ISLAMABAD, July 29 (APP): The artistes and playwrights on Friday vowed to stand by the government in ridding the country of extremism, fighting terrorism and making the society tolerent for the prosperous and peaceful country.
The event – ‘Dialogue with the PM’, was the second in the consultation series initiated by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani with the intellectuals, artistes, vice chancellors of universities and media persons, to formulate a national policy to counter the growing trend of intolerance and enhance the level of understanding among the masses. Prime Minister Gilani termed the artistes an asset to the nation and said the government was seeking their views to help devise a policy to project Pakistan’s soft image and fight extremism and terrorism.
Prime Minister Gilani said terrorism was a major threat confronting the country and said the artistes can help change the mindset and bring back those people having such tendencies, to lead a steady life. He said the dialogue was meant to seek their guidance at the highest level.
He said that terrorism and extremism were the major issues touched upon by the community and said the military alone cannot fight the terrorists without the support of the common man.
Gilani, who personally took notes of important points raised by the artistes during the discussion, directed Minister for Information Firdous Aashiq Awan and the Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to review and finalise the suggestions.
These suggestions included revival of NAFDEC and classic music channel on Pakistan Television, a check on use of Indian content in advertisements, films and dramas, promotion of Youth Parliament, possibility of setting up of a film studio, industrial status for film and television and setting up of theaters all over the country.
The meeting also took note of the plight of the artiste community, particularly those who were leading a retired life. Prime Minister Gilani said he would make an announcement in his address to the nation on Aug 14. He said decision about the funding and the mode would be made in consultation with the provincial governments.
Prime Minister Gilani also directed that the Pakistani missions be directed to make the Cultural Attache productive and effective and to seek guidance from artistes, writers and intellectuals in promoting national cultural activities abroad.
The Prime Minister said that culture was now the domain of the provincial ministers and said the points raised at the forum will be raised by him at the meeting of Council of Common Interests so that a uniform policy is formulated for the betterment of the artist community and promotion of arts and literature.
The Prime Minister also assured that measures be taken to give life-time achievement awards to artistes and writers, during their life time. Gilani said the country’s culture was rich with the gem of artistes including classical icon Roshan Ara Begum, Ustad Salamat Ali, Ustad Nusrat Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan and Noor Jahan. He said the musical instruments and the tunes of love emerging from them can be used as a tool to establish softness and tolerance in the society.
The galaxy of artistes and playwrights from all over the country urged that the young minds need to be encouraged and taught arts, literature and cultural activities so as to engage them in healthy activities.
The artistes opined that the news channels need to inspire hope in the society and project a positive vision, instead of creating despondency and depression. There was a desire for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights so that the artist community does not have to suffer at the end of their career and urged provision of health care and due recognition to the community at all levels. The artistes desired setting up of an organisation to look after those who had retired from the profession, were ill or were having financial difficulties.
Renowned actor Mustafa Qureshi said today there were only 200 cinemas out of 900 and there was no one to look after the artist community as there was no Minister of Culture. He suggested that films can be used to project a positive image of the country abroad and to soften hardened hearts in the country. He called for the government’s assistance in importing modern equipment and a laboratory for film processing. He assured full cooperation of the film industry to the government in coping with the challenges.
Anwar Maqsood in his brief comments called for setting up more theaters at local level and said there was only one theater at Karachi. He said such venues would attract the youth where they can explore their hidden talent in a positive manner and turn out to be useful citizens.
Playwright Haseena Moeen recalled the olden times when the Pakistan Television had a highly professional team of seasoned artistes, writers, producers and script editors who worked hard to create pieces that are still remembered. She stressed teaching of manners, ethics, social norms and character building of young minds through television and stage dramas. She demanded a check on the trend of use of abusive, loaded and vulgar language.
Film and television actor Abid Ali likened the artistes to the large number of Internally Displaced People who were deprived, depressed and neglected and were looking forward to a time when the things would change. He said there were only a handful of artistes who had received the Pride of Performance award, yet they were being ignored. He sought the government and bank financing for films.
Senior actor Asif Raza Mir stressed the need to engage youth at community level so that they could express themselves through art. He also pointed the issue of piracy in multimedia industry, invasion of Indian culture through television soaps that was affecting the youth.
Classical singer Surayya Multanikar in Seraiki language highlighted the problems of artistes in the Seraiki belt that seriously lacks facilities and asked for art academies so that the tradition of folk songs, dances and writings continues.
Television artiste Shakeel called for setting up a welfare fund for artists for their financial help and medical assistance. He mentioned the ailing veteran singer Mehdi Hassan and many others who were facing monetary difficulties.
Television director Sahira Kazmi said all the government institutions that worked on culture including Lok Virsa needed to promote folk music.
Artist and painter Jamal Shah demanded that art institutions and the official television be made free of political influence. He also pointed the negative impact of Hindi language in the television serials on the young minds.
Actress Sadia Imam said the timings of drama serials be adjusted keeping in view families and children. She said the artists faced difficulties in getting bank loans and permission to shoot films, even within the country.
Singer Abrar-ul-Haq said the potential of youth had not been used yet. He said 170,000 members of the Youth Parliament had prepared new policies on health and education. He said the government and artists could go hand in hand in designing campaigns to motivate the public opinion.
Veteran artist Samina Ahmad called for increasing the number of art councils in all provinces to promote art.
Marina Khan, Laila Zuberi, Adnan Siddiqui, Iman Ali, Irfan Khoosat called for government funding for the film industry so as to produce movies that enlighten and educate the people about the challenges and how to deal with these effectively.
Actor Javed Babar from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa called for encouraging regional channels, promotion of local artistes and some mechanism to provide them a regular source of income.