LAHORE: The annual Lahore Literary Festival, which is part of Lahore’s rich calendar of cultural offerings, is hosting its second edition of LLF in New York, in association with the prestigious Asia Society today (Saturday).

Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi are scheduled to open the festival.

LLF has previously held its overseas festivals in New York last May, and in London, last October.

“These overseas initiatives have become institutionalised to celebrate and critically reflect upon writing and the arts from Pakistan,” says Nusrat Jamil, director of the LLF.

“In global cities such as New York and London, with their large Pakistani communities, there’s been an absence of a civil society platform from Pakistan, and one that is anchored in Pakistan, to posit a Pakistan, through an exchange of ideas, a country which is complex, diverse and resilient as evidenced by its thriving scene in the creative and cultural realms,” says Razi Ahmed, LLF founder.

The one-day LLF event in New York will feature, among others, the celebrated fiction writers Mohammed Hanif and Nadeem Aslam; acclaimed artist Shahzia Sikander; bestselling nonfiction author from Pakistan Ahmed Rashid; singer Tahira Syed; noted art historian and author of Pahari Paintings F.S.Aijazuddin; Pulitzer-prize winning musical composer Du Yun; and Basharat Peer, a writer of Kashmiri origin, who has recently authored A Question of Order; India, Turkey, and the Return of Strongmen.

The packed schedule of sessions, with 21 speakers, culminates with a Qawali performance by the inimitable Fareed Ayaz, Abu Mohammad and brothers. “We have seen last year at the maiden LLF in New York how Qawali serves as a means to bring together Pakistanis and South Asians from diverse religious, ethnic and economic groups,” says Aneela Shah, treasurer of LLF overseas initiatives, “and it evokes our rich homeland Sufi traditions of tolerance, inclusiveness, and empathy, which in today’s divisive world, are all the more critical to highlight.”

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2017

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