04 Apr, 2022

Renowned writer and one of the giants of Urdu novel in the country has also refused to accept the Kamal-i-Fun award announced by the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) in Islamabad some days back, terming it controversial and tainted.

Seraiki poet Dr Ashu Lal has already refused to accept the award immediately after its announcement, saying that he could not accept an award from ‘a fascist state that’s anti-people and anti-art’.

The Kamal-i-Fun award carries prize money of Rs1m too.

Addressing his readers and audience in his video statement posted on social media on Sunday, Tarar said: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be aware that some days back the country’s highest so-called literary award, Kamal-i-Fun, was announced. In the history of 20/21 years of the award, it’s the first time that the award has been divided (between two people). Otherwise, according to the rules and regulations, it was always given to only one writer of any language”.

Says accepting ‘controversial and tainted’ award is against his creative integrity

Tarar, famous for his novels and travelogues, raised the question as to why the tradition of the award was violated and the rules of the award ignored. He said the move was similar to dividing Sitara-i-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award of Pakistan, between two persons.

“It’s just ridiculous. Sometime back, I came to know the ‘half of the award’ has been awarded to Dr Ashu Lal. He, according to his ideology, refused to accept the award. I think he is right (in rejecting the award) because it was injustice not only to me, but to him as well that he had to share the award’.

Tarar said, “It’s difficult for me to accept the award that’s tainted and controversial. It’s against my creative integrity. That too at the age of 83 and after the creative process of 60 years. No, it’s not acceptable to me”.

However, he expressed gratitude to the members of the PAL committee for their love and kindness as they voted for him. “I am obliged to them and I hope they will understand my point of view”. At the end of his message he thanked his readers, saying that whatever status as a writer he had got was due to his readers. “I get a Kamal-i-Fun award from my readers on (publication of) my every book. They don’t consider me a half-writer but a complete writer.”

Tarar has already received Sitara-i-Imtiaz in the category of literature from the government of Pakistan for the year 2016.

On March 31, Dr Yousuf Khushk, chairman of PAL, announced the names of Mustansar Hussain Tarar and Dr Ashu Lal, selected for the Kamal-i-Fun award for 2020 after a meeting of the award committee at the PAL office. The selection for the award was made by a panel of writers and intellectuals, including Kishwar Nahid, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Mahmood Sham, Muhammad Izharul Haq, Dr Anwar Ahmad, Dr Rauf Parekh, Parveen Malik, Dr Riaz Majeed, Hafeez Khan, Mohammad Hameed Shahid, Dr Abaseen Yousufzai, Nasir Ali Syed, Dr Abdul Razaq Sabir, Dr Zulifqar Sial, Taj Joyo, Dr Ziaul Hasan, Dr Rubina Shaheen, Dr Qasim Naseem, Harris Khalique and Dr Wahid Bux Buzdar.

According to a press release issued by the academy, the Kamal-i-Fun award is bestowed upon a Pakistani writer in recognition of his/her literary services of lifetime. It was launched in 1997. The National Literary Award for books published in various national and regional languages of Pakistan was also announced on the occasion for the year 2020.

After his rejection of the award, Ashu Lal was hailed by the Seraiki speaking people for raising his voice against the state; however, some sections criticised him as well. Some others urged him to accept the award, terming it recognition of Seraiki language, but he remained adamant, due to his ideology. Now rejection of the literary award by Mustansar Hussain Tarar, considered by some as the most famous and the best living novelist of Urdu language from Pakistan, has raised more questions about it and the decision of the award committee.

