ISLAMABAD, June 30: As many as 12 departments dealing with literatures and research have been placed under the Ministry of Information with bureaucrats and non-literary figures appointed as their heads.

As a result, these departments are unable to achieve the objectives for which they had been established, it has been learnt.

The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL), the National Book Foundation, National Language Promotion Department, Iqbal Academy, Quaid-i-Azam Academy, Lok Virsa, PNCA, the Urdu Dictionary Board, Awan-i-Iqbal, Awan Quaid-i-Azam and Science Board were part of different ministries which were devolved under the 18th amendment.

After the 19th amendment in 2010, the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration was established and all these departments were placed under it. However, after coming to power, the PML-N government merged the national heritage ministry into the Ministry of Information and placed all these departments under it. “The information ministry has its own priorities and seems unable to utilise these departments for which they had been established,” said an official of the former national heritage and integration ministry, requesting not to be identified.

“If the government cannot make a separate ministry, it should place these departments under the Cabinet Division or establish a separate division,” he said.

Another official on the condition of anonymity said in most of the departments non-literary persons had been appointed as heads. In the past, literary personalities such as Ahmad Faraz, Iftikhar Arif and Nazir Naji headed PAL but now a retired bureaucrat has been made its chairman. Under section 8 of the PAL rules, only a literary person can become its chief.

“Josh Malihabadi, Jamiluddin Aali and others were once editors of Urdu Dictionary Board but now a joint secretary is heading it. Another joint secretary is the director of Urdu Science Board. In the past, Kishwar Naheed, Ashfaq Ahmed and other prominent personalities were directors of the board,” he said.

While discussing the issue of PAL, the official said: “Kamal-i-Fun Award has not been announced since 2010. Even annual awards for books are delayed and a seminar on Saadat Hasan Manto could not be held despite announcement.”

When contacted, Chairman PAL Abdul Hameed said he was a public servant and had to follow instructions of the government.

Agha Gul, a renowned scholar from Balochistan, who is the author of 22 books, told Dawn that there should be a separate ministry to deal with the literary departments because we need to project our culture and traditions.—Ikram Junaidi

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