Islamabad—It was Punjabi poets’ evening. One could enjoy speeches, poems and ghazals in ringing Punjabi accent
by poets and writers at the launching ceremony of “Dhukia Nismasha Wela” (The Evening has Set in), a collection
of Punjabi verse by prolific poet Akhtar Sheikh at Pakistan Academy of Letters on Saturday.
Poets and critics of the two cities and also those belonging to Attock and Kharian had come to attend and read papers on
the occasion. They viewed young Akhtar Sheikh as a mature voice among his contemporaries.
Literary and cultural organization Imkan had organized the book-launch. Noted writer of Urdu and Punjabi short stories
Mansha Yad presided over the function while chairman Pakistan Academy of Letters Iftikhar Arif was the chief guest.
Mansha Yad in his presidential speech described Akhtar Sheikh as a dynamic poet who not only revived Punjabi poetry but
also managed to find out a good number of Punjabi poets ‘even’ in Islamabad. He commended Punjabi literary organization
“Sheikh di Bethak” founded by Akhtar Sheikh, which is contributing to the promotion of Punjabi literature. Replying
to a comment made by one of the speakers, Mansha Yad paid tributes to Pir Fazal Gujrati who after Mian Mohammad Bux took Punjabi
verse to greater heights. Pir Fazal Gujrati’s status in Punjabi can be compared with that of Wali Dakani in Urdu, said
Iftikhar Arif called Akhtar Sheikh a bilingual poet who ‘can compose Punjabi as well as Urdu poems with equal ease’.
‘I have been reading Akhtar Sheikh since his first collection Harf Piaday and his poems and ghazals have moved me a
great deal, said he. He marvelled at the phenomenon in the poet when he decides in favour of Pujabi language at one time and
that of Urdu at another. He also replied to a comment by Jalil Aali and said Munir Niazi has established himself as a respected
poet of Urdu and Punjabi both.
Prof Jalil Aali said Akhtar Sheikh’s Punjabi poetry is rich in lyricism. Besides lyrical power, it is also a commentary
on our decline as a nation. He hits imperialism and class system and he hits them hard, concluded Aali.
Arshad Chahaal called Akhtar Sheikh a different poet of Punjabi verse who coins his own symbols, metaphors and similes.
He heaped laurels on Akhtar Sheikh for his creative labour, his craftsmanship, and his power of observation. Safar Di Raat,
Taranjan, Jagraatay and Akhiyan tay Parchawain are some of his books that have won him respect and recognition.
Saif Ali called him a blunt person who does not compromise on principles. His poems reflect all colours of Punjab, said
Ali. Akhtar Sheikh knows how to keep the goddess Muse at his beck and call. Shafique Qureshi said the book is a unique in
the sense that there is no foreword in it. This shows the poet’s confidence and self-respect. Mir Tanha Yousfi said
when we can not eliminate injustice from the world, we can at least express our dismay and disgust and Akhtar Sheikh does
this job in a revealing way. He called him a poet who speaks truth and goes on doing so in spite of the fact that he is living
in a city of lies.