Muneeza Hashmi, Saleema Hashmi, poet Iftikhar Arif and Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood after cutting a cake on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ birth anniversary on Thursday. — Tanveer Shahzad
Muneeza Hashmi, Saleema Hashmi, poet Iftikhar Arif and Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood after cutting a cake on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ birth anniversary on Thursday. — Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said on Thursday that writers and poets were the most sensitive and insightful people in any society and the government is paying special attention to academic, literary and cultural institutions.

Mr Mahmood was speaking to participants gathered at the inauguration of the Faiz Ahmed Faiz Auditorium at the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL), which was held on Faiz’ birth anniversary.

The keynote address was delivered by Iftikhar Arif, while Muneeza and Saleema Hashmi, Faiz’ daughters, were guests of honour.

The welcome address was given by Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Director General Fouzia Saeed and words of thanks were given by PAL Chairman Mohammad Salman.

Faiz’ grandsons Adeel and Ali Hashmi also spoke at the event, while Tajdar Mustafa Zaidi, Bano Rehmat and Farrukh Zaidi paid tribute to the poet with a vocal and instrumental performance of his work.

The ceremony was organised by PAL and the PNCA.

Mr Mahmood said: “Faiz is considered one of the pillars of Urdu poetry. Today’s ceremony is special because it is being held on the occasion of anniversary of Faiz sahib.”

He said that Faiz is a world-renowned, multi-faceted and committed personality. He played a vital role in several literary and cultural institutions, including PAL.

“The role of the writers in making the environment conducive and pleasant for peace, stability, freedom and coexistence of the region is extremely positive and commendable,” he said.

“Our government has always paid tribute to the services of the writers and appreciates their efforts and struggles for the survival and revival of great literary and cultural traditions. Along with literature, there has been a continuous effort to promote unity, peace, love, patience and endurance in the promotion of positive thinking in Pakistan. PAL is playing effective role in this current government,” Mr Mahmood said.

Mr Arif said: “Faiz is a legendary poet. He is multi angled literary personality which marked a great name in the history. He is a symbol of peace and love amongst this world and known as the most remarkable personality.”

Until the 70s there was no written cultural policy, and it was Faiz who drafted one for the first time as a result of which cultural and literary organisations were set up, Saleema Hashmi said.

She said he was a man of insight whose observation was perfect.

He wanted the government to pay special attention towards such cultural literary institutions working to promote and develop literature and literary people.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020