Shrinking space: Writers urged to promote progressive values to fight bigotry

Sarwar Javed’s book ‘Urdu Nazm ki Azeem Riwayat’ launched


The book is a collection of the works of 21 poets. PHOTO: HUMA CHOUDHARY/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Writers and politicians have expressed concern over the shrinking space for progressive thought, literature and art. They urged progressive forces including poets and writers to come forward to reclaim the space encroached by retrogressive and reactionary forces.

They also called for reviving the great traditions of progressive art and literature to fight rising extremism, intolerance and bigotry in society.

They were speaking at the launch of a book ‘Urdu Nazm ki Azeem Riwayat’ written by noted journalist and TV host and writer Sarwar Javed at Islamabad Club on Tuesday night. The book is a collection of the critical review of the works of 21 poets.

“It is unfortunate that substantial progressive literature has not been produced in the country since long and the extremist elements have captured this spaced left by progressive intellectuals and writers,” Senator Hasil Bizenjo, who was the chief guest, said at the event.

Bizenjo said that it’s ironic that even progressive elements are shy of using the word ‘secularism’ which has been distorted by the retrogressive forces and religious extremists through intellectual dishonesty.

“Although there are a good number of progressive writers and poets in Pakistan, no one writes like Habib Jalib because they are disconnected from society and politics,” said the National Party president.

He claimed his party is taking steps for promotion of arts and literature. We are cognizant of the fact that we cannot move forward as a progressive society without nurturing various forms of art and literature. He said the progressive ideology is the only instrument to defeat prevailing extremist tendencies.

While sharing his experiences with the audience, the author said it was the duty of the intellectuals and writers to touch upon various complex issues and realities around us in and interpret them in a simple way.

Talking about the decline in Urdu literature, he said that in 1987, there were about 300 prominent Urdu poets but the number has decreased ever-since.

Speaking about his book, Javed told The Express Tribune that even though he is a poet, he feels there is a shortage of critics, which is why he critically analyzed poetry in his book.

“Prior to writing about any poet, I read their entire work, which took over a year,” he added.

For producing good literature, Javed was of the view that a poet and writer must be aware of current complex socio-political issues.

NP Punjab President Ayub Malik, Professor Ihsan Akbar, Prof Jaleel Aali, Javed Ahmad, Ali Danish and Ahmad Latif also expressed their views on the occasion highlighting various dimensions of the book and overall state of literature in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2015.

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