings are usually well-received, albeit in a small circle, but what surprises one is the fact that new journals oriented purely to literary
research or literary criticism too are being launched. The most recent example is that of ‘Tehqiqaat-i-Urdu’, a research journal published from Rawalpindi. Edited by Dr Abid Siyaal, its first issue has just been brought out and it seems quite
promising. But unlike other research journals published by government-run universities or government organisations – such as Bazyaft, Daryaft, Meyaar, Takhleeqi adab, Almas, Tehqeeq, Zuban-o-adab, Urdu, Khayaban, Saheefa and many more Â— it is a privately owned venture.
Another example is quarterly ‘Asaaleeb’, a blend of creative, research and critical writings. Edited by Prof Sahar Ansari and Ambreen Haseeb Amber, ‘Asaaleeb’ was launched just a few months ago and its second issue has already arrived confirming the warm welcome it received in the literary circles all over the country.
There are also many oldies that are going strong and among them is ‘Al-aqreba’, a quarterly edited by Syed Mansoor Aaqil and published from Islamabad.
There is quite a long list of Urdu’s literary journals brought out from Pakistan and even a quick thought brings these names to one’s mind (the list is in alphabetical order and shows the name of the magazine, venue of publication and the name/s of editor/s):
Aaenda, Karachi, Mahmood Wajid; Aaj, Karachi, Ajmal Kamal; Aalami rang-i-adab, Karachi, Shaer Ali Shaer; Adab-i-lateef, Lahore, Siddiqa Begum; Adabi safhaat, Peshawar, Muhammad Imtiaz; Al-aqreba, Islamabad, Mansoor Aaqil; Al-ayyaam, Karachi, Nigar Sajjad Zaheer; Al-Ilm, Karachi, Mustafa Ali Barelvi; Alhamra, Lahore, Shahid Ali Khan; Armaghan-i-naseem, Karachi, Dr Mehrunnisa Aziz; Asaaleeb, Karachi, Sahar Ansari/ Ambreen Haseeb Amber; Az-zubair, Bahawalpur, Shahid Hasan Rizvi; Badbaan, Karachi, Nasir Baghdadi; Bayaaz, Lahore, Khalid Ahmed; Bunyaad, Lahore, Yasmeen Hameed/Moeen Nizami; Chahaar soo, Rawalpindi, Gulzar Javed; Dunya-i-adab, Karachi, Auj-i-Kamal; Dunyazaad, Karachi, Asif Farrukhi; Funoon, Lahore, Naheed Qasmi/ Nayyar Hayaat; Ibaarat, Hyderabad, Masroor Ahmed Zai; Ijra, Karachi, Ahsan Saleem; Imarat kaari, Karachi, Hayat Rizvi Amrohvi; Insha, Hyderabad, Safdar Ali Khan; Irteqa, Karachi, Wahid Basheer/Muhammad Ali Siddiqui/Rahat Saeed/Dr Jafer Ahmed; Josh Sahanaasi, Karachi, Dr Hilal Naqvi; Kaghazi pairhan, Lahore, Shahid Shedai; Caravan, Bahawalpur, Naveed Sadiq; Lauh-i-adab, Hyderabad, Shakeel Ahmed Khan; Mukalma, Karachi, Mubeen Mirza; Montage, Lahore, Mansoora Ahmed; Nigar, Karachi, Farman Fatehpuri; Niqaat, Faisalabad, Qasim Yaqoob; Raushnai, Karachi, Ahmed Zainuddin; Pehchaan, Mirpurkhas, Karan Singh; Savera, Lahore, Muhammad Saleem-ur-Rahaman; Symbol, Rawalpindi, Muhammed Ali Farshi; Sayyara, Lahore, Hafeez-ur-Rahman Ahsan; Sooraj, Lahore, Tasleem Ahmed Tasavvur; Sufaid Chhari, Sargodha, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal; Tehqeeqaat-i-Urdu, Rawalpindi, Abid Siyal; Tajdeed-i-nau, Lahore, Azra Asghar/ Sheeba Taraaz; Takhleeq, Lahore, Azhar Javed; Zarnigar, Faisalabad, Zia Husain Zia; and Zeest, Karachi, Dr Ansaar Ahmed.
This list is not complete at all – by no means. There must be many many more that I may have either missed or do not know about. And there may be many others about which I am not sure if they are still on not.
Though some of them have been struggling all along and many may not be regularly published, this is a pleasant outlook considering that the individual circulation of newspapers and magazines is dwindling all over the world, except for a few countries such as India. But this apparently pleasing situation has a down side, too: this spring is unsung; nobody bothers to take notice of this literary activity on such a large scale let alone appreciate it. Secondly, what worries many is that most of the magazines have a meagre circulation and are mailed to readers – usually complimentarily – as they are not stocked by bookshops operators. The people willing to buy these publications do not find them in bookshops. Some of them are of course available at a few bookshops but only selected ones.