Allahabad (UP): An Allahabad-based Urdu
litterateur has been chosen by Pakistan for one of its highest
civilian awards "Sitaara-e-Imtiyaz".
"I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call on
August 15 from Iftikhar Arif, noted Urdu poet and Pakistani
scholar who also heads the National Language Authority which
is a body devoted to promote the cause of Urdu.
"He told me that just a day ago, the Pakistani government
had taken the decision to confer this award on me," renowned
Urdu literary figure Shamsur Rahman Faruqi told agency here.
Faruqi said the award presentation ceremony was likely to
take place in March next year and the authorities have
informed him that a formal invitation will soon be send
wherein details of the programme will be given.
The 72-year-old Urdu scholar, who received the Padma Shri
last year, expressed hope that the award would be more than a
mere personal achievement and "do its bit in bringing about an
atmosphere of friendship and mutual trust..."
"Diplomatic relations between the two countries may have
had their ups and downs, but writers and poets of India and
Pakistan have always remained united," Faruqi said.
"We must not underestimate the impact these things can
have. Our Prime Minister has been offering humanitarian
assistance to Pakistan which is reeling under devastating
flood. Pakistan, on its part, has chosen an Indian litterateur
for one of their prestigious awards. This shows that all is
not lost between the two countries," he said.
Faruqi also expressed displeasure over the tendency to
view Urdu as a "Muslim language", which he said "results from
ignorance of the fact that this is one Indian language in
which people from all faiths -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists,
Christians -- have made significant contributions".
"Urdu has had innumerable writers, poets and critics who
came from a non-Muslim background. Fortunately, despite
attempts to politicise the issue, there seems to be no dearth
of interest in the language even in the younger generation,"