On the weekend I gave a visit to Al-Hamra Art Council to attend ‘Lahore Literary Festival’ abbreviated as LLF. Seldom could be seen ladies in eastern dresses because most of them were in ultra-western fashions wearing tight jeans and T-shirts and alike. Everybody there was trying to act as if he or she had just been landed from Europe or North America. Speaking English in American accents, tilting the mouths to unpredictable degrees seemed to be as their passion of life.
The ‘festival’, if we call it so, lasted for three days: 20th-22nd February. In these three days dozens of sessions were organized on the topics from literary criticism to modern political literature of the world; from our relations with India or Afghanistan to the new tide of ISIS; from folk music to mushaira and so on and so forth. Many intellectual giants ranging from authors to poets, from retired generals to bureaucrats and from economists to politicians, both local and international – interacted with people and answered their questions.
The very first impression of LLF was as if only a very limited elite-class is present here, refusing to execute its own identity instead loving to represent western culture in this country. As soon as the entry was made after being cleared from half a dozen security check-points, the impression was only concreted; and it was not shaken till the very end! Surely, very constructive and progressive debates filled the minds of the public and most of the debates were only to open the new horizons of rational thinking. But even the purely traditional and sessions on local issues were over-shadowed by the English language as well as culture. Speakers who were from Pakistan, India, America, Afghanistan and from all over the world were liberal and rational in their approaches and they were directing the masses for the intellectual growth but it was quite disturbing that each and every aspect of the festival was shewing the western mindset.
Students from LUMS, GCU, FC College, NCA, LGS and Beaconhouse School etc. were outnumbering the audience; hence, the air was full of liberal, or perhaps, westernized ideas. Pockets of resistance in the gathering from ‘unlike-minded’ people could also be observed. But the unchallenged dominance remained in the hands of so-called liberals.
Secular minded people have the reins of the intelligentsia of this country. It is hard to say whether it is fortunate or unfortunate but one thing is for sure and that is the representation of the religious oriented society is in the hands of minute secular elite-class; which cannot accept religion’s interference at any level in the society. And this makes the so-called liberals as the ‘liberal fascists’ – the very same group of intellectuals which has just celebrated LLF: ‘Lahore Liberal Fascism’.