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Arts Council to continue with tradition of Urdu Conference despite all odds

Despite all the challenges being posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP) will not discontinue its tradition of holding the annual grand conference on Urdu this year as ACP President Ahmed Shah announced the dates and programme of the 13th International Urdu Conference during a press conference.

The four-day conference will take place between December 3 and 6 at the Arts Council. However, due to the pandemic situation, it would be different than before as only a few people would be allowed to attend it in person and the remaining could see the sessions online on Twitter and Youtube, Shah said.

He added that many literary luminaries were to attend the event in person. However, the council had also made arrangements for online participation of many writers, especially those living abroad.

The ACP president explained that the theme of this year’s conference was development of Urdu and its literature over the last 100 years and in accordance with that theme, various sessions had been planned to cover the evolution of various genres of Urdu prose and poetry during the last 100 years.

In a similar manner, sessions have been planned on the evolution of literature of other major languages of Pakistan — Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi and Saraiki.

Shah said the entire development of the Urdu fiction almost took place during the last 100 years and hence the theme would not miss many major fictional works and writers. He added that many great poets such as Mir, Dard, Mushafi, Ghalib and Hali lived before the last 100 years; however, he added that works by many other giants like Iqbal, Josh, Hasrat, Jigar, Nasir Kazmi, etc. belonged to the last 100 years and hence they had been covered by the theme.

He said various writers from India had agreed to participate in the conference virtually. They included Shamim Hanafi, Shafey Kidwai and Javed Siddiqui. Shah added that renowned critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi might also join the event if his health allowed as he had contracted Covid-19 but according to his daughter, his health had been improving.

The schedule of the event was also launched after the press conference. It revealed that unlike the past conferences in which multiple sessions took place at different rooms inside the Arts Council, this year’s conference would have only one session at a time.

A tribute to honour the late Asif Farrukhi, the man who helped build the tradition of literary festivals in the country, will be held on the first day of the conference.

Besides the sessions on the 100 years of various genres of Urdu literature, other striking sessions include Zia Mohyeddin’s recital of Urdu humour, various book launches and talks on children literature and our state of education during the last 100 years.

Writers, scholars, artists and journalists expected to participate in the sessions, according to the schedule, include Iftikhar Arif, Kishwar Naheed, Zehra Nigah, Nasira Iqbal, Anwar Shaoor, Zahida Hina, Imdad Hussaini, Fatima Hasan, Rauf Parekh, Nasir Abbas Nayyar, Peerzada Salman, Hameed Shahid, Rukhsana Saba, Ghazi Salahuddin, Wajahat Masood, Ameena Saiyid, Najeeba Arif, Afzal Ahmed Syed, Tanzeemul Firdous, Mubin Mirza, Shah Muhammad Marri, Jaffar Ahmed, Bushra Aijaz and Nomanul Haq.

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