A literary extravaganza

December 1, 2019

The highly anticipated Faisalabad Literary Festival ended on a high note

The recently concluded sixth Faisalabad Literary Festival was held at the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Auditorium and Art Council and was attended by people from all walks of life including some famous poets, writers and actors.

The highlights of the inaugural session were keynotes of Navid Shahzad and Mehmood Sham, both of which were much appreciated by the audience.

The session was moderated by veteran journalist Masud Ashar. Syed Babar Ali was the guest of honour.

In his speech, Sham told the audience that he travels all over Pakistan to spread the message of truth and organises essay writing competitions for the youth. He said that he has been able to engage about one thousand students with the help of these competitions, majority of whom are girls. Sham said that in his youth literary organisations like the Progressive Writers’ Association and Halqa Arbab-i-Zoaq used to have regular weekly meetings. The trend of holding Literary Festivals on a yearly basis started after 9/11. He said he remembered days when writers were put behind bars for writing the truth.

Wall of fame at the FLF.

He also said that he did not believe that books were dead for “as long as there are love affairs, there will be short stories and as long as there is an interaction between beauty and love, novels will be written.” Sham further said that the hurdles faced by writers are not new. They have faced this situation in the past as well, but creativity always finds its path.

Navid Shahzad delivered her keynote speech on ‘Women’s lives’. She talked about women, wisdom and growing old. She said that history was witness to the fact that wisdom had traditionally been associated with women more than men. She added that today some men considered themselves guardians of women. It was on this pretext that in the name of which, they tried to confine their lives to chaddar and chaar devari; effectively disempowering them.

She stated: “Bear in mind that women never start wars.”

She extensively quoted from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, “the myths proposed to women, whether in literature and history, science or psychoanalysis, encouraged females to believe that to be a woman was to be for others – and especially for me.”

She revealed that she had been a tomboy and was still a teenager at heart despite being a grandmother. She stated that it was the prime moral responsibility of the media to inform, educate and disseminate the truth.

Journalist and fiction writer Masud Ashar stated in his presidential remarks stated that the new generation wants to move forward but was being dragged backwards. He said that TV was presenting ‘tableeghi plays’, adding that Ashfaq Ahmad also used to write such plays but there was still some creativity in them.

Asghar Nadim Syed said that just like Lahore, Faisalabad would soon be on the cultural map of UNESCO and would be declared a ‘creative city.’

There were eleven sessions the next day. These included Urdu fiction Kay Naye Ufaq, which was moderated by Dr Nasir Abbas Nayar, with Masud Ashaar, Dr Najiba Arif, and Dr Tahira Iqbal as panelists. There were two book launches as well. Navid Shahzad’s Aslan’s Roar ‘ and Asghar Nadim Syed’s Tooti Hoi Tanab Udhar. Asghar Nadim said that his novel was based on historical, cultural and social aspects of his city Multan. He added that it was an autobiographical novel, about the decay of a cultural hub.

A session was dedicated to the memory of eminent writers including Altaf Fatima, Khalida Hussain, Fehmida Riaz and Dr Enver Sajjad. The panelists were Masud Ashar, Kishwar Nahid and Yasmin Hamid. Asghar Nadim Syed conducted the session. The participants thoroughly discussed the works of these writers.

In a session conducted in Punjabi, veteran Punjabi crusader Mushtaq Soofi and researcher Prof Saeed Bhutta thoroughly discussed the past, present and future of Punjabi. They were of the opinion that by not teaching Punjabi in schools, the province was incurring from a huge loss, culturally and intellectually. The next session Takhleeqi Zahanat Kaay Khusk Hoatay Chashmay was conducted by Dr Sheeba Alam. The panelists were Dr Arifa Syeda Zehra and Amer Sindhu.

The session Tareekhi virsa aur Humara Fun-i-Tameer was conducted by Faisal Sajjad. The participants were Nayyar Ali Dada and Sajida Vandal. Khirad Kaay Pass Khabar Kay Siwa Kuch Aur Nahien was one of the most vibrant sessions with Ghazi Salauddin, Wajahat Masud and Haris Khaliq. It was moderated by Ali Aftab.

The most pleasant surprise was the surprise appearance of Ali Zafar who discussed personal aspects of his life with Noor Hassan.

Talking to TNS, Navid Shahzad said that the experience of a literary festival in the city of Faisalabad was remarkable and exhilarating. “I am personally delighted with the presence of a younger and livelier audience each year.” Ghazi Salauddin stated that “ such festivals provide us with the opportunity to interact with the youth.”

The writer is a freelance journalist

Faisalabad Literary Festival: A literary extravaganza