Monday, April 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Writers against visa regime
WPC preparing ‘Lahore Declaration’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Lahore, April 15
The four-day World Punjabi Conference (WPC) which concludes here tomorrow, will seek removal of visa restrictions to promote cultural ties between the Punjabis in India and Pakistan.

The “Lahore Declaration”, which is being finalised by office-bearers of the WPC and the World Punjabi Foundation (WPF) will include an appeal to Governments of India and Pakistan to create an atmosphere of peace, harmony and brotherhood in the sub-continent.

Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairman, WPC and former minister, talking to mediapersons, said both governments must understand that “India is a reality and so is Pakistan. Hence, they should live like good neighbours” Mr Zaman said the “Lahore Declaration” would urge the Pakistani Government to introduce Punjabi as medium of instruction at the primary level. He said it was a matter of concern that the Punjabi language faced a threat from Punjabi bureaucrats who were not interested in the introduction of the “mothertongue” in government departments and courts.

The Punjabi writers, who have come from 15 countries, including the USA Canada, England, India, Thailand and Holland, talking to TNS said, “linguistic imperialism had caused harm to the Punjabi language. Though, there were more than 70 per cent Punjabis in Pakistan, yet the language was being discriminated against due to the “callous” attitude of all concerned.

Mr Gajinder Singh, Chairman, Dal Khalsa International, Mr Manmohan Singh and Mr Satwinder Singh “Satti” (of the Dal Khalsa) also participated. This is the third Punjabi conference in Lahore.

Mr Miraz Khalid, a former Prime Minister, who inaugurated the conference on Baisakhi, appealed to both countries to avoid confrontation and open a new chapter of friendship. Cinestar Raj Babbar emphasised on the need for joint ventures in producing world-class Punjabi pictures, plays and cultural programmes.

Mr Illyas Ghumman, a renowned Punjabi writer, talked about the future of Punjabi in Pakistan. He said as many as 15 magazines, including daily “Bhulekha” were being published from Pakistan. More than 100 Punjabi books were being published every year, in both “Shahmukhi” (Persian) and “Gurmukhi”.

The writers from Sind, Baluchistan and other provinces of Pakistan also participated.

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