TORONTO: Center of excellence is the most appropriate title for the city of Toronto. It deserves this recognition because of the tremendous contribution being made in all fields by people of all walks of life. The progress is evident and not assumed and has made Canada proud.

Urdu language too is getting full attention, promotion and official recognition in Canada, thanks to Toronto and immigrants. It is fast growing, gaining popularity and carving its deserving place in the society. Now and then various local and international intellectual, social, cultural and religious activities are held and largely attended by the people. A large number of people come from abroad, who not only help in richness of the society but also help promote Urdu, culture and values worldwide. They possess tremendous knowledge and are helping end the era of darkness.

The main focus worldwide is and should be on how to protect and promote Urdu in the society, all our generations and people. Urdu being both charismatic and majestic because of its excellent qualities keeps absorbing other languages in the most beautiful way. Urdu in reality is an ocean and other languages keep falling into it like rivers. The fragrance of Urdu keeps spreading everywhere and fast.

Urdu is like the sky studded with billions of shining stars. It is like the river from where millions benefit and quench their thirst. All attempts to suppress and destroy Urdu have miserably failed and instead it is benefiting all societies and cultures of the world in its own natural way. Its root in the people is very deep. By neglecting Urdu one cannot endanger it. Instead it is vice versa. Those who leave it become rolling stones and live on the mercy of others. In short, one cannot harm Urdu but only benefit from it. Urdu is a living legend and its charm is inescapable.

To promote Urdu, the Weekly Urdu Times of America and Canada organized the Aalmi (International) Urdu Conference Toronto 2005 in Toronto at Days Hotel from June 17-19, 2005. This was the second international Urdu conference organized here. World’s leading and distinguished scholars, researchers and poets attended in large numbers including from India Gopi Chand Narang (Sathiya Academy), Dr Qamar Raees, Shahid Maholi (Director of Ghalib Academy), Zahid Ali Khan, editor of Daily Siasat, and Prof. A. A. Fatmi of Allahabad University’s Urdu Department and editor of quarterly Urdu literary magazine Naya Safar). From Pakistan Dr Jameel Jalibi (ex-Vice-Chancellor of University of Karachi), Ata-ul Haq Qasmi (Columnist of Daily Jang), Nayyar Jehan and Rehana Roohi. From England Dr David Matthews, Syed Ashoor Kazmi and Reza Ali Abidi. There were many participants from the United States including Vakil Ansari and Dr Abdul Rehman.

The list of prominent and distinguished guests is very long. Almost all the participants were renowned and leading personalities including Dr Shanul Haq Haqqee and Jim Karygiannis, MP, who is very popular in the South Asian community because of his interest and contribution.

This Urdu conference is claimed to be the first of its kind held in Toronto. It proved very successful. The interest shown in the conference was remarkable and made the occasion memorable. The attendance was full in all of the highly informative sessions.

DECISION: It was decided in the conference that efforts would be made to protect Urdu script by all means. Awareness and interest would be created in the kids. They must be taught Urdu at home and at Sunday schools. Ways must be explored to attract them towards Urdu and make them understand its importance. An international committee would be formed to protect and promote Urdu literature by all means. The problems must be sincerely and seriously attended, studied and solved.

The distinguished speakers and participants presented their views and exchanged ideas about how to protect and promote Urdu. Some of the messages are as follows:

Jim Karygiannis, MP, said: "Urdu language is respected and recognized in Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights has been officially translated into Urdu. The pace of progress of immigrants is very good. The future is very bright and the day is not far when their children too could become prime minister. They have made a place for themselves and now they must prepare themselves for the challenges ahead." Jim presented as a token of gift the Canadian Charter of Rights to Jameel Jalibi and the organizers.

Gopi Chand Narang said: "There is no need for worry or disappointment because Urdu is a living language. Problems do exist but we have to have faith in the language to solve them. When there is crisis we must have more faith. The problems faced by Urdu in India and Pakistan could only be solved by the people there. Languages cannot be killed or created and as regards Urdu its face is very beautiful."

He said: "There is no need to be sad. Urdu has progressed and has produced world-class poets. The communication and artistry of Urdu is very natural, impressive and makes it beautiful. Although I know seven languages but Urdu has attracted and impressed me the most. Urdu should not be monopolized. All lovers of Urdu must work together. Urdu media and channels must be promoted. Urdu speaking in homes is very important. Find ways to attract the new generation towards Urdu. This is very important for promotion of Urdu."

Dr Shanul Haq Haqqee said: "Urdu is as old as any modern language. It has survived and progressed despite fear of extinction due to the conspiracies. Urdu is vanishing as our young and coming generations cannot protect Urdu. Policies are being made to destroy it."

Dr Jameel Jalibi threw light on the state of Urdu and stressed on its proper protection. He said it is a victim of neglect.

Dr Qamar Raees said: "In Toronto a lot is being done for Urdu. In a very short period Urdu has achieved remarkable progress. It is all due to the efforts of the people. Urdu needs serious and full attention. In India it is in danger and in a very bad shape. The roots are rotting. Urgent positive and practical steps are needed to save and protect Urdu."

Prof A. A. Fatmi said: "Urdu has spread from Lucknow, Delhi and Karachi to London, New York and Toronto. It has the unique quality of reaching everywhere and ruling minds. Urdu is facing a very difficult time and needs proper attention. Great scholars including Gopi Chand Narang are contributing tremendously in giving Urdu its status."

