LAHORE: All sessions scheduled on the first day of the Lahore Literary Festival have been cancelled, the festival’s organisers announced on Thursday.
"LLF2016 will start on Saturday, February 20, and conclude on Sunday, February 21," the festival's Facebook page announced.
“Originally, this year’s festival was scheduled to commence on Friday, February 19. The change has been made on the advice of the Punjab government,” it added.
The location of the festival was also changed from Al Hamra hall to Avari Towers hotel.
"Our Festival will take place on Saturday (20th) and Sunday (21st) at Avari Hotel. We are looking at a truncated festival, it will rock still!"
Our Festival will take place on Saturday (20th) & Sunday (21st) at Avari Hotel. We are looking at a truncated festival, it will rock still!— LLF (@lhrlitfest) February 18, 2016
Varying versions: LLF organisers upbeat despite NOC withdrawal
On Tuesday, the fate of the annual literary festival hung in balance as district authorities revoked an NoC granted for it, fuelling rumours regarding its imminent cancellation. However, the extravaganza’s organisers insisted that the event will go-ahead as originally planned.
Twenty-four sessions were scheduled for the first day of the three-day long LLF.
“Schedule of the remaining two days, Saturday and Sunday, will be changed as speakers scheduled to host sessions on first day are insisting that their talks be included as they had prepared,” a source claimed.
Lahore gears up for annual literary extravaganza
A speaker scheduled to speak on the first day told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that he was informed via phone call this morning that his session had been cancelled.
“I have requested the organisers to include my talk on either of the two days,” he added.
Earlier, Imran Maqbool of the DCO’s Office said that the certificate for the festival had indeed been cancelled. He asserted that the event would not take place.
“It is intimated that due to heightened security threats the NOC issued by this office vide letter No. AO(C)/BA/1044 dated 21.01.2016 is hereby withdrawn forthwith in the larger public interest,” a letter dated January 30, 2016 reads.
Publicist Nusrat Jamil, who is associated with the LLF in an advisory position, told The Express Tribune that the festival’s organisers were yet to be intimated in this regard.
“We obtained the NoC three months ago,” she said. LLF CEO Razi Ahmed said the event would go-ahead as planned. Alhamra on The Mall PRO Subha Sadiq the venue’s administration had not been informed of LLF’s cancellation.
The official said that the premises remained reserved for the event.
The event boasts an exhaustive list of academics, journalists, writers, artists and politicians scheduled to speak on a myriad of topics. Veteran actor Sharmila Tagore will deliver the keynote address.
Other prominent figures including writer Mohsin Hamid, author Kamila Shamsie, writer Tehmina Durrani, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman and academic CM Naim will also speak at the festival.