Iffat Omar, others slam Pakistan Literature Festival for appointing alleged harasser as panelist
Celebrity Iffat Omar and other Pakistani feminists have called out Pakistan Literature Festival for appointing Ali Zafar as a panelist for a conversation with actor Yasir Hussain.
Activist and makeup artist Leena Ghani shared the announcement by Alhamra on her social media page, and revealed that the organization had previously refused to allow Aurat March to use their grounds for an event on the grounds that the march ‘was too controversial and had a negative image’.
“In 2020 Alhamara declined Aurat March’s request to let them use the Alhamara grounds for their event because Aurat March was “too controversial and had a negative image”. Yet they have no issues when a sexual harasser is invited? Is he not controversial with a negative image?!” she asked.
“What makes him an expert and what contribution does he have for the youth? He’s neither youthful nor did he ever support the young emerging talent. Even if we keep the harassment aside, there is nothing about him that fits the topic. So many other relevant people to choose from,” Ghani had further written.
Other women on Twitter have also called out Hussain for sharing a platform with an alleged harasser, when he had previously applauded his wife, Iqra Aziz, for refusing to act in a drama with one.
Actor and model Iffat Omar also took to Twitter to protest, by revealing that she had been excited to give a talk at the event, however chose to back out when she learned about the alleged harasser’s panel.
“Pakistan Literature Festival, Lahore, thank you for inviting me as a moderator for a discussion today. I was excited, but then I learned that #PLF made an alleged harasser a part of the event. I cannot share the platform with an Alleged Harasser, so I am boycotting. @ACPKHI#harassment#Boycott.”
Women have also criticized the event for not including female authors for panels this year. Editor and writer Mehr Husayn criticized the PLF organizers in a Twitter thread, where she shared that there were no recent authors included in the lineup.
“I cannot help but marvel at the staggering disconnect the old guard has with modern Pakistan. Case in point. Not ONE recent author in this. Do better @ACPKHI I expected @thebankofpunjab to do their research. Where are the new authors?? Fresh female writers??”
Husain shared a list of female authors who had released books last year, and went on tag the main organizer of the event and called him out for refusing to include the voices of female authors who were new to the publishing industry but were not included in the event.
“@zafar_masud Zafar sahib I request you to consider the above female authors. How can you not have them be part of such a festival when you have members associated with controversy? How can you ignore female roles in furthering publishing when EVERYTHING goes against us?”