2nd Islamabad Literature Festival kicks off

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ISLAMABAD: Being participated by more than 100 intellectuals, including writers, authors, poets and journalists, the three-day Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF) began on Friday with an impressive opening ceremony.The inaugural session saw a lively dance performance by Shema Kirmani and ‘dastangoi’ (storytelling) by Danish Hussain, Darain Shahidi, Fawad Khan and Nazrul Hasan.Speaking on the occasion, Oxford University Press Managing Director and ILF founder Ameena Saiyid said the series of literature festivals was started in Karachi in 2010 and since then five such festivals had been organised in Karachi, and now two in Islamabad. “I hope these festivals will become a movement in Pakistan with many more being held in every city and town of Pakistan,” she said.The first ILF was held last year and proved to be an instant success, the MD stated. “Last year, at the first ILF, around 15,000 visitors attended, to listen to 80 speakers in 36 separate sessions and participate in nine book launches.” This Second ILF will provide an opportunity to further confirm both Pakistan and this region as being rich in culture and creativity. In the last few years, writers from the subcontinent, particularly Pakistani writers, have had a major impact on writing around the world, Saiyid added.“Without books we would be in the dark ages. Reading leads to tolerance because it shows us our wonderful diversity in cultures, languages and beliefs.”Zehra Nigah, Aamer Hussein and Asif Farrukhi also shared views during the inaugural ceremony.The ILF features 122 intellectuals and noted personalities, including renowned scholar and journalist Rashed Rahman (Editor Daily Times) and others like Sherry Rehman, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Abid Hassan Minto, Fehmida Riaz, Fauzia Minallah, Feryal Gauhar, Intizar Hussain, Jamal Shah, Kamal Azfar, Kishwar Naheed, Madeeha Gauhar and Tariq Osman Hyder.This year, for the Second ILF, almost 70 sessions are planned, with around 15 book launches. The events feature debates, discussions, lectures, interviews, a mushaira, theatrical performances, storytelling (dastangoi), a dance performance, a book fair, book launches, readings, author signings, comedy, satire and a room dedicated to art. The proceedings of the second day (today) are to commence with ‘Novel kay Nayay Rung: Readings and Conversation with Mirza Athar Baig and Mustansar Hussain Tarar’. This will be followed by a conversation with Shobhaa De; ‘Jis Tarah Sookhay Huay Phool Kitabon main Milay: Faraz ko Yaad Karnay kay Bahanaey’; a discussion on ‘Afghanistan: The Next Chapter’. ‘Poetry from a Troubled Land: Pashto Poetry with Translations’; ‘Politics, History and Mythology in South Asian English Poetry’; ‘Shayer-e-Awam: Habib Jalib’; ‘Arz-e-Shumaal: Poetic Voices from Gilgit-Baltistan’; ‘Shaam ka Pehla Tara: In Conversation with Zehra Nigah’; and ‘Akhbaar say Radio tak: In Conversation with Raza Ali Abidi’. The day will end with a mushaira.Highlights of the third day include sessions on ‘Who Owns a Language; The Challenges of Writing Fiction in English’; ‘An Open Page: The Publishing Scene in South Asia’; ‘New Words, New Worlds; The Art of Translation’; ‘Popular Cinema and Realism: In Conversation with the makers of Zinda Bhaag’; ‘Preview of Film on Manto and Launch of Poora Manto Volumes I and II’; ‘At the Threshold of Ghalib’ with Syed Nomanul Haq and Rahat Kazmi; ‘The Role of Music in Popularising Urdu Poetry’; and ‘Just Between Us: In Conversation with Najam Sethi’.The National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) team is all geared up to entertain the audience with their popular classic play Taleem-e-Balighan.Ameena Saiyid appealed to the Punjab government to “save the fate of the house where the most brilliant short story writer of Urdu wrote gems like Toba Tek Singh, Khol Do, Thanda Gosht, and Mera Sahib.” “Perhaps a patriotic media or business tycoon could step in and help the government buy and conserve this property, turning it into a museum,” she said.

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