HYDERABAD: The second three-day Hyderabad Literature Festival concluded on Sunday night. Apart from musical evenings and poetic symposiums, the festival offered participants enriching moments of intellectual discourse on a range of subjects concerning art, literature, music, politics, sociology, archaeology, history and education.
Speaking in a session titled ‘National Languages in Pakistan’, Senator Sassui Palijo said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is trying to pass a bill in parliament which will declare Sindhi as a national language.
Senator Aajiz Dhamrah said PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked the party’s parliamentarians to support the enactment of the language bill. “The impression that a student is a duffer because he can only read or write in Sindhi should end now,” he said.
In a session on ‘New Trends in Sindh Literature’, Shaukat Shoro traced the origins of progressive literature in Sindhi to when writers began to be influenced by socialism.
A Harvard University fellow, Pi Ling Hong, while comparing the music of Sufi saints found the music of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai more spiritually mesmerizing than other saints. “[Listening to Bhitai’s music at his shrine in Bhit Shah] I felt a spiritual solace,” said Hong.
International Sufi Foundation representative Dr Saghar Abro said the overarching subject of Sufism encompassed philosophy, spirituality and sociology. “Though spirituality is but a fraction of this concept, it is greatly emphasised upon. It eclipses the other elements of Sufism.”
He criticised the governmental control on shrines in Sindh, asserting that control is meant to contain Sufism. Former provincial secretary Gul Muhammad Umrani credited Dr Nabi Bux Baloch with introducing the subject of anthropology in Sindh.
In another discussion, Journalist Wusatullah Khan said Ziaul Haq’s era of censorship is long over. “He fettered the writers with manacles. Although these manacles no longer exist, writers still believe their work is being constrained.”
Giving his views in a discussion on the ‘History of Sindh: Facts or Fiction’, former international relations professor Inam Shaikh said the province’s history has been romanticised. “It’s not analysed. It’s based on assumptions and hypotheses,” he observed. He compared Raja Dahir, the Hindu King who lost Sindh to the Arabs after defeat in an eighth century battle, to another king, Rai Sahiras. According to him, Dahir’s army faced defeat from the Arabs because the ruling elite of that period comprised of Brahmins while their subjects were Buddhists, which created a rift between the rulers and the ruled.
On Sunday, the Sindh culture minister and Hyderabad commissioner distributed awards amongst the organisers.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2017.