By Mudasssir Raja
Arshad Farooq is a Finnish national of Pakistani origin. He is a linguist, translator and a writer. One of his main contributions in the literary world has been that of translating important books written in Finnish into Urdu. Furthermore, he is a social worker associated with different departments and organisations in Finland that are working for refugees.
Arshad was recently invited to Doha by All Pakistanis Overseas Organisation International (APOO World), an international group working for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis. He launched his new book titled Finland ka Samaaj (Society of Finland), which he translated in Urdu for his fellow Pakistanis.
Community spoke with Arshad, who has been in Finland since 1992, about his life experiences and expertise. Coming from a Journalistic background in Faisalabad, he got a master’s degree in Social Work from Punjab University in 1988. He worked as a social worker with a federal government department in Lahore for four years. Not being satisfied with the working environment, he migrated to Finland where he got admission in department of sociology, University of Helsinki. He then got a degree in European Social Policy.
“I learnt Finnish language there. I formed my own translation company in 2003. Since then, I have been working as a linguist and translator. I have my regular job with immigration department of Finland. I work as a social worker, psychologist, and social counselor.”
Arshad has translated Kalevala, a Finnish folklore epic, into Urdu. The book is seen as a national identity of Finland. He has so far translated six books from Finnish to Urdu. His current book Finland ka Samaaj is the second edition. “This is the second edition of the book. The first one was published 10 years ago. There have been many social changes that have taken place in Finland so far. The book contains a message from the president of Finland. I was asked to publish the second edition in 2017 when Finland celebrated 100th year of its independence and Pakistan celebrated its 70th.”
Arshad takes pride in translating Kalevala into Urdu because it is a very important book in Finland. “It took me 15 years to translate the book. I contacted Kalevala Foundation, telling them I wanted to translate the book into Urdu. They asked me to first learn the Finnish language and then translate it. I am the first one who translated the book into Urdu. I was at home in Finnish language in five years. The translation was published by the Government of Pakistan in 2012.”
Arshad is well known in the literary circles of Pakistan. He carries the title of ‘Overseas Book Ambassador for Pakistan’. He has presented his recent book to President of Pakistan Dr Arif Aliv. He has been associated with the overseas Pakistanis organisation as senior vice chairman of the central committee. “I have been looking after the affairs of the organisation in different European counties.”
When asked what has motivated him to translate books from Finnish to Urdu, he said: “In Finland, I saw that they have solved social issues – which we still see in Pakistan – some 100 years ago. I saw that they are very peaceful people. I thought to share the experiences of Finnish people with Pakistanis. My current book also shares social experiences of the Finnish people with my compatriots. This book contains 100 social innovations that I have brought to Pakistan. The Embassy of Finland in Pakistan gave away 200 copies of my first book different institutes in Pakistan. Every individual of Finland takes part in the progress of their country.
“The book contains 108 chapters that are about politics, education, health, social welfare, communication, and other subjects. All the chapters have been written by people who are expert in their fields.”
When asked about his purpose of launching the book in Qatar, Arshad said: “Pakistanis live in Qatar in large numbers. Qatar has been promoting literature and art very well. This book is for Pakistanis and especially for the expatriates. I am very happy to see development of Qatar. I really loved visiting Katara.”
Advising Pakistanis in Qatar, Arshad said: “I personally feel that wherever you live, you should learn the local language and comply with the law of the land.”
Commodore Irfan Taj, Defence Attaché of the Pakistan Embassy in Qatar, was the chief guest of the event held by APOO World, while Muhammad Atiq, Chairman Majlis-e-Frogh-e-Urdu Adab, was the guest of honour.
Speaking at the launch of the book, Commodore Irfan Taj said that it was important to organise literary events.
“This book is an amazing contribution to the literature of Urdu and events like these are important because they help promote literary word and spirit,” he said.
Zahid Sheikh, APOO World chairman, said that the organisation was dedicated to raising awareness about the rights of overseas Pakistanis.
APOO World was established in 1989 with a vision to help overseas Pakistanis. It is a non-political and non-profitable organisation working solely for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis and for improving the image of Pakistan abroad. APOO World has its representatives in the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Canada and the US. APOO World’s Qatar Chapter was established in 2016.
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