The second edition of the two-day Pakistan Mother Languages Literature Festival will start on Feb 18 at the Lok Virsa.

The aim of the festival is to promote and celebrate Pakistan’s linguistic and cultural diversity and to encourage reading in other languages.

The festival will be hosted by the Indus Cultural Forum, Lok Virsa and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) with support from the Foundation Society Institute (Fosi), Sindh Government’s Department for Culture, Tourism and Heritage and the Society for Alternate Media and Research.

The program for the event was announced by the heads of these organisations at a press briefing on Thursday at Lok Virsa. The festival is being organised in connection with Unesco’s International Mother Languages Day, which is observed on Feb 21 every year.

Over 150 writers, intellectuals, critics, poets and artists from across Pakistan who write in over 15 languages will be participating in the festival to discuss the diversity of languages in Pakistan from a historical perspective and the challenges they are facing.

Discussions on various topics related to language, literature and culture, book launches, poetry recitals, musical events, screenings, performances, book stalls, food courts, cultural exhibitions and mobile libraries will be part of the festival. Books in Sindhi, Balochi, Pashtu, Brahvi, Seriaki, Punjabi and other languages and their Urdu and English translations will also be exhibited.

Speaking at the press briefing, Indus Cultural Forum Chairman Niaz Nadeem said the quality of content of the sessions’ has been improved this year.

SPO Chief Executive Naseer Memon the festival is aimed at promoting Pakistan’s linguistic and cultural diversity as an instrument of social harmony, peace and tolerance.

He said there is a lot of literature available in the various languages of Pakistan, all of which represent the cultural plurality in the country. The festival will provide a platform for people to share literature in various languages.

Lok Virsa Executive Director Fouzia Saeed said that the festival is one of her organisation’s signature events and provide people to interact with writers from various languages.

Fosi representative Nargis Sultana said recognising the importance of various languages is vital for empowering communities and reducing discrimination. She said the festival will help establish connections between language policy and planning and better learning outcomes via indigenous languages.

Originally published in Dawn February 17th, 2017