The second day of the 8thIslamabad Literature Festival, which is being held virtually and organized by the Oxford University Press Pakistan was once again a day full of stimulating discourses and debates. Due to the Covid pandemic the ILF continued as a virtual event with some face to face sessions and attended by select audience observing full COVID SOPs. The title sponsor for ILF is The Bank of Punjab and the ILF day sponsor -NBP Funds.
The day started off with the session titled Reimagining Pakistan with Education Reforms by Amjad Noorani and Tooba Akhtar discussing good schooling and how it can alleviate poverty and advance societal development through equitable opportunity for quality education moderated by Nadeem Hussain. A session on Potohar Mein Adabki Soorat-e-Haal had Ravish Nadim as moderator and panelist Akhtar Usman, Shoaib Khaliq and Akhtar Raza Saleemi gave interesting insights on the state of regional literature.
There were five parallel book launches with sessions on Journeys without a Map: A Writers Life by Marion Molteno moderated by Saif Mehmood, Surkh Salam by Kamran Asdar Ali, Countering Violent Extremism in Pakistan: Local Actions, Local Voices by Anita M. Weiss, Dasht e Imkaan by Asghar Nadeem Syed, Restless: Instead of an Autobiography by Aamer Hussein and Pakistan Here and Now: Insights into Society, Culture, Identity and Diaspora edited by Harris Khalique and Irfan Ahmed Khan.
The late afternoon session kicked-off with Mujahid Bare lvimoderating a panel with Nasim Zehra and Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and Mushaal Hussein Malick discussing Kashmir: Politics and Power. The session named Hamnay Urdu kay Bahaana say Saleeqa Seekha had Arfa Sayeda Zehra in conversation with Saif Mehmood. Crises have No Borders discussed the current political situation that confronts Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries.
A key panel with Arshad Saeed Husain, A. H. Nayyar, Suhail Bin Aziz, Chaudhary Faisal Mushtaq, and Ayesha Razzaque moderated by Faisal Bari discussed the Single National Curriculum: Floor or Ceiling and expanded on the challenges of implementation, controversies and the rigid and narrow interpretation of the curriculum by the provincial textbook authorities.The late afternoon sessions were rounded with an intriguing session on South Asia in Emerging Regional Politics with Michael Kugelman, Khalid Banuri and Salman Zaidi moderated by Salma Malik. Voices Echoing: English Language Verse from Pakistan which has carved out a significant place in the literary world. Poet and critic Ilona Yusuf moderated this discussion.
The evening session started with a befitting tribute offered to the veteran journalist and human rights defender, I. A. Rahman by Harris Khalique, Zohra Yusuf, Raza Rumi, Muhammad Ziauddin and Kishwar Naheed. A discussion on The Power of Fiction, it’s role in shaping minds and human emotions was discussed by Tahmima Anam in conversation with Sabyn Javeri.
There would be no Islamabad Literature Festival without a Mushaira which was presided by Iftikhar Arif featured eminent poets from the twin cities, Tauseef Tabassum, Kishwar Naheed, Ehsan Akbar, Jalil Aali, Yasmeen Hameed, Parveen Tahir, Najeeba Arif, Harris Khalique, Akhtar Usman, Farrukh Yar, Ravish Nadim, Akhtar Raza Saleemi and Shakeel Jazib and as expected garnered a lot of attraction.