The Pakistan Literature Festival (PLF), which took place at the Alhamra Arts Council over the weekend, was a literary wonderland for Lahoris. The literature festival, a first-of-its-kind historical occasion, featured talks, performances, and interactive installations over the course of three days, as well as homage to the nation’s illustrious literature, culture, and mythology and discussions of art, poetry, society, and the economy.
The Alhamra Arts Council’s hall number one hosted the opening ceremony for the three-day literary festival. Despite the venue’s considerable size, many attendees watched the ceremony on a screen outside.
The event featured sessions and activities for people of all ages and was open to all artistic mediums. There were live paintings, traditional dance performances, book stalls, cuisine, concerts, and debates on current events, including the economy, climate change, and Lahore’s poor air quality, among other subjects.
The fact that students from public schools, colleges, and universities were receiving the same exposure to and engaging in artistic and cultural activities as those from elite schools without suffering from an inferiority complex left the management feeling tremendously content and fulfilled.
Ahmed Shah, president Arts Council of Pakistan, said in his speech “There is a lot of hatred in our society and we must work together to end this negativity. We’ve come to Lahore with the message of brotherhood, peace and friendship in all units to connect the youth of Pakistan with literature and culture. We have to promote cultural activities. Lahore, Multan and Sindh are part of the same Indus civilization, but Lahore is an ancient cultural city which has its own history and culture and the authorities insisted that we hold this conference in a way that embraces all cultures and we’re here to honour that legacy,”
Although successful, the event faced two major hiccups – Zia Mohyeddin’s session was cancelled due to his ill health at the time and the legendary poet Amjad Islam Amjad’s sudden demise. “I was looking forward to Zia Sahab’s session. I’ve been a fan forever but he had to rush to the hospital and I asked Sohail Ahmed to continue,” Shah said.
At the closing ceremony, the festival lauded the services and works of Naheed, Dada and Nahid Siddiqui and presented them with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The event concluded with a few words by Anwar Maqsood on culture, society and Pakistan.