Day 3: Here's what's happening at Lahore Literary Festival 2020

Day 3: Here's what's happening at Lahore Literary Festival 2020

Follow our live updates to know who said what, who ate what, and who didn't show up at all.
Updated 23 Feb, 2020

It's the third and final day of the Lahore Literary Festival!

The opening ceremony of this year's LLF kicked off with qawwali and Razi Ahmed and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk delivering the opening addresses. Day 2 featured book launches and some fascinating sessions. You can check out our coverage for Day 1 here and Day 2 here.

Team Images is back at Alhamra to cover Day 3 of LLF. Stick with us as we keep you updated in real time about whats happening at LLF 2020.

You can also check out the complete schedule here.

05:05pm : Time to head out!

And it's a wrap for Lahore Literary Festival 2020! Hope you all had a good time!

04:03pm : Mental Health Integration With South Asian Culture

Jasmyn R. Khawaja, Daheem Deen, and Maryam Suheyl sit in a panel moderated by Fatima Mohsin Naqvi.

Fatima starts off the session by saying, "There is a perception that South Asian culture is at odds with mental health and healing." (overheard right after: "Because it is...")

Jasmyn says, "There is a resistance to therapy that its going against the collectivist idea of our society."

Daheem added, "From my experience, people have really started coming in for therapy in the last decade. First step is catharsis. Since society's structure is changing, pockets of advice here and there are fading and need for therapy is increasing."

03:57pm : Writing Away From the Center

Orhan Pamuk sits in a session moderated by Shahid Zahid to discuss "How literature can be used to shape a more democratic world." Mohsin Hamid was scheduled to also make an appearance but had to take a rain check because of health reasons.

"Sometimes I tell myself that I'm an expert on international Muslim bourgeois, who pretend to be modern, and on their hypocrisy. On the other hand, I also care about the larger issues. The main issue for me is the desire for the non-western to be western, the desire to be seem modern, and the issues related to that," says Orhan.

"Edward Said was very keen on what novels were being read in the west. If you're reading about Arabs, Pakistanis or Turks then it would be harder to put a bomb on top of them. If you know about the humanity of someone you would be soft on them."

"World literature is about the broader hold on humanity. We care about other countries not just because of literary technique but also because we want to learn about their humanity."

He adds, "My aim when I write novels is not to educate people. Yes, if they read me maybe that happens to but that's not the starting point. In the end all novelists want to be read more."

On writing in a local language, Pamuk shares, "Writing in Turkish means that there's no second language that can protect me from the masses that may disagree with me. English in a way protects me, you can go to the west where you are already accepted and you don't need translation."

The discussion was with reference to Mohammed Hanif, whose book was recently translated into Urdu and immediately saw a clampdown.

03:00pm : The Meditative Dot

Art commentator for The Guardian, Jonathan Jones, in conversation with celebrated contemporary artist Waqas Khan in a panel moderated by Rabiya Jalil.

"My idea as to create a dialogue that I can connect to the world. That was a little desire that I had. I'm looking at life in a very different way," says Waqas Khan.

Jonathan calls Waqas' work visual and sensory in nature, saying, "It's not easy art, like something figurative or something with something with obvious content that people can latch onto. This doesn't give you those things. Exoticism, I think, it's a genuine one to one encounter with Waqas' work. I don't think people like it because it's exotic, the quality of it is extraordinary."

02:20pm : Performance of Chilean protest song in Urdu

01:39pm : Cricket, citizenship and the post-colonial narrative

Author of The Fix Omar Shahid Hamid and Romesh Gunesekera sit in this session moderated by Georgina Godwin.

"I think it's funny that cricket is not something that is widely written about despite its colonial history. Our writing doesn't really focus on the martial aspect of it, which is that it's in your face and it's two sides pitted against each other." Omar Shahid Hamid responds to a comment that he writes about cricket like he's writing about a war.

"The premise of my story is that what if women's cricket explodes? And it brings a lot of success but at the same time it brings negative elements such as match fixers and bookies."

01:32pm : Ijtimai zahanat ka zawal

The hall is packed for this session where Arfa Saeeda Zehra sits with Wajahat Masood.

Masood starts off by saying, "It would be wrong to say a society doesn't have wisdom."

According to Arfa Saeeda, "Whenever people like me speak the truth, we're told we're promoting dejection. Whenever there is a mention of a gathering, it's construed as a controversy."

She also said that children aren't ahead of the older generation but simply "don't have the tolerance to accept the wisdom of elders".

