Islamabad - Political debates on national and international issues dominated most of the sessions in the ongoing Islamabad Literature Festival being held at Lok Virsa, making the activity more a political than a literary one.
The three-day festival that will come to an end today (Sunday) though drew local and foreign writers to the federal capital to share their views with fans and audience, most of the sessions were overwhelmingly not touching the subjects but were discussing local politics.
For example, people who desperately waited for hearing about Baloch literature in a session ‘Baloch Literature and Society’ did not hear anything pertaining to Baloch writers and instead the event turned out in a blame game between the speakers that were associated with political parties.
Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, a former diplomat who now serves opposition party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) as its spokesman on foreign relations had to disagree totally with what was said about Balochistan by Raheela Durrani, Speaker Balochistan Assembly and leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
“The prevailing unrest in Balochistan and sense of deprivation among Baloch community are because of the injustice committed by the federal government,” the PTI leader who was guest at the session said.
But Raheela Durrani, the women speaker, reacted angrily to what was asserted by Qazi saying the people and politicians of Balochistan are to be equally blamed for the menace.
An ethnic divide also came into open as the speakers delivered their lectures on Baloch literature with Qazi being Baloch and a resident of Pishin and Raheela Durrani belonging to Pashtun ethnicity in the province.
And another session about “Women’s Protection: Yeh Bill Maangay More” was presented in which Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed, Arfa Sayeda Zehra, Samia Raheel Qazi, Nasira Iqbal, and Jan Achakzai took part in the discussion.
The session too witnessed heated debate as Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) politicians Samia Raheel Qazi termed the bill as a cause of family disputes that can destroy a happy life of a family.
But the other speakers said no legislation on earth can cause any family dispute and favoured the protection for women.
However, the festival was also a charm for the visitors who were observed selecting their choice books and interacting with the speakers who had arrived in the venue.
According to Lok Virsa’s management, thousands of people are thronging the fourth Islamabad Literature Festival marking huge success for a large number of interactive sessions, dialogues, performances and literary activities.
Pakistan’s renowned intellectual late Jamil Ud Din Aali was paid rich tribute by Senator Aitezaz Ahsan, Zahida Hina, Satyapal Anand and Raju Jamil. The session was moderated by television anchor Mujahid Barelvi.
India’s well known journalist Piyush Jha participated in a session “Crime and Fiction: The World of Whodunits” along with famous Masood Ashar.
In another session on politics, former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar discussed regional connectivity and stability with Anatol Lieven Omar Zakhilwal and Jean-François Cautain.
Hina Rabbani Khar also took part in a conversation “Softening the Hard Country” with Anatol Lieven.
Well-known Pakistani journalist and analyst Rashid Rahman moderated a session “Pen on the Pulse of the Taliban” in which journalist Nasim Zehra, former secretary foreign affairs Riaz Mohammad Khan and Omar Zakhilwal shared their valued views with the audience.
The ILF celebrated an evening in the name of renowned Urdu poet Anwer Masood on the second day while the legend poet won the hearts of audience by reciting his own poetry.
Aawaz presented a session on “Qualified Equality: Minorities in the Constitution of Pakistan” in which Shaqaib Lilla, Zain Mansoor, Babar Sattar, and Romana Bashir took part along with the moderator Irfan Mufti.
A conversation “Urdu hai jis ka Naam: The Ebb and Flow of Modern Urdu Literature in India and Pakistan” was also held on this occasion in which Saif Mahmood and Ali Akbar Natiq presented their viewpoints.
“Niklay Teri Talaash Main” was one of the most interesting sessions of the day in which Asif Farrukhi had a very productive conversation with known Mustansar Hussain Tarar. Hameed Shahid moderated a session “Nayee Kahani Nayay Log” in which Irfan Urfi, Ali Akbar Natiq, and Zafar Syed took part.
A session on liberal arts “What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts?” was also arranged on this occasion in which Framji Minwalla, Bina Shah and Aqsa Ijaz took part along with the moderator Aliya Iqbal-Naqvi. Amineh Hoti moderated a session “Swat: Transition from Tribal System to State to Pakistan” featuring Sultan-i-Rome, Zubair Torwali, Ahmad Fouad, and Nazish Brohi discussing the topic.
Aroosa Kanwal’s book “Rethinking Identities in Contemporary Pakistani Fiction: Beyond 9/11” was also launched on the second day of ILF while Aroosa Kanwal herself and Muneeza Shamsie discussed the book with moderator Shehryar Fazli.
On the second day, the ILF hosted an amazing Mushaira (poetic symposium) which was moderated by Najeeba Arif while some of very known poets including Kishwar Naheed, Fahmida Riaz, Amjad Islam Amjad, Ahmad Fouad, Sarwat Mohiuddin, Manzar Naqvi, Harris Khalique, Shakeel Jazib, Zahoor Ahmed, Arshad Meraj, Ravish Nadim, Saeed Ahmad, Qasim Yaqoob, Rehman Faris, Akhtar Usman, Ali Akbar Natiq, Syed Mazhar Masood, Asim Bakhshi, and Imran Aami recited their poetry in front of a huge crowd in Lok Virsa Auditorium.