LAHORE - A four-day international conference on poetry and peace was held in Avesta Town in the northwest of Sweden under the auspices of Avesta Municipality.

The famous Swedish poet and the Nobel Laureate Alex Karlfeldt was also born in this area, and commands a great love and respect with the people of province of Dalarna.

Karlfeldt celebrations were also a part of this week-long festival in this historical and one of the most beautiful towns of Sweden. The conference was jointly inaugurated by Fakhar Zaman, Dr Fatima Hussain, Karin Perers, Peter Curman and the Mayor of Avesta.

Fakhar Zaman said that the poets were destined to resist and fight against dictatorship, extremism, oppression and religious fascism.

He said poets like Pablo Naruda, Lorca, Andre Maleraux fought physically against the Spanish dictatorship. Even romantic poet Byron also fought against the oppressive forces. In Pakistan, he said emphatically, that we the writers and poets have challenged the military dictatorship of General Zia and suffered in the process. He paid glowing tributes to Mayor of Avesta and chief organizer Karin Perers for arranging such a wonderful poetry festival.

Dr Fatima said that the Sufi poets of the subcontinent were great harbingers of peace, love and tolerance. The eminent Indian historian added that the present societies of India and Pakistan have to emulate the lofty message of the great mystics.

Peter Curman, the renowned Swedish poet, recited his moving poem on peace. Karin gave the details of the whole one week program including music performance by migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia and art exhibition in the famous Iron Museum of Avesta. She also said that the poetry book of Nobel Laureate Karlfeldt, which has been translated into Urdu through the efforts of Fakhar Zaman will also be launched in a special session.

The book has been ably translated into Urdu by Asim Butt, Director of Punjab Academy of Letters and beautifully produced by the National Book Foundation in Islamabad. In the said session on Karlfeldt, Professor Christer Asberg who has translated Karlfeldt into English, recited the Nobel laureate’s few poems. Fakhar Zaman and Asim Butt also recited Urdu translations of Karlfeldt’s writings.

The next day the organizer and the guests went to the house of Karlfeldt in Lexand, one of the most beautiful town of lakes and meadows. Karlfeldt house is now a museum and it was a great experience to see his handwritten manuscripts and the room where he used to write and his fascinating garden.

The host Bo Berggren explained how he bought this house from Karlfeldt’s grandchildren and how he has turned it into a museum. Fakhar Zaman and Dr. Fatima Hussain talked about different shades of Karlfeldt’s poetry and said that he was essentially a poet of nature, a poet of love and a poet of peace.

The next day everyone left for Stockholm where they called upon member parliament and council of foreign affairs Ms. Kerstin Lundgren whom Karin presented with Urdu version of Karlfeldt’s poetry and the participants over lunch discussed the threats to peace in different parts of the world.

The group also visited the Swedish academy and it’s library followed by a detailed visit to the National Library of Sweden. A grand dinner was arranged by the journalists of Stockholm hosted by respected journalist Maud and Goran Lindbla. Here again the host welcomed the guests and Karin gave the details of week-long festival in Avesta.

Fakhar Zaman thanked the press club and the host and declared that next conference on peace will be held in Lahore under the auspices of WPC in January/February 2017.