BE2C2 Report — A four-day Gwadar Book Festival, which ended on Sunday, was held in the Balochistan port town organized by a non-profit organisation, Rural Community Development Council (RCDC).
Usually, Gwadar is in the news either for its role as a critical node in the $56 billion CPEC (southern gateway), or for the militancy that affects Balochistan in general. “To see efforts in this town to promote cultural activities, therefore,” is laudable, wrote Dawn in its editorial.
In its fourth year, the Gwadar Book Festival has been dedicated to writer and socio-political activist Abdullah Jan Jamaldini, who passed away last year.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, guests from Quetta, Karachi and Gwadar expressed their hopes, fears and perceptions about Gwadar.
Speakers included author Mohammed Hanif who said that an acquaintance thought that he was going to buy property when he informed him that he would be traveling to Gwadar.
Mr Hanif pointed out, while much of the media focus is on Balochistan’s troubles, the province’s cultural richness is not given equal coverage.
Mr Hanif was critical of the media for what he called repetitively describing Balochistan by only a few terms such as, ‘mineral-rich’ and ‘angry Baloch’. Using only such types of terms for the province showed that the media was not interested in its history and culture, he added.
While indeed the stories of violence and political problems cannot be ignored, Balochistan should not be viewed through a one-dimensional security prism.
The province’s cultural activities, reflecting its people’s thoughts, feelings and aspirations, must be encouraged to allow the rest of the country to get a fuller view of what this complex, ancient society is all about.
In this regard, the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu secretary Fatima Hassan’s announcement at the book festival that the body would establish a Gwadar office must also be lauded.
Other activities at the event, such as plays by children in Balochi language and attire and the screening of films by young film-makers from small Balochistan towns such as Jiwani and Pasni, also helped showcase the latent talent of the province.
Cultural activities in Balochistan and cultural exchanges with other parts of Pakistan can play an important role in ‘normalizing’ the situation in the province and building inter-provincial bridges, at least on the cultural front.
A book titled Rishtaq by young poet Pullan Umer, who writes satire and humorous poetry, was launched during the ceremony.
(Based on media reports and Dawn editorial)