4th Aalmi Urdu Conference 2011

The 4th Aalmi Urdu Conference concluded with ardent homage to Allama Iqbal at the Arts Council on Friday.

Urdu conference ends with tribute to Iqbal


The day began with a session, which was presided over by journalist and poet Mehmood Shaam, on the role of the media. Prof Haroon Rashid was the first speaker. He highlighted the appalling treatment meted out to Urdu and the rest of the regional languages in Pakistan. He said on the one hand there was English with its feudal backing, on the other hand all the other languages languishing without proper patronage.

Murtaza Solangi shed light on the part that radio channels were playing communication. He agreed with the host of the session (Fazil Jamili) that these days a strange mix of Urdu and English was spoken, but with the passage of time things would improve. He also discussed the significance of social media in modern times.

Playwright Hasina Moin read out a paper titled `Urdu Drama: Agha Hashr Se Dramay Ke Hashr Tak`. Displaying a great deal of wit and sarcasm, she said there was a time when those who worked for television and other media were an educated lot; they were well-read people who knew what literature was all about.

In the early days of Pakistani television, India through Doordarshan began screening its films, which made our TV viewers run towards Lahore and watch Indian TV. However, those who held the reigns of PTV at the time were wise individuals; they instantly countered it by producing quality plays.

As a result, if someone went to India, their relatives would request them to bring with them cassettes of Pakistani plays. She rued that today the situation was different; those who were responsible for marketing their products dictated writers and directors what to come up with. She commented they had become mafia-like. She hoped that things would filter out soon and we`d get back to where we started from.

Writer Asghar Nadeem Syed more or less echoed what Ms Moin said and remarked the marketers had started to play the part of intellectuals.

Journalist Ahfazur Rehman talked about the advantages of on-the-spot reporting. He said that journalists needed to develop reading habits.

Indian poet Obaid Siddiqi informed the audience that there were 70,000 newspapers and 450 TV channels in India. He then narrated an incident in which it was discovered that a former Maharashtra chief minister bribed newspapers for publishing news of his liking. It was for this reason that the press council made a committee to inquire about the wrongdoings in the media. This opened Pandora`s Box and many channels were found guilty of taking bribes.

While Mr Siddiqi was about to wind up his speech, Arts Council President Ahmed Shah intervened and asked him to finish his stint because Zia Mohyeddin was waiting for his turn, and that he was a `precise` man. Mr Siddiqi immediately left the podium, but the audience raised a hue and cry on the matter and brought him back to finish his talk.

This left nothing to say for Mahmood Shaam and he only uttered a sentence on the topic (Technology is using us, we`re not using it).

In the next session, Zia Mohyeddin appeared on the stage and recited five of Iqbal`s poems, including Shikwa and Masjid-i-Qurtuba.

The high point of the session was Dr Nomanul Haq`s speech on Allama Iqbal, which was punctuated with delightful rendition of his Urdu and Persian couplets and judicious assessment of the poet.

“Though Iqbal can be found in every nook and cranny of the country, his poetry is found nowhere,” Dr Haq bemoaned. afkaar asha`ar

He said he was not interested in Iqbal`s (thoughts) and would instead like to pay heed to his (poetry) because the latter was under-discussed. afaqiat sher ki tasdeeq kharaji dunia se nahin kerni chahyey

He argued poetry shouldn`t be confused with philosophy nor was it a poet`s job to establish a logical system. Poetry was beyond the confines of time and space. What a great poet created was (universality) out of the ostensibly common, ordinary happenings.

He articulated that the external world couldn`t certify the efficacy of a couplet (). He gave many examples of the innate melody in Iqbal`s poetry and stated that Iqbal was a gift for humanity. He reiterated that we should go back to Iqbal`s poetry and try and comprehend the universal message in it.

The concluding session, which was presided over by Farman Fatehpuri, was about what the conference was able to achieve and passing of a resolution. (Thanks Dawn- dated, 25th Nov. 2010)