Putting the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) under the control of the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration has not worked. About 500 families of deserving poets, writers and heirs of those who have passed away have not yet been paid monthly honoraria of Rs5,000 each since November due to non-availability of funds, said a press release issued by the academy on Friday.
The government should therefore re-attach the academy to the Cabinet Division or put it under the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, to allow it to continue serving writers.
This was the consensus of about 200 writers, journalists and literary figures from the twin cities, as they gathered to discuss the status of PAL on Friday. They announced to formally launch a campaign to get PAL re-affiliated with the Cabinet Division to keep intact what they described as the “prestige” of the organisation.
They said the new setup has badly hampered the achievement of core objectives of the institution, which are to promote Pakistani literature and work for the welfare of the writers’ community.
The academy’s issues are arising because of non-availability of funds due to technicalities emerging following PAL’s placement under the national heritage ministry, they said, adding that financial assistance to ailing writers in emergency cases is also suspended on the same grounds.
Following the devolution of Ministry of Education in pursuance of the 18th Amendment, the administrative control of PAL was assigned to the Cabinet Division in March before being reassigned to the newly-established national heritage ministry, which is yet to be allocated funds.
PAL was established by former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1976.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2011.