KLF: Amar Jaleel ventures into territories others fear to tread

Veteran Sindhi writer says there is a need to change attitude towards regional languages and respect all languages.

Sameer Mandhro February 15, 2013
Amar Jaleel


Knowing fully well the consequences of speaking against religion, Sindhi fiction writer Amar Jaleel still chose to speak his mind. “Clerics do not care about the norms of civil society,” he said. “They have ruled over Pakistanis since the first day of the country’s creation.”

“The government talks to the Taliban and they talk to a clerics,” he said referring to Minhajul Quran International’s chief Tahirul Qadri. He pointed out that the government went to talk to him even though he breached the Constitution by declaring that all assemblies were dissolved. “It was a case of treason.”

On day one of the fourth Karachi Literature Festival, Jaleel read out excerpts from his short story on extremism in a session dedicated to his writings moderated by Shah Muhammad Pirzada.

Jaleel admitted his first love is cricket but he is more widely known as the prince of Sindhi short stories. Despite the thundering clouds, scores of his fans attended the session. “I wish the programme had no time limit. I thought it was just starting but the organisers announced that the time was finished,” said a disappointed fan, Aijaz Ahmed.

Jaleel went on to talk about Sufism. “A Sufi is a rebel of a particular religion and in a particular society,” he explained, adding that one can find a Sufi in Islam, Hinduism and even in Christianity. “Even Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was not a complete Sufi. He was partially Sufi. A real and genuine Sufi is like the Buddah.”

As the discussion became more philosophical, Jaleel said that, “The creative is only female, but we have made creative a masculine.” At this a female member of the audience, Bint-e-Maryam, insisted she was still creative. “I am universalist. I have the courage to produce. I am also a Qalandar.”

Moving on to more practical grounds, Jaleel doubted that literature can bring a solid change in the Pakistani society. Why? It’s because the government has exaggerated literacy rates. “It is not more than six percent.”

In a country of 180 million people, only one million newspapers are published daily,” he claimed. “Do you think the remaining population can even read billboards?” Jaleel finds no hope in the media either. “When television appeared before the masses, this source of educating the nation was also exploited. It is being misused.”

On the importance of Urdu language, Jaleel said that Urdu is just an official language. “Even the founder of Pakistan said that Urdu was just an official language,” he quoted. “Other languages are not regional languages but Pakistani languages. We have to change this attitude and have to respect all languages.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2013.


Aijaz Jamali | 11 years ago | Reply

Amar Jalil recently discussed on this subject when National Language Authority issued a new research oriented paper with reference to a speech of Quaid-i-Aazam about Urdu as official language. Amar Jalil then gave food for thought to listeners with wider persective of matter with laest developments. Amar Jalil in a T.V. talk said, "I am a perpetual student, learning is my need and requirement. Understanding the definition and explanation of wide term nation is complex. Generally nations are made with a common language, land, civilization and culture of the dwellers. Languages have the significant role in making a nation. In the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun khawa people speak their relevant languages everywhere in baazars and restaurants. Now after the partition the situation in Sindh is different. This existing Sindh is not my Sindh, when we the ninety five percent Sindhies were then the dwellers of Sindh before partition. Respect was given to one another. We were looked respectfully in whole of India. We were living with our own culture and living standards. As in the different states of India having their respective languages as separate national language for that state and official language of India is Hindi. Similarly according to Quaid -e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Urdu would be made the official language of Pakistan and all other languages would be made the national languages of respective provinces. Subsequently no one would have objection for such a set up. In such prevailing scenario the name of The United Nations Organisation should be based on countries rather than on nations, as United Countries Organization. Nations cannot be based even on religions with the separate passports of dwellers of other countries".

Sry | 11 years ago | Reply

" Knowing fully well the consequences of speaking against religion, Sindhi fiction writer Amar Jaleel still chose to speak his mind. "

He doesn't really speak against religion if he criticizes clerics; to criticize religion would involve taking lines out of the Quran and pointing out errors in them. He doesn't appear to be doing that in the slightest. And as for taking shots at clerics, that's one of the favourite pastimes of people in rural Pakistan. I'm tired of this old line: "clerics and mullahs are bad, they ruined everything in this country." Because even though this statement is true per se, it ignores the fact that secular progressives have time and again provided ideological space to zealots to define Pakistan however the latter see fit. Liberals need to grow a spine and take on religion, or remain quiet altogether.

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