LAHORE: Renowned writer and author Tehmina Durrani has said that blasphemy is the distorting of the words of the Quran, changing the role and work of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
She was addressing the session titled ‘Happy Things in Sorrow Times’, the title of her latest book, on the third day of the Second Lahore Literature Festival (LLF) here on Sunday. Editor Daily Times Rashed Rahman moderated the session.
She was of the view that the children of Afghanistan survived in the Soviet war and US occupation. She said that after the Soviet war the children had no choice but to grow up with anger and hate. “The same thing the Americans are doing there as they are leaving Afghan children with hate and anger in their minds,” she said.
When I wrote My Feudal Lord, I was very weak and afraid of facing the public because I had to write all about myself in the book, she said. Tehmina added that although she faced much criticism, still she thinks that it was good that today’s media was not there at that time. She said that she was not scared of the consequences of writing the book but the public’s response was the real reason behind her fear.
She said, “I became a dignified person in exposing myself. I think I began to respect myself after writing the first book.” She said that the book has been translated into 39 languages and she received the same response from every country where she went for her book launch. Even my children, specially daughters, suffered a lot while studying at school as the mothers of other children would not let them meet my daughters. This was also the time when my relatives including my mother did not meet me or talk tome, she added.
She said that the story of Happy Things in Sorrow Times is the story of the third world. She said that her book on Eidhi is a different work as she had talked about Abdul Sattar Eidhi who is an open minded person. She added that Eidhi Foundation is in a position to provide loans to Pakistan.
Tehmina was of the view that her childhood was very different as she was living in a conservative family of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Although later I got admitted in a Convent school but the school had so many restrictions on girls as my family did, she added. She said, “My own life prepared me for what I am today.”
She told the audience that before her first book was published, Rashed Rahman was the first person to interview her and she was tense about what would be published in newspapers and how people would respond. “But Rashed write a wonderful interview in his newspaper,” she said.
‘Love in the Season of Mangoes’
Noted journalist and writer Muhammad Hanif while addressing the session titled ‘Love in the Season of Mangoes’ at Lahore Literature Festival said that media except English print media is not covering the missing Baloch persons issue. Even the long march of families of the missing Baloch was not given air time on electronic media and only 40 to 50 Punjabi youth welcomed them in Lahore, he said.
“Mama Qadeer, the leader of the long march is the most civilized person I have seen in life as he took the most civilized manner for protesting against the disappearance of his son by walking across the cities of the country,” Hanif added. He said that he asked Mama Qadeer to change his name from Mama to Maulana, then media will give him much coverage for being a Maulana but he refused and said that he doesn’t like mullaism.
While talking about Irfan Siddiqui who has been included in the dialogue committee by Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, he said that Irfan is one of the dullest columnists, and during the dialogue the Taliban’s would get bored with his talk and discussions.
About his book Love in the Season of Mangoes he said that the book investigates how General Zia was killed during a plane crash. During the writing of this book I met several Generals to investigate and observed that no one could find out who was involved in killing Zia. He added that he was very curious about Zia’s death when he observed that no one in that era, including his son, was interested to pursue his case.
Hanif said women in Pakistan are major victims of violence as every day we read in local newspapers about several cases of torture on women by their husbands, fathers, brothers or other relatives. It is a good day if there is no news of such violence in local newspapers, he added.
Navid Shahzad, the moderator, read some pieces from Muhammad Hanif’s book and his letter to Manto.
Hamara Culture aur Baironi Asarat (Our Culture and external influence)
Speakers while addressing the session said that our nation, government and state has failed to identify our culture, whether the Islamic one which Muhammad Bin Qasim brought or the local culture which includes the traditions of the provinces.
Renowned writer, journalist and columnist Intizar Hussain, Khaled Ahmad, Asif Farrukhi, Fehmida Riaz addressed the session where as Masud Ashar moderated the session.
Masud Ashar said that our nation and society has been divided about culture as one opinion is that our culture is Islamic which was brought by Muhammad Bin Qasim while other opinion is that our culture is local and we can identify it as Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi and Tribal Areas’ culture.
Khaled Ahmad said that it is hard to define culture but it is said to be a process of creation among people. He said that our culture is based on Sufism, which includes religion and entertainment both. He added that 90 percent people love culture due to the entertainment factor. He said that Punjabi culture can also be observed in Indian Punjab as if one travels to Amritsar, he would feel that he is living in Lahore. If the state controls culture, it will ruin it, Khaled said.
Intizar Hussain said that our major difficulty is that we are Muslims. He said that according to today’s definition of Islam, the thing that is outside influence in Islam is called Kufar, which is actually not true Islam. He said that if we talk about Kufar, Allama Iqbal felt proud in calling himself Kafir-i-Hind in his poems. “There are two problems Pakistan could not solve; one is what is our culture and the other is Kalabagh Dam,” he said.
Intizar said that rulers who came from other countries to India faced problems while talking to the locals therefore they created Urdu, which included some words from local languages and some from foreign ones. The same was the case with culture as when foreigners came they brought their culture and locals had their own culture so the culture we have today is a mix of both foreign and local. He added that Basant was also part of the same case that the Muslims of Delhi started celebrating Basant, which was previously the Hindus’ culture. So it means our culture is a mixture of Islamic and local, he said.
Asif Farrukhi said that we stated the matter as external influence, which we do not understand. He said that as in Karachi, when the authorities do not understand who is involved in crime, they term it “unknown people”, similarly we use the term external influence. We could not identify who is behind the crises in our country, internal or external forces.
Fehmida Riaz said that if we look at our provincial cultures, we see that there are similarities and differences as well between the cultures of provinces as Balochi and Sindhi cultures have. She said that the establishment had played with our culture and ruined it. Our culture has impact of Middle East and Central Asia.
It’s Raining Litfests!
Speakers at this session stated the increasing number of literature festivals across the region as welcome because they are creating awareness among the masses about the importance of literature, books.
Libby Owen-Edmunds said that in Sri Lanka after the civil war a ban was imposed on teaching English in schools, which created a lot of problem for English writers. She said that although there are several English writers in Sri Lanka, they were not accessible for foreign countries. Therefore we organized a Literature Festival in which we convinced locals to promote their culture and tourism as they can create awareness among the masses across the world by writing about Sri Lanka in English. She said that festivals were very successful.
Maina Bhagat said that the Kolkata literature festival was started by a publishing group to celebrate its centennial, which later turned into a huge festival that attracted thousands of visitors every year. Later years we organized this festival at heritage sites including Victoria Memorial and National Library.
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