With youth, literary legends in one place, PLF is off to a promising debut

The weekend was a literary heaven for residents of Lahore with the Pakistan Literature Festival (PLF) taking the stage at the Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore

A historic event of its kind, the literature festival was spread into three days of sessions, performances and interactive exhibitions on art, poetry, society, economy, entertainment ventures and tributes celebrating the rich literature, culture and legends of the country

Ahmed Shah, president Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, in a telephonic conversation told The Express Tribune about how the festival was a “phenomenal success” and that it achieved more than what they expected – “100 times more than that”, he said

“I’ve done a lot of public festivals in Karachi

I know the city and its people well, and I’m comfortable with it but I was taking an event of this grandeur to Lahore for the first time

I was a little stressed the night before the event but after the first day ended, I sat back with relief

I’ve never seen this interest in Karachi either,” he exclaimed

Shah added that it’s not like Lahore – the cultural hub of the city – does not have any cultural or literary events but they’re not open to the public or are inclusive and accessible as much

“If there’s an event about poetry at a five-star hotel, even if it is free, a poor man would think twice before going to it

They’ll feel weird about it,” he said

“That hesitation is what I wanted to lose with this event

”           View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi (@acpkhiofficial) The opening ceremony of the three-day literary festival was held in hall number one of the Alhamra Arts Council, and while the premises is sizeably big, many people watched the ceremony from outside at a screen

“That alone was a testament to how thirsty people were for a taste of literature and arts in the city,” Shah said

The event was inclusive of all forms of arts and had sessions and activities for all age groups

There was live painting, classic dance performances, book stalls, food, concerts, and discussions on current affairs like climate change, the bad air quality of Lahore and the economy, among other topics

Speaking about how overwhelming the youth’s interest in Urdu, Punjabi and Siraiki literature was, Shah recalled, “It wasn’t surprising that a huge crowd of youth was there to listen to Ali Azmat, Asim Azhar or Ali Zafar

I expected that

But what was surprising was that there was a concert starting after a mushaira and not one person from the hall wanted it to end and go to the concert instead

There were sessions on Iqbal, Faiz, N M Rashid and so much more and they were all houseful

”         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi (@acpkhiofficial) What left the management feeling incredibly satisfied and fulfilled was how there were students of public schools, colleges and universities getting the same exposure and participating the same way in arts and culture as the elite schools without an inferiority complex

Shah, in his speech at the opening ceremony, stated that a nation whose culture dies cannot survive

“There is a lot of hatred in our society and we must work together to end this negativity

We’ve come to Lahore with the message of brotherhood, peace and friendship in all units to connect the youth of Pakistan with literature and culture

We have to promote cultural activities

Lahore, Multan and Sindh are part of the same Indus civilization, but Lahore is an ancient cultural city which has its own history and culture and the authorities insisted that we hold this conference in a way that embraces all cultures and we’re here to honour that legacy,” he said

Although successful, the event faced two major hiccups – Zia Mohyeddin’s session was cancelled due to his ill health at the time and the legendary poet Amjad Islam Amjad’s sudden demise

“I was looking forward to Zia Sahab’s session

I’ve been a fan forever but he had to rush to the hospital and I asked Sohail Ahmed to continue,” he said

About the poet, Shah shared that Arts Council Karachi faced a similar situation earlier when Fehmida Riaz passed away the day she was supposed to take a session in Karachi

“We can’t bring them back but what we can do is turn it into an opportunity to celebrate, remember and honour their work together

” The session on the late poet was then continued with his picture on an empty chair with Iftikhar Arif and Kishwar Naheed paying tribute to him

The Provincial Minister of Education and Culture of Sindh Syed Sardar Ali Shah also started his speech with a poem by the late poet and said that he cannot be away from us even if he is away

At the closing ceremony, the festival lauded the services and works of Naheed, Dada and Nahid Siddiqui and presented them with Lifetime Achievement Awards

The event concluded with a few words by Anwar Maqsood on culture, society and Pakistan


Date:14-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link