Literary event in Ankara marks 100 Years of Urdu in Turkey

ANKARA: To mark ‘100 Years of Urdu in Turkey’ the Embassy of Pakistan in collaboration with Urdu Department of Ankara University organized a literary event. Urdu Scholars and researchers presented papers highlighting the  evolution of Urdu studies at various Turkish Universities over the past 100 years and illuminated the  services of Turkish and Pakistani academicians and scholars for this cause. Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and Chairman Turkey-Pakistan Cultural Association, Mr. Burhan Kayaturk, was the guest of honour, says a press release received from Ankara here.

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Sohail Mahmood paid rich tributes to Prof. Dr. Ahmed Bakhtiar Ashraf, Visiting Professor at Urdu Department of Ankara University, and later presented to him the  ‘Life-Time Achievement Award’ for his invaluable services for promotion of Urdu in Turkey. Ambassador Sohail said the Urdu Departments in Istanbul, Ankara and Selcuk University (Konya) were playing a central role in the advancement of Urdu in Turkey. He underlined that education, cultural cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges ranked among the highest priorities of both the Pakistani and Turkish Government.

Referring to recent initiatives for promoting bilateral cultural collaboration, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood mentioned the commemorative postage stamp issued by the Government of Pakistan in connection with ‘100 Years of Urdu in Turkey.’ He added that through the support of National Book Foundation (NBF) and Jumhoori Publications, important books and reference materials were provided to the Urdu Departments of Istanbul, Ankara and Selcuk University, Konya. “Our future endeavours are focused on intensified collaboration between Turkish and Pakistani Universities, placement of Urdu and Pakistan Studies scholars on relevant Chairs, exchange of students and faculty, promotion of mutual cooperation between research institutions, and more translations of each other’s popular works,” he added.

Prof. Dr. Ahmed Bakhtiar Ashraf, in his keynote address, presented an overview of evolution of Urdu in Turkey over the past century. He said Prof. Khairi had initiated formal teaching of Urdu in Turkey at Darul-Funoon, Istanbul University. Later on, with the emergence of Pakistan, dedicated chairs were established at Istanbul and Ankara Universities, which imparted a further impetus to the teaching of Urdu language and literature and Pakistan Studies. He presented details about faculty and scholars of Urdu Departments of Ankara, Istanbul and Selcuk Universities and appreciated their literary contributions. It may be mentioned that Prof. Dr. Ashraf himself has supervised eight PhD scholars.

Vice Rector of Ankara University, Prof. Dr. Sibel Ayşıl ÖZKAN, in her remarks said Pakistan and Turkey shared strong bonds of brotherhood, which were deep rooted in history, religion and culture. Noting that the Urdu Department was one of the important departments of Ankara University, she assured every possible support of  the University Administration for further strengthening of Urdu studies.

Prof. Dr. Kelim Erkan Türkmen from Karatay University, Konya, in his paper, highlighted the essence of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi in the poetry and philosophy of Pakistan’s national poet Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal. He noted that while many poets in the Sub-Continent were influenced by Rumi’s thought, it was the most dominant in Iqbal’s works. “Iqbal follows Rumi step by step,” he added.

Earlier, Prof. Dr. Asuman Belen Ozcan, Chairperson of Urdu Department of Ankara University and overall co-organizer of the event, welcomed the participants. She expressed the desire to work closely with other Pakistani Universities for exchange of faculty and students. Prof. Dr. Anwaar Ahmad, Chairman of Department of Urdu, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, addressed the participants through video link.

Assistant Prof. Dr. Hakan Kuyumcu and Assistant Prof. Dr. Recep Durgun of Selcuk University Konya, Ms. Hatice GÖRGÜN of Istanbul University, and Aykut Kişmir of Ankara University presented papers on the history of Urdu studies at their respective Universities.

In his remarks on the occasion, MP Mr. Burhan Kayaturk lauded the services of Pakistani and Turkish scholars who had contributed to the promotion of Urdu in Turkey. Noting that Urdu was among the major spoken languages of the world, he related his own experiences and said that the knowledge of Urdu facilitated communication in many parts of the globe. Mr. Kayaturk, who studied in Pakistan for several years and is proficient in Urdu, assured all out support for the further promotion of Urdu language and literature in Turkey.

President of Turkish Language Authority, members of diplomatic missions, representatives of Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yunus Emre Institute, Turkish Historical Society, Pakistan community, media, Urdu scholars from Istanbul University, Selcuk University (Konya) and faculty and students of Urdu Department of Ankara University attended the event. Special Correspondent