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November 24, 2018

‘Structural impediments to sharing views in cyberspace are the same’


November 24, 2018

Discussing the role of Urdu, a session titled ‘Urdu in cyberspace’ was moderated by Owais Tauheed, while the panelists were Wajahat Masood, Ayub Khawar and Harris Khalique.

Speaking about his website, Hum Sab, which was launched a few years ago, Masood explained that the reason it was popular with people was that the website gave room to views which were not being accommodated in the mainstream media.

Khalique felt that social media itself did not generate content; rather, it just reflected what was posted, but in the recent times self-censorship had augmented. “If a young person shares their views about Tehreek-e-Labaik, which is critical of the party, I highly doubt that the repercussions would be the same if someone popular posted those views. I feel that the structural impediments remain the same even in cyberspace.”

Admitting the popularity of clickbait content, Masood said that it existed but the shift of mediums did not mean that the person producing online content could show irresponsibility. “Just because one doesn’t get a lot of hits doesn’t translate as the content being bad.”

However, Khalique disagreed to questions raised by the audience regarding the younger lot switching to online mediums instead of paper. He felt that a different approach much be taken in this regard, because centuries ago newspapers or the printing press did not exist, yet people were able to communicate and transfer news. “I feel the reason contemporary literature isn’t consumed is that it is not widely available on the internet.”

Urdu fiction

Moderated by Auj-e-Kamal, a previous session titled ‘Urdu fiction: Past, present and future’ saw critics, writers and researchers present their papers about different approaches to the word of fiction.

Daniel Joseph, who has been working on the contribution of women towards travelogues, said that he was translating them as a part of his project by catering to those from 1830s to 2000.

“It wasn’t that women weren’t travelling or were not recording their travels, but rather that they were almost invisible. We do find traces through the accounts of Baigmat-e-Bhopal and Atiya Faizi,” he said. He also pointed out that some women also contributed to magazines like Ismat and wrote letters to their relatives in literary languages about their travels, which needed to be documented and preserved.

Speaking on the effects on 9/11 on Urdu fiction, writer Ikhlaq Ahmad said Urdu prose writers took a wise decision of not writing about the event for a while. He said that while the event framed two realities for those directly affected by the event, there was also another side to the event of those countries which suffered immensely in the garb of the war on terror.

Asif Farrukhi spoke about symbolism and also shed light on poet Fehmida Riaz, who passed away on Wednesday night, by pointing out her numerous short stories which were often not highlighted. Mirza Hamid Baig, Aslam Jamshedpoori, Muhammad Hameed Shah, Khalid Mehmood Sunjrani and Zaib Azkar Hussain also shared their papers.

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