ISLAMABAD, May 11: Though Saadat Hasan Manto was the greatest writer of Pakistan, he not only died in a miserable condition but also his family could not dare to fix an ‘epitaph’ on his grave according to his will due to pressure from religious clerics.

As a result, today no one knows where the grave of Manto is at the Miani Sahab graveyard in Lahore.

This was stated by speakers at a seminar organised by the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) on Manto’s birth centenary here on Friday.

Rector of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) Prof Fateh Mohammad Malik said Manto observed the incidents of his time and transmitted them through his stories. Though he was close to the followers of communism, he was forced to migrate from India to Pakistan because Hindus were not ready to give work to a Muslim.

Prof Malik said: “Manto was a revolutionary writer and remained active against tyranny and ideological confinement. We should read him as a great philosopher because his stories are relevant to the present days.”

Dr Anwar Ahmed, the head of National Language Authority, said we should think why writers like Manto, Faiz, Jalib, Sheikh Ayaz, Gul Khan Naseer and Ajmal Khattak are kept away from our educational and other institutions. “How can we reflect our soft image in the world without recognising the ideology of these writers?”

Abdul Hameed, the chairman of PAL, said his organisation was planning a Manto festival in September. He said writers from Saarc countries would be invited to an international conference on Manto while a book fair would also be a major event during the festival. He said Manto’s stories would be dramatised and staged on a daily basis during the event. His writings will be rendered by major writers and dignities during the festival.

Prof Ahmed Javed said Manto was a political short storywriter. He focused on humanity and the miseries of common people. “We find emphasise in his writings on bringing Pakistan and India closer. He was also against tyrannical and oppressive policies of America.

His stories show his deep understanding of human psychology.

Mohammad Hameed Shahid said Manto raised basic questions regarding literature and human situations in both Pakistan and India.

Nelofar Iqbal, Hameed Qaiser and Humaira Ishfaq said society did not recognise Manto and he spent all his eight years in Pakistan facing court cases. He faced so much criticism that his last word to his wife Safia was: “Death would be much better than this life.”

Proceedings of the ceremony were conducted by Kamran Kazmi. Manto’s birthday cake was also cut on the occasion.

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