Lahore ‘arrives’ in New York

Observer Report

Islamabad—Pakistan’s culture defines its humanity and reflects spirit of a nation on the upsurge, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said, while calling for promoting greater engagement across cultures to counter xenophobia.
‘Today, the amazing outpouring of art and literature in Pakistan is the most forceful response to a tiny minority that seeks to impose an alien orthodoxy,’ she told a large and distinguished gathering amidst applause at the start of the festival first of its Rind abroad, says a message received here from New Yaok.
‘Lahore has arrived in New York,’ the Pakistani envoy said of the US city known as the one that never sleeps. ‘Nor does Lahore by the way!’ Lahore, she said, has led the national engagement with modernity and it embodies the country’s unique identity as a modern nation and ancient civilization. ‘We are proud that for the first time a festival of ideas from Pakistan has been taken overseas.
The Ambassador said, Pakistan has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and artistic tradition; present cultural landscape is especially rich and prolific. As for music, she said, the explosion being witnessed ranges all the way from traditional Qawali rendered with a modern twist; to a fresh crop of pop artists, all creating a diverse and distinctively Pakistani sound.
Pakistani cinema was also seeing revival by a new wave of young independent filmmakers who are charting and breaking new ground by tackling bold themes and using digital technology. ‘Authors, artists, film-makers and musicians all are producing works that form an extraordinary panorama of creativity, reflecting the vibrant cultural reality of today’s Pakistan,’ Ambassador Lodhi said. The creative voices in Pakistan’s music, literature, art and in the media were emblematic of a living nation which was facing many challenges but negotiating them with the spirit and resilience.
Pakistan’s culture was about attitudes that value openness and dialogue, the Ambassador said. Today, we are engaged in a battle of ideas and it is culture, which helps us create space and diversity to enable us to forge a narrative of tolerance, openness and debate.
Our response to those who challenge our centuries old tradition of peaceful coexistence, informed by our great Sufi tradition, is to get back in touch with joy and the freedom to create.’ sia Society, she said, provided a platform and showcasing different cultures from the Asian continent to build awareness and advance understanding in the US of other cultures and civilizations.
‘Art, it is rightly said, transcends borders and helps to build bridges across cultures and therefore is an invaluable medium to promote inter-cultural understanding,’ Ambassador Lodhi said.
‘At a time when we see the rise of intense xenophobia, nothing is more important than the need to listen to each other, build respect for the ‘other’ and promote greater engagement across cultures. It is by enhancing our understanding of the values of cultural diversity that helps us to learn to live together better.’

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