2nd ILF concludes with a call to revive literary activities


ISLAMABAD: The three-day Second Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF) ended in success with a resolve to revive literary activities in the country and to preserve regional literature ignored in the past. A variety of versatile and interactive sessions was held at the literary festival and almost all genres of literature were discussed by famous writers, intellectuals and artists.The last day of the ILF attracted a reasonable numbers of literature lovers from the twin cities, who participated in the festival with zeal and zest. The last day also saw different sessions, book launch ceremonies, drama presentations, poetry recitations and personality discussions to celebrate literature in all its delightful forms.While addressing the concluding session, the organiser, Oxford University Press Managing Director (MD) Ameena Saiyid, termed the success of KLF and ILF a positive sign, which means “Pakistan is a safe and secure country for any festival”. She further added that bringing such a huge number of writers, artists and intellectuals to celebrate the literary festival was meant to breathe life into the book-reading culture in the country and to introduce people with multiple forms of literature. She expressed that literature could train and exercise the abilities of human beings.Kishwar Naheed expressed her concerns over the current educational system and said, “We have become a political society rather than a cultural, social and literate society.”She criticised that education was ignored and no one cared about book-reading and establishing libraries’ network in the country.Mr Jones from the British Council said that we should be keen to explore cultural, economic and socio-political grounds to create and enhance the understanding of literature among the masses. Speakers at the concluding session emphasised that literature is an alternative reality and such literature festivals were part of our cultural landscape.Muneeza Shamsi urged people not to become fodder for any information and emphasised on “freedom of expression”. She further added, “Don’t call the killing of people patriotism or an ideology.” She said that we named the idea of “censorship” as patriotism and this attitude had a long history. She said that we still needed to find out the difference between free speech and free propaganda.Similarly, a session regarding the Kargil conflict was held, which was moderated by Editor Daily Times Rashed Raman. The participants agreed that the Kargil conflict was an “institutional failure” that also reflected the differences between civil and military leadership at that time. The panellists, including former foreign secretary Riaz Husasin Khokhar and former ambassador Tariq Usman Haider, were of the view that these differences ended in a coup by the then chief of army staff (COAS), and also raised questions about the reality of the briefing presented to the then prime minister (PM). They said that the Kargil conflict had a lack of strategic planning and as a result of this adventure the country faced national, regional and international consequences. The participants were of the view that it still remained a “mystery” whether the then PM was informed or kept in the dark regarding the Kargil adventure.The last day of the ILF started with a session on ‘Who Owns a Language’, which was moderated by Muneeza Shamsie, while Framji Minwalla, Syed Nomanul Haq and Aamer Hussain participated in the session as speakers. The magazine culture of India and Pakistan was discussed in an interactive session in which renowned Indian author Shobhaa De, Amna Ali and Mehwish Amin participated, while the session was coordinated by Asif Noorani.A conversation with the makers of latest Pakistani hit movie ‘Zinda Bhaag’ was also held in which known social activist Samar Minallah held a talk with Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi. The changing circumstances in Urdu language and literature were discussed by Raza Ali Abidi, Anwaar Ahmed and Syeda Afra Zehra. To discuss the art of translation, a session was also held in which Masood Asher, Fehmida Riaz, Anwar Ahmed and Waqas Khawja participated. Art of political cartoon was discussed by Fauzia Minallah, while Rumana Husain moderated the session.‘At the Threshold of Ghalib’ with Syed Nomanul Haq and Rahat Kazmi discussed the poetry of Ghalib and presented a tribute to his services for composing such a commendable and evergreen poetry. The concluding session was addressed by Ameena Saiyid, Asif Farrukhi, Kishwar Naheed and Muneeza Shamsie. Young artists of the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) presented a play ‘Taleem-e-Balighaan’, which was widely appreciated by the audience.There were so many other sessions and activities, including book fair, food stalls, and author signing, in which visitors showed great interest. The ILF was organised by the Oxford University Press (OUP), which presented more than 122 speakers in over 70 sessions. 

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