A little bit of India in Lahore


Naseer ud din shah

The third edition of the Lahore Literary Festival concluded last weekend, a three-day extravaganza attended among others, by prominent Indian writers as delegates and visitors.

Distinguished historian Romila Thapar gave the inaugural keynote address, “The Past as Present”, introduced by Ayesha Jalal, whose recently published book The Struggle for Pakistan also featured in one of the sessions. Both historians participated in a later session on “Living with Internal Differences: The South Asian Dilemma” with human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir and journalist Khaled Ahmed.

Actor Naseeruddin Shah launched his memoir And Then One Day. Actors Ratna Pathak Shah and Heeba Shah (Shah’s wife and daughter) presented “Poetic Parables by Vikram Seth”.

The late journalist Khushwant Singh’s son Rahul Singh, himself an eminent journalist, participated in a session titled “Politics, Pluralism and Khushwant Singh’s Punjab”, along with Aitzaz Ahsan, Basharat Qadir, Shobhaa De, and F. S. Aijazuddin. De also participated in a session on ‘Fifty shades of feminism” along with others.

Mumbai-based journalists Aakar Patel and Naresh Fernandes discussed “Cityscapes: Writing and Living in Global Cities” with Khaled Ahmed. Fernandes dialogued with Karachi musician and DJ Leon Menezes at a discussion titled ‘All that Jazz in Bombay and Karachi’. Patel discussed Saadat Hasan Manto in another session.

The Eye Still Seeks: Pakistani Contemporary Art by artist Salima Hashmi was launched in a session with the Indian architect Martand Khosla. Punjabi poet and singer Minu Bakshi spoke at a session featuring her coffee table book Tishnagi, a collection of Urdu poetry.

A session on “Anticipating Peace: India and Pakistan” featured former foreign ministers Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and Hina Rabbani Khar, with senior journalists Najam Sethi, Shekhar Gupta and John Elliott. Elliot also launched his recently published Implosion: India’s Tryst with Reality at a session with Rahul Singh.

Ananya Vajpeyi, author of Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India discussed her forthcoming book on Dr Amedbar with art historian F. S. Aijazuddin.

A session on conflict featured pioneering graphic journalist Joe Sacco, Sri Lankan writer Romesh Gunesekera, and Pakistan’s acclaimed human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, with the writers and journalists Basharat Peer from Kashmir and Yasmine El Rashidi from Egypt.

The One Billion Rising movement for gender rights was represented by Eve Ensler, whose ground-breaking play ‘The Vagina Monologues’ has also been performed in Pakistan. At LLF, a session dedicated to OBR featured Sufi music and short speeches by Hina Jilani, Eve Ensler, Kamla Bhasin and others.

Over 75,000 people from Lahore, as well as cities around Pakistan and the world attended the event, says Nuscie Jamil, one of the organisers. Many of them pledged to attend next year’s event too.

Literary platforms encompassing politics, activism, metropolitan issues, entrepreneurship, music and the creative process and the presence of so many guests from across the border, besides other international delegates, are always a good thing. Milne Do.

— B. Sarwar

This article was originally posted here

One response to “A little bit of India in Lahore

  1. Its sad that the commentator has not mentioned any of the massively participated in but scantilly serviced (with seating space etc.) sessions devoted to Urdu and Punjabi literature. Nor has the commentator’s attention drifted in the direction of a comment-able session on the future of historic Lahore, nor on the parallel festival that was happening in the Walled City the very days of the literary festival.

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