Zahid Ali Khan said: "Urdu is suffering in both India and Pakistan. Efforts must be made to create awareness about the need, scope and importance of Urdu. Thousands of children in Hyderabad Deccan quit education and opt for jobs. This situation is extremely alarming. For the last over 50 years the Urdu lovers were only shown dreams of serving Urdu. Now is the time to expose them to reality. With only $5 we can help educate a child in India."

Zahid Ali Khan invited the audience to the International Urdu Conference being held from November 18-20,2005, in Hyderabad Deccan, India. Daily Siasat will organize this conference in collaboration with Urdu Times of America and Canada.

Dr Abdur Rehman said: "Holding of this conference shows that we are serious and ready to serve and promote Urdu. We have to find out what we have been doing, what we are doing and what could be done for Urdu. Follow up of the work on Urdu is extremely essential for its protection."

Syed Ashoor Kazmi said: "The fault lies with us for keeping our children away from Urdu. Now we must make a commitment to teach Urdu to one person at least. In order to keep contact with roots we must create awareness and interest about Urdu."

Dr Syed Taghi Abedi, who shares the credit of success with Shahid Hashmi, said: "The focus must be fully on promotion of Urdu and not authorities. We need to create proper understanding about sensing the importance of our principles, values and issues. This will teach us to help and respect each other. Promotion of Urdu is the best source in this connection. It can help revolutionize thinking of the people." He thanked the organizing team members for the great support extended in giving the moot the shape of success.

Reza Ali Abidi said: "Urdu now needs full attention. It is time to protect it because it is being neglected. The recommendations must be realistic and implemented. It is time for becoming practical doing something positive."

Dr David Matthews, who speaks Urdu fluently and spoke only in Urdu during his stay here, said: "Urdu is an international language and is spoken and can be spoken and understood anywhere in the world. Urdu lovers are spread everywhere. The future of Urdu is bright and there is no need for worry and disappointment."

MAN OF THE MOOT: Khalilur Rehman, Publisher of Urdu Times, paid rich tributes to Shahid Hashmi and said: "Without Shahid Hashmi holding of this conference would not have been possible. He worked tirelessly and contributed tremendously in ensuring its great success."

Shahid Hashmi keeps conveying his popular message: "Promote Urdu in the real sense instead of selling and commercializing it. Time has exposed the exploiters, who kept fooling the people. Now the saner elements are taking charge of the affairs and serving and promoting the cause sincerely. Now is the time to join them on a common platform in the interest of all."

Khalilur Rehman also paid tributes to Dr Syed Taghi Abedi and all the team members for the very successful sessions held. All the presentations were of high quality and enjoyed by the audience. Both Urdu and people gained tremendously from the proceedings.

GHAZAL/MUSHAIRA: People enjoyed the Ghazal and Mushaira events as well. In the Ghazal program. Yasmin Rashid from USA and Tahir Jamal from Canada entertained the audience with their beautiful presentations. They won hearts of the people.

The Mushaira was very good but most of the people, who eagerly wanted to hear the guest poets, were badly disappointed and frustrated because the turn of the foreign guests came very late. The local poets were in very large numbers and despite each given very little time consumed most of the time. The bad expression was clearly evident on the faces of the people. Reza Ali Abidi prepared a poem exclusively for children but by the time his turn came it was too late and the children had left and there were few people present in the hall. This made him very sad.

Dr Syed Taghi Abedi defended the sequence and told the audience that it was the decision of the committee. He said that in all good Mushairas the turn of the renowned and leading poets always comes in the end. At that time those few present are the real lovers of poetry.

People hoped that next time this aspect must be taken into consideration and both the guests and audience respected and entertained accordingly. People were of the view that they keep hearing the local poets and this was the best occasion and opportunity to hear in full the foreign guests. Both the audience and the poets should have been given the chance to please each other. Had the sentiments been respected, the Mushaira could have become really lively, entertaining and memorable. There is always room for improvement and the organizers must understand this. They did well but must do better next time. Mistakes must be noted and avoided.

BOOKS EXHIBITION: A books and poster exhibition was also held. It attracted a large crowd. Over 1000 books were put on display.

The entry to the conference was free but not the food. Shahnawaz Restaurant arranged stalls and provided very delicious food to the people at nominal rates.

BAZM-E-ANJUM: The Bazm-e-Anjum Missisauga, Ontario, Canada, too organized an evening in honour of Gopi Chand Narang on June 21, 2005. A large number of selected people were invited. The question and answer session was very informative. Mashkoor Hassan Burney hosted the event. Dr Shanul Haq Haqqee presided. International poets and scholars from India Dr Qamar Raees, Shahid Maholi and Prof A.A. Fatmi, Rehana Roohi from Pakistan, David Matthews from England were among the distinguished guests.




Javed Zaheer (Masters in International Relations), Canadian of Pakistani Origin (CPO), Professional Freelance Journalist, Veteran Active Member (VAM) of Toronto Press Club, Council Member of Karachi Press Club, former Senior Sub-Editor of Pakistan’s leading English Daily DAWN. Address: 1709-35 Thorncliffe Park Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M4H 1J3, Canada. Tel # (416) 696-0981.