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DAWN - Features; April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008

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South Punjab pins hope on PM, CM for uplift

By Shakeel Ahmad


People of southern Punjab have pinned up hopes on the prime minister and the chief minister, incidentally both belonging to this belt of the province, regarding development of this region left ignored during the past 60 years and to redress their much-awaited deprivations.

The ‘overjoyed’ people are anxiously waiting for both the high-profiled personalities to visit their hometowns, but their arrival itinerary had been changed a number of times due to their hectic schedules.

It is for the first time that representatives of this belt have been elevated to the portfolios of the prime minister and the chief minister.

According to public perceptions, though Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani appears to be in full authoritative control, Chief Minister Dost Muhammad Khosa is being commanded by the Sharif brothers because his appointment is substantially a stopgap arrangement.

A former MPA of the Pakistan People’s Party said Gilani always played his role in the uplift of his area whenever he had been given the chance to serve the masses, and his achievements included establishment of agricultural and engineering colleges, start of three new trains from Multan and construction of Mumtazabad overhead bridge.

He said having first-hand knowledge of the problems being faced by this area, Prime Minister Gilani is more dedicated and devoted to remove backwardness and his set of priorities included mega projects like international airport for Multan, universities for Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan-Faisalabad Motorway, establishment of meat, fruit and milk processing plants, upgradation of Nishtar Medical College as university, construction of a bridge over River Indus between Layyah and Tibbi Qaisrani, construction of a mega hospital for Dera Ghazi Khan and building bridges over Chenab and Indus rivers at Head Muhammadwala and Nishtar Ghat between Kotmithan and Chacharan Sharif, respectively.

Tariq Naeemullah, a PML-N leader, said the leaders belonging to southern Punjab always ignored the area whenever they came to power while upper Punjab had always been preferred when it came to the provision of jobs or setting up of industries or establishment of any other mega project.

He said it was very unfortunate that the area was hub of cotton production in the country, but textile mills and garment factories were being set up either in Karachi or Faisalabad or Lahore, and this phenomenon alone was causing a sense of deprivation among locals who had to relocate to find employment in cotton processing units.

He demanded that Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur and Multan divisions should be declared tax-free zones at least for 10 years by setting up industrial zones in which 80 per cent local people should be given employment compulsorily.

Dera Ghazi Khan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Senior Vice-President Sheikh Tariq Ismail Qureshi said the area should be exempted from imposition of all taxes with the establishment of small industrial estates that could lead to eradicate unemployment while hilly resorts like Marri in Rajanpur district and Fort Minro in Dera Ghazi Khan district should be developed on the pattern of Murree in Rawalpindi district and Northern Areas to promote tourism.

He said the area was enriched in gypsum resources and setting up of gypsum extraction industry could be helpful in the provision of jobs to locals. He also emphasised on promotion of local handicraft.

Dera Ghazi Khan-based journalist Ashraf Buzdar said the prime minister announced construction of Faisalabad-Multan Motorway, but it should be extended to Dera Ghazi Khan onwards as the existing national highway, being the gateway for Balochistan, Sindh and the NWFP, had failed to meet the traffic requirement owing to congestion.

He said the prime minister should take the initiative for ordering the extension of Dera Ghazi Khan airport besides upgrading its status as an international airport like his recent announcement about Multan airport.

He suggested setting up of Khwaja Farid University in Rajanpur, upgradation of Sardar Koray Khan Public School, Muzaffargarh, as a university, dualisation of Dera Ghazi Khan-Dera Ismail Khan section of the Indus Highway, establishment of State Bank’s branch in Dera Ghazi Khan, provision of natural gas to all localities of the district from Dhodhak gas field and restoration of flat power rate for tubewells for agricultural usage and utilisation of hill torrents’ water for irrigation purposes.

Urdu has adequate scientific terminology

Dr Aslam Farrukhi

At times he seems a bit hard of hearing and a little unsteady in walking, but at the age of 80 plus, Dr Aslam Farrukhi’s memory is remarkably sharp. He speaks with such flow that one wishes one could listen to his scholarly discourses for hours. And often.

Being too busy with various matters, he had allowed me an hour of interview but I disturbed the eminent writer 15 minutes before the appointed time when I visited his Gulshan-i-Iqbal residence on Sunday.

Besides other things, he has committed to memory thousands of couplets. When I expressed my surprise over his power of retention, he gave a laugh and said he had inherited this trait from his father. “For instance, as a boy if I could recite from memory one thousand couplets, my father could do twice as many,” says the author of more than two dozen books. He says he remembers very well the contents of a book or a piece of poetry though he may forget to bring home something his wife might have asked for.

