By Shahbaz Sharief H.E. Prime minister of Pakistan former Chief minister of Punjab
With Its Storied Traditions, Pluralism And Diversity. There’s No Place Quite Like It. City is only as universal as the ideas it inspires, and Lahore is a mruly global city. Its storied history and traditions, pluralism and diversity, and the warmth and generosity of its people make Lahore one of the most unique cities in the world.
It is the culture capital of Pakistan because it has led and fervently celebrates the creative process. It has shaped political, social and economic thought, establishing its intellectual primacy as the source of resonant discourse.
The Lahore Literary Festival is an articulation of this sense of the city. Its debut edition two years ago featured some 60 local and foreign speakers in scintillating and thought-provoking discussions on literature and the arts. It drew 30,000 people over two days. Last year, LLF welcomed about 100 speakers from eight countries, and some 50,000 people attended the free, open-to- public event. This year’s three-day festival begins Feb. 20, and will feature panelists from home and abroad who will discuss literature, art, music, poetry, drama, film, journalism, education, history and politics with audiences from Lahore and across Pakistan
Lahore Litrature Festival
LLF highlights all that is good about Pakistan “Literary festival brings feel-good factor to Lahore: Initiatives like this festival are efforts to reclaim a different narrative, and future, for this country,” said the BBC. “At the Lahore Literary Festival, it was the other side of the city that was on display: the Lahore of rich history, culture and debate that has been gradually eroded by contemporary Pakistan’s challenges,” wrote The Wall Street Journal. “With a sizable liberal elite, a strong tradition in publishing and the arts, and an old city filled with extraordinary Mughal architecture, Lahore arguably has more in common with the leading cities of India and Europe than with the dark image of Pakistan shown almost daily in the news,” the New York Review of Books has noted.
Lahore is a city of plurality, tolerance and creativity and LLF has helped restore its true picture and that of Pakistan. It has reintroduced Pakistani arts and talent to global audiences through its foreign delegates, and it has revitalized Pakistani audiences by advancing awareness of what lies outside our borders and beyond our contemporary challenges. Crosspollination and the frank exchange of ideas contribute significantly to narrowing differences between peoples and nations. This is the role LLF has assumed, and it merits appreciation and support.
Festivals like LLF defy the complacency and ignorance that have come to shroud modern-day Lahore. They defy the dark image of Pakistan in the global news cycle. They defy the mistaken notion that Lahore’s best days are past. And they defy the myth that there is no audience or room for meaningful and civilized debate.
The works of its poets and writers Faiz, Jalib, Iqbal, Manto, Sahir, Amjad Islam Amjad convey the spirit of defiance that gives Lahore its creative spark. Lahore has always zealously fought to ensure that the flow of ideas is neither dammed nor monopolized. This is its real legacy. Today, guarding and channeling this legacy is not the privilege of Lahoris alone. It is a responsibility every Pakistani gladly owns and embraces; because in its history, in its values and aspirations, it is Lahore that will continue to lead the way for the rest of Pakistan.
The Punjab government remains firmly committed to protecting, preserving and promoting our shared cultural space. Its support to endeavors like LLF attests to this. Together with the City District government and the Alhamra Arts Council, the Punjab government views LLF as an unrivaled example of what the partnership between the private and public sectors can achieve. LLF has become one of the world’s most important literary festivals, and the Punjab government will continue to champion it.
“Literary festival brings feel-good factor to Lahore: Initiatives like this festival are efforts to reclaim a different narrative, and future, for this country”
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