‘PM’s Secretariat or Cabinet Division should control PAL’


The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) members of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Friday demanded the government place the administrative control of PAL under the Prime Minister Secretariat or Cabinet Division so that their issues would be resolved.
Addressing a press conference, Academy Bachao Tehreek President Imdad Akash said, “Its sheer injustice with the writers as government put the administrative control of PAL under the newly established Ministry of National Heritage and Integration, which has no capacity to run the affairs of PAL.”
He was accompanied by a number of poets and writers, including Aftab Iqbal Shamim, Fareeda Hafeez and Ahmed Raja.
“The prime minister should supervise the PAL directly so that the honour of Pakistani writers and poets is upheld,” Academy Bachao Tehreek Chairman Aftab Iqbal Shamim said.
The writers questioned how the newly created Ministry of National Heritage and Integration, comprising only 5 officers and a minister, could run the affairs of an academy which was supposed to deal with thousands of writers and intellectuals of the country. They considered placing PAL under the newly created ministry as the first step towards the demolition of PAL.
They said that in other countries, such institutions were personally supervised by the heads of the state but in Pakistan, the men of letters and literary organisations were ignored by the government.
“Today PAL is in such a precarious condition that the honourarium of the needy writers and their bereaved families have been stopped for last four months. The emergency financial assistance is also not being provided,” said Ahmed Raza Raja, a local poet. The writers requested the president and prime minister to save the prestigious national institution and issue orders to put it under the Cabinet Division.
“If PAL is not placed under the Cabinet Division then the writers would start a pen- campaign for the removal of the incumbent government,” said Imdad Akash. The writers also appealed that a senior writer or poet should be appointed as the PAL chairman or director general of PAL with immediate effect so that the matters of PAL could be looked after properly.
It is pertinent to mention that the positions of PAL chairman and DG have been lying vacant for the last several months and all literary work has come to a halt, while the writers were not being paid honorarium for the last four months.
Moreover, the Faiz Ahmed Faiz auditorium, being built on the premises of PAL over the last three years, was also facing a shortage of funds.
The state-of-the-art auditorium was scheduled for completion in February 2011 on the 100th birth anniversary of Faiz, but its construction was stopped in February 2009 due to the lack of interest on the part of government. The auditorium has been left in ruins and a further delay in the construction work could cause a lot of damage to its structure, which will result in increasing its finishing cost. This auditorium needs special attention of the government.
Earlier, PAL was an attached department of the Education Ministry and after the devolution of the Education Ministry to provinces, PAL was placed under the control of Cabinet Division, however, recently, the prime minister put its control under the newly created Ministry of National Heritage and Integration.