KARACHI: The 13th International Urdu Conference organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi will be held from Dec 3 to Dec 6, announced council president Ahmed Shah at a press conference held on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Shah said this is the 13th edition of the conference and this time round things are different due to the pandemic that the whole world is affected by.

There’s lockdown in most parts of the world, as in some parts of Pakistan. Therefore, the event will be held online and its sessions will be available for literature buffs on the council’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Mr Shah said he feels a bit sad because of the situation because usually every year the three to four conference halls of the cultural space are jam-packed with audiences. After a great deal of consultation within the council members and with the government officials, the advice that they received was that there shouldn’t be too much involvement of the public in the event. “It’s not open to public.”

The other factor, he pointed out, is that generally senior poets and writers between the ages of 70 and 80 grace the conference with their presence. Since now health is the priority, the council didn’t encourage senior writers to physically come to the event. However, the moot will take place on the same dates announced previously.

On this year’s focus of attention of the programme Mr Shah said the subject that writers, poets and scholars will visit is the ‘Review of 100 years of Urdu’ (fiction, poetry, criticism, drama and film).

Expected speakers

He said speakers from across Pakistan will arrive in the city but some others will be taking part online. Writers and poets from India such as Prof Shamim Hanfi and Javed Siddiqui will also be digitally connected. Gulzar sahib and Shabana Azmi have been requested too but they’re out of their home towns.

Secretary of the council Ajaz Farooqui commended the role that the media have played over the years in promoting the conference. He requested them to cover the event a bit extensively this year because of the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2020

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