‘Two Nation Theory Did Not Mean Two Hostile Nations’
Zaman Khan reports on the Guru Nanak Dev 30th International Conference on Punjabi Literature & Culture where Punjabi poets and writers reinvoked the legacy of Guru Nanak and called for better relations between India and Pakistan
نانک لال و لال— نانک دکھیا سب سنگھسار
“The Two Nation Theory did not mean two hostile nations”, Hamid Khan, senior lawyer and former President of Supreme Bar Association stated in his address to a session of International Punjabi Conference held at Lahore During February 14th to 18th. He mentioned that he had visited India a number of times upon the invitation of Indian lawyers. Khan said he had widely travelled and found the desire on both sides to have good and friendly relations between two countries. He said he had discussions with pre-partition and post partition generations in India. He shared his experiences of his visits to India and reached to the conclusion that two nations theory did not mean two hostile nations. He said he was proud that Jalib and he belonged to the same village of Hoshiarpur. So he had very intimate relations with Jalib. He observed that credit must be given to organisers who are holding a peace conference in a hostile atmosphere between India and Pakistan. He said there was no exchange of lawyer’s delegations since 2005.
The five day International conference was a special occasion for Lahore because due to untiring efforts of Fakhar Zaman, founder of World Punjabi Congress. 39 Indians were able to attend conference, although 100 names were approved by the home ministry. The tragic-comic part was that in one case a wife was grated visa while the husband was denied visa. The famous Indian folk singer Pammi Bai was granted visa but his team was denied. The delegations from U K. Canada, France and USA also attended conference.
Former Chief Justice of Shariat Court Justice Afzal Haider in his inaugural address highlighted on the deep and intimate relation between Baba Farid and founder of Sikh religion Guru Nanak. He stated that he had studied in depth the writings of Baba Farid and Guru Nanak. He observed both gave the message of love. He said we have to look forward to build bridges of peace and love to spread the message of Farid and Nanak. He added that during the high tension last year between Pakistan and India people of both Punjab raised their voice against war. He further said that the message and philosophy of Baba Farid and Guru Nanak had been killed. He stated the Nanak’s message was for all Hindu, Sikh and Muslims. He said that ‘rulers’ did not let Quran be translated into local languages. He stated Baba Farid laid the foundation of Ijtihad in Islam. Who said ‘ اٹھ فریدا ستیا کوک فریدا کوک
Dr. Nabila Rehman said an autobiography of Guru Nanak in verse was published in 1940 in Gujranwala. Asim Butt of Academy of Letters stated that Afzal Ahsan Randhawa was founder of Punjabi novel in 60s. Most of speakers stated that there was need of a NANAK today. His philosophy was above religion, caste and creed. Dr. Harbhajan Singh Bhatia observed that people believe in Guru but did not act upon his philosophy. Mr. Amjad Ali Bhatti, a delegate from Islamabad stated that the rulers wanted to keep common man illiterate and ‘Jaahil’ and created deterrence. He said rulers’ policy is to co-opt or terrorize the intellectuals. He said it was rulers on both sides which preach religious hatred. He stated there was need of Humanism: انسانیت
Dr. Nizam ud din, former V C of University of Gujrat and former Chairperson HEC, said although he was Urdu speaking but defended the right of people to be taught in their mother languages. He pointed out that there was dearth of literature particularly in science and philosophy in Punjabi and Urdu that was why we have to resort to English. He said the best service of Punjabi language would be to create good books and literature in Punjabi.
Leader of Indian delegation Dr. Deepak Manmohan recalled the efforts of World Punjabi Congress to hold Punjabi Conferences both in India and Pakistan. He said he visited first time to Lahore with a big contingent of Indians. He also paid tributes to Late S. S. Noor for his untiring efforts to hold conferences in India. Leading folk singer from India who was not allowed to bring his companions sung with Akram Rahi from Pakistan to fill the void.
The five day conference was addressed among others by Gurbhajan Singh Gill, Dr. Kanwaljit Kaur Dhillon, Dr. Bharatbeer Sandhu, Dr. Saima Batool, Iqbal Qaiser, Dr. Rattan Singh Dhillon, Sehajpreet Singh Mangat, Sunita Dhir, Dr. Sughra Sadaf, Farukh Sohail Goindi, Dr. Paramijit Kaur Sidhu, Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. Sukhdev Singh, Dr. Swairaj Singh Sadhu, Jananail Singh Basota and Mushtaq Lashari. At the end of first day documentaries was shown about great Sufi poets Baba Farid and Bullah Shah prepared by Farrukh Zaman.
A delegate from Canada Mr. Sindhu stated that he did not believe in superstitions. In fact Guru Nanak was servant of people and dedicated his life for preaching love, peace and welfare of people.
It was pertinent to mention that many speakers highlighted Guru Nanaks’s writing for liberation and equal rights of women folk, which need to be researched in detail and his view must be disseminated. A Musharia was organized in which Punjabi poets from both Punjab recited their poetry. The conference provided an opportunity to Indian intellectuals and writers to launch their books published in Shahmukhi script from Lahore.
Fakhar Zaman in his concluding speech stated that ‘his book on Sufism would be his last book’ and he would stop writing after that. He said his latest book was book of poems in English. He welcomed opening of Kartarpur corridor but poited out that it was first demanded by WPC. He also shared history of WPC since 1986 when first conference was held in Lahore Fakhar Zaman specially mentioned the name of the owner ‘ Pak Heritage Hotel’ who provide them lodging and other facilities to hold conference without any charges. He said Indians and delegates from UK has promised to hold next 31st Conference in India and UK but frankly he did not believe them and declared if they did not fulfil their commitment he would again hold next conference in Lahore. He also shared the difficulties faced by him in obtaining visas for Indian delegates. The Conference ended with Lahore declaration. Credit must go to Fakhar Zaman, founder of World Punjabi Congress for regularly holding Punjabi Conferences all over the world particularly in this hostile atmosphere in Lahore.
It should be added that Pakistan is still issuing visas for Indians to attend conference but Indians totally refuse to issue visa to Pakistanis.
Former head of PILAC Dr. Sughra Sadaf should also be credited for arranging a cultural programme at Alhamra at a very short notice. The programme became historic because Arif Lohar’s three children performed for the first time together. Indian folk singer Pammi, although without his team, enthralled the audiences.
Lahore Declaration at the end of historic conference stated:
- In Pakistani Punjab, Punjabi should be given the rightful place. It should be taught at the primary level and spleen in the Punjab legislature.
- The first ever Punjabi university should be established in Lahore. The curricula in the colleges and university of Punjabi language should be revised and made modern according to the changes in Punjabi language.
- The Punjabi language should shun the attitude of purism and should be more understandable in India and Pakistan. The opening of Kartarpur corridor is appreciable because it was the old demand of WPC. The visa between the two countries should be liberalized.
- The Samjohta Express between India and Pakistan and Bus service between Amritsar and Lahore should be resumed.
- There should be dialogue between the two countries about the long pending disputes including Kashmir and relations should be normalized between the two neighboring countries.
- There should be a full paper of Gurmikhi in M. A Punjabi in Punjabi University Lahore and similarly a full paper on Shahmukhi in Indian universities.
- There should be more cultural & literary exchanges India and Pakistan, especially between two Punjab.
- The senior citizens and India should be issued visa on arrival at the border, like previous practice. All languages spoken in Pakistan are national languages of Pakistan.
The conference was very productive and provided to the writers of both Punjabi and local Punjabi lovers to learn and exchange views. The 30th conference has left many questions open, the most pertinent is what after Fakhar Zaman?
Zaman Khan is a journalist and former staffer at Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.