The eighth edition of Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) concluded on Sunday. The three-day event that ended on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, hosted eminent writers, historians, artists and opinion makers from Pakistan and abroad. The wide-ranging discussions and panel talks in the festival this year, like its previous edition, remained faithful to the saying that literature is a reflection of a society’s political, social and historical environment. The festival was nothing short of a celebratory exploration of Pakistan’s culture and arts. The festival in the historic city of Lahore rightly called the cultural hub of Pakistan, featured artists, writers, actors, diplomats, politicians and opinion leaders from across the world. The talks and panel discussions covering an array of topics make LLF distinct from other such festivals.

All this was great. And the tradition should continue. However, the organisers of the festival must also be open to criticism, some of which is very genuine. For instance, many critics of the festival lament the low participation of writers who write in the local language. Though this year, a few slots were given to explore the works of some writers of local languages, it is a fact that by and large the festival sounds an event for those who understand the English language. Thus the festival becomes somewhat exclusionary which perhaps defeats the philosophy of the festival, which is a celebration of “Lahore’s longstanding traditions of inquiry, openness, and tolerance while, critically, looking beyond our immediate community, boundaries, and comfort to assess and assert Pakistan’s place in a fast-changing world.”

Hopefully, the organisers of the festival will take note of the thoughts state above. And they will work even harder for accommodating more local artists who express their opinion in the local languages. Overall, the LLF sets the quality and content bar higher and higher with its every new edition. The LLF team deserves a massive appreciation for promoting Pakistan’s soft image in the world.