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LUMS Commemorates Saadat Hasan Manto at Conference
The Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at LUMS organised a conference on the “Naya Urdu Afsana” on April 7, 2012, to commemorate the centennial of the iconic writer Saadat Hasan Manto. Twenty two speakers participated. It was a very well organised and well attended event.
The daylong conference began with the welcome address by the Vice Chancellor of LUMS, Professor Adil Najam and introduction by Yasmeen Hameed, Coordinator of the Gurmani Centre. This opening session was chaired by Intezar Husain, who brought into focus the different problems associated with afsana, as a term and as a concept. Dr. Shamim Hanfi from Delhi delivered an eloquent keynote address in which he spoke about the different receptions and interpretations of Manto’s writings and also commented on afsana in general by saying that its purpose is not to report on the social and political circumstances of the time but rather to shed light on human emotions. Bano Qudsia spoke about new trends in the Urdu short story—she said that creativity, however radical, is grounded in a pre-existing tradition.
The second session “Urdu Afsane Ke Na’e Rujhanat” or “New Trends in the Urdu Short Story” was intellectually charged, with writers and critics discussing the new trends in the Urdu short story in the light of the modern and post-modern literary theories, symbolism and mystic thought. The participants were Asad Muhammad Khan, Masood Ashar, Atiya Syed, Asif Farrukhi and Najeeba Arif. Moderated by Hameed Shahid, this discussion covered sufi elements in Urdu literature, discourses on modernity, contemporary critical debates, contemporary afsana and history of Urdu afsana.
The third session was in English on “Manto and the 1947 Divide”. Speakers were Ayesha Jalal, Syed Noman-ul-Haq and Farrukh Khan, and Bilal Tanweer moderated the session. Manto, according to Professor Jalal, exposed social ills and left a rich archive that can be attributed to his expertise. Manto deeply felt the effects of Partition, which led to religious extremism and communal violence. The last session was a critique of the writings of individual short story writers in which the fiction of writers like Khalida Husain, Naiyar Masud, Asad Muhammad Khan, Shams-ur-Rahman Faruqi, Hasan Manzar and Mansha Yad was critically evaluated. Speakers were Rasheed Amjad, Mirza Athar Baig, Anwaar Ahmed, Hameed Shahid and Mubeen Mirza. Zia-ul-Hasan moderated the session. The conference ended with the viewing of a play “Manto, Adab ki Adalat Mein”. It was also announced that essays read in the conference would soon be published in book form.