A three-day Afkaar-i-Taaza festival is set to kick off at the Alhamra Cultural Complex on April 1 (next Friday).
In a statement released on Friday, Information Technology University Vice Chancellor Umar Saif said that the event had been organised as part of efforts for an intellectual revival in the country. He said renowned scholars from across the world would attend a literary conference being held during the event. “We’re giving the public an opportunity to interact with these scholars. We’ll ensure that the interaction is rigorous but is held in an accessible format,” he said.
Saif said scholars attending the conference included Professor Faisal Devji, the University of Oxford’s Centre for Asian Studies director; Professor Peter Frankopan, a history professor at the University of Oxford; Professor Amin Saikal, the Australian National University’s Arab and Islamic Studies programme director; Sir William Blackburne, a judge at the England and Wales High Court, and Professor Catherine Asher, an expert on South Asian Art.
ITU’s Centre for Governance and Policy Director Yaqoob Khan Bangash said scholars would be encouraged to present their research in a format easily accessible for the general public.
He said special care had been taken in selection of speakers to ensure that the hosting city (Lahore), country and the region were all represented at the event.
Bangash said scholars attending the event from the region included Shireen Moosvi, a professor emeritus at the Aligarh Muslim University. He said Moosvi, considered an authority on the medieval South Asia, would be visiting the country for the first time. Other scholars attending from the region were Professors Najaf Haider, Venkat Dhulipala and Ishrat Alam from India and Dr Rajiva Wijesinsha from Sri Lanka.
The sessions planned for the event included The Idea of Politics in Modern Muslim Thought; Does SAARC have a future?; Whither the Writ of the State?; Afghanistan: A Moribund State; One Belt, One Road Initiative; Ruddy Kipling: A Teenager in Lahore; From Punjab to Provence; Muslim Kings; Hindu Temples; and Sports as Politics.
The event would also feature a panel discussion on Punjabi language and an Urdu poetry recital.
Pakistani scheduled to speak at the event include scholars, journalists, television personalities, government officers and legislators. The names shared in the statement were: journalists Najam Sethi and Zahid Hussain; Institute of Business Administration Director Dr Ishrat Hussain; former Higher Education Commission chairman Dr Attaur Rehman; Senator Sherry Rahman; Ambassador Aziz Ahmed Khan; Professor Naazish Ataullah; National Assembly Member (MNA) Nafisa Shah; Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) Director General Kamran Lashari; columnist Ayaz Amir and writer Dr Ayesha Siddiqa and TV hosts Dr Moeed Pirzada and Saleem Safi.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2016.