Let's see whats in store for today.
Let's see whats in store for today.

Lahore Literary Festival enters its last day and there are a number of sessions our team is looking forward to.

If you missed the previous two days you can catch up on day 1 here and day 2 here.

We're going to dive right in so stick with us as we give you live updates on day 3 of the LLF 2019:


06:20pm: Cities of literature

Dr. Andrea Edel on UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network and the Heidelberg example for Lahore.

Kamran Lasharie from the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) also attends the session.


06:00pm: Global Strongmen

Becca Heller, Rick Stroud, Jamal Mahjoub, Afshin Shahi, and Zahid Hussain sit with moderator Owen Bennett-Jones about the inexorable rise of the right.

"Whether trump is actually a strongman or just emulates strongmen," says Becca Heller."

Zahid Hussain, "In Pakistan, Dictators try to become democratic, and democratic leaders become authoritarian... This is the third democratic transition of power in Pakistan. Imran Khan is riding on a populous/popular wave. But the problem is, when he came to power, he does not know what to do with an ‘opposition’ mindset."

"I feel, the democratic space is shrinking. That is not to say this is a dictatorship. But we need to see how to retain the space we’ve gained so far," he adds.


04:57pm: From the frontlines

Ahmed Rashid, Suzy Hansen, and Rania Abouzeid sit with moderator Isambard Wilkinson to discuss exploring nonfiction narratives and their currency.


04:50pm: Book launch for The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy

Author Ayesha Khan sits with Fareeda Shaheed and Kamran Asdar Ali with moderator Fauzia Viqar in this panel.

Says Ayesha Khan"The audience I had In mind was the younger generation, wanted to provide a short history on the struggle for woman rights."


04:45pm: Book launch for The Mercurial Mr. Bhutto and Other Stories

Author Maheen Usmani sits with Soniah Kamal for her book on Bhutto.

Says Sonia Jamal, “ I think we lost the ability to be humans first, and journalists second.”


03:58pm: Book Launch for Travels in a Derwish Cloak; Adventures in Pakistan

Journalist Isambard Wilkinson launches his book on travels through Pakistan. He sits with Tahir Jahangir and Harriet Sandys with moderator Victoria Schofield.

On his book, Wilkinson says, "With my writing, I wanted to draw a portrait of the Pakistan of my younger days. Specially when all the shrines came under attack. I wanted to write something that was enduring and endearing."


03:35pm: Book launch for The Begum

Tahmina Aziz Ayub, Javid Aly Khan and Raana Liaquat Ali sit with Framji Minwalla in this panel.

Says Framji, "Rana liaquat Ali Khan fiercely advocated for women’s freedom and women’s empowerment."

"This was a book that needed to be written at some point. And t was conceived by somebody from India," says Tahmina Aziz Ayub. "This book is a tribute to Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, and we had to side step political considerations. It’s a homage."

Ayesha Jalal says, "The most important thing for the audience to realize is that the Pakistani film was based on a fictional play. There's something to be said to make a film on a fictionalized version and parade it has a biopic."


03:29pm: Manto and the Recovery of Imagination

Ayesha Jalal, Khaled Ahmed and Salima Hashmi sit with moderator Osama Siddique to discuss the life and work Manto.

"Not everybody can like Manto. People have a tendency to think outside of the box like him so I think Manto will always have an audience even without state support," says Ayesha Jalal.

"Urdu still cannot take a frank expression of reality. When you have a set ideology, there is little space for imagination." Khaled Ahmed.

Comparing the recent two films made on the author, Ahmed says, "I think the Indian film goes much deeper into his personal crisis. The Pakistani version was very careful in focusing on those problems because he was drinking and living in a society where he stood out."

Says Jalal, "His break with the progressive writers caused him a lot of angst because these were his best friends. The right wing considered him a surkha and the left called him a reactionary and that sort of drove him to drink... Manto was not an alcoholic when he was Bombay, he was a heavy drinker but not an alcoholic."


03:24pm: LLF is getting jam packed

We have a lot more people coming in today!


02:21pm: Asma Lives!

