LAHORE - The three-day Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) culminated Sunday. The event brought together a number of writers, journalists, analysts and politicians from all over the world.

The third day of LLF featured book launches by Sarvat Hasin, Kamin Mohammadi, Zarrar Said, Omar Khan, Shadab Zeesht Hashmi, Aisha Farooqui, Ayesha Baqir, Lalage Snow, Tahmina Aziz Ayub, Isambard Wilkinson, Ayesha Khan, Maheen Usmani and Harris Khalique.

Historian Ayesha Jalal discussed the life and legacy of Saadat Hasan Manto with artist Salima Hashmi. “Not everyone can be like Manto. People tend to think like him outside the box. So, I think Manto will always have an audience without state support,” said Ayesha Jalal.

Khaled Ahmed said: “I think the Indian film goes much deeper into his personal crisis. The Pakistani version was very careful to focus on his problems because he lived in a society where he stood out.”

Suraiya Multanikar and Rahat Multanikar also performed, while Christopher Merrill of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and author Mirza Waheed participated in a session on the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali. One of the most jam-packed sessions of the festival was on the life of human rights champion Asma Jahangir. The session was moderated by Farida Rahman and panelists were Nida Ali, IA Rehman, Seema Iftikhar and Gul Rukh Rahman.

Farida Shaheed opened the session by praising the strength of Asma Jahangir, saying, “Asma was proud to be a woman and was angry when anyone said that women were lesser beings. She created HRCP for everyone’s rights. She always followed her convictions.”

Nida Ali, executive director of Asma’s legal aid cell AGHS, said, “Asma had a very strong sense of right and wrong. I remember when she hired me. The next day we were outside the Governor’s House chanting slogans against violation. The next day my picture was published on the front page of a newspaper. My parents saw and they were shocked but they always trusted Asma and encouraged me to work with her.” Nida continued: “I remember she used to pick up those cases which no one would touch because of risk factor. She always believed in building up team. She was a very generous personality and always preferred us to live and work like a family. It’s our moral obligation to keep her legacy.” IA Rehman said: “Asma Jahangir was the most robust voice for human rights in Pakistan. She avoided fruitless argument and was not afraid to be labelled... I can describe her courage. I met her 15 minutes after some people barged in her house with a knife to threaten her and I never saw anyone so composed. She was a Pakistani icon whose legacy has helped shape human rights and activism in Pakistan.” The last day culminated on a positive note with the performance by classical dancer Sheema Kermani.