Ameena Saiyid speaks at the presser on Wednesday.—White Star
Ameena Saiyid speaks at the presser on Wednesday.—White Star

The second Adab Festival Pakistan (AFP) will be held for three days at the Arts Council in Karachi from Jan 31 to Feb 2.

This was announced by the founder of the festival Ameena Saiyid at a press conference on Wednesday evening.

Ms Saiyid said the event will begin on Jan 31 at 4pm. The keynote speakers are former chief justice of Pakistan Asif Khosa, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Amar Jaleel and Francis Robinson.

A video message of Jordan’s Prince Hasan bin Talal will also be shown on the occasion.

Ms Saiyid said she feels happy that the seed of festivals that she and co-founder of the event Asif Farrukhi had sown 10 years back has now spread to all parts of Pakistan –– in cities, universities and even schools. The aim is to turn it into a movement.

Read: Will Karachi's brand-new Adab Festival change lit fest culture or serve more of the same?

This time around new features have been included in the programme, such as a four-day creative writing course for 25 people conducted by London-based novelist Aamer Hussein and Shehryar Sheikh.

Once the festival ends, the idea will continue with activities such as the one with TV One which is the screening of plays based on 100 Urdu short stories. In all, there will be more than 60 sessions participated by 200 speakers.

Ms Saiyid said the Goethe Institut has sponsored writers such as the Berlin-based Palestinian writer Adania Shibli. Apart from that, there will be book launches –– including a book on Balochistan by Fida Husain Malik and The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali by Uzma Aslam Khan –– panel discussions, comedy and qawwali.

Mr Farrukhi said we have become afraid of books. The purpose of organising the fest is to diminish the distance that has been created between society and culture. He especially mentioned a session featuring poet Zehra Nigah in which she will talk about the aspect of resistance in Urdu literature.

One of the books that will be launched is a collection of Urdu short stories by Aamer Hussein who is known for his English novels. And the mushaira will be presided over by Iftikhar Arif.

Director of Goethe Institut Stefan Winkler said the institute is happy to support the Adab Festival Pakistan and appreciates the efforts of its two founders. The institute has also invited Dr Thomas Wohlfahrt who is the head of an international poetry festival in Berlin. He is going to show a selection of international poetry in films. He also mentioned the name of Ms Shibli.

Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani said he takes pride in the fact that the metropolis is becoming host to so many national and international activities. Slowly but surely we are moving in the direction where we’re going to regain the city’s lost glory, he added.

Poet Zehra Nigah said when she goes out of Karachi people ask strange questions such as ‘can you step out of the house in the evening in Karachi?’ And her response to them is that Karachi is contrary to their perception. Festivals are held in the city on a regular basis. The poet said she feels elated when she sees young boys and girls taking an interest in book at festivals.

President of the Arts Council Ahmed Shah talked about the council’s full support to events that represent the cultural facet of the city.

You can view the complete program for the festival here.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020

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