KARACHI: The 14th edition of the International Urdu Conference organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan will begin on Dec 9 and conclude on Dec 12, said council’s president Ahmed Shah on Friday.

Mr Shah told a presser that this year unfortunately quite a few scholars have left this world, such as Shamsur Rehman Farooqui and Prof Shamim Hanfi. Despite that, the organisers have tried to include as many renowned names of Urdu literature as speakers at the event.

“Since we’re also starting the 75th Independence Day celebrations of the country, this year’s theme is celebrating independence and cultural diversity. This is the reason why for the last three years we’ve been discussing other Pakistani languages — Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi, Saraeki and Pashto — as well which has received a very good feedback.”

After saying that, he introduced to the media the sponsors for the year’s edition. Coming back to the content of the programme, Mr Shah said the conference has assumed great significance over the years, so much so that Urdu writers all over the world eagerly look forward to it.

“The conference begins on Dec 9. Its inaugural session will be held at 3.30pm. The chief minister of Sindh will be the chief guest for the opening session. This will be followed by Shaam-i-Faiz in which poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter Moniza Hashmi, his grandson Adeel Hashmi and poet Iftikhar Arif will take part. The traditional subjects are there as well. This time round, though, we have kept a separate panel discussion on the novel, as are on the art of short story (afasana), criticism, ghazal and nazm.

“Then each time a big question that is put to us is about our Indian participants. Indian border is closed and the visa facility is unavailable. But the good thing that has come out of it is that earlier a few people from across the border would take part in the event, now, since through the digital media we can be viewed in all parts of the globe, there is a bigger number of guest speakers from India. For example, Gopichand Narang will grace the inaugural session. Gulzar, Javed Siddiqui and Anees Ashfaq will also be there.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021

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