Panel discussion: Arts & culture in recovering from conflict

In a country where the literary and art communities are well below par and with the number of digital activities the youth has at present times, tapping and switching between one app to another, has taken a massive toll on the book-reading community in Pakistan. And art indulgent crowds are far less in numbers, a disappointing graph if plotted. While it may not all be bad news, because there is significant content online that users consume on the daily but many online sources of credibility are unclear and anyway, book reading is a legacy of sorts, endangered, and art is a whole other world to be explored. Art has a way of instilling or provoking a thought or perception of which millions deprive themself of and successively, we as a community and country, have suffered at the hands of the intolerant, extremist and ignorant, all of whom could find whatever they seek, inner peace, knowledge or logic between the pages of a book or the strokes of brushes. A personal belief: if we immersed in literature and commit to self-growth, we would have little time for hatred, biases and criticism.

In a panel discussion held by Media Baithak, acclaimed authors and artists chaired the panel to talk to their audiences about how art uplifts the society and instill progressive values in us. Ameena Saiyid, publisher/ director of Adab Festival, academician and director Adab Festival Dr. Asif Farrukhi, poet Nasira Zubairi and artist Rustam Khan and acclaimed scriptwriter Haseena Moin .

“The education system we have is creating a mob, which let alone making a good artist, is not even capable of producing a good reader,” said Dr. Asif Farrukhi, “the artist does not have the resources to reach out to the society to give their message.” Pressing on the importance of the reading culture, he says this is what we need as a society to not give in to extremism but little is done by the influential and the state to endorse it. The youth has potential and it needs to be channeled in the right direction.

Poet Nasira Zubairi demanded that an emergency must be imposed in the country against the prevalent intolerance, adding that the hate present on social media is quite concerning for the artists. “We have to make people realise that dissent is not wrong or unpatriotic in civilised societies. The language on social media is troubling to say the least. We have to urge people in power and with influence to teach tolerance and acceptance in a soft tone.” •