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Is writing a lesser form of resistance?

Resistance has often manifested itself in forms of art, especially in literature. From Franz Kafka to Ambedkar, writing has always critiqued and voiced the dissent against the oppressive regime.

books Updated: Jan 23, 2012 09:23 IST

Resistance has often manifested itself in forms of art, especially in literature. From Franz Kafka to Ambedkar, writing has always critiqued and voiced the dissent against the oppressive regime.

In a session, titled Writing and Resistance, Iftikhar Gilani, Thant Myint-U, Raja Shehadeh highlighted the significance of writing as a form of resistance in a conversation with Fatima Bhutto.

According to Pakistan's former law minister and founding member of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Syed Iftikhar Hussain Gilani, there's no comparison between activism on the street and writing.

"Every resistant movement needs intellectual backing otherwise it would just become chaotic." he opined.

Gilani, who was working as a journalist for two Pakistani papers was put in Tihar jail for his alleged crime of providing information to the ISI . When his house was raided, the cops sealed and took away E. M. Forster's Freedom at Midnight.

Emphasizing the power and risk of resistant writing he said, "My memoirs, My Days in Prison', is not just a story of my experiences but a larger comment on the system and life inside the jail. In Tihar jail, there was a sport of beating up prisoners, which was stopped after my book was released."

The book gives a chilling account of the subjugation and torture he was subjected to during his days in prison. Reminiscing about the absurdities of jail life, he told the audience about Tihar Olympics.

"My jail had prisoners who were very good in cricket, it had seven Pakistani players," he added, "Jail is an experience every writer must experience, it a goldmine," he said on a lighter note.

Burmese historian and commentator, Thant Myint-U worked in war-scarred areas of Cambodia and Bosnia, but wrote about the resistance of his own country as a form of critique.

"As a UN peace-keeping official, I worked with all my heart in various countries, but couldn't make a lasting impression. Later on, I wrote about Burma to unravel the underlying reasons for all the problems and find out self-rationale behind it."

In a country where the libraries where burnt down during colonial occupation and censorship was relaxed only six months back, 'writers in exile were influential'", he added.