Manto’s 50th death anniversary observed
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.

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