The 3rd day of the Pakistan Literature Festival (PLF) at Alhamra opened with two sessions simultaneously on ‘What is new in Urdu literature’ and what is new in Punjabi literature’. It is the experiences that are new with changing times, the people in the discussion said and it came up that more novels than short stories are being written now in Urdu.
Expressing his views in the session on Urdu literature, Nasir Abbas Nayyar, short story writer and critic, said, “Mankind is old but I am new in this world. War was always there but it was never so lethal. Now the war is inside us.
Fiction goes into areas it is warned not to go and the power of ideology is unmistakable. More fiction is being created now than before and being read too whether it’s popular or serious fiction,” he said. Amna Mufti, who was moderating the session, introduced Nasir in an interesting manner. She told the audience how she went to her courtyard and found the hens scared and quiet in their pen and noticed a tomcat staring at them. She then introduced Nasir Abbas Nayyar as the critic who the writers must take seriously. The audience enjoyed this.
Tahira Iqbal who chaired the session said fiction is more about the social relations than society. Symbolism is a dimension of literature and transcends time, she said.
Hameed Shahid said the age of Urdu short story is 120 years while novel is 160 years old. If there is man’s genetic code then there is also a creative code. The change that we see in novel writing is that novelists no more delve into unnecessary details. Fiction takes up today’s issues. Leave it to the readers to judge fiction. Ziaul Hasan said the novels written in the last 25 years are very different from the ones written in 150 years before them. Quratul Ain Haider and Abdullah Hussain’s novels are historical. Shamsur Rehman Farooqi’s Wazir Begum is not possible in the 19th century. She is a woman of 21st century. Certainly, Kishwar Naheed and Fehmida Riaz have influenced the modern woman, he said.
Akhlaq Ahmad, who had come from Karachi and has long association with Akhbar-e-Jahan, said while critics say there are 1.5 to 2 fiction writers and that too, in big cities of Pakistan, fiction writing is very important. Writers keep searching for new ways and new experiences to share. Recently, everything changed with Covid, technology changed the world too, now people are feeling lonelier. Dr Awais Qarni who came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said Urdu is loved far and wide. In the session on Punjabi Literature Zahid Hussain, Dr Sughra Sadaf and Karamat Mughal talked about Punjabi fiction. Rakhshanda Naveed and Ali Usman Bajwa were participants in the discussion on poetry and Risham Jameel Pal was the moderator.
Zahid Hussain said that the journey of Punjabi language is as old as its culture. Dr Karamat Mughal said that ethics and lessons on morality have also been emphasised in Punjabi language and fiction. PlLAC (Punjab Institute of Language, Arts and Culture) is very supportive of writers, he said.
Rakhshanda Naveed appreciated the efforts of the Arts Council for bringing such topics before the youth. Finally, Dr Sughra Sadaf emphasized on making Punjabi language a compulsory subject at school level so that every child gets in touch with their roots and culture.