#WriteforPeace— Celebrating Love and Friendship through the Art of Letter Writing

#WriteforPeace— Celebrating Love and Friendship through the Art of Letter Writing

Chitti Sarhad Parr Say

In this crucial time, when relations between Pakistan and India are at a sensitive stage, it has become all the more important to promote peace, positivity and love among the two nations. While the drawing of our borders years ago declared us two separate nations, at heart, a Pakistani and an Indian are the same. They are born of the same homeland and in their hearts, they carry the same love. To explore and promote that love and to reminisce the past, we decided to do something. In collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, India , Daastan launched a #WriteForPeace letter-writing campaign.

Chitti Sarhad Parr Say– a letter-writing campaign which began in January 2020. It aimed at reconciling peace across borders through letter writing which is a long-forgotten art. Writers from both countries were requested to send in their letters for the campaign as part of a contest. This activity was mainly aimed at mending the relation between Pakistan and India. Letter writing is a very personal and emotional task that requires both the reader and writer to invest in a piece of paper. By doing so today, thousands of readers and writers got a chance to feel and connect with their counterparts.

The Love We Received

We received an enormous amount of love from both countries in shape of letters that touched us deeply. Daastan processed the entries from Pakistan while the submissions from our Indian writers were handled by the good folk at White Falcon. Letters from Pakistan were submitted in English and Urdu. From a huge number of submissions, 19 were short-listed. Selecting the letters from a pool of immensely talented Pakistani writers was one of the hardest tasks we had to do. Every submission was heart-felt, and struck a cord. The entries went beyond our expectations and we got to see some highly well-articulated letters.

The Selected Entries

We decided that the selected entries deserved a book of their own. So, in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, India, Daastan chose some of the best entries to be compiled together in book form and be published digitally on Qissa–Pakistan’s first self-publishing platform. Qissa provides local writers an opportunity to publish their work and reach readers on a wide scale. Qissa has been publishing stories and anthologies since 2016 and aims to reinstate a literary culture in Pakistan.

The entries that spoke to us (and in some cases, made us tear up!) are:

English:

Sami Ghazal

Afraz Jabeen

Syma Tasaduq

Mahnoor Nadeem

Urdu:

Qudsia Batool

Iqra Nadeem

Filza Kamal

Hajra Imran Khan

Fatima Khan

Muhammad Ali

Areeba Sheikh

Naheed Akhtar Baloch

Alina Irfan

Kursum Fatima

Dr Fiaz Ahmad Dar

Sadia Mazhar

Ifrah Ahmed Malik

Hania Armiya

All writers showcased great skill and talent. We were moved by the gush of emotions that each letter brought with itself. Stories of pain, suffering, love and tragedy were all equally spell-bounding. A small peek into one of our short-listed letters read:

‘At the time of departure our hearts were crying. Do you know why we don’t come back? Because things never did get settled. I know you cursed me early the next morning when you came to our house for breakfast and no one was there. I know you wept bitterly when the walls and swings in my courtyard didn’t answer your questions. I know you asked every passerby about us.’

-Afraz Jabeen

Chitti Sarhad Parr Say was an attempt in writing for peace at a time when atrocities between the two countries are increasing every day. The medium of letter writing perfectly complements the campaign as letters provide a very personal account of one’s feelings which the reader can easily relate to. The bond between the two countries is above political agendas and must be achieved so through a positive communication. We, at Daastan, promote the ideology of peace and love through words. Help us grow by sharing your stories and becoming a part of the Published writers in Pakistan simply by signing up with us @ Daastan.

You can also read the book here.

Official Statement by Khizra Zaheer on the “Moon Controversy”

Official Statement by Khizra Zaheer on the “Moon Controversy”

Latest Literary Buzz

If you’re anything like us and are obsessed with Pakistani literature, you have heard of the latest controversial buzz in the literary community. We’re calling it the “Moon Controversy” because of the similar use of the word “moon” in two book titles– Noor Unnahar’s ‘yesterday I was the moon” and Khizra Zaheer’s “the moon has my heart“. In this case, the author of “the moon has my heart” has been accused of stealing concepts and content from Unnahar.

