Re-examining Pakistan’s culture
“You will want to look for Pakistani culture after reading this book,” said Mehtab Akbar Rashidi, praising the work of Uxi Mufti at the launch of his book ‘Pakistani Saqafat’ on Saturday evening at the Arts Council.
The launch of Mufti’s book on Pakistani culture attracted much discussion and diverse opinions from the panel.
Rashidi defined culture as an iceberg, of which 90 per cent is submerged in water. “When you talk about culture, it is actually your perception of what you see above water. Thus, culture has to be explored beneath the surface,” she explained. Steering the discussion towards the richness of the Sindhi culture, she recounted some personal experiences in which, despite being a Sindhi, her Urdu was commended. “Urdu speaking people did not try to learn Sindhi. I became rich as I learnt Urdu but unfortunately one is very poor if he cannot understand Shah Bhittai,” she said.
Television actor, Talat Hussain, admiring the narrative tone of the book, said that it is that of an irritated citizen, who is calling out the state of culture in Pakistan. According to Hussain, the crux of the dilemma of Pakistan’s culture is its failure in recognising itself as one nation.
“We have been taught incorrect history,” he said. “We reminisce about the time when we were a colonial power, what we used to be,” Hussain said, adding that the indicator of a positive and esteemed culture is that people are more aware of what they are doing and lack interest in what others are doing.
Shedding light on the relationship between media and culture, Hussain said the media portrays what surrounds you, albeit in an exaggerated setting. “The absence of culture is spoiling the media more than the other way around,” he said. In the words of Talat Hussain, the solution to the Pakistani culture crisis is to tackle it on the educational front. “In every province, other than the mother tongue, another language of a different province should be taught,” he suggested.
Writer Asif Farrukhi said in the book Mufti is looking up to his father Mumtaz Mufti who penned ‘Alipur ka Aili.’ Sharing his views on culture, Farrukhi said there was a time when cultural talks were based on the policies governing it. “Today you wouldn’t even find the policy. Policies are introduced for media about what it should show and what it must not,” he said.
The book’s author, Uxi Mufti, said that the purpose of his book was to initiate dialogue among people. “I have come here so that the question of culture is raised. Get it removed from the shackles of politicians, so that people can carry the reins of culture on their own,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2015.