ANKARA, 17 October 2015: Pakistan-Turkey cultural collaboration reaches a new milestone as the two countries celebrate the 100 years of Urdu in Turkey. About 100 years ago, formal teaching of Urdu language and literature commenced at “Darul Funoon” (Edebiyat Faculty) at Istanbul University in 1915.

As part of celebrations of ‘100 Years of Teaching of Urdu in Turkey,’ the Istanbul University, in collaboration with Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, organized an International Symposium, titled “Turkey and South Asian Muslims: New Perspectives from Past to Present” from 12-14 October 2015. Over 100 prominent Urdu scholars and literary figures from Pakistan, Turkey and various parts of the world attended the event. Research papers presented during the Symposium reviewed the evolution of Urdu studies in Turkey over the past 100 years, highlighted the services of Turkish, Pakistani and other scholars for this cause, and recommended a range of measures for the further promotion of Urdu in Turkey and worldwide.

Rector of Istanbul University, Prof. Dr. Mahmut Ak, was the chief guest at the opening ceremony. Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey Sohail Mahmood attended as the chief guest at the concluding session.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood paid rich tributes to Prof. Dr. Halil Toker, Chairman of Istanbul University’s Urdu Department, and overall organizer of the International Symposium, for his enormous literary contributions and life-long dedication to the promotion of Urdu in Turkey. In a career spanning over 30 years, Prof. Halil Toker has contributed more than 30 books and over 200 research articles.

Ambassador Sohail informed the participants that as part of these celebrations in Pakistan, the Government of Pakistan has issued a commemorative postage stamp on 12 October 2015, coinciding with the dates of the Symposium. He also highlighted various steps being taken for the advancement of Urdu studies in Turkey. In this context, Urdu Departments in Ankara University, Istanbul University, and Seljuk University (Konya) shall be further strengthened by providing more books and reading materials, facilitating student exchanges, and bringing scholars from Pakistan.

Ambassador Sohail Mahmood concluded that Urdu language served as an eternal bond between Pakistan and Turkey. He expressed his belief that Urdu studies would continue to flourish in Turkey and remain pivotal in bringing the two nations even closer.

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