Lahore Literary Festival, PK - February 2014
DAWN - 24 Feb, 2014
I am sitting with a pen in my hand staring at the blank paper before me and wondering about what I should write. I am waiting for the spill but instead I get an epiphany… Literature festival? A literature festival in a country where hardly anyone can read! Our nation's literacy rate is 1%.
Therefore I do not want to talk about literature today; the writer in me is hibernating, the activist is summoning my attention.
I am looking at the confusing times the people of our country are passing through. I am observing that, while we, the citizens of Pakistan, are all aware of the consequences the dangerous demands of militant forces are determined to achieve, those forces are confident that while they stand staunchly committed to their beliefs, Pakistan's citizens are neither committed, united nor equipped with the tools or wherewithal to protect their own beliefs. I am also feeling that in the period that pulls us back into the dark ages, the contribution of Pakistan's citizens will be historically recorded as absent.
Therefore let us, the citizens of an incredible nation (that has the strength and vigor to fall and stand up repeatedly) stop expecting from government, stop waiting for foreign nations to come to our aid and stop waiting for a miracle. Instead let us stop being passive observers and lead this chaotic confusion with the power of our own beliefs. Let us become the change that we ourselves so desperately want to see, let this change begin from our own fraternity of writers, poets and artists, so that we may honour ourselves by passing on the gift of literacy that we were given by a mere accident of being born privileged. And who better than a writer can so deeply appreciate the gift of literacy.
As writing is a craft, which cannot be realized or recognized without having learnt basic reading and writing; it will be extremely empowering for Muslims to know that IQRA, (READ) is an instruction of huge significance in Islam. That is our belief. From it we must derive the essence of the word IQRA and indulge in it as our weapon to enable us to fight violence grounded in religiosity. But we will need to fight for its supremacy. Citizens will have to take responsibility and participate in this fight. This is our own war. It is the war we need!
Housewives and their children can make a miniscule sacrifice, (as compared to the enemy force that lays down their lives for their agenda) by teaching domestic staff to read and write. Bringing a new readership to the literary festival next year means we are winning.
In this period of our nation's history, participating in the literary festival is a ‘show of strength', in step with the rest of the world. It is a declaration of the direction that Pakistan's citizens have decided to take. A direction towards ILM, (knowledge) another Islamic instruction that must be enforced for Pakistan's future generations.
To remain relevant we cannot exist in the past.
Therefore, we cannot afford to remain passive in those areas where we are far better equipped than the enemies of progress and enlightenment. Our retaliation is with the power of IQRA....
A fundamental guide on Islam's future direction.
Third day concludes with the talk of Tehmina Durrani
Arsalan Haider - Daily Times (print & onlline) - Monday, Feb 24, 2014
"My own life prepared me for what I am today"
She was of the view that the children of Afghanistan survived in the Soviet war and US occupation. She said that after the Soviet war the children had no choice but to grow up with anger and hate. "The same thing the Americans are doing there as they are leaving Afghan children with hate and anger in their minds"
Tehmina for strong message to US, allies on rights violation
Khalid Khattak – The News Intl (print) - Feb 24, 2014
LEADING author and rights activist Tehmina Durrani has said the people need to have a unified voice to send a strong message to leaders of the world, the US and allied forces which were pulling out of Afghanistan, as big human rights violations were feared after the withdrawal