Celebrating Urdu

The 15th edition of the Aalmi Urdu Conference, organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, was the highlight of the year 2022.

By Yasmeen Mozaffar | January 2023

Throughout the ages, literature has been considered the most powerful conduit of catharsis as well as an outlet of profound expressions and mortal emotions which flow through every human being and yet successfully withstand the test of times due to their ubiquitous attributes. The city of Karachi, known as the centre of literary and cultural activities, has been keeping up with its tradition to host a grand Urdu Conference at regular intervals by none other than the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, the metropolitan’s most vibrant and active institution dedicated to the promotion of art and literature.

Ahmed Shah presenting bouquet to Kamran Tessori, Governor of Sindh along with Anwar Maqsood

The journey of the Arts Council dates back to more than six decades when a group of literary enthusiasts came up with an idea to set up a forum for promoting and fostering fine arts, literature and performing arts in the country. Since its inception, the Arts Council of Pakistan, particularly its Karachi chapter, has come a long way as it has successfully emerged as the country’s finest nonprofit organization which has been playing a leading role to create an environment congenial to literary promotion and cultural development activities.

The first Urdu Conference took place in Karachi in June 2008 to honour leading Urdu writers and poets and to give the masses an easy access to the best of the Urdu literature and fine arts in an exquisite ambiance of the Arts Council. The 15th edition of the Aalmi Urdu Conference was held in December 2022. Notable scholars from all over the world participated and presented their research papers, theses and creative works in the 4-day festival, which was thronged by a large number of Urdu enthusiasts and literature lovers. The Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah was the chief guest for the opening session. In more than 45 sessions held during the 15th International Urdu Conference, a large number of panel discussions, talks, interviews and special events on a diversity of topics and contemporary literary themes were held. The topics covered during the 4-day event were about the prevailing civil and social issues, the absence and emerging need of educational environment in the country, social behavior towards women, contemporary journalism and the new challenges facing the global entertainment and media industry.

Participated by Justice Nasira Iqbal, the conference started with the session on the poetry of Allama Mohammed Iqbal. Speaking on the occasion, the panelists emphasized the importance of khudai and iman and also highlighted numerous aspects of Iqbal’s poetic treasure trove.

And then happened the most awaited session which turned the whole atmosphere into pin-drop silence mode. The Legend Zia Mohyeddin in his grand style narrated the excerpts from the reputed writers. The applaud was almost stage-shattering.

Other than Urdu, the 15th Aalmi Urdu Conference also featured special sessions to acknowledge the significance of Pakistan’s regional languages and their literature.

Participants in the session

There were different sessions focusing on various aspects of Urdu literature and key issues concerning the promotion of different forms of Urdu literature in the 21st century. Many books were also launched throughout the event, including Kulyaat-e-Arif by Iftikhar Arif, “Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in Modern Times” by Uxi Mufti and many other books on a variety of topics. A rich tribute was also paid to the legends of Urdu literature, such as Majaz, Akhtar ul Iman, Mustafa Zaidi, Gopi Chand Narang, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi, Shaukat Siddiqui and many others leading literary figures.
The conference concluded with the talk by the notable playwright Anwar Maqsood. The President of the Pakistan Art Council presented an all-encompassing resolution at the end of the 4-day conference, while Ustad Hamid Ali Khan mesmerized the audience till late evening hours. In a word, the 15th International Urdu Conference was a huge success as it offered a half-week long celebration of literary excellence, replete with intellectual, cognitive and aesthetic exercises.

No doubt, there exists a different world away from the hustles and bustles of life which can be cultivated and refined through the promotion of arts and literature, along with long-cherished human values and benevolent character and thus the social environment can be cleared of all the misgivings, suspicions and distracting thoughts.