Three-day literary extravaganza comes to an end

Lahore:04 February:As existential philosophers say all good things have to ultimately come to an end, the Adab Festival Pakistan, a three-day event offering many intellectually stimulating activities, concluded on Sunday evening. The festival was three days filled with nostalgic reminiscences, productive discussions, book exhibitions and artistic performances. Whatever ingredient of an ideal literature festival you name it – it was there. As twilight enveloped the city, literature enthusiasts – a whole lot of them – began streaming into the largest enclosure, the Getz Pharma pavilion, to hear the parting speeches and generous tributes to the organisers of the literary extravaganza, especially Ameena Saiyid and Asif Aslam Farrukhi, whose painstaking efforts had made the occasion such a success. The concluding session was most deftly compered by Pommy Amna Gohar. In her closing speech, Saiyid, the chief organiser of the festival, said, “This [festival] will tell the world that Pakistan is where literature and culture is profusely celebrated. We want to build a silk route of intellectual and cultural activity.” She continued, “We made it [the festival] free so that people from all walks of life, all social strata could partake in the highly enriching intellectual activity equally.” Thanking Khalid Mehmood, the chief executive officer of Getz Pharma, for his generosity in having his organisation sponsor the event, Saiyid termed him the patron of art, culture, and literature. She also thanked Sindh Governor Imran Ismail for having lent his historical residence, which was once home to the Father of the Nation, for purposes of the festival. The other organiser of the festival, Farrukhi, termed the three days magical and said all of this was made possible by an overstressed, yet dedicated team. Mehmood congratulated both Saiyid and Farrukhi on holding the highly successful fair. He said it was a mission of Getz Pharma to give impetus to literary activity. Noted journalist Ahmed Rashid, was rather cynical, not about the festival but about the conditions in the country. He said the people of the country were being pushed towards the creation of a monolithic society. “Respect for human rights, especially in the context of women and children, is fast eroding,” he said, adding that “We are supposed to be living in a democratic set-up but the media are being dictated ‘facts’ by the official machinery.” Two-and-a-half million children of school-going age are out of school, Rashid remarked, adding that against this not-too-flattering backdrop, the festival was highly welcome as it brought home to the masses ways and means to counter such trends. He hailed the festival as a mode of social awakening. Award winning British journalist Peter Osborne had a totally different view of things. Terming the occasion an exciting three days, he said there were strong reasons for hope as the situation in Pakistan was much better than it was 10 years ago. “There’s been an amazing change, a change for the better,” he said. Osborne said he had found real economic dynamism in the country. Of course, he said, there were glitches and one of these was the middle classes and the rich evading payment of taxes, which was sapping the country of its financial vigour. The British journalist mentioned ‘harassment of journalists’ in his speech. He also lauded Pakistan’s balanced foreign policy, as he put it. Noted playwright and television personality of yesteryear Haseena Moin congratulated Saiyid and Farrukhi for telling the world how Pakistanis loved literature and intellectual activity. Abul Fazal Rizvi of the Thar Foundation and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company also spoke at the session. The closing ceremony was continuing as this story was filed.The news.

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