Interestingly enough, this session was quite the crowd-puller and the hall was packed.

12:47pm : Mahira Khan won't be joining LLF

Mahira Khan has just announced that she wasn't able to make it to Lahore and will sadly miss her session that was supposed to happen today.

12:45pm : Qawwali break!

The next round of sessions begin at 1:20pm so we're just enjoying the vibe out here!

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

We're enjoying the show with some amazing gelato by Cosa.

11:32am : Power, politics and betrayal in Mughal Lahore

SOAS University of London specialist on the art and architecture of Mughal South Asia Mehreen Chida-Razvi speaks about the tomb of Jehangir.

According to her, "Mausoleums develop a shrine culture around them. People think people buried here emanate spiritual power."

11:26am : Brokering peace in Afghanistan

Vali Nasr and Riaz Mohammad Khan have a conversation moderated by Ahmed Rashid.

On changing priorities, Vali Nasr says, "There was a lot of talking about talking to the Taliban but nothing substantial. Obama and Trump may be different in many ways but they both want out of Afghanistan. If anything, Trump is serious about it."

"War fatigue has grown - you have a generation that has come of age after or during 9/11 that see wars as expensive catastrophes. They don't glorify war and would much rather have the government pay off student loans."

"Trump is not one to be bullied or goaded by the military into following a strategy. He can mock generals or fire them. When he came in he said why is this war taking so long and what does it take to end it. When he was told they needed more time and troops he said wrong answer and threatened to privitise the war."

Nasr elaborates on how the public is moving away from the war on terrorism because Trump's rule has changed the problems people care about. This has serious implications for Afghanistan and peace therein.

According to him, "Half of America thinks that the existential threat to America is Trump himself. The other half things it's not Arabs or Muslims but Mexicans and Guatemalans - migrants."

Sherry Rehman, who is sitting in the audience for this session, asks Vali, "Why would the Taliban in this reduction of violence mode not try to retain their fighting post. Who guarantees the rights of the women in the country?"

Vali answers, "We're living in interesting times, we never thought Haqqani would write for NYT, which is essentially a love note to Trump. There's no doubt that women's rights are the sacrificial lambs. The fear is that there's going to be a decent interval and that Taliban are going to hold their fire and live by the agreement and that after that they can can resume fighting under any pretext and America is not going to come back."

11:13am : Digital Trumps Print?

Arif Nizami, Munizae Jahangir, Zafar Siddiqi, and Marium Chaudhry sit on a panel moderated by Benazir Shah to have a discussion on how 'traditional media outlets are coping with the rise of social media.'


Shah says over 37 million Pakistanis use social media.

According to Munizae, "Social media giants get a big chunk of the ad budget. Due to self-censorship, a lot of stories don't make it to the people. Social media still remains free. It is a voice of the oppressed and is doing what us journalists set out to do; the media landscape has been democratised."

10:35am : Book Launch for Beydari

Actor, writer, comedian Beo Zafar and translator Asma Nabeel sit in conversation with Shaukat Fareed.

Talking about her switch from comedian to the serious nature of the book's content, Beo says, "Life is not a straight line, and as a culture we want to show that everything is fine. But you've got so many comedians who transform tragedy into comedy. It's just two ends of the spectrum really."

"I was a time waster and a dreamer. I wanted to know for the sake of knowing. My mother used to say that you if you write you should be read, if you sing you should be heard, and if you dance you should be seen. After she passed away, I think the child in me died. I then did everything after that."

10:09am : Book Launch for The Anarchy

Author William Dalrymple gives a presentation on post-Mughal politics.

According to Dalrymple, "When you see one of the gorgeous houses that look like Colin Firth is about to tumble out of, the money to build them has come out of South Asia and the West Indies."

"At no point in its history did the East India Company ever send out more than 2,000 white British soldiers, yet those 2,000 manage to conquer the area. Britain contributed 7% to the GDP while the Mughal empire contributes 30%. One British company runs out of one office in London and takes over the empire. How does it do it?"

"It goes to South Asia, borrows money from Hindu Marwaris, and then trains South Asian able-bodied men to fill in their sepoys. It wasn't white men that did the conquering, it was a brown sepoy army."

He adds, "The conquest of India was bought as much as it was fought. The fact that Indian money lenders saw the company as a more reliable source of funding and business was the reason why they consistently back the company against the Mughals and the Marathis, because it is a company that understands money, loans and interest."


Taha Feb 24, 2020 03:28am
Educate Pakistan! It's the best best best thing we can do for our future
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