Mardan Literary Festival ends with promises of more to come

Bureau Report

MARDAN: The first Mardan Literary Festival ended at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan (AWKUM) on Wednesday at the stunning performances by the renowned musicians Bakhtiar Khattak, Irfan Kamal, Khurshid Alam Sabir and the AWKUM's own house-band, Safar.

Speaking at the occasion, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Dr. Khurshid Khan said that not only such festivals provide entertainment to the local population and the youth, but also inform and educate them and the masses about importance of their culture, literature and various forms of arts. Dr Khan was of the view that nearly all forms of expression, from literature to performance, are essential for the people to feel connected where they live. "The traditions of literature, arts and performances are evolved over many centuries, and they also provide certain sense of identity of the masses," he said.

He added that such festivities should continue and AWKUM would always provide all the necessary collaboration and cooperation to hold such activities. Dr. Abdul Qadri Baloch, Director of the IBL was also present at the moment and addressed the audience and said that the process of such celebrations would continue in future.

The two-day festival was studded with public intellectuals, speakers, writers, poets, singers and speakers who present their works to the citizens of Mardan. The festival mainstreamed the traditions of arts, culture and literature of Mardan, and highlighted the achievements of those who presented their creativity before the masses.

The second day began with a panel discussion where famous archeologist, Dr. Ijaz spoke about the Buddhist traditions of the area, and how Mardan and its surrounding areas have been the "carriers of the history." He was joined by famous traveler, travel writer and tourist, Wajahat Malik who highlighted the need of responsible tourism. He asked the youth that they must travel as "it is the best form of exposure and remedy of all kinds of prejudices." Travel, and you shall discover yourself, Malik said.

A guided tour of the University Museum was also arranged for the participants of the Literary Festival that was followed by a briefing about the artifacts at the Museum. Dr Ziaullah, Asad Raza and Ashfaq Ahmed were among the main panelists who engaged with the visitors. Youth was also provided an orientation on countering various kinds of "Fake News" in the age of Social Media, and that how they could handle online instigation and anger, and strongly refuse/reject the narratives of hatred and violence.

Gohar Mardanvi, Ali Tariq and Talib Hussain Sial were among the leading panelists who discussed the traditions of "Na'atia Adab in the Pashto Language."

An Urdu novel titled, Jandar was also launched at the Mardan Literary Festival. Writer of the book, Akhtar Raza Saleemi also talked about the thought process of writing that book. The Literary Festival also held a poetry reciting session where many famous local poets recited their verses. The poetry session also had a special appearance from Islamabad and Peshawar with Akhtar Usman and Rafaqat Razi.

The Literary Festival ended at a musical performance where traditional Pashtoon music was presented along with the modern music. Melodious tunes of the fusion entertained the audiences while the speakers on music informed them about the importance of music as a form of expression.

Islamabad-based Center for Social Education and Development is providing technical assistance to the AWKUM to hold these events. Speaking at the occasion, Center's Executive Director, Mubashir Akram said that the traditions of literary promotion must focus on the smaller cities of Pakistan also.

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