“India and Pakistan share the same civilization in terms of poetry, arts and culture. We need to understand that mushaira is not a ``track II’’ diplomacy where we are talking about territorial disputes and trade barriers. Our concern is alleviating human pain and unhealed wound in the sub-continent through the beautiful Urdu poetry which touches the heart of the people cutting across religion and boundaries,” said noted Pakistani poet and columnist Harris Khalique.
Speaking to `The Hindu’ on the sidelines of the annual international mushaira “Jashn-e-Bahar-2013” in the Capital, Harris said the need of the hour was to make it easier for Indians and Pakistanis to travel to each other’s country without having to stand in serpentine queues.
“As I am a columnist with Friday Times and Dawn and am friendly with officials in the Indian High Commission so it becomes easier for me to travel to India. I am privileged but what about the average Pakistanis who have to stand in queues for long hours to get visa. We have to understand that a terrorist would not stand in queues to get a visa.”
Stressing the need to translate Urdu poetry into Hindi and Hindi fiction into Urdu, Harris said: ``Hindi fiction is superior to Urdu but Urdu is richer than Hindi in terms of poetry.’’
“We need to encourage more translations between Hindi and Urdu. As far as subjects related to science are concerned we need the course books to be in English. We cannot have them in Arabic or Sanskrit.”
Complimenting Bollywood filmmakers for popularising a common language which is flourishing in the sub-continent and other countries, Harris said Bollywood is an example which has succeeded in familiarising the people in India and Pakistan, where Urdu and Hindi are read and understood, with `Hindustani’.
Meanwhile, Pakistan-born Farhat Shahzad, who resides in New Jersey, also pointed out to the problems he faced while travelling to India. ``Once the security personnel are satisfied with the credentials of a foreign artiste then they should not harass him or her,’’ he said.
“But this is not the case. My wife is from Delhi and my children are American citizens. However, every year when I have to travel to India I face the problem because I was born in Pakistan. This despite the fact that my in-laws live here.”
He said mushairas such as this one must allow poets from both countries and non-Urdu speaking nations, which are participating, to talk on any issue. “Poets need to discuss issues which are creating problems in an honest way and also give solutions.”
Indian poet Nusrat Mehdi, who hails from Bhopal, said Urdu needs be promoted by private schools too.
“In Government schools in Bhopal we have Urdu upto Class VIII but not in private and missionary schools. Secondly, people like us who are conversant in this beautiful language do not encourage our children to read books and newspapers in Urdu,” said Mehdi.
Describing Urdu as a language which embodies the best values of our secular syncretise culture, Jashn-e-Bahar Trust founder Kamna Prasad said it was high time that Urdu was given its due. “It is time to come together and petition the Government that Urdu teaching be made compulsory at least till Class V. It is our responsibility to make sure that our coming generations are familiar with our mushaira tehzeeb and this composite cultural ethos lives on.”