LAHORE - If you don’t allow intelligentsia of your country to flourish, you should not expect economic prosperity. To improve this situation, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan needs to invest more capital in humanities departments of the universities, says an academic.

Dr Noman ul Haq from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi expressed these views while speaking on ‘The Lost Verse: Reflections on the Dwindling of Iqbal from The Urdu Literature Horizon’ at the concluding session of the 1st International Humanities Conference arranged by the Forman Christian College University on Sunday. A three-day conference titled ‘Locating the Transcultural Humanities in Pakistan and South Asia’ was arranged at Sinclair Hall by Faculty of Humanities with the help of the Department of Mass Communication.

Dr Noman said that HEC was systematically discriminating against the humanities faculty and giving priority to the so-called skilful faculties like sciences.

Speaking on Allama Iqbal, he said his poetry needed to be understood and appreciated. “His poetry is so fascinating; it attracts your mind when you read it. You don’t need to segregate it into right wing, left wing, liberal or conservative poetry. You just read his poetry, which is as much relevant today as it was in the 20th century,” he said.

When asked what was his favourite in Iqbal’s poetry, he said it was like asking a mother who was her most favourite child.

Speaking on ‘Women’s Rights and Gender Related Issues in Pakistan’, Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal said the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had said, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless our women are side by side with us…”

“It’s an irony that after Quaid’s demise the feudal in the parliament succeeded to retain the old discriminatory rituals and approaches towards women. Census 2017 results show women are 49 percent of population in Pakistan. At global level, women’s participation in labour is 22 percent in 2017.”

According to the Gender Global Gap Report 2016, Pakistan is number 143 out of 145 countries surveyed, she said.

She said that women were missing from population data in Pakistan like other parts of the world. At the global level, she said, 100 million women were missing from population data due to discriminatory health and education facilities.

“At least 24 percent of pregnant women were deprived of parental care and 33 percent of girls remain out of schools. Pakistan spends 2.2 percent of its GDP on education, which is lowest in South Asia. The situation can only be improved by treating women as equal,” she said.

Speakers said humanities in the current political scenario could not be understated.

Dr Wahab Suri said that battling with the identity crisis in the post-colonial era is the real challenge and globalisation is a gradual de-legitimisation of traditions and values to serve the interests of the contemporary global tendencies.

Altaf Khan from the University of Peshawar said that presenting facts in the new media was the real challenge. “Unfortunately, our electronic media has no editorial policy,” he said.

Conference co-convener and dean of humanities Dr Nukhbah Taj Langah thanked the guest speakers who had come from various countries to share their views with students. “Humanities conference was meant to open space for the youth to contribute to the spirit of academic discourse by understanding the importance of liberal arts education and critical thinking in Pakistan and South Asia,” she said.

Forman Christian College Vice Rector Professor Joseph Sun in his concluding remarks said the conference led to opening of minds and opening of hearts towards humanities and it was a beginning of the debate on one of the most importance faculties at the university, the faculty of humanities.