NEW YORK, May 21 (APP): Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) returned to New York after a four-year break resulting from the Covid pandemic, with Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan, saying that this premier cultural event will give stimulus to the people-to-people US-Pak relations.
“This is like a breath of fresh air and we must pay tribute to the founders of the Lahore Literary Festival,” he said in his opening remarks at the event showcasing Pakistan’s intellectual, cultural, historical and creative aspects of life.
The Asia Society, New York, is holding the day-long festival in conjunction with the Lahore Literary Festival, one of South Asia’s premier cultural events.
Speakers include Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Kamila Shamsie, Shahbaz Taseer, Marina Fareed, Tahira Naqvi, Sadia Shepard. They will discuss various topics at three separate sessions during the day.
LLF founder and CEO Razi Ahmed welcomed the Ambassador for his presence, as did Rachael Cooper on behalf of Asia Society.
Noting that there were literary festivals taking place in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Muzaffarabad, Ambassador Masood Khan proposed that the organizers should consider holding this event at the United Nations too.
“Take this literary festival inside the United Nations,” Khan, who has served at the world body as Pakistan’s top diplomat, said If literary festivals are held at the U.N., where the functioning is a little bureaucratic, “they would be closer to the people because the U.N. Charter proclaims, “We the People”.
In his remarks, Ambassador Masood Khan said that Lahore — in addition to its many other identities — one was that of being literary and cultural. Before the partition of India, he said, Lahore contributed to South Asian literature, producing some of the best writers and then contributing to filmmaking, with top directors, musicians, scriptwriters, poets. “They all belonged to Lahore, they had stature — influencing not only their own generation, but the future generations.”
He said people tend to look at Pakistan through the prism of politics and strategic paradigms, but beyond that, the country has a strong literary tradition that was being projected by LLF in New York. Asia Society, the Pakistani envoy said, has connected many countries with the United States. “So you made seminal contribution to bringing people together. Your efforts, and the efforts of these festivals, are people-driven. They are not influenced by governments directly or indirectly.”
Masood Khan said Pakistan has a great future, as 64% of is population is below the age of 30, which would be about 130 million to 140 million. With people graduating from the universities, they have been integrated into the international mainstream.
Pakistan’s strong ties and partnership with the United States, he said, was going to turn into a common good not only for the two countries, but for the entire international community.