Literary festival begins at F-9 Gandhara Centre

Published March 18, 2023
Artists perform at the opening ceremony of Islamabad Literary Festival being held at Gandhara Citizen Club F-9 Park on Friday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Artists perform at the opening ceremony of Islamabad Literary Festival being held at Gandhara Citizen Club F-9 Park on Friday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: The literary festival in Islamabad was on Friday used as a platform by citizens to express their concerns against the host - Capital Development Authority - as they pointed out a number of chronic issues in the city.

The three-day Islamabad Literary Festival started at the Gandhara Centre also known as F-9 Citizen Club which remained abandoned for 13 years. The CDA finally opened it with the holding of the festival.

One of the sessions was moderated by former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari with senior journalists Hamid Mir, Asma Shirazi, Raja Changez Sultan (native of Shakarparian) and Vaqar Zakria from the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board.

Mr Lashari received appreciation from the audience for construction of the F-9 Club. The panelists discussed various issues being faced by the residents of Islamabad.

Journalist Hamid Mir said the Islamabad administration and the CDA did not bother to honour a schoolteacher who had coined the name of the capital. He said he recently took up the matter with CDA Chairman Noorul Amin Mengal.

Similarly, he said there was also a need to work on the history of Islamabad. He said very few people knew that setting up the capital city at its current location was the idea of Quaid-i-Azam Mohamamd Ali Jinnah.

He said before partition, Mr Jinnah along with Kashmiri leader Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas while travelling back to Rawalpindi from Srinagar had said the capital of the country for which he and the Muslims of British India were struggling will be set up in this area.

Similarly, he said Liaquat Ali Khan had formed a committee headed by Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar in this regard; therefore, giving all the credit to former president Ayub Khan was unjustified.

The panelists said there was a need to properly preserve Shah Allah Ditta caves for promoting tourism.

Poet Raja Changez Sultan said that Islamabad was built on the land of locals, but they were ignored. He asked why roads were not named after the local clans, adding that steps should also be taken for preservation of local cultures.

Asma Sheerazi recalled traditional beauty of Islamabad with lush green parks and flowers. She said that with the passage of time the city has seen massive construction activity.

Vaqar Zakria pointed out the importance of Margalla Hills National Parks and steps taken by worldlife board to sensitise public about the park.

When the floor was opened to the public, the participants spoke about chronic issues being faced by the residents including mushroom growth of housing societies, lack of public transport, encroachments in markets and shrinking green spaces.

To this, literary figure Adeel Hashmi observed that the festival had turned into an open kutchery. He requested CDA chairman Noorul Amin Mengal to help in organising Faiz Festival in Islamabad as well.

The CDA chief besides facing tough questions about chronic issues also received appreciation from the public for holding the literary festival in a building that remained neglected for over a decade.

In reply to questions, he said the CDA was taking steps to resolve all chronic issues like shortage of public transport, protection of greenery and after some months the public will fee change. He also announced that CDA will host Faiz Festival as well. The festival will continue till Sunday.

Earlier, a group of students from Pakistan National College of Arts through dance highlighted how our culture had evolved. They also highlighted ancient civilization of Taxila.In the second session on “75 years of Pakistani poetry”, poets Dr Ziaul Hassan, Nahid Qamar, Aqeel Ansari, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Yasmeen Hameed and Dr Ehsan Akbar spoke. Poet Iftikhar Arif was also present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2023

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