Sadaat Hasan Manto - By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed

Throughout his life Manto, the great Urdu short story writer fought for intellectual freedom. He challenged the oppressive laws concerning literature and journalism imposed by Britishers and later adopted by our nobility’s after the existence of Pakistan. Manto hankered after intellectual liberalism and initiated, though not on large scale, a movement alarming the writers to secure themselves from the sadistic persecution. He was in favour of preservation of the sacredness of writers' words.

The period of narrow-minded critics has passed long ago in democratic countries. Now no one can suppress there freedom of speech and writing through his authoritative sadism. For Manto, too, suppressing human freedom and natural desires was not ethical and sane.

Manto's love for nature and Man was unequivocal. His documentation of life in art and literature was original. He never adopted unplayable theorem for his characterisation. He was brave enough to write Kali Shalwar, Dhoaan, Boo, Mozeel, Phundney, Khali Bot-lain Khali Dibey, Baboo Gopi Nath, Khol Do, Toba Tek Sing, Shahedd Saz,Taytwal Ka Kuta, Farishta, Sharda,Maswak, Shadan and Nia Qanoon etc. The impressive and moving short stories.

Manto was committed to humanitarianism. How could he disregard the crucial perplexities of being and search for truth as he was facing a society and social order based on suppression of desires. His skilful approach worked wonders and he created a parallel society emerged from the depths of his realistic and lately existential analysis, in words.

Nowadays most of our new intellectuals are using existentialism in their writings as craze. Some of our short story writers have adopted it as a genuine problem of their being. A few among us study it as a new philosophy of our age. To some it is an ideology. A few other circles call it a style of life. A number of research scholars dealing with philosophy and literature have found its traces in sages, novelists and playwrights of the industrial age. Contemporary existentialists searched its elements in the writings of Socrates, Augustine, Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Shakespeare, Dostoevski and many others. Some among these writers and philosophers express existential realties vis-ŕ-vis death, and some with reference to the crisis of soul. A few writers have brought forward the problems of dread, anguish and depression. Many engage themselves in the complexities of freedom and ethical consciousness. Though Manto never looked at Man as a saviour of his spirit, or preserver of human aims, his short stories contain existential crisis in the perspectives of his keen psychological study of sin and crime. If a writer endeavours to dig deep and encounters the inhuman living in the society, he is bound to adopt the approach the existentialists own. So it is not difficult at all to extract existentialist substance from the writings of great genius of Urdu world, Manto. He lived in the miseries of life and talked of them in a way none other could. Prostitutes, rogues, the insane and the downtrodden make his characters.

Leslie A Fleming writes in her book, "The Life and Works of Saadat Hassan Manto",

"Manto's achievement as a writer however goes beyond his own generation. He also profoundly influenced the succeeding generation of Urdu short story writers. Taking his Phundne as

their point of departure many younger writers have not only experimented widely with none-realistic fiction but they have also adopted Manto’s spare neutral style. The modernist inclination of Manto's stories dealing with loneliness and alienation of an individul has not escaped younger writers and many of them have dealt with the varying facets of this theme" Here Leslie A Fleming has underestimated the capabilities, skill and modern knowledge of the short story writers such as Anwer Sajjad, Intizar Hussain, Balraj Manra, Surindar Parkash and many others of the generation younger than Manto. These short story writers have a daring effort to mirror the world around them in decorative and illustrious styles. They have nothing to do with Manto's spare neutral style. They can write short story without story. Manto always hankered after stories. Yet to be answered are the questions regarding the outlook of new short story writers creating poetic shorts stories using abstract notions. Manto gathered his material from tangible situations and used it in objective forms of short story writing. Manto never surrendered the creative right of going beyond the temporal bounds. He chose his subjects from the brothel clubs, street restaurants, dark lanes, repulsive public houses and poverty stricken vicinities. Manto used his penetrating eye to observe the world around him. His narrative possess multidimensional objectives and extracts speculative rejoinder from the readers. Manto's characters in his marvellous short stories often seem to be the victims of subjective strains, moral crises and social tensions. Manto wrote literature of resistance. He seems to be of the opinion that as long as repulsive evils like injustice, poverty, social inequality and moral chaos are widespread literature of resistance is required to stimulate relevance. Manto as a committed writer had a word of honour with his own conscience. He established a living relationship with the predicaments and conditions of his characters. Most of his writings are based on his real experiences. His treatment gave them universal relevance.

Though Rajinder Singh Bedi, Ismat Chughtai, Ghulam Abbas. Hassan Askari, Ahmad Nadim Qasmi, Mumtaz Mufti, Ashfaq Ahmad, Qurat-ul-Ain Hyder, and Aziz Ahmad had made valuable contributions and touched upon varying depths of narrative to enrich this form of writing but it is an admitted fact that no one among them could compete Saadat Hasan Manto in style,