The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) is a national academy with its main focus on Pakistani literature and related fields. It is the largest and the most prestigious learned society of its kind in Pakistan, with activities throughout the nation. . It was established in July 1976 by a group of renowned Pakistani writers, poets, essayists, playwrights, and translators, inspired by the Académie Française. The poet Ahmed Faraz was appointed its first Director. It is an autonomous non-profit, supervised by its own Board of Governors, receiving support from the Government of Pakistan as the apex national institution.
The Academy maintains several regional offices, and links with other national and international organizations of a similar status. Its agenda includes promotion of literary education, publication and documentation. with a view to promoting and fostering Pakistani literature, literary activities in Pakistan, and systematizing the support mechanism to writers and scholars of Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto, Balochi, English and other Pakistani languages.
In 1978, Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi became the first Chairman of its Founding Fellows, among whom were prominent men of letters representing different languages of Pakistan. These included Allah Bukhsh Karim Bukhsh Brohi, Hafeez Jalandhri, Mian Sad Rasool Rasa, Ahmed Ali, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Shareef Kunjahii and N.A. Baloch.
The Pakistan Academy of Letters gives annual awards for the best original books (within the literary and critical categories) written in all the major languages of Pakistan. In 1980, Shafiq-ur-Rehman was appointed the Academy’s first Chairman. He has been followed in this fixed-tenure position by a number of writers.
From time to time the Academy names Fellows, and more restrictively some Life Fellows, who earn the privilege of using the post-nominal letters FPAL. The Fellowship of the Academy is highly selective, indicating high distinction in the respective field, and is only awarded to those who are recognized to have contributed extraordinary work to enrich the creation and understanding of Pakistani literature.
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