In Karachi, digging up and adding to the treasure of Balochi literature
Karachi- Amid the gang violence and the ongoing crackdown against criminal syndicates, many literary organisations are trying to revive the glorious past of Karachi’s Baloch-populated neighbourhoods in their contribution to Balochi poetry, fiction and culture.
Recently, the Nokaap Labzanki Majlis, a Baloch-literary organisation active in the Faqir Colony neighbourhood of Orangi Town, organised a gathering to launch a Balochi book titled “Rajdaptar-e-Falsafaen Sama”.
Amin Zaamin, a young Baloch philosopher who authored the book, discussed the ingredients of the recent publication. Master Abdul Rasheed and Comrade Abdul Wahid, two literary activists, presented the book’s review to the audience.
Nokaap Labzanki Majlis is among dozens of literary organisations in Karachi – a city which is considered the largest Baloch urban agglomeration in the world. Although there are no official statistics available, Gul Hasan Kalmati, a researcher who authored “Karachi, Sindh Jee Marvi”, said around three million Baloch live in different parts of the city.
They live in both the urban and rural areas of the metropolis including Lyari, Malir, Sharafi Goth, Manghopir, Orangi Town, Keamari, Ibrahim Hyderi and some parts of Jamshed Road and PECHS.
“There is enthusiasm for two things among Baloch community in the city – football and literary activities,” said Hanif Dilmurad, a Karachi-based Baloch journalist.
He said many organisations and individuals in Baloch-populated areas organised literary, cultural, social and educational activities with donations from community members.
Because the Baloch community spread in the city is connected with each other, its members are easily informed about Baloch literary activities and they attend them, Dilmurad said.
“We recently observed that a number of Baloch in the city have been having their wedding cards published in Balochi,” he added
Many Baloch literary works trace their roots back to Karachi.
Kalmati said the Awami Adabi Anjuman, the Sayad Hashmi Reference Library, the Nokaap Labzanki Majlis, the Abbas Ali Zehmi Academy, the Golimar Adabi Majlis, the Balochi Cultural Literary Forum, the Balochi Adabi Diwan, the Balochi Adabi Board, the Balochi Lubzanki Diwan, the Azat Jamaldini Academy, the Baloch Education Society, the Ustad Sattar Saaz-e-Zemal Jah and the Kalri Educational Society are prominent among the organisations in the city. “However, some of them might be inactive to some extent,” he added.
Many Balochi magazines and newspapers, including Sangat and daily Nawa-e-Watan, are easily available in Baloch-populated areas of the city.
Ghulam Haider Naz, a short-story writer who resides in Lyari, said recently the Baloch youth in the city, especially in Lyari, appeared to be attracted to literary activities.
“We are seeing the revival of Baloch literacy activities. Recently, with the support of civil society organisations, a number of Baloch youth made short movies on social issues in Balochi,” Naz told The News.
Karachi’s Baloch neighbourhoods, especially Lyari and Malir, have been notorious for a persisting conflict between different criminal syndicates. However, literary activists said the media was intentionally stereotyping their localities.
“Our areas are not simply places of gangs and violence. We have a glorious history and organise literary activities. But no one is showing it,” he maintained.
Situated adjacent to the Malir River Bridge, the Sayad Hashmi Reference Library is the main hub of Baloch literary activities. Founded by slain Baloch literary figure Saba Dashtyari in March 2005, it is the first and only reference library on the Baloch history, culture and in the world.
Ghulam Rasool, the in-charge of library, said it was repository of all rare Balochi periodicals and books.
“The main objective of the library is to promote the Baloch culture, history and literature. Since its inception, it has organised different cultural and literary programmes in Karachi and Balochistan,” he added.
The library also regularly offers courses in Balochi. Kalmati said Karachi’s Baloch literary circles had been playing a vital role in promoting Baloch literature not only in Pakistan’s Balochistan but also Iran’s Baloch region as well. “As the Sardar system doesn’t exist in Karachi’s Baloch community, the city’s middle-class and politically independent Baloch support and promote their language and literature.”