In the same context, Dr Farrukhi says he has seen every nook and crany of old Karachi and can vividly recall them all, and adds:

“Who else can tell you that Mumtaz Shirin lived in Gupta Mansion, Maulana Raziqul Khairi across Mama Parsi School, Maulana Mahirul Qadri adjacent to the police station in Nazimabad No 7. Shahid Ahmed Dehlavi lived in PIB Colony. So did Jamil Jalibi, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi and Justice Mazhar Ali before they shifted to other places. I know the places where once lived Sharif Inayatullah, Akhtar Husain Raipuri, Prof Mohammad Hasan Askari….

“I wish, to honour these literary figures, the authorities put up signs at the places where once they had lived.”

Dr Farrukhi is the Aizazi Mohtamim-i-Aala (honorary chief administrator) of a project of the Federal Government Urdu University, which has received generous grants from the Higher Educatin Commission to prepare in Urdu science textbooks for Honours and Master’s students. He has to seek out writers for the job and oversee planning and publishing of the books.

He vehemently defends education in Urdu. He says there is no reason why our students should not get education in the language they understand best. He gives the example of Iran, where Persian is the medium of instruction. He also cites the examples of Turkey, Japan, China, Indonesia and other countries where students are taught in their native languages.

He rejects the notion that Urdu does not have enough scientific terminology. He says Karachi University, Punjab University and Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu have over the decades rendered numerous science terms into Urdu, “enough to serve our purpose”. “Some people contend that scientific terminology is difficult to understand in Urdu. I believe it is hard to comprehend in English too.”

Dr Farrukhi, however, deplores that sometimes there are common Urdu words and phrases but people prefer their English equivalents. Criticising Urdu newspapers for following this trend of using English words for well-known Urdu terms, he wonders why they write ‘street crime’ rather than ‘rahzani’, “when this term sounds more pleasing”. And why say ‘default’ when we have its Urdu equivalent of ‘na dahindagi’, and so on.

Although a cleanshaven modern man, Dr Farrukhi is a mystic at heart and intensely loves Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. His six books on the revered saint, whom he devotedly calls Sultan Jee, testify to it. “A friend asked me how I could write the sketch of a person whom I hadn’t even seen. I said: ‘How can a person whose presence I feel in my soul and heart all the time be unknown to me? Just go read the biographical sketch and you will find in it Sultan Jee sitting, standing, walking, talking, guiding his disciples.”

He says the saint, who was a disciple of Baba Fariduddin Gunj-i-Shakr and spiritual guide toAmir Khusrau, among many others, was a great poet and scholar. He feels that Dabistan-i-Nizam, which highlights the saint’s scholarly pursuits, is his greatest literary achievement. He began writing Dabistan at the shrine of Nizamuddin Aulia and wrote its last chapter at Mawaj Sharif in Madina.

Born in 1923 into a learned family of Lucknow, Dr Aslam Farrukhi migrated to Karachi in 1947. He joined Radio Pakistan and served it for five years when an opportunity of teaching presented itself and he left his regular government job and joined the Sindh Madressatul Islam as an ad-hoc lecturer. He also taught at what is now Government College for Men in Nazimabad before joining Karachi Univesity, where he served in various capacities and retired as the chairman of the Urdu department.

Initially he was enthusiastic about poetry and often attended mushairas. But when he joined Radio Pakistan Karachi, he began writing prose for it and could not continue his poetry with the previous zest. His friends have preserved his poetry enough to fill a volume, but he does not want to be recognised as a poet.

He has maintained an enduring relationship with the radio. ‘Roshni’ is the title of his current weekly programme run by Radio Paksitan from Islamabad.

As an educationist, he is naturally proud of his students. “A tree is identified by its fruit. A teacher by his students. In almost every sphere of life I see my students occupying high places. In civil service, the media and showbiz, everywhere they have earned a name for themselves,” he says and mentions names of some of the well-known men and women.

He has the distinction of being from the first batch of Karachi University. He is one of the oldest students of Urdu college, now a university. In an attempt to repay Urdu varsity’s debt, he had the first Urdu thesis written from Urdu University.

Although he appreciates his predecessors in sketch writing, and admits having benefited from them, critics say he has given a new dimension to the genre. He has adopted a colloquial style in his writing, avoiding use of ornate language.

These days Dr Aslam Farrukhi is busy completing a fourth of his collection of biographical sketches. His published collections are titled: Guldasta-i-Ahbab, Aangan mein Sitaray and Lal, Sabz Kabootar. His books include: Mohammad Hussain Azad -- Hayat-o-Tasaneef, Fareed-o-Fard-i-Fareed. A good number of his books are for children. On requests from the Sindh Textbook Board and the Oxford University Press, he has written textbooks for various classes.