Originally published in Dawn, April 4, 2022


Ahmed Apr 04, 2022 10:32am
Ashu Lal rejected it for reasons that can be considered valid(debatable offcourse). This is just brittle spirit.
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Syed A. Mateen Apr 04, 2022 10:36am
Very well done Mustansan Hussain Tarar.
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M Emad Apr 04, 2022 10:51am
Urdu is the mother tongue of only 7% Pakistani people.
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Naqad Apr 04, 2022 11:26am
Looks like the intellectual decline has reached its nadir...they have forgotten the Urdu language's living legend ...Razia Fasih Ahmad!
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sadaqat Apr 04, 2022 11:32am
@M Emad ou must respect it as the state official language.
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PakExpat Apr 04, 2022 11:41am
@M Emad but the national language of a 100% of Pakistanis. Not sure what your point is.
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Abs Uk Apr 04, 2022 12:05pm
Dr Ashu Lal had valid reasons to reject the award, but Mr Tarar's excuse is very narcissistic.
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Hafeez Shaikh Apr 04, 2022 12:13pm
@M Emad But it happens to be your national language
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Ilyas Tarar Apr 04, 2022 12:36pm
Tarar sahb deserves exclusive recognition and reward.
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Asif Apr 04, 2022 12:44pm
@M Emad but loved by majority of Pakistanis
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Junaid Apr 04, 2022 01:19pm
@M Emad you are totally wrong, urdu as a national language is for all, and understand all over Pakistan
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NYS Apr 04, 2022 01:24pm
@Hafeez Shaikh M Emad belongs to Indian state
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NYS Apr 04, 2022 01:26pm
Pride has to be solved don't let this award go controversial
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Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Apr 04, 2022 01:27pm
United we stand, divided we fall.
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Sara Apr 04, 2022 01:31pm
@M Emad Urdu is the national language of Pakistan.
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ENGR Hamid Shafiq Apr 04, 2022 02:01pm
@M Emad In Pakistan 100% people can speak the Urdu and its our communication language where no mother tongue understand.
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M. Saeed Apr 04, 2022 02:35pm
@M Emad but, 90% of Bangladeshis understands it. Imagine, in 1970, there were over 8,000 Urdu books in Sylhet Anjuman e Tarraqi e Urdu library, which were written by authors of Sylhet origin alone !
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John Apr 04, 2022 03:50pm
Urdu originated from hindustani language
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M. Saeed Apr 04, 2022 04:10pm
@John, Urdu is a Turkish word and it means related to an army's lingua franca.
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Layla Apr 04, 2022 04:48pm
@John Urdu originated from Persian, Turkish, Arabic mainly hence it's termed as "lashkari zaban".
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Rubina Apr 04, 2022 04:59pm
Good for you Tarar Sahib. After such huge contribution u deserve a full reward. Have read nearly all of ur books and have discovered northern Pakistan because of u. Great service to our National language.
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Rubina Apr 04, 2022 05:01pm
@M Emad it's our National language. And as with all languages has nuances which are beautiful.
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Jamil Soomro, New York City Apr 04, 2022 05:59pm
Besides Seraiki Poet Ashu Lal we have now the most famous and the best living Novelist of Urdu Language Mustansar Hussain Tarar refusing the Award and Money. Both these men are of staunch Principles and deserve highest respect. Well done.
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Khan Apr 04, 2022 11:27pm
@sadaqat he is Bangla deshi person , don't take him seriously.
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Khan Apr 04, 2022 11:28pm
@Hafeez Shaikh he is not Pakistani
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Anwar Saeed Apr 05, 2022 12:12am
Very well done and the reason of rejecting the Kamal-i-Fun award by the both writers must be understood by the chairman PAL academy. Of course members of the academy should also consider the reasons why these two writers refused to accept the reward. Next time the board members should make wise decisions.
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sanober haider Apr 05, 2022 05:58pm
Urdu worth as a sweet and solid language is recognized every where only Pakistan has destroyed it by changing the construction and accent wow is mutilated beyond words Take the dreaded qhaf which is dragged in mire. The treatment of Urdu is similiar to torture meted by extremly cruel step mother. I wonder how Baba e urdu is fathoming the treatment to this beautiful language given to us
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Riaz Ur Rehman Apr 05, 2022 07:51pm
A correct decision by Tarar. My appreciations for him.
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Ahmad Apr 06, 2022 07:10am
Urdu is our national language and known by almost 99% of Pakistan, so there should be separate award for for writers in this language.
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AJ Apr 06, 2022 07:35am
@M Emad but one that is spoken all Over the country…
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Maryam Aslam Apr 06, 2022 07:48am
I think Tarar sahab did the right thing, so.did Mr Ashu Laal.
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