Nida Ali, I. A. Rehman, Seema Iftikhar and Gul Rukh Rahman sit with moderator Farida Shaheed to celebrate Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani icon whose legacy has helped shape human rights and activism in Pakistan.

Farida Shaheed starts the session by praising Asma Jahangir's strength, saying, "Asma was proud to be a woman and was incensed when anyone said women were lesser beings. She was passionately opposed to any deviations. And so she formed HRCP, for the rights of all people. She always acted on her convictions."

Says I. A. Rehman, "She avoided getting into fruitless arguments and she was not afraid of being labelled... I cant describe her courage. I once met her 15 mins after some people came to her house with a knife to threaten her and i never saw anyone so composed."

Nida Ali, who is now the executive director of AGHS, the legal aid cell set up by Asma, says, "It's our moral obligation to keep her legacy."

I. A. Rehman adds, "The HRCP is also building on Asma's work."


02:18pm: Us vs Them

Becca Heller, Mohsin Hamid and Leila Aboulela sit with moderator Suzy Hansen to discuss migration and rights.

Leila says, "If the news is about Trump then you know that you can go out and it'll be fine but if there is something in the news and someone is saying something then you know this will be a tricky day. The buses in Aberdeen have the news on all day so really it's all about the news."

Says Becca Heller, "The way I see it is that you're on trial for your life. And at the end of the day someone is going to decide based on the evidence you present. And if you go home then you can die."

She adds about Trump's travel ban, "The text of the ban was leaked to us, the weekend before. There was a picture of a monitor with the text of it. So we knew what was happening but we didn't know when it was going to into effect so we got on the phone with our clients and were like you have to get on a plane now."

Says Mohsin Hamid, "Closed borders is also a thing that got invented. Nobody would be living in Pakistan because homo-sapiens did not evolve in Pakistan... So we invented this, the passports and I don't think it's working out that well."

He adds, "The underlying notions of superiority that sit semi unexamined or unexamined by some in countries like America or Britain are different here. Pakistan has its own socio-economic hierarchies. Horrible hierarchies. If there was a mass of Hindu refugees would we treat them in the same way as we did Afghan refugees."


01:15pm: Time for a break!

We caught an impromtu performance and we can't get enough of these.


12:18pm: Women past categorisation

Leila Aboulela, Roopa Farooki, Alexandra Pringle and Maha Khan Phillips sit with moderator Rosemary Hilhorst to discuss how women authors cannot be defined by their gender alone.

Says Leila, "While the society around me was conservative, but it was very much expected that I’d have a university career too as my mother became a dean of her college."

Roopa Farooki says, "Having been in Lahore, then in London, then a politics degree, then in a world of accounting. I said to myself, it’s time to be a writer, who I always wanted to be... I think that shows we can live many lives, and not all of them are predicated on gender."

Says Alexandra Pringle, "I knew that books were the most important things in my life... Women writers had been assigned to the pit of oblivion. So I spent the first few years of my career in publishing is to take them out of that pit."

She adds, "I think I’ve published more women writers than make writers. I do both. But I wanted to publish women voices from all over the world."

Asks Rosemary, "In your books, you have female and male characters, and how do you prepare for both?"

To which Roopa responds, "In my early books I wrote female characters. But people always thought these characters were a conflation of me. But then I found myself switching gender so I could write through a male voice and not be thought to be the writer."

Says Leila, "People assume that you are the person you are writing about... The female characters come to me organically. But the male characters are always based on real people."

Says Maha, "I think there is a slightly depressing way that publishers are looking for the next thing. And everybody dashes for it. I’ve been involved as a vanguard in feminist publishing. But I ask myself ‘haven’t we been doing this for so long?’"

Alexandra says, "One of the problems is that the literary establishment is largely male. the economic inequality continues. There are more women who buy fiction, and give it to men. But it’s men who are publishing it."

Maha adds, "I went to a bookstore once and noticed that the South Asian writers had three phenomenal women writers but their covers were dusky pink, had henna hands and one even had a spice bazaar. I don’t see British women writers with ‘scones’ on their book covers."

