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Urdu online research journal | Urdu varsity's VC demotion

Urdu's first online research journal
Islamabad, July 27: Ever since her thunderous entry into the world of letters at the age of 22, Qurrat-ul-Ain Hyder, probably the greatest of the 20th century fiction writers of Urdu, has been a topic of animated discussions, though sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Some writers criticised her for a peculiar milieu depicted in her works, saying that it was an endeavour to glorify the bourgeoisie, others thought she was nauseatingly attached to the past and nostalgia took the better of her. Also, there has been no dearth of the critics who acknowledged the real worth of her works and gave her the praise she deserved.

But evaluation and re-evaluation of her work had been done incessantly during her lifetime. And even now, two years after her death (she died on August 21, 2007), there is no let-up in the number of research papers and critical articles written on her life and art. Some magazines have published special issues on her. Roshnai, a literary journal published from Karachi, is one of them. It has recently brought out a voluminous special issue on her.

The latest critical article written on her is 'Qurrat-ul-Ain Hyder ki novel nigari ka fikri tanazur'. Written by Dr Naheed Qamar and published in the latest issue of Almas, the article discusses at length the philosophical and ideological perspectives of Qurrat-ul-Ain Hyder's novels. Dr Qamar feels that partition was deeply rooted in Qurrat-ul-Ain Hyder's psyche and even while she wrote on themes other than that, it seemed to be at the back of her mind. It is only Ms Hyder, she says, who has used 'time' in its broadest possible perspective. This article surveys Ms Hyder's novels with a keen eye on the philosophical and literary background of her works.

Though Khairpur's Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU) is one of the country's nascent universities, it has performed some commendable feats in its brief lifespan. The holding of a truly international conference in 2008 on 'Literature and national consciousness' was one of them. A university is known and evaluated by its research activities and its research publications. Prominent among SALU's research publications is Almas, a research journal that its Urdu department has been publishing regularly since 1999.

Recognised by the Higher Education Commission as a quality research journal, Almas has published in the recent past many research articles of lasting significance written by scholars from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Egypt and elsewhere.

In addition to Dr Qamar's article, Almas's just published issue (No 10, 2008) carries some other worthwhile articles, too. Some of them deserve a special mention.

A paper co-authored by Dr Rubina Tareen and Qaiser Imtiaz Gurmani, for instance, highlights the contributions of writers and journalists during the 1857 war of freedom; Dr Aatish Durrani's paper, criticising the towering figures of Urdu research, emphasises the use of Urdu informatics for collating rare manuscripts; Dr Tanzim-ul-Firdaus has come up with quite a scholarly paper, highlighting the efforts of freedom fighters of 1857 with a special reference to Ahmedullah Shah Madrasi.

Almas also carries a very interesting paper titled 'Nisai mehsoosaat ki tajseem' (the embodiment of feminine feelings): Rikhti.

Prof Dr Muhammad Yousuf Khushk, the chairman of SALU's Urdu department, has stated in his editorial quite unassumingly that Almas is Urdu's first research journal that may be completely read online. Though Peshawar University's Urdu department's research journal Khayabaan is also available online, it gives only selected portions. But Almas offers the entire text at SALU's website (

It is a matter of pride for all concerned that a university situated in the interior of Sindh is producing a quality research journal in Urdu and has made it available to the entire world.

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President urged to stop demotion of Urdu varsity's VC
Islamabad: The Teachers Association of the Federal Urdu University has urged President Asif Ali Zardari, also chancellor of the university, to stop the demotion and resignation of the university's vice-chancellor.

According to reports, Dr Mohammad Qaiser, vice-chancellor of the university, has been demoted and his name, among others, has been forwarded to Sindh governor for pro-vice chancellor of the Karachi University.

Dr Qaiser would be the fifth consecutive vice-chancellor who would resign prematurely from the university since its inception in 2002 when Professor Pirzada Qasim left the university and joined the University of Karachi.

In a statement issued here on Saturday, association president (Abdul Haq Campus) Professor Nasir Abbas and secretary general Dr Abdul Ghafoor Baloch and other office-bearers appealed to the president and Sindh governor not to demote Dr Qaiser.

"The University of Karachi is full of talent of its own and the post of a pro-vice chancellor can easily be filled from within the university," they said.

They also appealed to the teachers of the University of Karachi and the civil society to raise voice against this step and help save the basic right of the Karachites to higher education.

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Book revives debate on role of arts, science in serving humanity
Islamabad: Referring to Dr Aalia Imam's book Ekisveen sadi main science aur adab, tazad kahan launched at the National Press Club here on Saturday by literary organisation, Daira, International Islamic University President Dr Anwar Hussain Siddiqui, said its publication was coinciding with world wide celebration of 25 years of man's landing on moon.

He said the book took up the plea for benign side of sciences. As for science's baneful effect, he pointed out that people of this Sub-continent lived in a region always dreading that awful day when relations of two neighboring countries might go awry and they might become the victims of first strike of nuclear bombs.

'Then we could be reduced to X-ray shadows, like the victims of Hiroshima and at the same time the humanity might end in smoke.

It was left to former Ambassador Sarwar (pronounced Suroor) Naqvi to bring home the relevance between science and arts. He recalled for the benefit of the audience the loud debate on relations between the two cultures of science and arts introduced in England by the late CP Snow during the fifties of the last century.

However, Justice (retired) Waheed Siddiqui spoke emphatically that science and arts were really not in confrontation with each other; both had a role in serving humanity. He said Dr Aalia Imam had renewed the argument in her present book which was a collection of ten polemic essays. "Dr Imam wants science to move in the right direction taking inspiration from Dr Albert Einstein who once wrote, "moving is not important but in which direction we are moving that is the most important thing."

Dr Aalia Imam made a resounding defence of her essays. She pledged to campaign against the destructive direction which science has taken producing munitions, which killed humanity and destroyed the entire glorious heritage than man had created in the world through arts and literature.

She said this must end because productions of munitions create excuse for long wars. In such circumstances science becomes a tool for perpetrating injustice and disparity among the people. The ends of science and arts are, and always will be, the prosperity of human society. "I see no clash between the two disciplines of knowledge," said the scholar.

National Language Authority Chairman Iftikhar Arif giving a narration of her scholarship at the Lucknow University from where she obtained her doctorate degree said the event became a platform for recalling the glorious career of Dr Aalia Imam.

Her fund of knowledge and her gentle disposition was praised by a number of speakers including Agha Nasir, Mansoor Aqil, Firdaus Alam, Saima Batool, Mahboob Zafar and Sana Gul.

Daira's president Ghazanfar Mehdi moved a resolution in the literary meeting asking the government to recognise Dr Imam's standing as a great literary person by conferring on her Sitara-i-Imtiaz. Dawn

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