From ex CJP's interesting revelations to Atiqa Odho's on point remarks about media, here's who got us thinking
From ex CJP's interesting revelations to Atiqa Odho's on point remarks about media, here's who got us thinking

This year's Lahore Literary Festival came to a close on Sunday evening and it's been a whirlwind three days.

While we can't say that every session was as stimulating as we hoped, there were many times when speakers inspired us, amused us or just had us nodding vigorously in agreement.

Here are all the times when we reached for our notepads:

When Afshin Shahi decided to highlight the plight of mental health globally

During his session on populism and the future of global democracy with historians Ayesha Jalal and Eugene Rogan, lecturer Dr Afshin Shahi spoke about objective vs subjective violence: “Objectively, suicide killed more people in 2018 than terrorism. Why are we still talking about terrorism when the biggest security threat to humanity in 2018 was poor mental health?”

Shahi also said this one-liner that stuck with us: "History is more about collective forgetfulness than collective memory."

When former CJP revealed that dam fund donations were never intended for building dams...

Saqib Nisar onstage before his session
Saqib Nisar onstage before his session

Ex-CJP Mian Saqib Nisar was part of a panel discussion on securing Pakistan's water future and revealed, "Our object was to create a campaign, to make people aware of how important the water issue. The money was never supposed to be fully used for building the dam fund...To be build the dam, we'll need to mobilise more resources."

For obvious reasons, this raised many eyebrows.

When SSP Ammara Athar said these heartbreaking words

In a talk about Sanam Meher's book, A Woman Like Her, Athar spoke about how many families lie about honour killings and say the woman committed suicide.

"My first honour killing case was in Lahore and the entire family was saying she killed herself. How vulnerable is a girl in her house, that she doesn't know her own brother is plotting her murder?" she shared.

When Ayesha Jalal was taking no prisoners...

Jalal (R) with Hameed Haroon
Jalal (R) with Hameed Haroon

In a session with Hameed Haroon about history, Jalal minced no words: "The educational system has been deliberately sabotaged to keep the elite in their place and to keep the public disempowered to be their servants and domestic staff," before adding "Rote learning is intended to create believers and dummies and we have done a terrific job of that."

No, seriously

In another talk about Manto, the historian said, "The most important thing for the audience to realise is that the Pakistani film Manto was based on a fictional play. There's something to be said to make a film on a fictionalised version and parade it as a biopic."

Like we said, she didn't hold back.

This funny exchange between Nayyar Ali Dada and Parveen Kennedy

Parveen Kennedy with Nayyar Ali Dada onstage
Parveen Kennedy with Nayyar Ali Dada onstage

"Noor Jehan used to live next to me. And now, Parveen Kennedy lives near me," shared #NayyarAliDada.

Kennedy replied, "Tum humesha khoobsurat auraton ki bagalon mein rehna pasand kartay ho."

Ha! The crowd really enjoyed that joke.

When Atiqa Odho and Iqra Aziz made a case for why women need to write their own narratives

The veteran actress was joined by Fifi Haroon and Iqra Aziz to talk about misogynistic television content and she had some interesting things to say, like "Majority of the media is owned by men. I grew up with 5 sisters and we're all career women who don't have time to do all this saazish; the content needs to change to reflect us, we need to tell our own stories."

Iqra Aziz added, "We need to change the notion that a strong woman is one who gets out of the house. A strong woman can also be one inside her own home."

When Fatima Bhutto said these encouraging words which were met with thunderous applause

Bhutto spoke about her book, The Runaways, her childhood and Pakistan
Bhutto spoke about her book, The Runaways, her childhood and Pakistan

In a surprise session with Sanam Meher, Bhutto stated: "I don't think Pakistan needs saving. It's much greater and stronger than anyone and doesn't require any intervention...I think there's incredible bravery and struggle in this country."

Louder for the people in the back! Also, Rosie/Eva/whoever else is going to play white saviour next.

When researcher and lecturer Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh made this valid point

In the 'Decoding Iran' session, Tadjbakhsh stated, "The people of Pakistan fly over Iran to go to Turkey and the people of Iran fly over Pakistan to get to Delhi but they don't know much about each other."

When Amjad Saqib had us all feeling pretty poor

In a panel discussion about what equity and happiness means, Akhuwat's Amjad Saqib said, "Poverty is not lack of money, poverty is lack of relationships."

We didn't really think poverty was subjective but this definitely got us thinking.

When Omar Khan called postcards the Instagram of yesteryears

Khan showed a presentation of quirky postcards
Khan showed a presentation of quirky postcards

During a talk about his coffee table book, 'Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj', author Omar Khan shared, "Advertising was the beginning of postcards. The first card in India was probably produced in 1892. It was an ad for Singer and played a huge role in making postcards popular. We don't realise today that postcards were the Instagram of their time."

He also gave credit where credit is due: "Postcard collecting was very much a woman's business and they were the ones who put them in albums so we can look at them now."

Remembering Asma Jehangir

While speaking about the lawyer and activist's legacy, Farida Shaheed said, "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."; I.A. Rehman added, "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."

Rest in power, Asma.

Email