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LLF: Shaping New Socio-Artistic Trends

Umair Khan

The majestic city of Lahore hosted its second Literary Festival from 21 to 23 February 2014 at the spaciously magnificent Alhamra Cultural Complex. The Festival is playing a major role in re-igniting the lost literary and artistic flame for which Lahore was once famous. Lahore used to be the determining factor in shaping the grand narrative of the region’s literary, social, political, and economic frameworks. The Festival aims to reclaim the cultural space lost to the forces of extremism and ignorance by arranging meaningful debate on a variety of subjects ranging from fiction to politics, music to poetry, and photography to film-making. Pran Nevile, one of the delegates from India who is considered an authority on pre-Partition Lahore, remarked: ‘Lahore is the city of arts, music, and melody makers.’ Literary festivals are achieving popularity throughout South Asia. Since the first major event in Jaipur, India, in 2005, numerous festivals have sprung up across India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Pakistan has also come up with two literary festivals set in its historically vibrant cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Pakistan, these festivals are contributing to the national dialogue on the direction the country should take in the light of its historic traditions. For the audience, these sessions with acclaimed writers, academicians, scholars, poets, educators, editors, and critics as panelists is a welcome change from the usual public debate on raucous TV talk shows which take place in a confrontational and divisive manner rather than in an intellectually stimulating way. One of the reasons the Festival is able to present well thought out discussions on all topics is the involvement of renowned moderators from The New York Times, The New York Review of Books and the BBC along with mature Pakistani hosts. Like the previous year, the LLF attracted a large number of people especially youth not only from Lahore but from all corners of the country including sizeable number of foreigners.   Ahmed Rashid, well known journalist and an expert on the Taliban issue, opened the Festival and welcomed LLF’s 100 speakers from Pakistan and eight other countries to the cultural capital of Pakistan. ‘We dream of a time of peace and free expression, and by being here today you ensure that we can achieve our goals’, he said. Historian Fakeer S. Aijazuddin exhibited a very colourful voyage of 300 years old history of Lahore through a display of paintings and pictures.   The audience was ...

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