[lg policy] Letter to people of Pakistan

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue Apr 30 13:08:37 EDT 2019

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Speakers for comprehensive policy to adopt national language
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APP <https://nation.com.pk/NewsSource/app>

April 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD-Speakers at an international moot held here Sunday called for
devising a comprehensive policy on adoption of national language.
READ MORE: Chinese delegation visits UCP

Addressing the conference titled “Getting our bearings right: literature,
society and prosperity”, the participants recommended for establishing
translation centres at varsities.

The conference was organized by English department of International Islamic
University, Islamabad (IIUI) in collaboration with varsity’s constituent
unit Iqbal Institute for research and dialogue (IRD).

Arundhati Roy, acclaimed booker winning author and activist speaking on the
occasion said that writing is the most appropriate way of expressing trauma
and complications, and I will be the last one to make rules for writing in
terms of impression and style.

In a video talk on her novel ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ she said,
“I have always quarrelled with this word “activist”. I think it’s a very
new word and I don’t know when it was born, but it was recently. I don’t
want to have a second profession added to writing.” She said.
READ MORE: An open letter to PM Imran and the people of Pakistan

To a question about the place and city in the novel, she responded that
it’s a book that doesn’t pretend to universalise anything or conceptualise
anything. It’s a book of great detail about a place. On a question about
her fiction and non-fiction works, she maintained that: I don’t actually
see my fiction and nonfiction as extensions of each other.

“This novel has been ten years in the writing, but I think in the twenty
years between The God of Small Things and now, I have travelled and been
involved with so many things that are happening and written about them at
length” she said.

The conference was attended by as many as 25 national and international
speakers other than Roy including Dr. Asif Farrukhi, Dr. Shahid Siddique
and many others.

Famous writer, critic and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University of
Karachi, Dr. Asif Farrukhi in his keynote address stressed to bring
regional and Urdu language literature into English, while sharing his views
on a case study of reading contemporary Urdu literature from Pakistan based
on Asad Khan’s work, A new harvest of anger. He said historic themes;
social and class conflicts as well as contradictions emerge from
contemporary Urdu poetry and fiction, often not available in the current
syllabi and lead to limited understanding of Pakistani society.
READ MORE: British American Tobacco contributes Rs5m in dam fund

Dr. Shahid Siddiqui , an educationist and a Dean of Social Sciences, NUML
at Islamabad also delivered a keynote address on “ language , life chances
and the Matthew effect”. He discussed the gloomy picture of mishandling and
inappropriate policies towards adoption of national language. He maintained
that literature is a political tool and it is not confined to enjoyment
only. He added that language and literature is the best tool to utilize for
construction of society and it also determines breaking or making the

Dr. Tahir Khailiy, Vice President Academics at IIUI vowed that conferences
of such importance will be part of the activity calendar to determine role
of literature in the prosperity and reconstruction of society. He also
hailed efforts of the department and IRD for managing to bring best
speakers and experts to discuss the theme of conference.

Dr. Ayaz Afsar, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences said that one of the
purposes of the conference is to encourage debate, interaction and
networking among the national and international experts and students. “I
would like to propose that the goal of the English departments should be
reclaiming the primacy of asceticism in literary criticism” he added.

The event was also addressed by Dr. Husn ul Amin, Executive Director, IRD
who apprised about the role of IRD in society building. The Arundhati talk,
rest of the sessions and discussions were mediated by Dr. Muhammad Sheeraz
Dasti, the conference secretary who, earlier, also elaborated the details
of sessions. The conference witnessed around 100 papers relevant to the
theme of conference.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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