KARACHI: Sindh Education, Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah shed light on the role of Urdu in creating cultural harmony in the country, while addressing the 12th International Urdu Conference on Thursday.
The provincial minister said, “Indus River joins entire Pakistan from Kashmir to Karachi and likewise, Urdu unifies the entire nation.” He said that Urdu has helped overcome communication barriers, leading to the creation of cultural harmony in Pakistan.
Addressing the conference, Arts Council of Pakistan President Muhammad Ahmed Shah said it has been 12 years since he and his team have been organising the event annually. “There was a time when we had an audience comprising only 12 people and had a limited budget to organise the event, which is now recognised internationally,” he said.
Muhammad informed the attendees of the conference that this year, the event is being attended by delegates from different countries including India, Germany, Japan, America, Canada and China, and besides Urdu, the conference comprises sessions in other regional languages as well.
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The conference kicked off with Urdu critic Shamim Hanfi and poet Haris Kahlique presenting their papers on the current state of politics, society and literature in Pakistan, as well as across the world. The session was hosted by Muhammad Ayub Shaikh and was attended by notable literary personalities including Zehra Nigah, Kishwar Naheed, Amjad Islam Amjad and others.
Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah, who inaugurated the conference, also spoke on the occasion. He said that Karachi, which once “used to bleed” and where target killing, kidnapping for ransom and arson were rampant, has transformed into a cultural hub. He said, in the past, it was impossible to think about organising literary, musical and sports events in the city, which is now filled with love and affection.
Welcoming scholars and literary figures from across the world, the CM said that literature has the ability to overcome differences and bring together different cultures and countries in the sub-continent. Urdu has helped build a connection [between different countries of the region] despite political differences and cultural and lingual disparities, he elaborated.
“This is evident by the fact that people from Japan, China, Thailand, France, America and various other countries are here to share their literary works,” he said.
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Further underlining the importance of cultural exchange and diversity, the CM credited former prime minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for introducing the 1973 constitution and laying down the basis of a pluralistic society in the country. It is due to that [1973 constitution] that people speaking different languages and belonging to different religions are given equal rights and are living together peacefully in Pakistan, he said. The CM said that cultural harmony in Pakistan is more pronounced than in any other country in the world and termed Karachi “the hub of cultural activities.”
Specifically addressing the writers and the poets, he urged them to provide guidance to the Sindh government in shaping cultural policy. Shah also remembered famous poets Fahmida Riaz and Josh Malihabadi on the occasion and said, “The politicians of Pakistan should learn from poets, writers and intellectuals of the country.”
Appreciating the efforts of the president of the Arts Council of Pakistan, the CM said he has been striving to promote a positive image of Pakistan by organising such events.
A cake cutting ceremony was also held on the occasion to celebrate the 121st birthday of Josh Malihabadi.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2019.
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