KARACHI: The fourth edition of Adab Festival will be held at Frere Hall for two days from Nov 26, announced the founder of the event Ameena Saiyid at a press conference at Frere Hall on Monday evening. This year’s theme is: protecting ecosystem.

Ms Saiyid said the first Adab Festival took place in 2019 followed by another in 2020 before the pandemic hit the country. The second was the last in which the co-founder of the event and her partner, Asif Farrukhi, was involved — the festival was in February and in June he passed away. “I’m missing him today.”

She said the third edition happened online, done jointly with Bradford Literature Festival. “It was for the first time that a Pakistani and British festival had collaborated to produce a single festival.”

Giving out details of the fourth edition, Ms Saiyid said the dates of the event are Nov 26 and 27, from noon to 9pm, and the venue will be Frere Hall. Around 100 speakers from Britain, France, the US and from all provinces of Pakistan will participate.

“The theme is the ecosystem, the threats that we’re facing because of the floods. There will be several sessions and an art exhibition on it. Our keynote speakers will be Sherry Rehman and Tariq Alexander Qaiser, [the latter] has done amazing work trying to protect the environment, especially mangroves. He will also have a presentation,” she said.

Ms Saiyid said she and the late Farrukhi launched a festival in Karachi in 2010 with the motive that it should become a movement in Pakistan. “We felt that our authors did not get the rewards and acknowledgment that they deserved, which is sad. We have to promote our authors who are world class, and we have to bring readers to them. I’m happy to say that it has indeed become a movement in Pakistan.”

Ms Saiyid said now their intention is to take the festival to second-tier cities of the country. “Shama Askari is now my partner and she has filled the void created by Mr Farrukhi. After this, Shama and I plan to take it to smaller cities of Pakistan. She has trained five women from Pakistan in organising festivals. They have got 90 hours of training online. They were supported by the British Council.”

The British Council’s Deputy Director, Jovan Ilic, said a festival requires an incredible amount of work and it is extremely stressful right up to the last minute. “I’ve been going to festivals my entire life and I’ve never ever had a bad, wasted day at a festival. That’s for me is magic. There’s something about festivals that creates magical safe space. I’m delighted to be here.”

Tariq Alexander Qaiser said this year’s theme is close to his heart. “Change all over the world comes through thinking. The intention here is that we begin to think a bit deeper.”

Laila Jamil, Dur Bibi, Afzal Syed, Dr Fatema Hassan and Tanveer Anjum also spoke.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2022

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