KARACHI: The 6th annual Urdu Conference began on Thursday here in Karachi at Arts Council of Pakistan. The opening ceremony of the massive event was presided by well-known scholars such as Zehra Nigah, Peerzada Qasim, Dr Jameel Jalibi, Satya Paal Anind and others and was hosted by none other than Dr Huma Nasir in her soft-spoken style and soothing Urdu accent.
The Arts Council’s Auditorium was teeming with people as the capacity was exhausted and the audience was seen standing, passionately waiting for the conference to begin.
Among the speakers were Arts Council President M Ahmad Shah, Indian scholar Shamim Hanfi, Urdu writer Intizar Hussain, while Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, was honoured as the Chief Guest – waiting for whom made the event start one and a half hour later than the given time.
The event succeeded in attracting a huge number of Urdu lovers and was attended by many a learned, prolific intellectuals and writers. Although, nowadays only old-age people seem to have the penchant for the Urdu language and its preservation, a vast number of youth also attended the opening ceremony.
In his speech, M Ahmad Shah said that no matter how much we long and yearn otherwise, we would be wiped out with the passage of time, leaving behind our work. He further elaborated that Tolstoy, Eliot, Gorky and the like were not with us today but their creations, ideas and writings remain with us, helping us feel their vivid presence. It was Shah’s untiring efforts that enabled the Council move forward and organise such an international event.
While giving the keynote speech, Intizaar Hussain spoke of the responsibilities of people associated with Urdu literature. He emphasised on the need for understanding when to ‘speak’ and when to remain ‘silent’, whilst talking to the erudite audience present in the auditorium.
The speech, which captivated the audience most was given by Shamim Hanfi who told the public why he waits all the year to attend the conference. “I adore the personalities who come here and love to be around them. Secondly, this conference unites India and Pakistan despite the political instability and preposterous attempts of sowing the seeds of hatred among the people of either country,” said Hanfi.
He further stated that it was incomprehensible for him to hear people saying that literature was of no use. In Hanfi’s view, the violent times we are going thorough were the manifestation of our politicians devoid of fondness for literature. “The world will change only if our politicians start reading literature,” said Hanfi, citing TS Eliot.
The second day of the annual conference would start at 10am with a panel discussion on Urdu Poetry. Among the panellists would be Khuwaja Razi Haider, Dr Fatima Hasan, Dr Shahida Hasan and Dr Zia-ul-Hasan followed by other programmes ending late night.
The conference would go on until Sunday.