Literary festivals are flourishing in Pakistan; interest in native literature waning

Pakistani writers are not only writing about love and romance, but also on feminism, religion, culture, socio-political, ethnic, and identity issues.

Neelam Lashari Dec 27, 2022
Literary festivals in Pakistan (Photo: Twitter)

There is a low percentage of people around the world with actual knowledge and love of literature. In Pakistan, with a literacy rate of just 62.3 per cent, where around 60 million people are illiterate, literature is not certainly everyone's cup of tea. 

However, those with a literary bent can be divided into lovers of Urdu literature, English literature and Punjabi literature, with the first two having fairly strong roots dating back to pre-partition of the Subcontinent. 

The four major genres of literature are fiction, nonfiction drama, and poetry, and Pakistan has impressive talent in all these four fields.

Pakistani writers are not only writing about love and romance, but also on feminism, religion, culture, socio-political, ethnic, and identity issues. These topics are also helping to create awareness among the masses and are sometimes avidly discussed in the many literary festivals taking place around the country every year.

The main literary festivals in Pakistan are: 

Lahore Literary Festival

Lahore Literature Festival is also known as LFF, and it's one of the most famous literature festivals in Pakistan. Many renowned authors from Pakistan and India have taken part in it. It is a three-day festival, and thousands of people attend it each year from around the world.
Karachi Literary Festival

Karachi Literary Festival is also known as KLF. It is one of the most famous literature festivals in Pakistan. This festival helps to improve the literature impression of Pakistan. Moreover, it also beautifully enhances the culture of Pakistan through literature.
Islamabad Literary Festival

Islamabad Literature Festival is also famous as ILF. It was initiated back in 2013. Since then it has become a great success. The three-day festival sees debates, book launches, poetry readings, and discussions on diverse topics.
Sindh Literature Festival

Sindh Literature Festival is also known as SLF. The first festival took place in March 2022 in Karachi. It was a three-day festival, and it promotes books, music, media, and dance. This festival concentrates on two native languages - Sindhi and Urdu.
Hyderabad Literature Festival

Hyderabad Literature Festival is held every year. This festival is a joint venture of Literature and Literacy and the Academy of Promotion of Art. Every year a large number people attend this festival from various parts of Pakistan.
Mother Languages Festival

Mother Languages Festival is a three-day festival that helps to promote the local languages of Pakistan. It seeks to highlight the issues faced by the masses, especially the minorities, in mastering their mother tongue and creating awareness among the young generation.
Children’s Literary Festival

The Children's Literary Festival is known as CLF. This festival was held in Abbottabad. The main aim of this festival was to promote interest in literature among children and to foster creativity among them. 
Adab Festival Pakistan

Adab Festival Pakistan is a three-day event that helps to promote literature written in the local languages. The main objective of this festival is to promote the issues faced by literature enthusiasts and writers in Pakistan. This festival is famous for book launches, interviews, and film screenings.

Interest in English literature soaring

In recent times on can see many book launches that are raising literary awareness in Pakistan. But what is raising concern is the increasing lack of interest in the Urdu language, literature and poetry, with well-to-do parents wanting their children to read, write and speak only in English. Interest in English literature seems to be soaring with the growing interest in learning English as a language. 

However, emphasis on the English language is resulting in the erosion of our native languages. There is a dire need to promote the local languages along with Urdu. The government and private sector must take such initiatives so that people, especially the young generation, can develop an interest in learning and digging out our cultural roots and ancestral roots. 

(The author is a writer, a bilingual hobby poet, and a marketing consultant. Views are personal. )

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