Pakistani writers winning acclaim across the world
London, Feb 19: Pakistani novelists writing in English - long overshadowed by literary giants from neighbouring India - are now winning attention and acclaim as their country sinks into violence and chaos.
A report in the Guardian on Tuesday said tales of religious extremism, class divides, dictators, war and love have come from writers who grew up largely in Pakistan and now move easily between London, Karachi, New York and Lahore. Since the publication of Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist two years ago, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, a new wave of Pakistani fiction is earning critical acclaim at home and around the world.
Last year came Mohammad Hanif's first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes - a dark comedy about the Islamic fundamentalist rule of Gen Zia ul Haq in the 1980s -- and Nadeem Aslam's The Wasted Vigil, which is set in modern Afghanistan.
Two keenly anticipated works are due out in the UK in the coming weeks: Kamila Shamsie's fifth, and reputedly finest, novel, Burnt Shadows, and a collection of short stories by Daniyal Mueenuddin, who was compared with Chekhov when some of the tales were previously published in the New Yorker.
"Some of us have been writing for many years but suddenly we've had four or five novels coming out together and that's created a buzz," said Shamsie, whose latest work is an ambitious story that starts off in Second World War Japan and moves to post-9/11 Afghanistan.
"Indian writing has been established for 25 years or more, since Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie's book, published in 1981). Pakistani writing is very much in its infancy.
"Pakistani writing is like the new young fast bowler on the scene but Indian writing is like the spinner who's been going for years and whose greatness is assumed."
While India has produced Rushdie, Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy, Pakistanis writing in English made little impact in the past. But at a recent literary festival in the Indian city of Jaipur, it was the Pakistani writers there, such as Mueenuddin, who impressed the audience and the Indian media, despite the presence of huge names like Seth.
Pakistan and India remain enemies but the most sought-after commodity in the Indian publishing industry now seems to be Pakistani authors, who are perceived to be producing a grittier and more engaged style of work.
"Pakistani writers look sexy right now because of Pakistan being so much in the news," said Mueenuddin, whose stories describe the stark class distinctions in rural Pakistan. "When I hear of the hottest new Lithuanian writer, my heart doesn't leap. That's a prejudice but it's also true that there is a resurgence of writing in Pakistan."
Readers have embraced the political nature of much of the new Pakistani fiction, looking perhaps for an explanation of the country's turmoil, which has accelerated after it sided with the West in the war on terror.
"If you've grown up in Pakistan, to sit down and write something that's not political is almost impossible," said Hanif, a former air force pilot.
"I'm sure that the headlines make people curious about Pakistan but when they read these stories, I hope it's done on their own merit."
The Pakistani writers causing most excitement tend to be young and from the country's upper class, having grown up in Pakistan in the 1980s. Mohsin Hamid said that, for Pakistan's small English-speaking elite who had been able to live an insulated lifestyle up to the 1980s, coming of age under the oppressive dictatorship of Gen Zia was a "dramatic wrenching change" that created a fertile ground for writers.
"There's a desire now to dine on Pakistani writing cuisine. It's coming at the same time as some really amazing Pakistani writing," said Hamid, who lives in London.
"Great fiction comes from the tension that produces those dramatic political developments. Pakistan has been going through really interesting times. As writers process that through their fiction, they're coming up with an art with a real urgency and personal need." DawnYour Comments
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HEC requires additional Rs4.2 billion
Islamabad: The recently released amount to the Higher Education Commission would only fulfill the immediate requirements of the scholars studying in the country and abroad under the scholarship programme of the commission.
The commission needs at least Rs7 billion in terms of development budget whereas only Rs2.819 billion have been released which would fulfill requirements of the young scholars only for three-month period (from January to March). The commission is thus short of Rs4.19 billion for Ministry of Finance has released Rs2.819 billion to the HEC as Human Resource Development component of third quarterly installment of development grant on February 14.
The commission has been given 50 per cent development budget so far, which amounted to Rs8 billion whereas in this fiscal year Rs18 billion were pledged to be allocated in terms of development budget. The recurring grant for the third quarter of current financial year has not yet been release by the ministry of finance.
The funds would be distributed to wipe out the immediate liabilities
of the indigenous as well as the scholars studying abroad. At present the HEC
has over 4000 MS and PhD scholars studying abroad while it funds 4300 scholars
studying in local universities with over 900 MBBS students in Cuba.
Out of 4000 students who have been sent abroad 2800 directly by HEC and 1200 have been sent through universities on HEC funding. The government has been spending about Rs9 million on each student and about Rs36 billion on the 4,000 students.
The commission needs Rs8 billion to Rs10 billion extra to absorb all these students to provide them research facilities and equipment and only 4 billion for their salaries as they all will be back with in three years gradually.
The delay in the release of funds has also caused difficulties for 500 students who had to leave for studies abroad under the Foreign Scholarship Programme, as the finance ministry did not release the funds.
Admissions of these students have been suspended by the foreign universities and it has been learnt that they would join universities in the coming September Fall Session.
Almost all the development programmes of the universities have been abandoned and construction work as well as research projects that were underway remain incomplete due to untimely and limited release of budgeted funds.
The project directors say that the universities had hired for the projects have moved the courts against the sudden closure of the projects in many cases. The Nation
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Rawalpindi HSSC exams schedule
Rawalpindi: Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (RBISE) has announced schedule for the annual examination of Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) 2009. The annual examination of class 10th would start on March 13 which would continue to April 1, while the ninth class examination would be started on April 2. The News
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BZU's sub-campus director replaced
Multan: The Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) vice-chancellor has appointed Dr Hayat Awan as acting director of BZU's Dera Ghazi Khan sub-campus after accepting the resignation of sitting director Dr Najeeb Haidar.
