Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature

The Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature (GCLL)’s events this past year included literary discussions, insightful workshops, book launches, art exhibitions, and two mega celebrations: Apni Boli Bol, celebrating the International Mother Language Day and Jashn-e-Nowruz, the new year festival celebrated by millions in our country and the wider region.

Fall Term 2023

The Centre held its third academic writing workshop. Dr. Atiqullah, an authority on literary prose in Delhi, joined the participants online as the keynote speaker. The instructors conducting this workshop included Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar, Head, Gurmani Centre Publication Cell; Dr. Abid Sial, Head, Department of Pakistani Languages, NUML University; Dr. Najeeb Jamal, Professor, Urdu Literature, FC College, Lahore, and Dr. Fatima Fayyaz, Persian Instructor, LUMS. They expertly guided participants through literary prose, analytical essays, and bibliography writing among other things.

To celebrate the rich and diverse literary heritage of the Sindhi language, a session, ‘Sindhi Literature Through the Ages’, was held. The guest speaker, Dr. Hakim Ali Buriro, Assistant Professor, Department of Pakistani Languages, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, explained the influence and impact of various political and cultural shifts on Sindhi literature. Alongside, Sindhi travel writing and Sindhi biography and the work of Pir Husamuddin Rashidi was also highlighted. Dr. Buriro also emphasized the works of female Sindhi writers and poets.

The Fall semester commenced with the unveiling of Gurmani Centre’s Urdu research journal, Bunyād, Volume 14. Notable among the invited speakers at the launch event were Dr. Ashfaq Ahmad Virk, a literary critic and comic; Dr. Aurangzeb Niazi, the first Urdu author to write on environmental critiques; and Dr. Ambreen Salahuddin, an accomplished poet, translator, and author. The event was hosted by Dr. Nasir Abbass Nayyar, editor of Bunyad and the Head of the Publication Cell at the Gurmani Centre.

GCLL organised a session to launch Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar’s latest literary contribution, Naē Naqād kē Nām Khuṭūṭ. Dr. Nayyar, a distinguished writer, critic, and the head of GCLL’s Publication Cell, hosted the event while Dr. Shaista Hassan moderated the session. The book offers a step-by-step guide to understand literary criticism through a series of letters, offering a perspective that breaks away from conventional approaches and clichés.

GCLL invited Dr. Muhammad Ali Dinakhel, a distinguished Pashto scholar, to discuss the rich history and global reach of the Pashto language. Dr. Dinakhel discussed the language's contemporary significance and drew the audience’s attention to unexplored Pashto manuscripts. He emphasised the need for academic study of Pashto dialects as signifiers of tribal identities.

Professor Zahid Hassan, introduced his novel Kahani ek Maa Di, acclaimed for its popularity in Punjabi literary circles. The participants in the discussion included Dr. Zia ul Hassan, Rukhsana Naveed, Ashok Kumar, Muhammad Hassan Rai, and Nazia Anwar.

GCLL provided a virtual stage for a veteran of Urdu literature, Dr. Hassan Manzar. His autobiography, Guzrē Din, was discussed in an online talk hosted by Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar. Notable scholars, Dr. Zia-ul-Hassan and Dr. Najeebuddin Jamal, were invited as discussants.

The Centre transformed the academic block into an exhibition space for Dr. Iram Zia Raja’s artworks. Dr. Raja, who is the Dean of the Design Department at the National College of Arts showcased her selected works from the past ten years.

Spring Term 2024

A documentary film, Sanjha Punjab, was screened that delved deep into the cultural and social intricacies of Punjab, showcasing its diverse heritage and shared culture. The film features the sense of unity and understanding among the Punjabi community living in New Zealand and prompts reflections on shared identity, belonging, and the collective narrative of Punjab.

Apni Boli Bol, a mega event, was hosted by the Centre to celebrate International Mother Languages Day. Organised in collaboration with the LUMS Culture Society, the event honoured regional languages like Punjabi, Saraiki, Balochi, Pashto, Persian, Arabic, and Sindhi, fostering appreciation for Pakistan's linguistic and cultural diversity.

