ISLAMABAD, Aug 5: Prominent Pushto writer and scholar Ajmal Khattak has been nominated for Kamal-i-Fun Award for 2007 “in recognition of his lifetime achievement in creative and research work”.

His nomination for the highest literary award of the country was announced by a panel of judges consisting of eminent writers and educationists – Prof Mazharul Haq Siddiqui, Shahzad Ahmad, Zaitoon Bano, Muhammad Mansha Yad, Prof (Dr) Peerzada Qasim, Prof Alamgir Hashmi, Hafeez Khan, Prof. Wahid Bux Buzdar and Prof (Dr) Salma Shaheen – which met at the Pakistan Academy of Letters. Prof Mazharul Haq Siddiqui presided over the meeting.The award carries a cash prize of Rs500,000. Established in 1997, the award has so far been given to Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Intezar Hussain, Mushtaq Ahmed Yusfi, Ahmad Faraz, Shaukat Siddiqui, Munir Niazi Ada Jafri, Sobho Gian Chandani, Dr Nabi Bukhsh Baloch, Jamiluddin Aali.

“This is not a respectable amount as compared to the award given to cricketers and other players. It is just a recognition and a humble tribute to the writers and scholars of the country”, remarked Pakistan Academy of Letters Chairman Iftikhatr Arif talking to reporters after the ceremony.

He said that the Academy was trying to maintain the respect and stature of the award by bestowing it upon writers who have made a lasting contribution to our national literature. It is also a means to preserve and promote the national languages and literature of the country and attract the young generation to literary pursuits.In response to a question, he said that the Academy could only create a friendly atmosphere for new and young writers. It is the society’s responsibility to recognise the importance of literature and writers and give due respect to them so that serious literature could flourish at a time when commercialism and consumerism were the ruling passion trends.

He said that in the western countries despite electronic media’s onslaught, people still read books whether traveling in planes, trains, buses or sitting in pubs or hotels. Our poor literacy rate was responsible for the decline in reading habits among other things, he regretted.

He said that the complaint that some senior writers had been overlooked or given the award very late was not justified as it was not possible to award all at the same time. A transparent system for nominating writers or scholars by a panel of judges had been devised to respond to all sensitivities – gender, language and region – while selecting the winner, he explained. The PAL also announced the National Literary Award on the best literary books produced in 2007 in Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Seraiki, Brahvi, and best translation work in these and in English language.

According to the decision of the panel for Urdu poetry the ‘Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal Award’ has been given to Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi on his book Arz-o-Sama. Judges were Kishwar Naheed, Shahzad Ahmad, and Asad Muhammad Khan.

For Urdu prose the ‘Baba-i-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq Award'’ has been given to Hasan Manzar on his book Khak Ka Rutba. The judges were: Dr Jameel Jalbi, Aslam Siraj-ud-Din, Zahida Hina.

For Punjabi the ‘Syed Waris Shah Award’ was given to Siddique Taseer on his book Rubaiyat-i-Taseer adjudged by Dr Riaz Majeed, Farkhanda Lodhi, Dr Shahbaz Malik.

For Sindhi the ‘Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai Award’ was given to Altaf Shaikh on his book New Hala Khan New York. The judges were: Dr Nawaz Ali Shauq, Dr Saher Imdad and Dr Adal Soomro.For Pashto, the ‘Khushhal Khan Kahattak Award’ has been given to Darwesh Durrani on his book Pashto Arooz. Judges who decided the award were: Hashim Babar, Prof Dawar Khan Daud and Abid Shah Abid. For Balochi the ‘Mast Tawakli Award’ has been given to Mir Muhammad Hussain Anqa Baloch on his book Rokeen Pul; Judges were: Aziz Muhammad Bugti, Dr Naimatullah Gichki and Muhammad Baig Begal. For Seraiki the ‘Khwaja Ghulam Farid Award has been given to Saleem Shahzad on his book Pairen Turda Shaher. The judges were: Shaukat Mughal, Prof Rifat Abbass and Musarat Kalanchvi. For Brahvi the ‘Taj Muhammad Tajal Award’ has been given to Arif Zia on his book Brahui Jadeed Nazm. Judges were: Ghous Bux Sabir, Abdul Qayoom Bedar and Jauhar Brahvi.

For English the ‘Pitras Bukhari Award’ has been given to Feryal Ali Gauhar on her book No Space for Further Burials adjudged by Ghazi Salahuddin, Prof Khwaja Masud, and Prof Shaista Sirajuddin.

For best translation work “Muhammad Hassan Askari Award” has been given to Amna Azfar on her book The Dust of The Road. The judges were: Mushir Anwar, Yasmeen Hameed, Prof Jaffar Ahmad.

These awards carry a cash prize of Rs1,00,000 each.

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