Race on for PAL top slots


The race for grabbing the two important offices of chairman and director general (DG) at the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) is on the peak, as the potential candidates are using their influence to approach the Prime Minister Secretariat and the Presidency by one way or the other.
PAL, the largest literary organisation of the country, is being ignored by the government as the office of chairman is lying vacant since November last year. Fakhar Zaman was the last chief whose contract ended on November 5, 2010. Moreover, the slot of director general is also to be filled since June 30, 2010.
A source close to the developments in the Cabinet Division, which is looking after the affairs of PAL, on Saturday told Pakistan Today that the Cabinet Division a few days ago sought three names from the Establishment Division for the post of DG after which Dr Tahir Ali Shah, Khyoor Sultana and the one Mr Sherazi were recommended for forwarding them to the prime minister for final appointment.
But Dr Rashid Hameed, Ghazanfar Hashmi and former DG PAL Abdal Bela were also using their contacts for grabbing the slot. Meanwhile, a source in the Prime Minister Secretariat told that four prominent people including Asghar Nadeem Syed, Dr Qasim Bughio, Iftikhar Arif and Dr Fahmeeda Hussain, the current director of Shah Abdul Latif Bhatti Chair at the University of Karachi, were competing for the chairmanship.
The source said two Sindh-based intellectuals, Fahmeeda and Bughio, were being considered as the strong contenders. According to sources, it is a worldwide norm that poets, intellectuals or writers are appointed on important posts of any literary organisation, which should be followed in Pakistan as well. Because of the absence of chairman and DG, administrative work and literary activities in the academy had literally come to a standstill and neither a single literary activity was held nor book published for the last four months.
“Without the approval of chairman and DG, we cannot arrange any function aiming to promote literature while our publications work has also stopped as we didn’t publish even a single book for the last two months,” said a senior official of PAL, while seeking anonymity. “Deserving writers and poets are also suffering a lot because of non-payment of emergency funds from the PAL as only the chairman has discretion to grant funds to them,” the official said.
He said writers and poets were also not being paid stipend against the publications of their books while disbursement of stipends for the widows of writers had also stopped. “We have enough funds for writers but we have no authority to release as only the chairman can do so,” said the official. The construction work of an auditorium on the premises of PAL named after Faiz Ahmed Faiz has also been affected, there is no one to follow the case before the government for the release of funds for auditorium.


  1. Among all 4 candidates in race for the postion of Chairman PAL, Mr Iftikhar Arif, Mr Asghar Nadeem and Dr Fehmida are retired and have already served at their best and now need to have some rest to give others chance. On the other Dr Bughio has proved himself worth of that position owing to his work produced in Sindhi, Urdu and English as well as he is known to academia and writers of all the languges of Pakistan and abroad. Therefore he could be good choice to take writers and intellectuals of the country on board through this important forum of international repute.

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