‘Some people want to silent forces of democracy’
Islamabad Literature Festival launched
ISLAMABAD: As we celebrate democracy moving forward, there are forces and there are people who want to silent the forces of democracy, European Union Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said on Tuesday.
The envoy expressed these views while addressing the inaugural session of the Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF).
Speaking on the occasion, he said that writers and poets captured society’s ethos. “As Pakistani society has diversity, it is not possible to impose one school of thought which is being tried by some forces. Such festivals should be held in other cities of Pakistan as it expresses the country’s diversity and ability to have discourse on different issues,” he added.
The ILF, organised by the Oxford University Press, opened on Tuesday. The two-day festival with 70 speakers and more than 35 sessions/events is being held at a local hotel. Approximately 6,000 participants visited the festival on the first day. Oxford University Press Managing Director Ameena Saiyid welcomed the guests. In her speech, she observed that a common system or syllabus was not the solution, as teachers’ training, improving curriculum and providing children with better quality books would encourage the reading habit.
ILF co-founder Asif Farrukhi said that literature remains the medium to express society’s feelings and status. Quoting writer Intizar Husain, he said, “This is the time of signs.” Intizar Husain said that the last century started by promising a bright future, but it turned into a century of two world wars, fascism and now intolerance too had spread to Asia.
Kamila Shamsie, winner of Granta magazine’s Best of Young Writers’ Award for her contribution as a novelist, paid tribute to Intizar Husain and his novel ‘Basti’. “In Pakistan, it is taught that history is confluence of religion. Actually, history is confluence of geography. We deny our thousands of years of historical background,” she lamented.
In another thought-provoking session on his book ‘Pakistan on the brink’ Ahmed Rashid said that he still felt that Pakistan could be salvaged “if our foreign and national security policies are changed diametrically”.
“We have to stop thinking that we have the right to decide the faith of Afghanistan and stop relying on jihadi groups to achieve the foreign policy objectives. We have failed to take advantage of our geo-political position to build our economy. We need ceasefire in Afghanistan to help bring peace to Pakistan,” he observed.
The session was moderated by Daily Times Editor Rashid Rehman, who raised incisive questions. In the session titled ‘Pakistani English Poetry is Alive and Well: New Directions, New Voices’, Ilona Yusuf, Athar Tahir, Harris Khalique and Muneeza Shamsie were of the view that English poetry was being written in Pakistan and had considerable audience. There was consensus among the participants that there should be some publication or means of promotion of Pakistani English poetry.
In other sessions, Abdullah Hussain and Ahmed Shah captivated the audience in their readings and conversations; Amjad Shahzad, Zubair Hasrat, Arif Tabassum and Muhib Wazir discussed ‘New Voices in Pushto Poetry’ with Raj Wali Khattak and Ahmad Fouad; in ‘Shah Hussain and Sufi Classical Poetry in Punjabi’, Harris Khalique had an interesting discussion with Sarwat Mohiuddin; on the sensitive issue of ‘Politics of Child Labour’, Samar Minallah Khan, Anees Jillani, Taimur Rahman with Baela Jamil raised important issues regarding child labour and under-aged servants; and Muneeza Shamsie with Ahmed Rashid elaborated on ‘Pakistani English Novels in the New Millennium’.
In the session on ‘Dynastic politics’, to question by the Moderator Babar Ayaz that why political dynasties are scorned by middle classes, while dynasties in other professions like lawyers, writers and doctors are approved, eminent historian Hamida Khuro said that political dynasties were disliked because in democracy people like to have meritocracy and politicians have power to affect the lives of the people.
Senior journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said that the dynastic politics in South Asia was attached to charismatic leaders like Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in India and Bhuttos dynasty in Pakistan.
While addressing another houseful session on electronic media and the ban on YouTube, youth icons like Osman Khalid Butt and Ali Aftab Saeed shared their experiences of how the ban on YouTube had negatively effected and deprived every one of a power house and the cheapest tool to reach out to the world.
Source: Daily Times