The Arts, Literature
Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, mushaira, Parveen Shakir, Bulleh Shah, Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Most Pakistanis adore poetry and commonly memorize long poems. A mushaira (poetry reading) in Pakistan can attract hundreds of listeners. Among classical poets in the Urdu language, Mirza Ghalib is perhaps the most widely admired. Ghalib, who wrote in the 19th century, is known for his lyrical and spiritual ghazals. Ghazals are the most popular form of poetry in the Urdu and Persian languages.
The official national poet of Pakistan is Allama (“the Wise”) Muhammad Iqbal. He earned the title of poet-philosopher of Pakistan not only because he was an exceptionally talented poet, but also because he was active in the politics of his time. In 1930 he called for the creation of a separate Muslim state in northwestern British India. He wrote poetry in Urdu and Persian and gave university lectures in English.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz is perhaps the most adored modern poet in Pakistan. Faiz began writing poetry in the 1950s after a distinguished journalism career. His ghazals are primarily concerned with class struggle, rather than the conventional themes of love and beauty. A progressive writer, Faiz was also a political dissident, and military governments banned his poetry from television and radio. Ahmad Fraz, Muneer Niazi, and Parveen Shakir are some of the other popular Urdu-language poets of Pakistan.
Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a Sufi mystic who in the first half of the 18th century wrote about love and Sindhi life, is the most revered poet of the Sindhi language. His poetry is widely recited by illiterate and educated Sindhis alike. Khushal Khan Khattak is the most famous poet of the Pashto language. In the 17th century he wrote poetry describing the beauty of women and nature, using military metaphors. The most well-known poet of the Punjabi language is Bulleh Shah, of the 17th century, whose poetry challenged the religious orthodoxy. In recent years short stories and travelogues have gained literary prominence, in addition to poetry.
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