View this post on Instagram

#OfficialAnnouncement! Alhamdulillah! By the grace of Almighty Allah, I am now announcing about my second upcoming poetry book. This book is my lil baby crafted with so much effort, hard work, spending days and nights, shedding tears and sweat. It is a piece of heart that is being presented to you.❤ . . . . . . What it covers? It is about the life, love, loss, inspiration, hurt, strength, nature and family. The raw emotions are concealed in every word of the book so that reader can feel and cherish them. The beauty and pain of life are going hand in hand all along.❤ . . . . Do you want to have this book to experience this life journey with all the feelings? Yes? So Preorder your copy now!❤ . . . . . To celebrate this my new book, I am giving first 100 copies at discounted price along with free bookmarks (Bookmarks offer for Pakistan). To reach the benchmark of 100 copies, just little count is left. So hurry up!❤ To get this book at discount, please follow these steps. 📚 1. Follow @khizra.zaheer 2. Like this post 3. Tag three friends and put it on your story 4. DM me to preorder And yes can you guess the name of my book? ❤ Hint 1: Its name carries one nature’s wonder/sensation (people are obsessed with it). Hint 2: Its name carries one body organ. People who will guess or will be near to my book title will get a shoutout.❤ Here I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all my #bookstagrampakistan friends who have already preordered my book right away. Their names are in the comment below, friends need your little more support.❤ . . . . . . . . . #khizrazaheer #khizrapoems #mybeautifulmess #artistsoninstagram #poetry #igpoet #writerscommunity #booklaunch #poetrybook #bookstagram #instagramwriters #wordswithqueens #visualart #writersblock #relatablepoetry #yareads #words #picoftheday #wordsofwisdom #aesthetic #booklovers #bookish #bookreader #bookworms #booknerdigans #pakistan #southasian

A post shared by Khizra (@khizra.zaheer) on

In the past week, things have unfolded with quite a twist: the publishers of said plagiarized book have issued an official statement; Unnahar has talked about the scandal on both her Instagram and her Facebook; and now Khizra Zaheer, the author of the book said to be plagiarized, has come forward with what she has to say about it all.

Asalam u A'laykum All ! We at Auraq take copyright issues very seriously and we firmly stand against the plagiarism in…

Posted by Auraq on Monday, January 6, 2020

While writing a comprehensive article on just how such an event came to be, Daastan reached out to Ms. Khizra Zaheer to ask how she would like to address the situation. She responded with a detailed explanation.

Khizra Zaheer’s Official Statement

First of all my new book (the moon has my heart) is crafted with all the hard work, time and efforts including cover that is neither plagiarized, copied, burgled, robbed or theft by any other book. In the past two days, the issues that were raised for my newly launched book cover (the moon has my heart) were totally baseless and senseless.

The author of the book (Yesterday I was the moon) instead of contacting directly with me or my publisher regarding her concerns, she preferred to post about her concern/issue directly on the social media platforms. And being the influencer she had used all the platforms to put false claims of plagiarism and allegations on me and Auraq Publications without having any evidence of it. These postings at her social media accounts and all other social groups had brought me a lot of damage and defame to me with abusing and this intensely had hurt my credibility that I have earned professional field in both local and international industry in over ten years. Seriously it takes a lot of years to create credibility and people demolish it within a fraction of seconds even without proofs. Though Auraq Publications have offered her to have a copy of my book (the moon has my heart) for proper understanding of the book but she denied to have it.

Through your platform [Daastan], I want to say that if you really want to see the truth and factual based stuff then do check out the images and link attached at Facebook and Instagram pages of Auraq Publications or at my Instagram handle @khizra.zaheer.

