The Newspaper's Staff Reporter : February 17, 2018

LAHORE: A two-day International Punjabi Conference, titled’ Punjab’s Cultural Identity: Past and Present’, began at Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) on Friday.

Moeen Nizami, director of the Gurmani Centre at Lums, welcomed the conference participants and speakers from across the country as well as other parts of the world. He told the audience that the conference would now be an annual feature of the varsity. He said Lums would play a vital role in promotion of Punjabi through the Gurmani Centre and keep organising literary events.

Veteran writer and Punjabi Adabi Board President Mushtaq Soofi in his keynote address presented a comprehensive analysis of Punjab while exploring various aspects such as language, culture, heritage and the changes it went through in various periods. He said Indian civilisation developed from Punjab, in Harappa, which was later called the Indus Valley Civilisation. He also talked about social mobility and caste system of ancient Punjab, the social structure of those times and how language played an important role in the structuring of society.

Mr Soofi said every revolution in Punjab had led to a change in language. The province, he said, always faced turmoil because Punjab was once prosperous, and looters and plunderers found it a rich place to attack.


He also talked about the colonial period with a focus on language and said the English applied two languages in this part of the world -- Urdu for commoners and English for the upper class.

The first session of the conference, titled ‘Socio-Economic and Cultural Transformations of the Punjab’, was moderated by Sarwat Muhayyudin. The panelists were writer Manzur Ejaz, educationist Tahir Kamran and poet Mehmood Awan.

Discussing socio-economic and cultural transformation of Punjab, Mr Ejaz said maximum urbanisation had taken place in Pakistani Punjab. With ever-increasing urbanisation several activities associated with village life had come to an end such as ploughing, cycling and handicrafts. He said the introduction of machines had changed 70 per cent of the face of villages. Punjab had been a leading indicator of different movements be those political, religious or social.

Mr Kamran discussed post printing press scenario such as the changes printing press introduced and the oral tradition transforming into a literary one. He also talked about Urdu as a language, and said Islam and Urdu were instrumental to forging unity, while Urdu was also introduced in courts. With a change in oral culture, Punjabi also changed.

Mr Awan shared information on the army during British rule. Through slides, he explained the slogans and songs that invited people to join army for better economics. How the army of the Raj was reorganised on racial basis and social mobility in Punjab due to army jobs was also part of his presentation.