After a successful inaugural edition last year, the second chapter of Quetta Literary Festival (QLF) brought together a number of literary aficionados from all over the country in a two-day event held at the Balochistan University of Information Technology Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) last week.
The much-awaited festival aspires to promote literature and a soft image of Quetta all over the country, according to Balochistan Governor Justice (retd) Aman Ullah Khan Yasin Zai, who inaugurated the festival. A number of renowned writers, intellectuals, analysts, poets, tv and film producers, actors, artists, senior journalists among others were present on the occasion.
Over the course of two days, topics as diverse as the description of the female character in literature and art, governance in Balochistan, history of the Hazara tribe and its literature were discussed. Apart from several book launches, a Manto screening and an exhibition of artifacts from the archives department were among some of the events greatly appreciated by those who attended the festival. The audience especially loved poetry recitals by two of the most loved poets of Balochistan — Sarwar Javed and Sangat Rafique.
In one of the sessions moderated by Rafi Ullah Kakar, Senator Raza Rabbani while speaking about the18th amendment, called it the voice of the deprived people. He said that with the passage of time, more amendments may be made in order to provide more authority to provinces. He added that the opposition may resist every campaign to encroach the 18th amendment in Pakistan. Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Rahim Ziaratwal, Sana Baloch, Mir Dostain Jamaldini, Rashid Mehmood and Ghulam Ali Baloch also participated in the session.
Former chief minister, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said that it was the 18th constitutional amendment which empowered them to utilise and control their resources for the welfare of people. Sana Baloch said that the text of the 18th amendment should be published in local languages and provided to people, along with a mention in the curriculum.
Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal said that despite the historic 18th amendment Pashtoons are deprived of their rights and face a lot of hurdles.
In a session moderated by Shahid Rind, journalists, Saleem Shahid, Syed Ali Shah, Yasir Pirzada and Sadia Jahangir discussed the challenges and future of journalism in Balochistan. Senior Journalist Saleem Shahid said despite the many hurdles journalists have to face in Balochistan, their future of journalism is not completely bleak. Columnist Yasir Peerzada lauded the QLF, saying such initiatives are imperative to promote local cultures as Quetta is already deprived of coverage on the mainstream media.
More than 40 book publishers from all around the country participated in what is being called one of the biggest book festivals to have taken place in the province in recent history. A number of books on science, technology, history, engineering, arts, social, economic issues and human society were displayed on stalls, placed all around the event venue.
Still in its infancy, the QLF has a long way to go before it comes of age, but the festival has managed to draw diverse crowds. There is no doubt about the fact that it is rapidly turning into an annual feature that the people of Quetta keenly look forward to.