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A magazine of distinct quality

Many leading writers have contributed for the 95th issue of Savera that has scrupulously sustained high standards since its inception in the mid-1930s in Lahore

A magazine of distinct quality

It is nearly impossible to bring out a literary magazine in a society like Pakistan where the readership of literature is rather limited. Though it would be difficult to calculate the exact readership of the county, one indicator can be the number of books published in an edition. According to booksellers the printing order of a 1,000 books is considered very heartening indeed. However, the information about the number of editions too is rather garbled because the declared numbers are often different from actual numbers.

So it is creditable that Savera has been published; it may be irregular, but published nonetheless, and the team of publishers and editors has refused to go down. The mere fact that it comes out is commendable in itself. The magazine always known for its high quality has not compromised on its publishing content and quality. The present issue again has a distinct quality about it and many leading writers have contributed, hence maintaining the quality.

As usual the magazine is divided into sections. Among the mazameen are Khursheed Rizvi’s ‘Arabi Adab Qabal Az Islam’, Asif Farrukhi’s ‘Kahani Se Mulaqat’ and ‘Zorba Unani’ by Muhammed Abbas. In the Aab Beeti section is Irfan Javed’s ‘Shaami Road’, and in the khatoot section are letters by Hanif Ramay to Intizar Husain. Among the asfana nigars are Salma Awan, Najamuddin Ahmed, Zaheer Abbas, Sayed Kami Shah and Maafat Raza. The poetry section includes works of Ahmad Mushtaq, Amin Rahat Chughai, Tahir Saeed Haroon, Moeen Nizami, Kawish Abassi, Tanveer Qazi, Riaz Ahmed, Sabir Zafar, Karamat Bokhari and Riyaz Ahmed.

There is an article by M Iqbal Diwan on Zafar Altaf, one of the best civil servants of the country — it’s a kind of homage that brings out various salient aspects of the personality of public servants who are becoming rarer by the day.

‘Kahani Se Mulaqaat’ is a critical study of Zakia Mashhadi’s afsana. It appears that Asif Farrukhi is impressed by her talent as a fiction writer and discusses her many afsanas at length. After paying profuse compliments to her, he regrets in the end that most fiction written in India is not readily available to readers and critics in Pakistan. The true stature of a writer can only be determined if seen in the perspective of the era in which it was written, and what the other contemporary writers were then writing and thinking. It is sad that despite technological innovations that facilitate communications there are hindrances that block the free exchange of creative idea as expressed in art and literature between India and Pakistan.

One would have guessed that Mustansar Hussain Tarar would appear in fiction but he has written a very moving piece about his association with Abdullah Hussein and the last days they spent together including his burial. Tarar has not been very well of late and the article is as much about Abdullah Hussain’s traits and his preference for being along as it is about the deteriorating health of the author himself. It paints a moving image of the two kindred souls steadily going down with a high resolve. The second article by him is about his trip to Malka Hans, the place where Waris Shah wrote his Heer. Of course in the longish article, he raises a few questions which the faithfuls may find disturbing.

The article by Kashif Mustafa on the trip to Jerusalem, Bayt al-Maqdis or al-Quds is revealing because there are only a handful of first-hand accounts about these localities. Above all it captures the atmosphere of the holiest of the holy city’s atmosphere where Pakistanis cannot go — Kashif Mustafa could because of his nationality. Like most Muslims he could not repress the desire to re-state and differentiate his own reading from the narrative handed down to all of us and questioning other’s veracity. In the end, his writing deteriorated because of this partiality.

There is an article by M Iqbal Diwan on Zafar Altaf, one of the best civil servants of the country — it’s a kind of homage that brings out various salient aspects of the personality of public servants who are becoming rarer by the day.

Savera has scrupulously sustained high standards since its inception in the mid-1930s in Lahore. This is despite various ups and downs and changes in nomenclature. In 1935, Messrs Chaudhry Barkat Ali and his nephew Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed, under the banner of Maktaba-e-Urdu, jointly published an Urdu magazine with the title of Adab-e-Lateef. In 1945, when Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed disassociated himself from Maktaba-e-Urdu, he took out a literary magazine with the title Savera under the banner of Naya Idara, which has remained in circulation despite financial constraints. It has now assumed the status of one of the oldest literary magazines of Pakistan. Literary heavyweights, who have been associated with Savera as its editor, include Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Zaheer Kashmiri, Ahmad Rahi, Muhammad Hanif Ramay, Salahuddin Mahmud, and the current ones Muhammad Salim Ur Rahman and Riaz Ahmed.

Savera 95
Editors: M Salim Ur Rahman and Riaz Ahmed
Year: 2017
Publisher: Alqa
Publications Price: Rs500

Sarwat Ali

sarwatali
The author is a culture critic based in Lahore

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