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URDU Conference

KARACHI,The Fourth International Urdu Conference began with a consuming passion for the Urdu language in general and Urdu literature in particular at the Arts Council Karachi on Tuesday.More than two dozen writers, poets and critics of high merit (some of whom were present on the stage throughout the day) along with literature buffs who filled the council’s auditorium in no time, witnessed the inaugural session, titled Badalta Aalami Tanazur Aur Faiz Ki Shaeri (the changing world scenario and Faiz’s poetry), with utmost concentration.

Prof Sahar Ansari delivered the first keynote speech on the subject. He commenced his paper by taking the audience back in the 1930s when at a very early stage of his career Faiz Ahmed Faiz shunned the usual romantic thoughts befitting a young man, and opted for composing poetry which encompassed broader issues related to the well-being of mankind (kion na jahan ka gham apna lein). Referring to the poem ‘Mujh se pehli si muhabbat’, he said the very nazm became the manifesto for Faiz’s ideology of love. He said in 1936 the Progressive Writers Movement came into being, and the poet’s association with the movement proved beneficial for it — because he was a well-informed intellectual. He said Faiz combined his deep understanding of history, philosophy and aesthetics in his art which resulted in the form of remarkable creativeoutput.

Prof Ansari argued that after World War II Faiz saw the inception of Pakistan and that too dipped in blood, which was why he wrote the poem ‘Ye dagh dagh ujala’. He said Faiz was a visionary poet — his poetry should be reviewed against the backdrop of the changing times.

Touching on the issues of globalisation, he claimed the New World Order (introduced byGeorge Bush) could be seen in the same light. Alluding to Faiz’s ability to see ahead of his time, he said it was in 1979 while the poet was in the US that he wrote the classic ‘Hum Dekeinge’; and bearing in mind the recent wave of Wall Street Occupation, Faiz’s foresight had to be acknowledged, he added.

Dr Shamim Hanafi, who had flown in from India, read out a paper brimming with erudition and an insightful analytical approach to the topic. With reference to the happenings that took place in the 20th and 21st centuries, he said time had come that we looked at the balance sheet of history. Both centuries were connected to each other. It was impossible to comprehend the present without understanding the past, and vice versa.

He stated if we closely looked at our time we’d notice that the wonders of sciencepromise were hollow. He raised the question that what morals or ethics could provide the reasoning for poverty and penury. Criticising modern trends, he said while farmers led a difficult life, glamorous fashion shows portrayed a totally different picture.

Dr Hanafi mentioned the relevance of Faiz’s poem ‘Aaj ke naam’ maintaining that he was the poet of yesterday as well as of today. “Poetry couldn’t be limited to the confines of time.

Faiz’s poetry is not dated,” he opined.

Discussing Faiz’s caliber as a poet, Dr Hanafi said after Ghalib his was the most popular voice. Except Ghalib, with respect to poetic appeal, Faiz’s scope was fairly wide. He stressed that Faiz was preferred to N.M. Rashid because he accepted Iqbal’s greatness as a poet. He said Rashid wasn’t large-hearted enough to recognise Iqbal.

Dr Pirzada Qasim, who presided over the session, said every age was overlapped with its preceding or succeeding era; hence Faiz was aware of the time Iqbal was living in. He said an extraordinary creative individual didn’t like to be treated as a misfit for any particular period, because they existed in different time zones at a time. Faiz was not just a good versifier but was a scholar. He was conscious of history, which was why whatever he wrote he did so with certitude. Dr Qasim laid emphasis on the fact that in the battle between good and evil the common man resigned to his fate, whereas poets wished that goodness prevailed over evil forces. He rounded off his speech by suggesting that even if Faiz hadn’t read Karl Marx, he’d still have been the same person.

Earlier, Arts Council President Ahmed Shah informed the audience on the objectives of the moot and extended his gratitude to all those who had contributed to arranging the event.

The second session was also supposed to be on Faiz (memories of the poet) but because Salima Hashmi and Iftikhar Arif couldn’t make it in time, it was deferred to Nov 23 (today).

The topic was replaced by the launch of the complete works of Fahmida Riaz, titled Sub Lal-o-Guhr.

Shah Mohammad Mari was the only speaker of the session, presided over by writer Intizar Husain. He, in a speech peppered with wit and subtle criticism of the forces of obscurantism, started off by telling the gathering that he first came to know about Fahmida Riaz through her poetry during Gen Zia’s stifling martial law. She instantly became the ideal for the people of his generation. Mentioning her book, Badan Dareeda, he said the poems in it became favourites of the oppressed. He commented Fahmida Riaz told us that women were not just an object of desire (mere flesh and blood); they could also earn a living. The poetess made everyone see a woman’s mind. And she did all that by not compromising on the aesthetics of poetry.

Both sessions were conducted by Ambreen Haseeb Amber. Those who attended proceedings of the first day included literary stalwarts such as Dr Jamil Jalibi, Jamiluddin Aali, Dr Aslam Farrukhi, Lutfullah Khan, Fatima Surraya Bajia, Zehra Nigah, Mohammad Ali Siddiqi, Amjad Islam Amjad, Asif Farrukhi and Asghar Nadeem Syed, among others. The moot will continue till Nov 25.

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