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Alhamdulillah!❤ . . . . . The wait is over now. ❤ Presenting my book as the piece of my heart to you people with the name of {the moon has my heart}.🌚❤ . . . . . . . . . It is a beautiful collection of poems dedicated to people with pain, loss and hurt. The words in the book are crafted with so much love to give you inner strength and to make you shine again in life. ❤ I won't say more about it as you will get to know when it will be in your hands.❤ . . . . . Also I owe a lot of gratitude to my #bookstagrampakistan friends who believe in me and supported me at their best. They honored me really well at every stage. It really means world to me. And yes thank you for keeping greater patience to get this book in your hands.❤ Really glad that my book will go in every nuke and corner of the country and world Alhamdulillah.💓 . . . . . To celebrate the launch and to admire your efforts, I am extending the giveaway of free bookmarks and personalized signed love card. So if you want to cherish this book, order it now by the link in bio or DM me.❤ . . . . . I also want to extend gratitude to @auraqpublications who smooth up the whole publishing of book wonderfully.❤ . . . . . . . . All international book buyers please DM me too.❤❤ Available worldwide now❤ . . . . . . . . P.S: More launch pictures coming soon.😍 . . . . . #themoonhasmyheart #khizrazaheer #khizrapoems #artistsoninstagram #poetry #writerscommunity #booklaunch #poetrybook #bookstagram #giveaway #bookblogger #poetrylovers #writersblock #relatablepoetry #yareads #preorder #wordsofwisdom #aesthetic #booklovers #bookish #bookreader #booking #booknerdigans #pakistan

A post shared by Khizra (@khizra.zaheer) on

The analysis of both books are keenly and carefully tested and analyzed by renowned industry experts and NCA professional designers. It’s my humble request to you all for future that without seeing the real image and verification don’t put your words in everyone’s mouth else it will bring lots of damage. People abused, accused and alleged me for the whole senseless dramatic story.

Also just to clear, the MOON is universal object and can be used by anyone while the concept of both book titles are totally different (the moon that is a part of yesterday with the cut of lines, yesterday I was the moon while my new book concept is revolving around the moon that has my heart).

The attached images and all stuff under the link of Our official pages will give a real peace to all people’s hearts and souls who have put worst allegations on us. So it’s to clear you all that the font, color, layout, style, blueprint, background, images and content are neither copied, stolen, theft, robbed and burgled nor violated any COPYRIGHTS of any book. I am really very thankful to Auraq Publications that have greatly supported and tackled the issue in a better and thoughtful way.

However, for more understanding of the inside content, where I put my heart and all the efforts, you can order my book directly so you can know well before blaming someone that what I have originally put in it.

Note that we reserve all the rights, including legal notice, to proceed and act if the humiliation and assassination continues. Thank you!

What do you think about this?

Zaheer firmly claims that no part of her book– concept, content or layout– is plagiarized and her book is the result of her hard work and efforts. In the light of everything that has unfolded, it seems to come as a surprise that the author has taken a strong viewpoint and is denying all accusations made against her. What Unnahar or the rest of the community has to say about this is still not known.

If you want to check out the evidence the author has talked about, you can click here. Let us know what you think about the #mooncontroversy in the comments below!

Everything You Need to Know About the Noor vs Khizra Plagiarism Scandal

In a time where copies and duplicates make up a big part of any industry, originality is a rare feature of a work, appreciated by those who understand what it takes to create something unique and independent. Like in any other community, time and again, the literary world has been shocked by the surfacing of  plagiarized works: the 1978 Roots scandal or more recently the speech made by First Lady Melania Trump which turned out to be Michelle Obama’s are quiet some examples.

Plagiarism is the “unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author” (HEC); an act of stealing all or parts of someone’s original work and passing it off as one’s own. Basically, it means to take credit for that which an individual has not personally created. It is a practice that the literary community is riddled with but one which is seriously frowned upon by readers and writers alike.  

Sadly, in Pakistan, there is a lack of action taken by the authorities when it comes to plagiarism. It seems that the focus is mostly on research works and theses: since 2007 approximately 80% of all plagiarism cases regarding research works were solved. The literary industry, however, suffers still.

Not only is plagiarism a social evil but also has legal consequences. Again, in Pakistan, the law is more concerned with academic plagiarism than literary plagiarism. It involves dismissal or rustication for teachers and students, respectively. A literary author, however, runs the risk of defamation, blacklisting, rejection from publishers for all future works and more.

How Daastan handled Plagiarism Cases?

