Mother Languages Literature Festival 2022 held in Islamabad

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The three-day annual Mother Languages Literature Festival for the year 2022 (MLLF-2022) was organized by the Indus Cultural Forum (ICF), Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) and United National Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan, in collaboration with ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), Culture Department Government of Sindh, Government of Balochistan, Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and others on 18-20 February 2022 at Islamabad-Pakistan. A large number of intellectuals, poets, scholars, artists, students and the general public participated in the festival.

The objective of this annual festival has been to provide a platform to intellectuals, writers, and thinkers representing different languages to come together and present their work on various genres of art, literature, culture, science and education in the mother languages of Pakistan.

The event was opened by the Chairman PAL Dr. Yousuf Khushk. He highlighted the importance of mother languages and shared that according to UNESCO study, about 27 languages are at the verge of extinction in Pakistan. He emphasized that there is dire need to promote and get initial education in mother languages.

Mr. Munawar Hassan, Chairperson ICF, on behalf of all the organizers welcomed the distinguished guests and participants for attending the event from all over Pakistan. He also thanked UNDP-Pakistan, ECOSF and other partner organizations for their support in organizing the event.

Mrs. Gazala Saifi, Parliamentary Secretary on Culture and Heritage attended the opening ceremony as Chief Guest. In her remarks, she admired ICF, PAL and other organizations for promoting mother languages

During the Festival, ECOSF in collaboration with PSF arranged a Science Bus/Mobile Science Laboratory and Planetarium Show for students and families. A good number of students and families experienced the virtual solar system and scientific models installed in the Bus.

A documentary entitled “Pakistan: Places, Faces, Voices” which featured Pakistan’s 22 languages, made by UNDP was also screened during the festival. The Resident Representative of UNDP in Pakistan H.E. Mr. Knut Ostby said the documentary beautifully captured the richness of the diverse landscape that this country was blessed with - starting from the splendid peaks of the north to the deserts and sea of the South. The idea was to bring to surface the daily problems faced by the communities while they speak in their local languages in their own settings. Mr. Ostby hoped that the humble contribution to the cause of linguistic diversity would go a long way for achievement of development outcomes.

Several book launching ceremonies were part of the festival and eight novels of different languages, 13 poetry books were unveiled. The different sessions such as storytelling, poetry, book review etc. were also part of the festival. The session on dictionaries and adaptability of languages and feminist literature in mother languages was also arranged. Various stalls of books were arranged to showcase works in different languages. Lifetime Achievement Awards were also given to senior writers, scholars and poets came from all over Pakistan who have been contributing in the literature for long time.

On the last day of the festival, two sessions highlighting the need for the state and society to work together for the promotion and protection of endangered languages and also on the role of literary festivals in galvanizing literary activism and reading culture held.

The speakers asked the government institutions to play their role for patronizing the endangered languages, celebrate linguistic diversity and prioritize ignored languages.

It was concluded that native speakers were primarily responsible for the protection of their mother languages; however, provision of equal flourishing opportunities was on part of the government to facilitate and allocate resources for the purpose.

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