Marghoob Ali Rahat, penned down some 1,500 or so crime stories and novels in different periodicals and magazines, and passed away almost in obscurity. Despite having written several pieces of literature and devoting so much of their time to the advancement of Urdu literature; names like MA Rahat remain foreign in their own land.

Like many other writers and poets, one complaint that MA Rahat had from his land and its people, was the lack of national support for literary figures. The colonial mindset of having an anglicised system never left us. In an attempt to make English the official language and adopt it as a way of life, the generations that Pakistan is producing now do not understand or wholly grasp their own mother tongue.

While our television sets and social media are busy praising Bollywood; we are slowly forgetting the worth of literature produced by the likes of Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Hasrat Mohani, and Pitras Bukhari, etc.

Pak Tea House in Lahore, an unofficial literary home to writers and thinkers in the past, has its visitors decreasing every day. It still has a place reserved for writers but in this day and age, being a writer is not a profitable profession, especially of Urdu or regional languages, so the space remains empty mostly. Major publishing houses and bookshops are also closing down in Pakistan, and writers increasing look to international publishers based in India to get their work published and sold. This is an economic and cultural failure.

Literature and the arts do not fit in with the government’s development-security syndrome, nor does it impact the thought processes of our politicians and state officials. Our collective political socialisation is not conducive to the arts. Our political system and education institutes are more focused on training students on how to merely get jobs, without teaching them how to understand people and life. More artists and writers will be lost to history, unless the state makes room for debate. But the demand for this space has to come from civil society itself which, unfortunately, would much rather watch television than pick up a book to read.