ILF concludes with calls for love, tolerance

Islamabad - The fascinating Islamabad Literary Festival came to an end yesterday leaving a message of love, peace and tolerance for the people as the visiting scholars predicted great future for the country.
The three days long literary festival was thronged by thousands of people who had rushed to the Shakarparian hills, the venue, to interact directly with their favourite writers, poets, politicians and journalists.The third and concluding of the literary festival was quite enthralling and tasteful for the audience as majority of the sessions touched on the lost glory of the country which, they said, was the era of marvellous poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ahmed Faraz who, they said, had advocated the secular and pluralist tradition of Urdu poetry.
In a session ‘Mera Paigham Muhabbat Hai’, panellists Fehmida Riaz and Saif Mehmood recalled the courage of the poets by critically pointing out to the harsh religious decisions imposed on masses.
“Mirza Asadullah Ghalib was vocal and candid in his poetry by disagreeing to the orthodox version of both Islam and Hinduism. And he did not care for those who objected to his poetry and instead kept on,” Fehmida Riaz said as she recited some verses from poetic collection of Ghalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
And in another session titled ‘Love and Revolution: Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ Salima Hashmi said poets want to revolutionise society by spreading the message of love, peace and tolerance. “The best revolution is the one that preaches love. After all, a revolution is meant for reforms and love and tolerance is the basic unit of revolution,” she added. Also tributes were paid to legendaries like late Intizar Hussain and Fatima Surraya Bajia.
The literary festival was organised by Oxford University Press in collaboration with Embassy of France, USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project, World Bank Group, ICAS, British High Commission and some other corporate entities.
French political analyst and writer Christopher Jefferson shared views regarding the achievements and accomplishments of this year’s ILF. While addressing the ceremony Ameena Saiyid said that ILF has become a symbol of federal capital now.
“At ILF we saw young people holding books and chasing authors for autographs.  It was my dream that came true as I wanted our authors to be treated like rock stars”, she added. She further said that ILF will bring more and more colours in the future.
French scholar Christophe Jaffrelot on this occasion expressed his gratitude for being invited on fabulous ILF and said that literature could become the major tool to achieve positive societal changes.
The closing ceremony of the festival was followed by an enthralling dance performance by Shayma Saiyid which was widely acknowledged by the audience. On this occasion Lok Virsa also administered a special Sufi Musical Night.
Earlier, the ILF started its third day with some amazing interactive sessions, dialogues and book launches. “Pakistani English Literature: New Books, New Writers, New Directions” was moderated by renowned writer Muneeza Shamsie while Ilona Yusuf, Kanza Javed, Harris Khalique, Sophia Khan, and Aroosa Kanwal shared their valued remarks on the topic.
A session on “Cultural Policy and Dynamics in South Asia” was also held in the first half yesterday in which Indian guest Sumant Batra participated along with well-known Pakistani artist Salima Hashmi and the head of Lok Virsa Dr Fouzia Saeed.
Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri talked about his book “Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Relations Including Details of the Kashmir Framework.” The discussion was participated by Indian journalist Sudheendra Kulkarni, Mehr Tarar and Ashraf Jehangir Qazi while Zahid Hussain was there as the host.
On this occasion a book “A History of the Judiciary in Pakistan” by famous lawyer Hamid Khan was also held which was moderated by Ijaz Shafi Gilani while the participants included Ijaz Hussain, Hamid Khan, Faisal Siddiqui, and Khawaja Muhammad Farooq Mehta.
On its last day, ILF paid huge tribute to late Fatima Surraya Bajia and Late Intizar Hussain in two separate sessions. Zehra Nigah, Masood Ashar, and along with the moderator Arfa Sayeda Zehra expressed their deep respect for the work done by Bajia while saying that she will never be forgotten in Urdu literature.

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