ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that writers, poets and intellectuals have to play a leading role in elimination of terrorism and promotion of peace.
He was inaugurating four-day International Conference on Language, Literature and Society in Islamabad on Thursday afternoon.
The Prime Minister said there is dire need to launch Zarb-e-Qalam (pen) along with Zarb-e-Azb to root out terrorism and promote harmony.
He pointed out that Pakistan was facing the menace of terrorism for the last fifteen years taking toll of innocent lives. He said valiant armed force translated the political will of the Government to fight out terrorism and have succeeded in breaking the back of terrorists.
The Prime Minister said absence of literary activities and patronage gives way to extremism, intolerance, injustice, bigotry and sectarianism. He said we can check this tendency by promoting literary and cultural activities.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his Government created a fulfledged division of National History and Literary Heritage under the leadership of Irfan Siddiqui. He has been given full powers assigned the task of reviving literary and cultural organizations.
The Prime Minister called for concrete steps for preservation of the national history and literary heritage and its transfer to next generation. He said modern tools including thematic books, special television programmes and Information Technology should be used to realize this objective.
The Prime Minister referred to paucity of funds for promotion of art and literary activities and announced institution of an Endowment Fund of 500 million rupees for the purpose. He said the fund should be used as per requirements of different institutions concerned besides resolution of the problems of writers.
He said it has also been decided to enhance scholarship for writers and poets substantially. About one thousand writers and poets would benefit from the scheme. Similarly, it has also been decided to increase awards for Urdu and regional languages from the existing 11 to 20. A literary award in the name of Intizar Hussain would also be institution carrying prize money of one million rupees.
The Prime Minister said the insurance scheme would now cover 700 writers and artists instead of 354 at present and the premium would be paid by the Government.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked Irfan Siddiqui to constitute a committee to recommend welfare measures for arts of different discipline. The Committee should submit its report within a month.
In his speech, Advisor on National History and Literary Heritage Irfan Siddiqui enumerated a number of measures initiated by the present Government to revive glory of literary and cultural organizations.
He said a Theme Park would be established in the premises of Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi at a cost of one billion rupees.
A national level museum would be established in Islamabad and its foundation stone is expected to be laid soon.
In his welcome address, Chairman Pakistan Academy of Letters Dr. Muhammad Qasim Boghio said during four days of the Conference, local and foreign delegates would present more papers than all the universities produced in seven years.
He said writers, poets and intellectuals can play a crucial role in promoting peace and harmony in the country and strengthening inter-faith harmony. He said they can also help consolidate gains of the Government made during the war against terror.
He said Pakistan Academy of Letters has established a centre for translating Urdu books into English and that of other foreign languages into Urdu.
He said MoUs have also been signed with several countries for cooperation in literature and culture.
Head of Urdu Department of Istanbul University Dr. Halil Toker said writers and intellectuals have more powerful weapon in their hands in the shape of pen than traditional weapons.
He emphasized the need for self-accountability, taking pride in national culture and values and joining hands for promotion of global peace and harmony.