As a publishing house based in Pakistan, we at Daastan have had our share of dealing with cases of plagiarized works. In most cases, writers copy another work, word by word; in others, we see extensive use of the thesaurus. For the latter kind, it takes a sharp eye and a detailed read to weed out manuscripts that are unoriginal. A “plagiarism check” is an essential part of our editorial process; our editors judge a manuscript by its ability to stand on its own, without the help of outer influences.

While there are no qualms about being inspired by other writers (some of the best works are born that way), we strongly oppose the practice of plagiarism in literature. The beauty of literature is the perspectives it offers to readers. Behind that perspective is an author’s hard work, research and dedication. When works are copied, that hard work is disrespected. We, as a community, stand firmly against that.

The Noor vs Khizra scandal

Recently, the plagiarism incident of a book titled “The moon has my heart” has been making waves across social media platforms. It has induced the anger of the literary community as a whole but has also split us in “for” and “against” teams.

On the 27th of December, 2019, a local publishing house launched a poetry book titled “The moon has my heart” written by the Instagram influencer and poetess Khizra Zaheer. The book was in the works for some time: pre-orders, cover launches and giveaways were all set to go. On the website, the book was said to be “a rich and beautiful collection of poetry about life, love, loss, inspiration, hurt, strength, nature and family”. The author herself was receiving praise from her readers on the accomplishment of a second poetry book.

Some readers, however, noticed that the book cover for “The moon has my heart” was very similar to another book. This was the generally acclaimed poetry book “yesterday I was the moon” by Noor Unnahar—a talented 22-year-old writer who has been published by Penguin Random House. Her book “yesterday I was the moon” has received much praise from readers and critics and the book cover has won a design award by the New York Book Show!

The similarities didn’t end here. Readers who bought the book confirmed that the inside layout as well as parts of the book were copied off of Unnahar’s book. One reader said, that “most of the book was badly plagiarized. Original poems had terrible grammar. Others were heavily inspired from Noor’s book”.

https://www.facebook.com/Sidraaminq/posts/3366889073381867?__tn__=-R

The literary community came forward as a united front, dug deep and recognized the similarities between the launch ceremonies of the two books as well. Whereas another reader threatened the publisher for legal action.

cannot believe a publishing house published a heavily plagiarised book. khizra's book looks like a cheap knock off of…

Posted by Areeba Siddique on Saturday, January 4, 2020

While there were those who stood firmly against the blatant plagiarism and called out the publishers, some readers took a different perspective. A group of writers insisted that the book was actually not plagiarized. The book cover bore a resemblance to “yesterday I was the moon” but the content inside was different. Others argued that because it was only similar to Unnahar’s work and not exactly a copy, it did not come under “copyrights infringement”. More still, came out in support of Khizra Zaheer.

The majority, however, lay with those who did not consider this a mere coincidence. Noor Unnahar, herself, took to Instagram to talk about the case. She said, “I was informed that the cover of my book, along with the layout inside, was copied by an author. I knew them, had interacted with them when they needed help with publishing their first book.” She also said that she was, “heartbroken” but that the “support that came from the writing community has been splendid. Together, we reached the publishers of the book in question to take it down.”

The evolution of publishing industry

The support that Noor has seen on part of the literary community tells us how far we’ve come. 5 years ago, Daastan started as a publishing company, hoping to revive the dying literary industry of Pakistan; to put in our part in its rejuvenation. Seeing the kind of ferocity that the readers of Pakistan have defended an author’s work with, we are convinced that that revival is well on its way.

The community has evolved to expect the best and the original: where once, this incident might not have invoked such a strong voice on part of the readers, today it has resulted in the authorities taking action. Auraq publishers have taken down the book “The moon has my heart” from their website and further action is expected. When approached, they told us they had issued an official statement regarding the matter. The author, Khizra Zaheer, was also asked to address the situation and has recently issued her own statement through Daastan. You can read what she has to say here.

Asalam u A'laykum All ! We at Auraq take copyright issues very seriously and we firmly stand against the plagiarism in…

Posted by Auraq on Monday, January 6, 2020

At the end of the day, however, when it comes to the standard that has been set for the publishing industry in Pakistan, it’s refreshing to see what the literary community expects of us: honesty and transparency. Daastan always strives for excellence in publishing: from our team of editors who work tirelessly on manuscripts, to our readers who keep us on our toes, we are taking this journey for the revival of Pakistani literature, step-by-step.

Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Hero: Book Review

Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Hero: Book Review

By: Mrs Syeda Rizvi

Sardar Ahmed Bhatti, the father of my dear friend Dr Shaheena Ayub Bhatti, is the author of the book, and although listed by the publishers as a biography, it is much more than that. It is a combination of family history, some glimpses of the author’s own life and, chiefly, a loving homage paid to a national hero, Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed (Nishan e Haidar).

Sardar Saheb’s style of writing is anecdotal. He calls it a labor of love, as he says, “It has taken time recollecting the past, and some memories are very painful.”

Book signing by Sardar Bhatti, the author, at the book launch

As the title suggests, the writer is the Shaheed’s brother and he projects the heroic qualities of his elder brother with respect, love and admiration. There is no doubt that Maj. Aziz Bhatti Shaheed had an extraordinary personality. Such characters find their niche whatever the circumstances.

Sardar Saheb’s style of writing is anecdotal. He calls it a labor of love, as he says, “It has taken time recollecting the past, and some memories are very painful.” The story of growing up in Hong Kong reinforces the fact that Sardar and Aziz were very close, sharing pranks, escapades and joint ventures where the young one always followed his elder brother unquestioningly.

After giving very brief sketches of his own life and that of his father’s, the author goes on to describe life in Hong Kong where the five Bhatti boys grew up. Descriptions of life at home and in school are intertwined forming the major part of the young boys’ transition to adulthood. In the background, there is a political narrative where the boys’ lives are pushed into the chaos created by Second World War. The British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese forces on the Christmas day in 1941. With this began a time of struggle and hardships.

With schools closed, no income and savings nullified, the Bhatti family needed the younger lot to pitch in. Even the building where they lived was bombarded. The various incidents in the war ravaged country are described with stoic resignation. The war also took the toll on one life from the clan. One brother, Bashir Ahmed, older than Aziz died in Japanese Naval Custody. When the war ended, the family returned to their village in Gujrat and the young men struggled to find employment opportunities. At this point in time, Pakistan came into being and the three elder siblings joined the armed forces of this newly established homeland created for the Muslims of the Subcontinent.

Most of the events of Aziz Bhatti’s life are written in chronological order in the biography. As for the narrative of his Shahadat, the author only gives us the text of the official citation for Major Aziz Bhatti who was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider

Aziz Bhatti was an outstanding Cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy. He received the Sword of honor and the Norman medal for academic excellence. Later he attended the Canadian Staff College. Having got married during his Cadetship, he shouldered this new responsibility as a hero should. With a growing family of seven children, life of an army major must have been tough. He built a house in Tench Bhatta, Rawalpindi and also persuaded Sardar to build one in the same locality.

Most of the events of Aziz Bhatti’s life are written in chronological order in the biography. As for the narrative of his Shahadat, the author only gives us the text of the official citation for Major Aziz Bhatti who was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider. Aziz Bhatti’s valor, courage, devotion to the duty and leadership qualities speak for themselves. And the author has not added to the national narrative with further comments. He was buried in a corner of his father’s garden in his ancestral village, and his aged mother and father bore this great loss with fortitude and faith in Allah’s will.

A number of photographs are included in the book and naturally they are black and white. But if possible their quality may be enhanced in future editions. The font is large and the printing is also of high quality. A must read for all Pakistanis especially the young generation lest we forget our heroes.

Group photo at the book launch of “Aziz Bhati Shaheed: My Brother, My Hero

The writer is visiting faculty, English Deptt, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi

  • AZIZ BHATTI SHAHEED: My Brother, My Hero
  • Author: Sardar Ahmed Bhatti
  • Publisher: Dastaan Publications
  • Pages: 230

Win a Chance to Represent Pakistan Internationally through Daastan!

Win a Chance to Represent Pakistan Internationally through Daastan!

