16th edition of Urdu Conference to begin tomorrow

Published November 29, 2023
Organisers of the Urdu Conference at the Arts Council on Tuesday. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Organisers of the Urdu Conference at the Arts Council on Tuesday. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The four-day 16th International Urdu Conference will be held from Thursday (tomorrow) at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, announced council’s president Ahmed Shah at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Shah said for the last 16 years people eagerly wait for the event to take place. It was started at a time when the culture of hatred was rife in the city. The conference helped bring people together. Since a good number of great writers have passed away in the last few years, this year’s edition is dedicated to those writers and poets who have contributed to the world of literature.

Talking about some of the sessions for 2023, he said one particular topic that’s close to his heart is the writers and poets who created the cultural landscape of post-partition Karachi. Then there is a session on Josh Malihabadi focusing on a documentary made on him and a conversation with Indian poet and filmmaker Gulzar.

Poet Iftikhar Arif said he has never seen such a big conference associated with languages even in countries that have vast resources. “One national feat that the moot has been able to achieve is to bring languages spoken in Pakistan closer. The conference began at a time when the province of Sindh and especially the city of Karachi was faced with problems, in such a situation to gather writers of languages spoken in the country and those of the English language was a great service.

“I have been associated with Pakistan’s cultural institutes since the 1960s, and I can tell you that this building [of the council] used to be in a different shape. Everybody knows about the difference in the events that used to take place in the past and the ones that happen now here. Festivals are taking place with frequency throughout the country, but the Urdu conference’s specialty is the public participation, the quality of writers and poets and the variety of topics that it entails. The important thing is that both the common man and intellectuals benefit from this conference,” he said.

Writer Noor Ul Huda Shah said the council’s recently held Pakistan Literature Festival in Lahore, Sukkur and Kashmir changed the meaning of the word ‘festival’.

“Not even attendance at political rallies can match the high number of boys and girls that attended the Sukkur event. So the meaning has changed in the sense that whatever happens on the political front, literature is the only way to create awareness,” she said.

Journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said so many festivals are taking place but the International Urdu Conference is the mother of all festivals. It is this event that laid the foundation for what a festival should look like and why it’s needed.

Former secretary of the council Qudsia Akbar said the moot that began from Karachi is now known all across the world.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023

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