VC Dr Muhammad Zaffarullah confirmed the resignation of Dr Haidar and the appointment of Dr Awan.
Sources said Dr Haidar submitted his resignation after the pressure of the university administration to take over the Government College, Dera Ghazi Khan, post-graduate block for the university sub-campus.
Sources said that Dr Haidar had refused to take over the college block on the ground that the federal hostel and a portion of boys' hostel of the same collage were already under the use of the sub-campus.
His further contention was that the college would lose its independent status after losing its post-graduate block.
Sources said another motive of Dr Haidar's removal was to accommodate Dr Awan, who was going to retired in the first week of March and currently working with the IMS department.
They said that Dr Awan belonged to a group of teachers considered very influential on the campus.
Dr Haidar was appointed as director of the sub-campus after the approval of the syndicate on Aug 28, 2007, on two-year deputation. Before joining the BZU, he was the principal of the Government College, Dera Ghazi Khan.
Though Dr Haidar submitted his resignation on a one-month prior notice, the VC accepted the resignation on the very date of submission because less than two weeks had been left in Dr Awan's retirement.
Dr Najeeb Haidar was not available for comments. VC Dr Zaffarullah said that he was authorised to accept the resignation the same day instead of waiting for a month.
He denied giving any favour to Dr Awan and said he would be an acting director for a brief period. Dawn
PU skill development session
Lahore: The Punjab University Career Development Centre (PUCDC) has conducted a session on the topic of žCommunication SkillsÓ at the Department of Philosophy here on Wednesday. According to a press release, the session was inaugurated by career development officer Shazia Tasleem, who introduced the CDC and its functioning. She conducted a session on žGoal settingÓ and threw light on how to make the career goals? During the session she addressed especially with female students regarding their goal setting. She added that students must know the scope of their subjects in the market to reduce the gaps between industry and academia. The News
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NUML Spring Extravaganza on Saturday
Islamabad: Students of National University of Modern Languages (NUML) will hold the Spring Extravaganza on Saturday. The university students have started preparations for the festival. Different colourful stalls of eatables including Chinese and Persian foods, drinks, music, books and a variety of other entertaining items would be one of the main features of the extravaganza. Mass Communication Department stalls would be of special significance, which would be visited by renowned journalists of the twin cities. Kite flying in the spring festival, which is traditionally celebrated since ages, will be another entertaining activity. The festival will begin at 9am and will continue up to 5 pm. App
Students' Week starts in festive fashion
Rawalpindi: Satellite Town Government Postgraduate Girls' College, 6th Road, started Students' Week in a festive fashion on Wednesday.
On the first day, activities of the Week began with recitation of Holy Quran and Naat competition, in which different colleges of Rawalpindi and Islamabad took part. It was followed by inter-colligate competitions of paintings.
International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) Deputy Dean Dr Zatoon Begum was the chief guest. The ceremony was attended by Satellite College Vice Principal Prof Nusrat Junaid, Students Council In-charge Prof Hameeda Naqvi, Programme In-charge Prof Shaheen, college teachers, education experts and a large number of students.
In Qira'at competition, Mubashra Yasmeen of Satellite Town College, secured first position; Sana Seher of FG Girls College, F-7/2, Islamabad, second and Faiza Imran of FG Girls College, Rawalpindi, third position.
In Naat competitions, Faiza Ayaz of Satellite Town College stood first; Samia Kazmi of FG Girls College, Kashmir Road, Rawalpindi, second and Atiya Islam of Govt Girls Degree College, Murree Road, Rawalpindi, third.
In painting competitions, Ansa Naseem of FG Girls College, F-7/2, Islamabad, stood first and Sofia Shaheen and Kinza Anjum of FG Postgraduate Girls College, Kashmir Road, Rawalpindi, got second and third positions respectively.
IIUI Deputy Dean Dr Zatoon Begum said competitions of Qira'at and Naat helped promote spirituality and increase self-confidence in students.
She said inter-collegiate competitions were an opportunity for students to excel in extra-curricular activities.
Profs Nusrat Junaid, Hameeda Naqvi and Shaheen said objective of these competitions was to acknowledge students' creative and spiritual capabilities.
They said bilingual speech contests, cooking competitions, quiz competitions and Ghazal and Sufiana Kalam singing completions were part of the Students' Week.
GCU holds inter-collegiate competition
Lahore: The Government College University (GCU) Fine Arts Society conducted its Annual Inter-collegiate Competition and Exhibition at Islam Hall at the GCU campus on Wednesday.
Six colleges participated in the competition. Ramiza Rehman
from Government Fatimah Jinnah College Lahore secured the first position, Anila
Akhtar from Queen Marry College Lahore secured the second position, and Sania
Tariq from Government College Samanabad Lahore secured the third position.
Tayyab Karamat, Bilal Khalid, Sharjeel, Abdullah, and Suleman Khalid earned the
'best work' award. Sabiha Haider and Dr
Sohail Ahmad Khan inaugurated the competition. Visitors appreciated the work of students. The exhibition will continue until Thursday.
Sir Syed School prize distribution
Lahore: The annual prize distribution of Sir Syed Scholar's School System was held at Alhamra Hall No 2 on Wednesday. Prizes were awarded to the students who excelled in studies and extra-curricular activities. Lahore Arts Council Chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi distributed the prizes. Daily Times
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