NEW YORK: The Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) got underway at Asia Society Saturday night with a sterling performance by Pakistani singer Zeb Bangash before a packed house.On Sunday, panel discussions spread over three sessions are set to take place on a wide variety of subjects fiction and nonfiction writing music arts popular culture and politics.
LLF in New York which is being co-presented with the Asia Society will be rounded off Sunday evening with Qawwali by an eight member ensemble the Saami Brothers.It is the first time a Pakistani literary festival takes place abroad.
Zeb Bangash enthralled a mixed audience of Americans and South Asians for over an hour with a set of songs in Urdu Pashto Punjabi and Darri that evoke repeated applause.
Responding to demands from the audience Zeb sang one more number and when she completed Pakistan UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi went up the stage to congratulate her.
Earlier, Rachel Cooper, Director of Global Performing Arts and Special Cultural Initiatives at the Asia Society welcomed the gathering to the festival saying it would help promote and strengthen partnerships among peoples of the two countries.
Razi Ahmed who is LLF’s founder and CEO said, “For four years now we’ve had the privilege of bringing some of the most creative and insightful voices in the world to Pakistan’s cultural capital to engage with our writers artists and audiences. We are delighted now to be taking some of Pakistan s finest to the creative capital of the US”.
Among those participating in Sunday’s panel discussions are businessman, philanthropist, educator and former Finance Minister of Pakistan Syed Babar Ali, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, artist Salima Hashmi, physicist and author Tasneem Zehra Husain, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar, actor-director and screenwriter Sarmad Khoosat, journalist and foreign policy author Ahmed Rashid and author and filmmaker Sadia Shepard.
“We are pleased that what we initiated the first Pakistani festival of ideas at the Asia Society is taking place on 7 and 8 May”, Ambassador Lodhi said. “It all started when I called on Josette Sheeran, the President of Asia Society and proposed the idea to her.
“She embraced it enthusiastically and Razi Ahmed of the Lahore Literary Festival made it happen”, she added.