MULTAN: Famous Seraiki poet Rifat Abbas has turned down the Pride of Punjab Award carrying a Rs300,000 prize, conferred on him by the Punjab government, citing moral and ideological reasons.

The Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture, working under the patronage of the Punjab Information and Culture Department for the promotion of Punjabi language, art and culture, had announced the award for the Multan-based Seraiki poet Rifat Abbas in poetry category in connection with International Mother Language Day of 2017.

“I’ve no moral ground to accept the award; I refuse it due to three main reasons: being a poet, being a Seraiki nationalist and being a neighbor of small nations struggling against the suppression of Punjab,” said Mr Abbas.

Explaining the reasons, he said that being a poet he had not rendered any service for the promotion of Punjabi language but his all services were for the promotion of Seraiki language.

“Similarly, being a Seraiki nationalist I’m part of the struggle for a separate federating unit as we (Seraikis) are a separate nation and have separate language and culture. Being a neighbour to other oppressed nations like Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtoon, that are under the suppression of Punjab, and by accepting this award I will lose grounds to support these nations,” he said.

In the past, Seraiki intellectual Mehboob Tabish has also refused to accept an award by the World Punjabi Congress on his book on the life of Holy Prophet ‘Aiboon Khali’.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2017