SAADIA GARDEZI

Lahore - There are quite a number spaces opening up in Lahore recently that bring people together for discussions. Dialogue Café Lahore, is another one of these efforts to connect people in meaningful debate about peace building.

The founder of this initiative is the bright young Anam Gill, an avid traveller, blogger and journalist, who has strong views about the silence we impose on ourselves when we trade free speech with a false sense of security.

She said that she still vividly remembers the night when the news of the brutal murder of Sabeen Mahmud struck her. “Taking a life has become so easy these days. I have also had uncomfortable experiences. While living in Quetta a comment on the state of affairs got me into trouble with the authorities.” She quoted Arundhati Roy that “the only thing worth globalising is dissent.”

“Where is the freedom of expression that happened to be our fundamental right? Why does the mere act of talking, or writing a few words haunt those people? Are these two mediums so lethal that they require a bullet in response?” 

Sabeen Mahmud’s assassination made Anam take the steps to make sure that spaces for dialogue spaces continue to flourish. Dialogue Café is her attempt to add to Sabeen’s legacy.

Anam attempts not only to generate dialogue at home, but have international opinions in the mix as well. Anam has travelled since she was very young and sees travelling as a way to gain exposure of new cultures and build a bridge between people to take collective decisions. She has successfully been able to gain the organisational support of the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges (IAAI), a UN accredited civil society organisation based in Klagenfurt (Austria) www.glocha.info. She is also looking forward to collaborating with CaueEffect in Mumbai, India, co-hosted by Megha Ramaswamy's who is a Mumbai-based screenwriter, director and producer based in Mumbai. Her hybrid short documentary, Newborns which is about the acid attack victims premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

She says that, “Mobilising people especially youth and bringing them together to talk to be able to think out of the box is what this creative space aims to achieve.”

There is no agenda, except peacebuilding, whether through music, theatre, art, or dialogue. Dialogue Café can be reached through Facebook, and organisers plan events and set venues via the social media platform. The first meeting of young minds happened on Sunday and was open to all.

“The journey is long but taking the first step is essential to change the current situation”, Anam told The Nation. “We need a sustainable world for ourselves and our upcoming generations and it is time that we question the current global political and economic architecture.”

Details about Dialogue Cafe can be found at https://www.facebook.com/dialoguecafelahore