Urdu short story writers, media role on Gaza discussed

Published December 3, 2023
Panellists discuss works of Urdu short story writers on the third day of Urdu Conference at Arts Council on Saturday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Panellists discuss works of Urdu short story writers on the third day of Urdu Conference at Arts Council on Saturday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: A pre-lunch session on reputed Urdu short story writers on the penultimate day of the 16th International Urdu Conference organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan generated some interesting ideas.

Nasir Abbas Nayyar’s subject was writers Intizar Husain and Anwer Sajjad. He began by telling the audience about that aspect of Sajjad’s writing which highlighted the plight of the Palestinian people. He then pointed out that both Sajjad and Husain were different from each other. Sajjad was interested in multiple forms of express such as drama, dance and painting. Husain wasn’t. Sajjad’s stories have a clear influence of the art of painting, he claimed.

Tahira Iqbal’s topic was Ismat Chughtai and Ahmed Nadim Qasmi. She said if both writers could be put under one label, it would be that of resistance (ahtijaj). Both were liked progressive thought.

Akhlaq Ahmed was asked to shed light on the works of Krishan Chander and Mumtaz Mufti. He said Chander and Mufti belonged to two different realms. The former had a communist bent of mind and the latter was fond of spirituality. They have an overlapping period of 30 years and the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s were their prime time. “Mufti wrote about human psychology, taboos and fetishes, something that was not usually done in those days.”

Urdu Conference to conclude today

Najiba Arif focused on Naiyer Masud and Ghulam Abbas. She said Abbas was born in the first decade of the 20th century and Masud in the fourth. Abbas was fond of Russian literature which reflects in his stories while Masud was an admirer of Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe which is evident from his work.

Mirza Hamid Baig read a paper on Saadat Hasan Manto and Rajinder Singh Bedi. He talked about their personal life trajectories.

Asad Muhammad Khan and Zaheda Hina presided over the programme, while Iqbal Khursheed moderated the session.

Book launches

A post-lunch session in which books were launched brought together some renowned literary figures on stage.

Najiba Arif was given the task to speak on the novel Muqaddas Gunah by Naina Adil. She said it’s a startling book. When she started reading it she had certain reservations, but from the get-go the novel grabs the attention of the reader by virtue of its contextual depth. It’s a story of a pregnant woman in Karachi. The story strikes up a conversation with the reader. The novel is an important addition to Urdu literature.

Syed Kashif Raza brought forth the salient features of M Hameed Shahid’s autobiography Khushbu Ki Deewar ke Peechey. He said the book is important on two counts: one, it’s an autobiography written by a fictionist; two, it helps the reader to understand the finer points of the author’s fiction.

Dr Fatema Hassan talked about Sarwat Zehra’s collection of poems Kitney Yug Beet Gaey. She said the poetess has written the truth of her time.

Dr Ziaul Hasan read his thoughts on Najiba Arif’s collection of stories Meethey Nalkey. He said the book is the author’s powerful expression of her being. Its marked feature is that the reader finds the stories in it as they were their own stories. The book should be read without considering whether it’s written by a man or a woman.

Akhlaq Ahmed was given Anwar Sen Roy’s collection of prose poems Kuch Muhabbat Kuch Be Basi to talk about. He told the audience that the poems were written in the last five decades. They depict how the poet visualises the world and events that occurred around him.

Jami Chandio was the last speaker who spoke on Farrukh Yar’s book on Shah Husain. He said Yar is a poet but through this publication he has emerged as a thoughtful critic.

Role of media

The media’s role in the Gaza conflict was another important post-lunch session moderated by Absa Komal. Ghazi Salahuddin said only American media can have an influence on the conflict because Israel is an American outpost. Since Jewish interest wields control over the media and the economy, changing public opinion in that country is a challenge.

“But one surprising thing is now being witnessed, which is, for the first time the American media has begun talking about the Palestinian cause,” he said, adding the Pakistani media doesn’t cover international events the way it merits.

Arif Waqar said while it’s correct that the Pakistani media doesn’t do much about it he’s pleasantly surprised to see that DawnNews has fixed a slot for the issue.

Mazhar Abbas said the biggest issue with our media is that it can talk about every problem except the ones related to Pakistan. “Nobody has stopped us to talk about Gaza. But we’re stopped to talk about issues of Pakistan.”

He said he doesn’t think that western media is free when it comes to Gaza. Those who work for foreign media outlets have been asked to write less on Gaza.

Sohail Waraich, Salim Safi, Azhar Abbas and Wusatullah Khan also spoke.

The conference concludes on Sunday (today).

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023

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