Pakistan News

Literature festival draws to a close

Literature festival draws to a close

ISLAMABAD: The closing ceremony debacle began before the first speaker took to the podium. Insufficient space, a shortage of chairs and frenzied queuing for the dubious honour of hearing the two keynote addresses ensured that the mood of the event was chaotic.

Scheduled speakers Christophe Jaffrelot and Amjad Islam Amjad followed the usual self-congratulatory addresses of Ameena Saiyid and Asif Farrukhi.

Ms Saiyid said: “The Oxford University Press is already planning for the next literature festival in Karachi.”

Mr Jaffrelot, a French political scientist specialising in South Asia, gave one of the keynote speeches, saying: “These are the spaces I enjoy the most where the freedom we cherish the most, that of expression, flourishes.”

He said the trajectory of Pakistan is better understood if we look at it as an “inter-phase” state, taking into account both domestic dynamics and international pressures.

He said that each and every country has to navigate the national and international spheres. Pakistan is, however, unusual in that country of this size, with 200 million people and nuclear weapons is yet so dependent on external support.

Amjad Islam Amjad, a renowned Urdu poet, returned the closing session to a more literary footing by discussing classical poetry and the sense of the future that many poets demonstrated in their works.

He said, “There [is an idea] that the poets of the classical ghazal were divorced from the sociopolitical realities of the times, and as such not in touch with reality. I find that the subjects of the 18th and 19th century poets demonstrate that they were extensively aware of the politics of their times and the ramifications of that politics.”

The festival closed with a mystic Sufi performance by Lok Virsa and a performance by Ms Saiyid’s daughter, Shayma Saiyid.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2016

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