LAHORE - For two-day special event ThinkFest that attracted intelligentsia from across Pakistan and many other countries concluded on a positive note about putting Pakistan high on the intellectual map of the world.

The inputs from international scholars led to thought provoking sessions, which were attended by students and literati of Lahore.

Political scientist Rasul Bakhsh Rais told The Nation that ThinkFest is serious platform to discuss and have discourse on the ideas and challenges facing our society. “The festival provides a serious approach to ponder critically on the issues prevailing in our society and the around the world,” he said.

Rais also spoke in session ‘Imagining Pakistan Modernism, State and the Politics Revival’.

Yaqoob Khan Bangash, leading organizer of Think Fest, said the testimony that the festival was a success is due to fact that large number of literati of Lahore and nearby cities attended festival. “Students of different universities from all over Punjab also attended the festival. They showed keen interest in the serious debates and problems that challenge us collectively as a nation and member of the global community.

“The feedback from thousands of people who attended the session has been amazing. All demanded that more such events should be held where everyone can freely speak and express their views,” he said.

A numbers of food stalls had been set up. A stall was selling Turkish cuisine. Another attraction at the venue was the Photographs exhibition. Apart from the sessions people had the golden opportunity of meeting and interacting with their favorite authors, scholars and writers.

Mussadiq, a BBA student at Lahore School of Economics, who was volunteer at the ‘ThinkFest’ said the response was tremendous and he loved to brief the visitors about the festival.

“Afkar-e-Taza” ThinkFest held under the auspices of Information Technology University (ITU) in collaboration with Federal Higher Education Commission, Punjab Higher Education Commission and other private sector organizations.

Speakers Jibran Nasir, Farahnaz Isphani, Arafat Mazhar in a session ‘Whither the white in the flag’ expressed their views on the state of minorities in Pakistan. Peter Jacob was the moderator. Arafat Mazhar said there were no more values left in the definitions of citizens.

Jibran Nasir said as citizens we all have our mutual values social and there should not be any discrimination and economic discrimination at all. “In our country one by one we single out our minorities,” he was of the view. 

Jibran quoted poet John Elia who once said Pakistan was the roguery of Aligarh’s youth, adding that he said ‘With this formula Naya Pakistan is roguery of youth of Aitcheson College’.

Inqilab Zindabad

In the session, Inqilab Zindabad Bhagat Singh of Lahore, Daniel Elam from University of Toronto spoke on the life and political journey of anti-colonial revolutionary 23-year-old Bhagat Singh who was hanged in British era. Ammar Jan was the moderator.

“Bhagat Singh was true cosmopolitan character who was not just working for freedom struggle but was working against intentional colonial mindset,” Daniel said.

Daniel said he was trying to trace the question of using new technologies in British era and how books were smuggled to British India from outside the world.

He said the book reading culture was very common at that time and Bhagat Singh was fond of reading books including communist manifesto. And there were secret collections of books.

Daniel said Bhagat Singh went on hunger strike to raise voice against the violence of colonial state and to tell what Indians were going through.

“It was to demonstrate suffering in a public spectrum and about showing the violence of the state.

“Bhagat Singh even read books in the face of death. What makes him a radical figure? This is important that he read even before going to gallows not to be expert but as continual practice.

“Apart from the books Bhagat Singh loved to watch movies. And his favorite’s ones were Wild Cat, Bombay ki Billi, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. There was character in movie of escaping from custody of a white police officer in Lahore which he like most,” he said.

“We should embrace him and accept as illuminating figure in Pakistan,” Ammar Jan said. 

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former Chairman Conservative Party UK and former Foreign Office Minister speaking  in a key note speech on concluding day of the second edition of ThinkFest, said that we should question ourselves and not judge others. “We should ask ourselves what we are saying, what we believe in and what we are doing. We need to overcome the fear of love to win.

“General elections are around the corner in Pakistan but the people are still asking tough questions. The Israeli army action in Ghaza conflict was deplorable and being first Muslim British minister I had to quit, which was considered a good gesture.

“Five percent of Britain’s population is Muslim. Among them 1.8 million are Pakistanis and people of Kashmir origin. We enjoy all the rights and can raise our voice at any level in accordance with the law,” Warsi explained.

Nizamuddin, Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission urged upon the 57 Universities of the Punjab province to develop a culture of discussion and debate as initiated by the Information Technology University.

“We needed to promote culture, research, and dialogue and to talk more about history, politics and arts. No research is complete without academic linkages with other institutions across the globe,” Nizamuddin maintained.