Islamabad - Adviser to Prime Minister on National History and Literary Heritage Irfan Siddiqui on Saturday said that 2017 had been declared as Zarb-e-Qalm to highlight soft image of the country.

Addressing the third day of 4th International Literary Conference on Language, Literature and Society, he said the objective of event was to promote tolerance, counter extremism and give chance to literary people from various countries to sit together. He informed that on the directives of prime minster, a number of steps have been taken to nurture literary culture and norms in the country, adding on his request, the prime minister has increased endowment fund for welfare of literary people from Rs300 million to Rs500 million.

More than 1,000 literary figures, scholars, university faculty members, students and people from different walks of life are attending the international conference, being organised by Pakistan Academy of Letters from January 5 to 8. Intellectuals from Afghanistan, Iran, Singapore, the Maldives, Finland, Azerbaijan, China, Oman, Nepal, Lebanon, Uzbekistan and various other countries besides representatives from all provinces and regions of the country are attending the conference.

 Siddiqui said they have increased the accidental death grant for literary figures from Rs2,00,000 to one million while the health cover has been increased from Rs1,00,000 to Rs2,00,000.

The adviser to prime minister informed that they have also increased number of scholarships for literary people from 500 to 1,000 and the monthly stipend from Rs10,000 to Rs13,000. He stated that a television programme has also been launched to give voice to literary issues among the hardcore problems related to politics, economics or other current affairs. Siddiqui also stated that the government has also planned to support writers who could not have resources to publish their literary writing. For the purpose, he added, a committee would be formed which would analyse the transcript and take decision to publish it on government funding.