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November 8, 2018

Kishwar Naheed acknowledged for her services at Lok Virsa


November 8, 2018

Islamabad : It was a pleasant addition of historic importance at the Lok Virsa Museum when we saw the sculptures of our great leaders, starting with the Father of the Nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah, his sister popularly called ‘Mother of the Nation’ Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and a few more.

This appreciable step to inaugurate a sculpture gallery was taken by the ‘Lok Virsa’ (National Institute of Folk and Cultural Heritage) back in the year 2004 when the sculptures of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, besides those of Liaquat Ali Khan and others were unveiled. And now this indeed was even more heartening to see the sculpture of Ms Kishwar Naheed side by side with those of the most popular public leader, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and the well-known Pashto folk singer, Zar Sanga, who had stamped their mark on the history and development of the country.

Of the two living stars, Kishwar Naheed has been honored for her services to literature and for her never-ending fight for woman’s rights in the country, while Zar Sanga has found a place in the gallery for her melodious singing. Unfortunately, Zar Sanga, in spite of of what she has done for Pashto music at national and international level, is living somewhere in KP in miserable conditions.

No doubt that Ms Kishwar Naheed has spent a life time struggling and waging wars for women rights in the society. Her poetry is rebellious and her columns are deeply incisive, exposing the ills and evils in the society. She faced the worst persecution during Gen Zia’s martial law and the situation turned so nasty that she decided to send both her sons to live abroad at a tender age while she stayed back as she was not ready to bow down against any pressure or tyrannical tactics. We got the opportunity to meet Kishwar Naheed for the first time when she took over the charge of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) as its Director-General back in early 1990s. She had spent the earlier part of her life writing and working in Lahore. She shot to prominence as a feminist poetess when she received the prestigious ‘Adamjee Prize of Literature’ for her first collection, ‘Lab-e-goya’ back in 1968.

The same year she also received ‘UNESCO Prize for Children’s Literature’ for her book ‘Dais, Dais Ki Kahanian’. She went on to win the ‘Best Translation Award’ from the Columbia University, the ‘Mandela Prize’ in 1997 and one of the highest civil award of Pakistan, ‘Sitara-e-Imtiaz’ in the year 2000 for her contributions toward literature and women rights struggle.

After retirement from the government service, Kishwar Nahid is continuing her literary work even more vigorously. Besides, she is frequently travelling all over the country as well as abroad to deliver lectures in the universities and institutions and attending conferences and seminars.

Over the years we have seen that she has turned her office as well as her home into a hub of literary and cultural activities. She is frequently hosting prominent literary figures at her place whenever they are in town and such occasions are always vibrant and most informative as the top literary figures of town join the guests visiting from other cities or abroad.

So, when we saw the sculpture of Kishwar Naheed alongside those of the Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the ‘Mother of the Nation’ Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and others in the Gallery, it felt particularly good.

It was after a long time since the year 2004 that the Lok Virsa administration decided to create a separate gallery to honour the women who have played some significant role in country’s politics, literature, art and culture. And as the first step the Lok Virsa decided to honour two woman living legends of the country. Kishwar Naheed and the famous Pashto folk singer, Zar Sanga!

The sculptures were molded by a lady sculptor Ms Faiza Shah of ‘Shahkhana’ early this year and those were added to the ‘Women Gallery’ as a tribute to the heroics and melodious services the two women have contributed towards the society at national as well as international level.

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