Quenching literary thirst

KHALID MALIK - LAHORE - The second day of the Lahore Literary Festival at Alhamra proved to be a greater success than the opening day. Thousands of people turned up on Saturday to attend the panel discussions and to enjoy the joys of a truly well-organised festival, which is a rare treat for the people of Lahore.
Literature, art, theatre, films, music, television, journalism and political activism all came in under discussion. It was a long day for those attending as 30 sessions were held in total throughout the day with the number of participants increased than the first day. People who failed to make it inside watched the sessions at the screen lounges set up outside the Hall I.
Majority of the sessions, out of total 30, were conducted in English but some discussions were also in Urdu and Punjabi.
Among the first ones was a very interesting session: ‘Do All Roads lead to China” to coincide with launch of ‘The China-Pakistan Axis’ authored by Andrew Small, who is considered an authority on Chinese affairs and the emerging trends in China. The panellists of this session were Andrew Small, Hasan Karrar, Mushahid Hussain, Eberhard Sandschnelder and Peter Oborne. Andrew Small explained how China was working to meet the challenges that the region was facing and why it always had a strong axis with Pakistan.
The session ‘Chronicling Lives: The Art of Biography’ hosted by Shaimaa Khalil while the panellists of the session included Deborah Baker, John Zubrzycki and Rachel Holmes. Deborah, being a biographer and essayist, explained the art of writing a biography and how to perfect it.
The session ‘Temples of Indus’ was very thought provoking. Reema Abbasi’s book ‘Historic temples in Pakistan - a call to conscience’ and Aitzaz Ahsan’s book on the Indus valley civilization whose 31st edition was published last year were the base for the discussion that was revealing as well as disturbing. Reema Abassi explained that there are only two temples left in Punjab. She questioned as to why Hindus left the province of Punjab.
IA Rehman, on the occasion, criticized the hypocrisy of the nation. “There have been many incidents of forced conversions and forced marriages. This was the main reason Hindus left Punjab,” he said. Rehman regretted the fact it was not on the agenda of government to protect minorities or their places of worship.
Another session ‘The Metropolis and Violence’ was led by Ali Raza and the panellists were Laurent Gayer, Yasmine EI Rashid, Bilal Tanveer and Mahesh Rao. Laurent Gayer wrote a book that explains the reasons behind the conflict in urban areas especially Karachi.
‘Virtual Empires’ discussion show was the most jam packed. Editor of a newspaper and columnist Rashed Rehman conducted the session, which was dominated by the talk of Pervez Hoodbhoy. Other panellists in the discussion included UK based Hari Kunzru, Barnett Rubin, Andrew Small and Eberhard Sandschneider. Hoodbhoy suggested that it was all the game of ideas and if we have to win the war against the increasing extremism among Muslims we would have to come up with a counter narrative. He was of the view that military action alone could not end the terrorism situation and it was not a Pakistani phenomena but a global one giving examples of Daish and Boko Haram.
The launch session ‘The Struggle for Pakistan” was about Pakistani writer Ayesha Jala’s book ‘The Wonder that was Cardoba’’, which was conducted by Kamila Shamsie.
Another session ‘What You See’ the ‘Art of Imran Mir’, introduced by Hameed Haroon, Nighat Mir and Noorjahan Bilgrami and the session was hosted by Qaddus Mirza. Qamar Jamil hosted another debate on ‘V Canl’ and Priya Kapoor, Roshaneh Zafar, Sadaf Saaz Siddiqui.
The day ended with performance Poetic Parables by Vikram Seth with Heeba Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah in Hall II and Mushaira in another hall.

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