LAHORE Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that Pakistani society is plagued by inequitable distribution of resources and the history of last 62 years presents a horrendous and awesome picture of loot and plunder of national wealth by a small group of elite. He expressed these views while speaking on the topic of 21st Century and Allama Muhammad Iqbal at the inaugural session of a 3-day International Literary and Cultural Conference arranged by Lahore Arts Council at Alhmara Hall on Friday. Prominent scholars from Turkey, Egypt, Iran, India and Pakistan read out their research papers at the conference and threw light on the poetry and philosophy of Allama Iqbal. The chief minister said that due to unjust and cruel distribution of national resources, millions of Pakistanis who believed in earning their livelihood honestly, had been pushed into a blind alley. He said that there was a need for taking inspiration from the message of Allama Iqbal of steadfastness and determination to overcome the present situation. He said the only solution to the problems being faced by the country was reliance on indigenous resources and gave up the habit of foreign aid which had to also give us the status of a dignified and sovereign nation. He questioned the silence of those intellectuals who raised the slogan of revolution in 70s but were now silent over the existing social and economic injustices in the society. Similarly, he said, people asked where those left wing revolutionaries had gone and he expected the poets, writers and intellectuals participating in the literary and cultural conference to answer this question. He said though he had not claim to be an expert on poetry or literature but he considers himself to be fortunate in the sense that he was introduced to Iqbals poetry and his thought in the early years of his life due to his teachers and intellectual environment at his house. Shahbaz Sharif said the views expressed by the scholars in the inaugural session of the conference had further strengthened his belief that the message of Iqbal was universal and perennial and he was the benefactor of entire Muslim Ummah. He said Iqbal had given the message of intellectual freedom and self-esteem to Muslims and advised them never to lose hope and strive relentlessly in the face of difficulties. He said Iqbal considered self-respect and ego equally important for individuals as well as nations. He said it was unfortunate that Pakistan today was dependent on other nations whereas it was a fact that political freedom was not possible without economic independence. The CM said he witnessed almost unbelievable scenes of popularity of Iqbals poetry among the people during his visit to brotherly Muslim countries of Turkey and Iran. He said Iran had set a worthy example of living with dignity and respect despite continuous international sanctions. Similarly, he said, the progress and achievements of Turkey in political, economic and social sectors were a source of inspiration from others. He said it was difficult to understand the level of popularity of Iqbals poetry in Iran and Turkey without visiting these countries. He said from the affiliation of people of Iran with Iqbals poetry and their commitment to progress he was forced to admit that Turks and Iranians were the true custodians of Iqbals ideals and principles. Shahbaz further said no one could deny that inequitable and unjust distribution of resources was the biggest problems of the human societies and Iqbal had strongly criticised this fact in his poetry. He said he had repeatedly stated that if the situation was not rectified, hatred and anger of the people against the existing system would erupt. He said the demonstrations of the people against loadshedding and price-hike during the last few weeks in the country amply bear out this fact. The chief minister congratulated Lahore Arts Council on organising the conference and said such seminars and functions could play an important role in the promotion and propagation of the message and teachings of Allama Iqbal among the people especially young generation. He also thanked the foreign guests for their participation in the conference. Earlier, Chairman Alhamra Arts Council and prominent scholar Ataul Haq Qasmi presented welcome address whereas Dr Khalil Toker, Dr Jalal Soidan, Dr Noriyie from Turkey, Dr Muhammad Ibrahim from Egypt, Dr Muhammad Baqai Makan from Iran, Samasul Rehman Farooqi, Dr Shafey Qidwai from India, son of Allama Iqbal, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, Dr Saleem Akhtar, Dr Sohail Umar and Fateh Muhammad Malik read out their research papers.