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The fourth edition of the two-day 'Adab Festival' got underway on Saturday at Karachi's Frere Hall, bringing together writers, poets and various dignitaries for a weekend of book launches, discussions and rumination under the overarching theme of climate change which was prevalent throughout many sessions.

Founder and director of the festival Ameena Saiyid, in her welcome address, spoke about the proliferation and importance of literary festivals throughout Pakistan.

She mentioned how the main goal was to "honour and celebrate our world-class authors and artists while providing a platform to emerging talent".

Maarya Rehman, Deputy Director at the British Council that is supporting the festival this year, mentioned how the festival has become "an artistic force and movement with a clear mission of promoting Pakistan's literary culture".

"Much like with other festivals, we seek to bring a younger and more diverse audience to the arts and to help nurture and support the next generation of cultural practitioners," said Maarya.

Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, in her keynote speech, shared notes on the recent developments at COP27 held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. She thanked the organisers for making climate the theme of the day, citing how its the "existential crisis" of the decade, possibly even the century.

Urging the audience to play their part by reducing their carbon footprint, Rehman cited how "climate action is never successful nor does it yield optimal outcome if citizens are not directly involved and see themselves as stakeholders".

She reminded the audience to make "climate impactful decisions" in their everyday lives as Pakistan faces a "frontline climate emergency," teetering on the brink of becoming "water scarce" by 2025 — "a great irony of our times," she further stated.

Writer Moni Mohsin spoke about how the role of an author is to tell the truth, exactly like it is and that it is up to citizens to hold their leaders accountable through freedom of speech and the freedom of press

The recent floods and the climate crisis continued on course through the day.

Architect and environmentalist Tariq Alexander Qaiser, in his keynote address, mentioned his work on mangroves and how despite the rise in global temperatures, the fossil fuel industry continue to make record profits.

Later in the day, at a session titled 'A Story of Survival: Replanting Pakistan's Mangroves', Qaiser took the audience through a multimedia presentation on the importance and sustenance of mangroves in Pakistan and its imperative role in steering Pakistan through the climate crisis.

At a session to launch her new book 'The Impeccable Integrity of Ruby R', writer Moni Mohsin spoke about how the role of an author is to tell the truth, exactly like it is and that it is up to citizens to hold their leaders accountable through freedom of speech and the freedom of press.

Speaking to Business Recorder, she remarked how she has returned to Pakistan after five years from the United Kingdom, and is happy to see how there is "much cultural activity and so much ferment in terms of literary questioning, debating and thinking by the authors and audiences".

Authors participating in the festival include H.M Naqvi, Nadeem F. Paracha, Bina Shah among others.

Sessions include debate on topics ranging from climate change, startups, women in stem, social media and mental health.

An art exhibition titled 'The Lost Lullaby of Mother Earth' featuring works by Fauzia Minallah, curated by Pomme Gohar, also opened simultaneously with the festival inside the Sadequain Gallery.

In keeping with the theme of the festival, artworks comprising installations and sculptures were also present with all crafted out of recycled material.


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