The International Urdu Conference, which is being organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP) for the last 16 years, has now become Pakistan’s literary brand that has been spreading the message of love, respect and tolerance all over the world.
Sindh Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar made these remarks on Thursday as he spoke at the inauguration of the 16th Aalmi Urdu Conference at the ACP. He also announced on the occasion that ACP President Muhammad Ahmed Shah would be inducted into his cabinet as a caretaker minister in recognition of his services to the literary and cultural arenas of Pakistan.
Baqar said literature could bring people of different backgrounds, cultures and ways of life together. “When people relate to a piece of literature, it makes them think that they are not alone and that someone else has been through what they are going through,” said the interim CM.
Quoting Shakespeare, he said that literature was the expression of life in words of truth and beauty. He added that literature was the written record of human spirit, thoughts, emotions, and aspirations.
Baqar appreciated the leading literary figures who had contributed to the conference and helped develop a spirit of tolerance and co-existence among the people of different languages, religions and faiths.
The CM urged the youth not only to participate in such conferences which were bound to inculcate the spirit of humanity among them but develop a habit of reading books. He urged the leading literary figures to play their role in making Pakistan a peaceful and tolerant society.
In his welcome address, the ACP president said Justice (retd) Baqar had rendered remarkable services for promoting democratic dispensation in the country. He mentioned that several prominent literary figures had supported him when he started work on the first edition of the Urdu Conference 16 years back.
He informed the audience that various delegates from abroad and writers based in other cities and associated with regional languages had come to Karachi to attend the Urdu Conference. He reaffirmed the commitment of the ACP to promoting writers and poets from all over the country.
Shah said the Urdu Conference also featured sessions on seven regional languages of the country and that move had attracted criticism from certain quarters. He noted that prominent literary figures from India had come to Pakistan to attend the past editions of the Urdu Conference. He said the ACP had hosted youth festivals and other activities to promote the talents of the younger generation in the country.
He said that up to 59 per cent of the audience of the recent Arts Council’s programme in Sukkur comprised youth. The ACP president said that he would also provide a large number of Urdu books to the largest library of the United Arab Emirates. He added that the ACP also wanted to establish a ‘house of translation’ similar to one functioning in Iran.
He said that this was going to be the first edition of the Urdu Conference without Zia Mohyeddin who passed away earlier this year. He added that a special session would be held to remember Moyeddin and other departed literary figures.
He mentioned that new digital media had been doing a good job to promote Urdu literature. In his keynote address, veteran journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said that Pakistanis should be proud of the literature of their native land. He lamented that there was a dearth of people in the country who were keen to read its literature.
He said literature should be used as a means to overcome hatred and animosity and promote love and affinity in society. He added that books provided immense power of knowledge to anyone who possessed them regardless of his or her status.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by notable figures in literature and arts, including Iftikhar Arif, Zehra Nigah, Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Mirza Athar Baig and others.
At the end of the inaugural ceremony, the interim CM presented awards to five books in different languages, included Urdu. The award winning books included "Khafeef Mukhfi Ki Khuwab Beeti" by Mirza Athar Baig (Urdu), "Pashtoon Danish" by Noor-ul-Amin Yousafzai (Pashto), "Mendal Da Qanoon" by Jameel Ahmed Pal (Punjabi), "Yaram Yaram" by Zubaida Maitlo (Sindhi), "Marda Jivan Di" by Muhammad Hafeez Khan (Saraiki), and "Man Kishay Nihaan" by Ghafoor Shad (Balochi).
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