A panel discussion explored literary contributions of Dr. Khalid Jawed, a distinguished Indian fiction writer. Dr. Jawed joined the session from Delhi, India via zoom while Dr. Aurangzeb Niazi and Mr. Shanawar Ishaq attended the session in person as discussants with Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar as the moderator.

The Centre brought together a panel of experts to discuss popular Urdu fiction by both critics and academics. The panel comprised luminaries like Dr. Asghar Nadeem Syed, a renowned playwright, drama writer, and poet; Dr. Aurangzeb Niazi, the HoD of the Urdu Department at Government College Civil Lines Lahore; and Dr. M. Khalid Fayyaz, Professor, HoD of the Urdu Department, Government Zamindar Graduate College, Gujrat and Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar, the leading Urdu critic acknowledged worldwide for his scholarship.

The Gurmani Centre hosted an international conference that for the very first time, delved into Pakistan's diverse literary landscapes across Sindh, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The first keynote speaker, Mr. Jami Chandio, Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Civil Society (CPCS) shared his insights on the significance of the conference theme and impact it promised to have on the participants from across the country. Professor Shafey Kidwai, a distinguished professor from the Aligarh Muslim University, delivered the Presidential address online where he highlighted notions related to linguistic diversity and political frameworks enmeshed in literary tropes. Syed Babar Ali attended the opening session and emphasised the role of languages in expressing human experiences and fostering sentiments of inclusivity. The second keynote address was given by Dr. Tariq Rahman, Professor of Liberal Arts, Beaconhouse National University, who discussed the non-linguistic factors in the production of literature.

An event was organised to announce Gurmani Centre’s first publication after the inception of its Publication Cell under the supervision of Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar. The Gurmani Rahnuma Kitab: ‘Ilmi Nasr —Usool o Rasmiyāt (Gurmani Manual for Academic Writing) is designed as a valuable resource for everyone interested in Urdu academic prose and research writing. Dr. Tabassum Kashmiri, a literary historian and critic, presided over the session, and Dr. Najeeb Jamal, an Urdu critic and renowned researcher, joined the panel as a special guest. Present among the discussants were contributors to the manual from Lahore whose scholarly insights have added excellent value to this impactful project: Drs. Nasrullah, Fatima Fayyaz, Ammara Rasheed, Ambreen Salahuddin, and Aurangzeb Niazi. They all unanimously agreed that the Gurmani Manual addressed fundamental issues related to research and academic writing and praised the Centre for undertaking this important project.

The Gurmani Centre, for the third year in a row, organised an evening filled with poetry, music, and other festivities to celebrate Nowruz. This mega event was planned in collaboration with the Khana-e-Farhang, the Iranian Cultural Centre in Lahore and the LUMS Culture Society.

The Centre held a translation workshop where researchers, students, and professors from various academic and literary disciplines across Pakistan participated. Attendees praised the Centre for providing them with an invaluable opportunity of learning the rules and regulations of translating texts from one language to another.

In collaboration with the Tanzara Gallery in Islamabad, GCLL held an event featuring a travelling exhibition of two renowned artists, Amna Manzoor (a miniature specialist) and Shah Abdullah Alamee (an expert calligrapher). Each artwork displayed was a collaborative creation by the artist duo and presented aesthetic interpretations of Allama Iqbal’s Urdu and Persian poetry selections.

At a poetry reading and book talk, organised by the Centre, the renowned Pakistani-American poet and essayist Shadab Zeest Hashmi introduced the audience to her publication Ghazal Cosmopolitan and discussed ghazal as a form of powerful expression. The session ended with a recitation of Hashmi’s own ghazals to the delight of the audience.

GCLL hosted the book launch session for Professor Yasmeen Hameed’s latest publication Aik Aur Rukh. Mubeen Mirza and Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar, noted Pakistani literary figures were invited as guest speakers.