Rosemary asks all the panelists, "Where or when do you write and read?"

Leila answers, "In the morning at home. I write the first thing in the morning."

Roopa has a similar answer, "Again, first thing in the morning. Before med school I write from 5-7. Since med school, I write on my commute."

Maha has a different response, "All my books have been written during periods of illness, or maternity leave. Thankfully I’m better now."

Alexandra says, "With reading and editing... you read and edit in the cracks of time between. Every second that I have. The weekends are terribly important."


12:16pm: Book Launch for Paper jewels postcards from the Raj

F. S. Aijazuddin sits in conversation with the author Omar Khan as they go on on a 518 Vintage Postcard our of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Omar Khan, "We don't realize today that postcards were the Instagram of their time... Advertising was the beginning of postcard. The first card in India was probably produced in 1892. It was an ad for Singer and postcards played a huge role in making postcards popular."

He adds, "The thing to note about postcard like our social media today is that anyone who saw it could read and knew what was going on. And someone in Chennai pointed out that the postman at the time would read out the postcard to a lot of people."


12:15pm: Book launch for Fatima Bhutto's The Runaways

LLF had a surprise session waiting for us all this time! And now the hall is filling up for Fatima Bhutto's book launch!

Says Bhutto, "Everything is political. How you move through the world, how u meet people. This city is great evidence of that. Iqbal Bano to stand on stage and an incredible act of defiance.... Singing hum dekhenge."

Bhutto reveals that her book is based on Aitzaz Hasan and Mashal Khan.


12:12pm: It's a bright day outside!

We're soaking up the sun on our way to the next sessions!


12:05pm: Sarmad Khoosat meets his adoring fans

Overhearing people cry out "Sarmad is brilliant!" and "Thank you for Manto!" as the actor walks by.


11:33am: Chand girhein

Sarmad Khoosat sits in conversation with Asghar Nadeem Syed in this session.


11:12am: Creating new post-colonial narratives

Jamal Mahjoub and Maha Khan Phillips sit with moderator Claire Chambers to talk about whether we have truly challenged the colonial narrative.

Says Maha, "The curse of Moenjo Daro came about because I've always loved the Indus valley civilization. We don't celebrate these places enough. You go abroad and you say Moenjo Daro and Harrapa and no one knows anything.

"On the internet came across conspiracy theories about the age and what happened there and how it vanished. this would be a great thing to write a thriller about."

Says Jamal, "People don't know their own history and it bought me to this connection, this moment in time where technology changed and I wrote about this man coming from North Africa who had come to find a telescope... The fiction that I've done has mostly been connected to where I was last and not where I am now."

Maha speaks about a transnational identity, saying, "I don't think I can speak to what's happening in Pakistan now. I address what my experiences are and what my locations are."

"I think the problem is there is a lot of structural ciolence in the the system and I don't think that's religion per say. We're a young country and we're just building up and there are lots and lots of problems."

He adds, "One of the great intellectual failures in the west, to generalize came out after 9/11. When principles about human rights and things were pushed in to the background by stereotypes and this sort of thing was legitimized and this created a blind spot and made the conversation one sided"


11:09am: Our neighbours to the west

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh and Eugene Rogan sit with Khaled Ahmed to discuss the triumphs and setbacks of democracy and diplomacy in the Middle East.

Says author Shahrbanou, "Persian became the language of the culture, and Arabic became the language of jurisprudence in the Islamic world."

Rogan starts off by saying,"For someone who studies and has lived in the Middle East, it’s odd for me to call it ‘the western neighbour’. But it helps to reorient."

"There was a record of improvement and development around the Arab world in the 1950's and the 1960's that they were really proud about. It’s only when we enter the 80's and 90's that things change"

Khalid Ahmed asks, "Why is it that in most assessment that education has suffered in the Arab world?"

To which Eugene Rogan responds, "I think people in the Arab world recognise the need to reform their education system. The Arabic language is a unifier, but there’s cultural and linguistic difference in the region. And it’s interesting to see how they negotiate that."


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