Islamabad - Following the resounding success of the previous editions, 3rd Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF) was inaugurated here at a local hotel on Friday.

The festival has been expanded to three days and visitors will have a chance to listen to and interact with as many as 175 authors, writers, artists and media experts from Pakistan and abroad. Oxford University Press (OUP) has organised the event with support from US embassy, British Council, embassies of France and Italy and some other donor agencies, which is featuring 60 sessions with 150 Pakistan and 25 foreign speakers lined up in the schedule. There will be 22 book launches.

Speaking on the opening ceremony, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director of OUP in Pakistan, said, “Islamabad, with special beautifies and deep peace, is certainly a suitable place and lovely venue for Islamabad Literature Festival.” She said that Islamabad festival will work as model and wished that such festivals would be organised in every village, town and city of Pakistan. “These are literary and cultural shows that bring together thinkers and writers from Pakistan and the world,” she added. According to her, the audiences of the events would not only listen to but they would be also heard.

Asif Farrukhi, founder of Karachi and Islamabad Literature Festivals, during his welcome speech said that the idea about the festival was borrowed from India but now it “has become our own activity.” “Islamabad Literature Festival is different in terms of its scope and feature and contents”, he said while comparing the event with other literary festivals.

Professor Anatol Lieven, British Scholar and author of ‘Pakistan a Hot Country,’ was one of the keynote speakers. He said that insurgency in Pakistan “was defeated and would be defeated in future.” He while referring to his book said, “Political parties are congeries of landlords, clan chieftains and urban bosses seeking state patronage for themselves and their followers and vowing allegiance to particular national individuals and dynasties.”

Ataul Haq Qasmi, the second keynote speaker, said on this occasion that language has become a status symbol in Pakistan and people instead of talking in their mother tongues try to speak in English or in Urdu.

He said that fundamentalism and extremism have dented the image of the country. “We will have to adopt secularism; everyone must be allowed to live a life according to his/her wishes,” he said and added, “It is the only way to give a positive message to the world.”

French Ambassador Martine Dorance said on this occasion that her embassy was committed partner of the literature festival. “I’m very happy tonight to see myself amongst the outstanding Pakistani writers,” she added and informed that two French authors were also participating in the festival.

Adriano Chiodi Cianfarani, Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, said, “I have a strong belief that culture is essential key for peace development and growth.” He said that writers play important role to present a positive image of the country.

Besides the aforementioned speakers, officials from British Council and US Embassy spoke on the need to highlight positive image of Pakistan around the world. “Writers play significant role in maintaining and enhancing the culture,” one of the speakers said.

 The Islamabad Literature Festival being held at local hotel is also featuring book stalls and discussions on arts and politics by experts.