Thursday, 23 August 2012

Pakistan confers Nishan-i-Imtiaz on Manto

Mehmal Sarfraz, Hindustan Times
Lahore, August 15, 2012

Saadat Hasan Manto was recently awarded the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian award. Manto is celebrated widely both in India and Pakistan. His famous story, ‘Toba Tek Singh’, is one of the best available narratives that portray the pain of Partition.

It might have come as a surprise that Manto was finally being honoured at the state level for his contribution to literature. Renowned poet, columnist and writer, Munnoo Bhai, hailed the government's decision and termed Manto as the best story-writer in the Indian subcontinent.

“There’s nobody like Manto. He always rejected awards but by giving him an award, the government is honouring itself rather than honouring Manto.”

For columnist Raza Rumi, the government has “corrected a historical wrong”. By awarding Manto the highest civilian honour it has attempted to redeem the maltreatment of our artists, writers and intellectuals. Manto was shoddily treated during the early years of Pakistan and in his several writings he said how he had “no niche in the new country.”

Rumi is not the only one who feels this way. According to journalist Najam Sethi, “The highest civil award to Manto is not just a recognition of his towering status as a man of letters but also of his relevance to modern-day Pakistan. Manto wrote about ‘zar (gold), zan (women), zameen (land)’ in society in the aftermath of Partition and exposed the hypocrisy, exploitation and violence related to all three. Much the same is happening in Pakistan now.”

Sethi added, “It is doubly ironic that he should have been awarded the highest civilian award when six decades ago he was persecuted for obscenity and today the Supreme Court is hearing a petition to ban ‘obscenity’ on TV.”

Indian scholar Dr Gopi Chand Narang was also awarded a civil award by the government for his service to Urdu literature.

(Mehmal Sarfraz is a Lahore-based journalist)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Pakistani students win international debate competition in Mexico

Karachi: Three 15-year-old Pakistani students have won the final of The Karl Popper Debating Championship(KPDC), one of the largest high school tournaments in the world, in Mexico.

The Pakistani team beat the team of students from South Korea and also all three participants were listed in the top 10 speakers of tournament.

Zainab Hameed, the Karachi Grammar School student, was named the top speaker of the competition while Azeem Liaquat, student of the Salamat International Campus for Advanced Studies in Lahore, came second. Their teammate, Ahmed Shujaan from the Aitchison College, bagged the fifth position among more than 200 participants.

Teams from 45 countries participated in the tournament, which was a part of the 18th edition of the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) Youth Forum held in Mexico from July 2 to 15.

Pakistani team was defending the topic — “Guantanamo Bay prison should be closed down immediately” — in the KPDC finals while Korean team had to prove that the motion should not be adopted.

The teams participated in two competitions –the KPDC and the mixed team track. In the former, they represented Pakistan as a team while they were split up and paired with debaters from other countries in mixed team track.