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Karachi

December 4, 2016

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Panellists stress enthusiasm and passion for cultural centres

Seek coordination among institutions, promotion of activities

The takeaways from a much-awaited session, regarding the role of cultural centres and contemporary needs, at the 9th International Urdu Conference on Saturday, were a few clichés like creating coordination among cultural institutions, working hard to promote cultural activities and, above all, appointing enthusiastic and passionate heads of cultural centres.

For Inamul Haq Javed of the National Book Foundation, heads of the cultural centres must be as efficient as former Arts Council secretary Muhammad Ahmed Shah, who has been presiding over the council’s affairs for over nine years.

The panellists included representatives of noted cultural centres, including bigwigs like Ataul Haq Qasmi representing the Al Hamra Arts Council, Dr Muhammad Qasim Bughio of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, and Ahmed Shah.

Partly moderating the session with Hameed Shaid, Shah uttered his wish multiple times to make the session interactive.

Stopping Fatima Hasan of the Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Urdu from reading her paper, Shah asked her to participate in the discussion.

Fatima, however, managed to share the history of the Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Urdu, saying that it was founded in 1903 by Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk. She said cultural centres should carry out their projects as per the requirements of contemporary education.

Chipping in his points revolving around the achievements of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Dr Bughio said his organisation was translating literature written in regional languages into Urdu to promote them on national level.

Syed Jamal Shah, director general of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), after his preliminary lecture on the need of culture and communication, lamented a lack of funds for cultural activities.

“The government only grants a few million rupees to the PNCA and almost 90 per cent of it gets consumed in administrative expenses.”

Ahmed Shah insisted that the director general reduce the rent of the PNCA-run theatre, saying that charging Rs150,000 as fare was not a fair practice. Jamal Shah refrained from making a promise to reduce the fare.

He, however, told that many artistes had been allowed to perform the theatre without any charge. “We also have an open-air theatre. I have permitted young artistes to practise theatre exercises and hold jam sessions with the condition that they must produce something original and perform at the PNCA every month.”

Ahmed Shah, while being all praise for Jamal Shah, lashed out at a former PNCA director general. “I’m not afraid. Let me call out his name. He was Tauqeer Nasir, who is responsible for the deterioration of the PNCA.”

Ataul Haq Qasmi, on the other hand, expressed his relief over the performance of the Karachi Arts Council and other cultural centres. He said the government had appointed heads of different cultural centres on merit, adding that there was a dearth of funds for cultural centres but their administrations were trying their best to fulfil their mandates.

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