By Shoaib Ahmad
LAHORE: It is regrettable that Saadat Hasan Manto’s writings
are still banned on television and radio and he has not been given
due respect in Pakistan, said speakers at a special gathering held
at ‘Lakshmi Mansion’ in front of Manto’s house
on Tuesday to mark his 50th death anniversary.
Speaking on the occasion, which was organised by the Weekly Mazdoor
Jido-Johad, Abid Hasan Manto said although life in Manto’s
days was simple his farsightedness made him write about the complexities
of today. He came from a middle class family and associated with
his economic strata, he said. He wrote about the hypocrisy of
society, which people usually ‘hate’ to discuss like
Sahiba Karamat and Mangoo, a character he sketched in his famous
short-story Naiya Qanoon, he added. Throwing light on Manto’s
story Naiya Qanoon, he said the 17th amendment in Pakistan and
imperial design behind globalisation were the examples of present
times. He said Manto wanted an egalitarian society where the poor
were not oppressed and women got equal rights and were accepted
as equal partners in society.
Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, a women’s rights activist, said
the ‘so-called custodians of Pakistan’s ideology’
had never accepted Manto, but the people in Pakistan had accepted
Manto in the 21st century. She said Manto was widely read in India
and nearly all the bookstores carried his work.
She said Manto lived a respectable and happy life in Bombay but
in Lahore he had to go through trouble and several cases were
filed against him. Shujaat Hashmi, an actor, regretted that Manto
was still banned from television and radio. Disagreeing with Ms
Khan, he said those who loved Manto had accepted him even in the
20th century. He said Manto did not only belong to the sub-continent
but to the whole world. In India, he said, Manto was celebrated
but in Pakistan he was still banned.
Madeeha Gauhar said that she tried to convey Manto’s ideas
through theatrical performances. She said she had staged his two
important plays in Pakistan, Toba Tek Singh and Naiya Qanoon.
Manto’s daughters Nighat Patail, Nuzhat Arshad and Nusrat
Jalal were present on the occasion. Ms Arshad said she felt great
being Manto’s daughter. He was a sensitive writer, she added.
Poet Munir Niazi presided over the gathering. He said the Pakistani
nation had not learnt to respect its great people. Mr Niazi said
he met Manto after partition