Keeping up with the tradition of bringing together renowned national and international writers in fields of literature, history, art, politics and culture, Lahore Literary Festival 2015 was a feast for readers of diverse interests. The 3rd annual Festival attracted thousands of people from all backgrounds. Here are brief excerpts from some of the sessions selected for Laaltain’s readers.

Need to De-legitimize Colonial Stereotypes

Indian historian Romila Thapar said in her keynote speech that history of the Sub-continent is being used in the region to politicise the present. She highlighted the need to reinvestigate history stressing that our concern should be intensive investigation of colonial stereotypes that colonial scholars set as a tool to rule over the Sub-continent. Moreover history is not a fantasy and should not be interpreted so.


War of Survival instead of Proxy War

Rashed Rehman in a session regarding Pak-US relations said that America should understand that Pakistan is not fighting a proxy war but a war of survival. He emphasized that Afghanistan’s future is intimately linked with Pakistan, with the region, and the wider world.


Khak-e-jaan kya uree, gard he gard hai

In a session titled Urdu Poetry Translations in Other Languages, a book Tishnagi of an Indian poet Minu Bakshi was discussed by Navid Shahzad. Minu, by religious denomination a Sikh, has love for Urdu poetry. Navid Shahzad read excerpts from her book.

She also recited her poem on 1984 riots against Sikh community in India.


Future of TV News: Journalism or Mirch Masala

Pakistan’s evolving media is grappling with several problems. The 3G & 4G internet on mobile and social media are going to be a new public force that will help keeping a check on these enterprisers.
Journalist Muneeze Jahangir said that she is hopeful from emerging trends in the media in the era of technology that they would help improve the quality of the content.

Editor Pakistan Today Arif Nizami criticized the electronic media for its sensationalism. He opined that Pakistani media does not seem to have the responsibility of bringing social reforms.

Executive Director Express news group Fahd Hussain shared his views on how the culture of mirch masala is changing due to the developing taste of the audience. The quality of the content is ultimately determined by the viewers.

Afghan Media owner Saad Mohseni believed that mobile internet would solve the issue of transparency in rating.


Women have the power of ‘Choice’

In the concluding session of LLF, a book Fifty Shades of Feminism was discussed by Muneeza Shamsie, Rachel Holmes, Shobhaa De, Yasmine El Rashidi and Nelofar Bakhtyar.
Women have the power of ‘Choice’, Indian Journalist Shobha De said:

Yasmin shared the views that woman dis-empowers herself by the choices she makes.

Rachel compiled all the stories of women in 50 Shades of feminism. She gave a subversive call to action in following words:


Graphic Journalism: Power of the Cartoon

Graphic journalism can explain any story in a limited space and time rather than articles. Comic has universal audience without any language barriers. The session titled The Incredible World of Comic Journalism included American comic journalist Joe Sacco, Lebanese-American writer and painter Rabih Alameddine, and Pakistani editorial cartoonist Sabir Nazar.

“In modern worlds publishers are more interested in graphic publications because of public demand”, Joe said, while adding, “In the US comic journalism is flourishing because people like graphics instead of reading long text. Other communication medium has great strength but comic is like a film that grabs readers attention quickly. It is challenge to develop something that reader can understand and appreciate as you want. While drawing I imagine my stories myself so my comics are self-censored.”

Sabir expressed his views about graphic journalism, “In Pakistan editorial graphics equally get readers’ attention and appreciation. Some people are more inclined to visuals than reading. Drawing needs no introduction as the articles. While drawing for editorial or comics I do not have reader in my mind.”

Rabih said, “While making cartoon, I look at it, if I feel it punching in my stomach or hit me that means it is good and it will be a visual interaction. Graphic journalist should not cross the boundaries that hurt someone. For me comics are insidious, always make possible what we cannot do in real life.” While answering a question about freedom of expression and blasphemous cartoons, he said, “One of the things we always forget is if we allow violence we would have no religion. Almost every single religion is against violence for stating one’s opinion. Whether it was Moses, Jesus, or Muhammad, if they had kept quiet because people will be offended we would not have religion.”

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