This year in August, Daastan’s founder Syed Ommer Amer was selected to go on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand to take part in the Asia Pacific Youth Exchange program– a platform which brings together top young leaders from all around the Asia Pacific region. The program was organized by Urban Youth Academy (UYA) and powered by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Program

The APYE is a two-weeks intensive program that aims at increasing awareness among youth about global problems and help them develop and enhance skills to combat those problems by taking initiative. Combining activity-based learning, immersion from local communities and leadership training, APYE encourages youth to take action furthering the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Daastan in APYE-2019

The theme for this year’s APYE was Sustainable Tourism and with 116 delegates from 15 countries, the competition could not get any tougher. The participants were divided into groups and had to devise applicable solutions to address some of the most pressing problems faced by Thai villages and their inhabitants.

Daastan’s CEO, Ommer Amer, leading a group of six dedicated and hardworking individuals from different countries came up with an innovative digital toolkit to help local businesses market themselves. For their unique idea, they bagged the 2nd prize at the APYE. From a cultural perspective, the experience was rich and enabled Ommer to take part in many interactive activities such as Canal Cleaning Drive, Mini marathon and Thai Cultural Dance.   

Your Chance to Shine in APYE-2020

After the success at the intercultural exchange event, Daastan decided to go one step ahead and partner with APYE to provide an all-expenses paid trip for next year’s programme. We’re looking for dedicated entrepreneurs, aged 18-28. You should have a basic understanding of SDGs in Action and posses critical thinking skills. Fluency in English and strong leadership qualities are a must and specialized skills such as ability to code, design, paint, write, sing, play, build and plan using digital technology would secure you an edge!

You will be able to learn and train with the 2nd prize winner of APYE and leader of his group: our very own founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Amer for 2 days. Learning from his experience and sharpening your social entrepreneurship skills. The challenge is to win the first prize at the APYE for Pakistan! The schedule for the 2-day training is as follows:

Day 1:

  • Intro to APYE
  • Identifying Problem and Interview Ethics
  • Mock Interviews of local leaders
  • Prototyping solutions

Day 2:

  • Project Exhibition
  • Project Pitching
  • Results

Regular fee including all expenses per delegate is around $2500. However, participants trained by Daastan only have to pay a non-refundable fee of 25,000 PKR— all other expenses including air fare and lodgings will be covered by us. Moreover, you can avail an additional discount of 5000 Rs by registering by 30th Sep, 2019.

Do you have what it takes to become APYE’s champion?! If so, gear up to bring the first prize home and register now by filling out this form. For more information, you can check out our Facebook event page or leave a comment down below.  

Our Daastan, Now on Your Phones

Our Daastan, Now on Your Phones

The members of Daastan are immensely proud of the way the company has scaled beyond even their wildest imaginations. It has been such a pleasure to watch the way it inspires not only them but thousands around the country to do more, step a little ahead of the game, and bring to the stage all the creativity that was hidden in them for ages before they tapped it. Daastan doesn’t just excel at the play of words, but rather it is a digital hub of activity. It is always on the lookout for carving out niches which can help the creatives get more involved with us, and also attain greater reach for those who we have already published. It was one such drive which led us to what was to become the next big thing in Daastan.

A New Avenue:

The internet presence of Daastan started from Facebook, from where it went on to take over all of the major social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and such. What followed was Daastan’s very own website, and then, Qissa’s self-publishing portal. All of these mediums were received enthusiastically by our followers, and praised heavily in the public by the critics. Over the years, the team behind Daastan made it a point to strengthen their digital presence, providing professional and aesthetic upgrades to Qissa, and modeling space in Daastan’s website for each new venture as it came along. And so, after having mastered the internet through most of the avenues that are offered, only one was missing – a mobile application.

Daastan Naama:

It struck the team that most of their readers’ time online is spent on our phones, not PCs, and that to increase our readership and make the work of our writers readily available, we must also provide it on their phones – much like any other eBook they would be reading. And so, the team dived headfirst into bringing this idea to reality. In July of 2018, Daastan Naama finally hit Google Play Store, bursting with literary goodness that was now available just a touch away. The app’s interface was divided into two portions. One featured all the fiction published under the banner of The Stories Untold. The second was an interesting feature which had the poetry and other works of almost 50 authors, vocalized and brought to life by their own voice.

Daastan Naama, the answer to your literary needs

If you haven’t checked it out yet, download it on your mobile phones from Play Store now!