Indian writers’ delegation all praise for Lahore book fair
* Speak out for peace in the subcontinent
LAHORE: The Lahore international Book Fair will go a long way in helping the peace process in the region, said prominent Indian writers while talking to journalists at the Lahore Press Club on Thursday.
The Indian writer’s delegation, led by renowned Urdu scholar and linguist Professor Gopi Chand Narang, is in Lahore participating in the book fair. The delegation will also attend the International Urdu Conference in Islamabad.
“I have a great association with Pakistan because I was born in Loralai, Balochistan, and my forefathers were residents of Layyah,” said Narang. “We pay rich tribute to the Publishers Association of Pakistan (PAP) and Publishers Association India (PAI) for organising the Lahore International Book Fair.” He said that the event provided a great opportunity for literature enthusiasts.
Narang said that literature had always spread the message of peace and love. “After partition, there has not been a single poem, ghazal, short story or novel written on either side of the border that has highlighted hatred or conspiracy,” he said.
He said that literature had always played an important role in promoting peace amongst the literary community. He said that the Sahita Academy, India, published more than 300 books every year in 24 different languages of the subcontinent and has arranged more than 200 literary programmes and seminars.
Narang said that the people of Pakistan had the same roots and traditions as the Indians. “We greatly admire Ahmad Faraz’s poetry and the songs of Ghulam Ali and Mehdi Hassan, just as the people of Pakistan admire Begum Akhtar and Sehgal,” he said.
Delegation member Prof K Satchidanandan, a Malayalam poet, critic and translator, said that the people of Pakistan and India should urge their governments to cut their defence budget and spend more money on development. He said that writers should help arrange national and international seminars and translate literature from the other side of the border.
Also present, Fakhar Zaman, a Punjabi poet, writer and World Punjabi Congress (WPC) chairman, said that writers from India and Pakistan were trying to promote peace in the region for the past 20 years.
He said that the people of the subcontinent had been deprived of the rich literature from the other side because of language problems. “Writers from both sides are now trying to translate literature to local and traditional languages, including Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Telgu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujrati, Marathi, Pushto, Balochi, Saraiky,” he said.
“Time has proved that we were right by starting the fight for peace in the region in 1986. Some antisocial elements harassed us and tried to stop our work but we carried on,” said Zaman.
He said that the WPC was hosting a two-day international conference for peace from April 16 to 19. He said that journalists, writers, film stars, linguists, intellectuals and thinkers from South Asia would participate in the conference.
Zaman said that some hidden hands in both India and Pakistan did not want peace in the region. He said that people from both sides should urge their governments to end the visa system between the two countries. He proposed the two governments start a border entry system on the lines of the US and Canada.
The delegation also included Dr AMK Shahryar, an Urdu poet and former chairman of the Urdu Department at the Aligarh Muslim University, Qamar Rias, an Urdu scholar, Dr SS Noor, a Punjabi critic and poet, Dr Giriraj Kishore, a Hindi fiction writer and columnist, Sri Sheen Kaaf Nizam, an Urdu poet, Dr Tarannum Riyaz, an Urdu poet and short story writer, Prof UR Anantha Murthy, a Kannada fiction writer, and Sri RK Sharma, the Sahita Academy deputy secretary. Ahmad Faraz, an Urdu poet, was also present.