4th annual SLF begins amid pandemic

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Sargodha:   The fourth edition of the annual Sargodha Literary Festival (SLF) begins on Wednesday virtually for the first time due to the restrictions placed amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

The day started with the welcome address by the Vice Chancellor Sargodha University Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad. Highlighting the importance of art and literarture, Dr Ishtiaq said “Life is a race against time and every individual should make his mark in accomplishing goals. The universities have to come forward to engage students in flourishing and preserving art, culture, values and traditions by providing essential critical and technical skills.”

After the inauguration, the proceedings followed a keynote speech in the Punjabi by Fayyaz Baqir, an internationally renowned community development practitioner and professor of Development Practice in Ottawa, Canada, in a session titled, ‘Surt di Sui, Prem dy Dhaagy’. He expressed “Sufism is an intimation of pain and a self-control ideology; it’s the doctrine of universality based on tolerance and interfaith harmony”. He urged youth to promote the diversified cultures of Pakistan and live balanced life by recognizing the difference between truth and lie.

Apart from the opening session, four other sessions were held on the first day. Adnan Rafique, the Country Director of the United States Institute of Peace for Pakistan chapter, moderated a session on ‘Unity in Diversity: Religious, Gender and Class Inclusion in Pakistan,’ in which, Kapil Dev a famous Minority Rights Activist, Rafiullah Kakar the Director of CPEC Unit in Baluchistan, and Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad participated as panelists. The deliberations were made around developing understanding about the unity through discussion on varied social, economic, religious and political indifferences.

The venerable panelists including, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Pakistani playwright and poet, Yousaf Khushk the Chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad, Nasir Abbas Nayyer, Urdu prose writer, critic and scholar, Najeeb Jamal professor of Urdu at Forman Christian College University Lahore, explored the social trends shaping the identity of ‘Self’ embedded in a society with overlapping cultures in a session titled, ‘Pursuit of Identity in a Multicultural Society’. The session was moderated by Dr Amir Sohail professor of Urdu at Islamia University Bahawalpur.

A session on ‘Literature and Modern Society’ was graced by the famous progressive writer Ravish Nadeem, scholar and critic Khawar Nawazish and founding member of Sargodha Writers Club Yousaf Khalid, elaborated on understanding human interactions and its depiction in the literature of modern times.

The well-known humorist, author and writer Gul e Nokhaiz Akhtar reflected on tracing the role of Urdu language in breaking monotony, boredom, and dullness of life in the contemporary world during a session on ‘Urdu Journalism and Prose Humor’. The session was moderated by the senior journalist and social media activist Sabookh Syed.

Due to the pandemic, all the sessions were live-streamed through the University’s official social media platforms to broaden the literary horizon beyond the premises of the campus.