CHARASADA: Speakers at a ceremony here on Sunday demanded of the government to give equal status to all regional languages to promote cultural diversity and national integrity.

The ceremony was arranged by Ulasi Adabi Sangar Sardhero at Ghani Derai Complex to celebrate 70th birth day of noted progressive writer and Almi Pashto Adabi Conference chairman Salim Raz.

A large number of poets, writers and local elders attended the ceremony.The speakers said that Salim Raz was a genuine progressive writer, who found a niche for himself in the political and literary circles. They demanded equal status for all regional languages to encourage cultural diversity and national integrity.

They said that the country was in dire need of national unity and permanent peace. Only promoting literary and cultural activities could combat extremism, intolerance and militancy, they added.

Paying rich tributes to Mr Raz, they said he started his poetic journey way back in 1956 and since then he had been contributing to Pashto language and literature.

The speakers said that Mr Raz influenced numerous young poets and writers to use their pen for the cause of a positive social change and restoration of peace in the region.

They said that being a genuine progressive writer he never comprised on principles. Convening two world Pashto conferences in Peshawar was his great achievement because he wanted to let Pakhtun poets, writers and intellectuals share their thoughts regarding their social, political, cultural and literary issues and forge unity among their ranks for human and social development.

“Mr Raz has kept a balance between politics and his literary pursuits. He has never deviated from his stated position. He wants to see Pakhtuns as a progressive, tolerant and peace-loving nation. He wishes them to redefine their social, political and cultural narratives in today’s rapidly changing situation,” the speakers said.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Raz said that most poets and writers were interested in romanticism and self-praise while they held an important responsibility to guide their people on the right track.

“Poets are considered eyes and ears of a nation. They should use their talent for serving a national cause. Today we need to understand the prevailing geo-political situation around us. The eyes of the world are focused on us. We have to respond in an intelligible manner otherwise survival for Pakhtuns as a united nation seems to be difficult,” Mr Raz said.

Senior Pashto poet Ashraf Ghamgeen, who was a chief guest on the occasion, said that poets and writers like Salim Raz could play a vital role in bringing about a positive change in the outlook of people. Such individuals had an enlightened vision to foresee future of the nation and give a new direction to youngsters to get ready for the difficult times lying ahead, he added.

Moazzam Jan, president of Ualsi Adabi Sangar, urged the writers and poets to serve their nation with a true spirit as Pakhtuns had fallen to challenging times.

He said that Mr Raz had impacted a generation of writers, who had a broad vision as he had groomed them to serve people selflessly.

Prof Zubair Hasrat, Prof Syed Mahmood Zafar, Prof Abaseen Yousafzai, Dr Khurshid Alam, Ikramullah Jan, Saadulla Jan Barq, Neemroz Qais, Wadood Ashnaghari, Amjad Ali Khadim, Mohammad Parvaish Shaheen, Sahar Katozai Hayat, Prof Yasin Iqbal, Dr Syed Chiragh Hussain Shah and Imdad Qazi, the lone Sindhi scholar, also addressed the gathering.

Later a spring poetry recitation session was also held that was attended by about 60 poets from different areas.

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