LAHORE  - The annual third edition of three-day Lahore Literary Festival being held at Alhamra Halls in the premises of Lahore Arts Council ended on Sunday. The premier much was attended by thousands of people from different walks of life. It was a huge success and no untoward incident took place considering the threat of terrorism. The unprecedented tight security made the event possible.

On the last day also a total of 30 sessions, were conducted in English but some discussions were in Urdu and Punjabi. People took keen interest in all the sessions, which was a pleasant surprise as even in the early morning sessions the attendance was good.

One of the first sessions in the morning was “Anticipating peace: India and Pakistan” which was hosted by John Elliot and former Foreign Ministers Khursheed Kasuri, Hina Rabbani Khar, former CM Punjab and journalist Najam Sethi and an Indian expert Shekhar Gupta. The inputs given in the session at Alhamra Hall-I came as surprise to the audience when the hot debate showed that how close both Pakistan and India could have come in establishing friendly relations and how good opportunities were lost.

An interesting session was ‘Soft power’ a term introduced by Harvard University professor Jospeh Nair. Soft term is related to the soft image that was much talked about in the Musharraf era that is promotion of Pakistani arts, fashion, literature, culture and musical heritage. Ishrat Hussain said USA and India had made full use of soft power to improve their image in the world while Pakistan has failed to use it even though having huge potential to do so. “There are four forces. One is political, second is military, third is economy while the fourth is soft power that we have failed to use. We failed attract people of the world with our beautiful land and customs and paid no attention to tourism,” he said. Syeda Abida Hussain said our sufi and folk music were never promoted and all our activities have now been overshadowed by terrorism. Ameena Saiyid was of the view that Pakistan has never tried to project soft power in earnest. “They have a Nehru Centre in London where tourists visit all the year round. There is schedule of events for the whole year. I went to the Pakistan embassy and suggested we start such a centre at Jinnah House but the proposal was refused as they said it would cost millions of pounds. What has it cost us now one can imagine,” she said.

Faiz: ‘Kuch Ishq kia Kuch Kaam Kia’ was presented by Faiz Ghar. The second session of the first phase was conducted in Alhamra Hall II and was attended by Adeel Hashmi, Basharat Peer and Sarwat Ali who commented on the philosophy and poetry of Fiaz Ahmad Faiz while the session was hosted by Ali Sethi. Adeel sang the poetry in his melodious voice.

Nosheen Abbas conducted an interview with Max Becherer and the topic was ‘Photographing the Emerald Miners of Afghanistan’. The artist highlighted the brighter side of the miners of Afghanistan through photography and shared his experience of photography in Afghanistan.

A detailed discussion was held on the Sadat Hassan Manto’s essays ‘Why I Wrote’. Aakar Patel with Mujahid Eshal discussed in details the personality and unique ideas and observations in the writings of Manto.

First session of the second phase began with the debate on the art of ‘Malika-e-Taranum Noor Jahan: The Empress of singing’. Some prominent artists and singers including Fareeda Khanum, Hameed Haroon, Jugnu Muhsin, Nazia Ejaz and Mina Hasan highlighted the artistic qualities and God gifted voice of one of the greatest singers of the Sub-Continent.  

A session of ‘English Shar o Shairi’ was also conducted and panelists were Ahsan Akbar, Sadaf Saaz Siddiqi and Shadab Zeest Hashmi.

A debate on the book ‘A Portrait of Ismet Chughtai Defining an Era in Leftwing Urdu Literature’ was conducted which was hosted by Ali Madeeh Hashmi while the panelists were Ameena Saiyid, I.A Rehman and M. Asadullah. The experts, in their discussion highlighted the artistic aspects of the art of Ismat Chughtai.

A book launching ceremony of ‘Implosion: India’s Tryst with Reality’, was conducted and the panelist of this session was John Elliot while the discussion was hosted by Rahul Singh. ‘The Convert’ another book of Deborah Baker was launched and the writer gave detailed briefing and reason behind the motives to write such book. The discussion was hosted by Meniza Naqvi

In another session, Intizar Husain, Kishwar Naheed, Masood Ashar and Asif Farrukh gave their comments on ‘Harf-e-Man-o-Tu’ (The Long Lost Art of Literary Conversations).

The session on ‘Cricket: Pakistan’s Greatest Game Book Launches: Wounded Tiger and The Unquiet Ones’ was held which was hosted by Kamila Shamsie while the panelists of the session included Peter Obome and Osman Samiuddin.

Another debate on ‘Future of TV News: Journalism or Mirch Masala’ was conducted which was led Fasih Ahmad and the panelist were Saad Mohseri, Saima Muhsin, Fahid Husain and Arif Nizami. The dialogue in the session explored the freedom of press and the changing trends in journalism.

The festival ended with performance by One Billion Rising with the Rafi Peer Sufi Music Ensemble.