By Zafar Iqbal
Presiding over book releasing ceremony honoring Nuzaira Azam for her second novel, Anahita Ki Janam Basti, eminent scholar Professor Satyapal Anand said that the author has beautifully described the political events in Pakistan truthfully in her book. He emphasized that Nuzaira, who has a strong journalistic background, presented the factual accounts of the situation in fictional form. He opined that writings based on facts acquire a document status. Dr. Anand also traced the history of the word Anahita.
A number of academic and literary associations of Metropolitan Washington area coordinated in this event at the Pohick Regional Library, Burk, Virginia on July 22, 2017. More than 120 Washington literati attended in spite of several competing functions in the town.
Dr. Moazzam Siddiqi, former in-charge of Language Service, Voice of America affectionately referred to as “walking encyclopedia,” commented that Nuzaira’s novel represents the time when she had established herself as a mature and respected journalist in Pakistan. He added that the novel is full of interesting and factual anecdotes representing the situation of that time.
Abulhasan Naghmi, a veteran broadcaster, said that Nuzaira was perhaps one of the pioneer female journalist in the field dominated by males. He praised Nuzaira’s perseverance that helped pave paths for other female aspiring journalists.
ObaidurRehman Siddiqui, a lawyer and prolific writer explored the connection between the heroine of the novel and the author.
Yusuf Rahat, a well-known poet, echoed the sentiments expressed by preceding speakers regarding Nuzaira’s frank and bold expressions of the then political situation in Pakistan.
Najmul Azam recollected the old times he spent with his sister, Nuzaira, and narrated personal accounts of the events they had witnessed together in Karachi and Islamabad.
Firoza Salahuddin drew audience attention by presenting her comments in a light mood. She also lamented the current declining interests in books. She said the books are sold on footpath, whereas shoes are kept in display cases in air conditioned rooms.
Zulekha Yusuf recited a poem by Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi on the problems faced by females in man’s world. She appreciated dedication of the book by Nuzaira to her teacher and mentor, Dr. Zakariya Sajid of the Journalism Department of the University of Karachi.
On her turn, Nuzaira acknowledged the support she had received during the preparation of the book. She especially mentioned the guidance she received from Dr. Moazzam Siddiqui in deciding the title of the book. On public request, she recollected the events that led to the idea of putting together those incidents in a book form. Describing the political and social situation at that time, she recalled the hurdles female professional, including journalists, had to face. Such suffocating situation forced Anahita’s determination to express her views to the public, she added. She felt a bit relieved that the situation was changing and expressed hopes for further improvement.
Coordinator of the event, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, started the program explaining the purpose of the assembly. The event was jointly sponsored by the various academic and literary associations. The office holders of these organizations that included the Aligarh Alumni Association of Metro Washington (Dr. Mohammad Akbar), the University of Karachi Alumni Association (Aquil Ahmad), Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq (ObaidurRehman), the Society of Urdu Literature (Yasmin Naghmi), Urdu Academy of Maryland (Tahira Aziz) welcomed the audience on behalf of their organizations.
Dr. A. Abdullah, who is known the community as Sir Syed of Urdu culture in North America showed his remarkable skills as Master of Ceremony that included succinct introduction of speakers and keeping the program flow beautifully in the allotted time. The event concluded with the thanks to participating speakers and audience expressed by Dr. Zafar Iqbal.