PANCHAM… monthly magazine, editors Faaeza Raana and Maqsood Saqib; PP 328; Price Rs50; Published from Suchet Kitab Ghar, Sharaf Mansion, Chowk Ganga Ram, Book Street, Lahore.

Once at the invitation of the Academy of Letters senior writers' panel was in the process of deciding who among the most senior writers of the country deserved the Life Achievement Award introduced by then PM Nawaz Sharif through Nazeer Naji, then chief of the Academy of Letters.

One of the judges proposed the name of Prof Shareef Kunjahi but the immediate and curt response was that he (Kunjahi) was not much known at the national level. Here national level meant the person should be well-known at Urdu or English level. Sharif Kunjahi had major work in Punjabi though he started his literary career with Urdu poetry and his poem titled 'Paspaaee' was one of the best poems of the year (most probably of 1940). Almost same was the fate of Kunjahi's follower Sharif Sabir who has done a great research work in Punjabi.

He edited texts of the Heer-Ranjha by Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Sultan Bahu and Mian Muhammad's Saiful Muluk. He has translated Kashful Mehjoob of Data Ganjbukhsh in Punjabi… the first ever translation in Punjabi. I was searching his name among those who have been appointed by the Punjab government as members of the Board of Governors of those 26 colleges where four-year BS-honours degree course in being introduced. Sharif Sabir has been interviewed by a university teacher, Dr Aasima Qadri, and its third and the last part has appeared in this thick issue of the Pancham.

Out of the 26 boards only 14 have been named and incidentally among the writers, media men and intellectuals and teachers most of the names are closely associated with Nazria-i-Pakistan whose official spokesmen are people like Majeed Nizami…owner of Nawa-i-Waqt group of newspapers and TV channel and Prof Rafiq Ahmad, former vice-chancellor of the Punjab University… both working at Majlis-i-Karkunan-i-Pakistan in an evacuee property Trust Narsingh Das on The Mall.

Both have through three governments of Punjab acquired many kanals of Trust land which was the property of Majlis-i-Taraqqi-i-Adab and Idara Saqafat-i-Islamia founded by Khalifa Abdul Hakeem and Imtiaz Ali Taj. This Trust land was illegally transferred to Nazria-i-Pakistan and it would not be out of place to say that the property of those colleges also come in danger of which they have been appointed governors.

All the boards have not a single member who has done a class job in Punjabi. Some of other names are; Amjad Islam Amjad, Khwaja Muhammad Zakriya, Dr Muhammad Saleem, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Justice Nasira Javed (retired), Dr Khalid Mahmood Anwar (Faisalabad), Prof Rubeena Tareen (BZ University, Multan), Jameel Yousuf, Prof Fateh Muhammad Malik. Again not all but a majority of them was supporting the devastating 'Islamisation' of the curricula in Zia's regime.

The next important thing about them is that almost all of them have been practically believing in establishing the hegemony of Urdu and reducing the status of languages of the people. Their latest columns and other writings clearly suggest what is on their agenda.

Where are the peoples like Najm Hosain Sayed, Prof Abid Ameeq, Prof Shaukat Mughal, Sharif Sabir, Sufi Mushtaq, Prof Saeed Ahmad Farani, Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, Muzaffar Ghaffar, Col Nadir Ali, Col Ilyas and Prof Abdul Razzaq Shahid.

Sharif Sabir in his interview says that when he before partition topped the list of SV candidates, a press reporter wanted to know his feeling “I, at that emotional moment, said, I am relieved of two tokaries (Baskets)…. One was of a labourer and the other was of a clerk.” Sharif had that time done both the jobs. He used to carry Chhaba with his father and sell articles of women use from village to village. He also served as a labourer in Devi Chand Khanna Saw Mills across river Ravi.

Sharif after partition also served as sub-inspector of industrial cooperative society and was posted at Lyallpur. He wanted to convince the weavers of some villages to form a cooperative society but under the influence of the zamindars of the area they refused to form a platform. Sabir was returning to the city when he was hotly pursued by a lambardar and weavers and requested him not to give any negative report against the weavers and the lambardar forcibly put Rs40 in Sabir's pocket.

Sabir came to Lahore and with those Rs40, he tendered his resignation and joined the education department where he served till his retirement. So if I was looking for his name in the list I was wasting my time. The man whose salary was only Rs60 on the one hand surrendered the gift of Rs40 and on the other his job of worth Rs60 how he could be acceptable to the present establishment and in the board of governors of those institutes where teaching of Punjabi (even Urdu) is banned. Thanks God he is not known at the national level.

The magazine includes analysis of Sachal Sarmast's Kafi by contributors and readers of the paper. It also includes an old interview with senior writer Afzal Ahsan Randhawa and a lecture on 18th century poet Nijabat's var Nadir Shah which has a corrupt text and Najm takes pain to correct it which has been the job of teachers of Punjabi at the University and Colleges. Maqsood Saqib's contribution is translations of Arundhati Roy's travel in Maoists area of West Bengal and adjoining areas of Orrisa etc, is just wonderful. His experience at daily Sajjan reflects from his translations of so many pieces which deserve to be presented in the MA classes of Punjabi. The cheapest magazine adds richness to Punjabi language. —STM

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