Book Review Self enrichment Writing

The Reading Session at National Book Festival, 2018

 A personal point of view as I was participating for the first time.


Nazar Abbas talking about his book. His daughter Nazish read from his book afterwards.

National Book Foundation is an organization which is purely book based and encourages writers and reading throughout the year. Once a year they hold this festival.


After Nigar Nazar had taken me to the LLF (Lahore Literary Festival), she asked her friend Afshan if she would consider me too for the reading session. So, my name was put in for NBF – the National Book Festival – in Islamabad.  We enjoy each other’s pursuits and she has roped me into several of her projects.

Sitting next to Nigar Nazar the first female Muslim cartoonist, and my friend.

Nigar was here discussing her amazing cartoon type books dedicated to dealing with serious issues in Pakistan. These issues include corruption, child abuse, garbage, terrorism, and many others. I’ve also attended her brain storming sessions. We went to Army Public School, Peshawar together to gift her books for their library. One of my dear friends – who doesn’t like her name mentioned – donated for most of the books gifted.

It was an honor to be among such accomplished writers. The reading session went very well. Each writer read out portions from their book and showed their previous publications too.

The anchor person Tahira had kept us all in the picture. It was a pleasure meeting her in person.  Earlier I had only spoken to her on the phone. By the time my turn came, I realized the timing had crossed the time slot.  Being very particular about timings myself, I obliged by cutting short my talk, so as to give time to those speaking after me. So, I didn’t read out from my preface as promised. I could see people walking out. I didn’t blame them, as it was getting beyond the time allotted.

My helper Hasnain had come over with me, I asked him to make this video for my own record. But now, I’m going to share it with you, so you also know how it went. Please do excuse the quality of the filming it was his first experience.


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Tahira, in the end declared that out of the four years or so when this session had taken place, this particular one was the best! That felt great. I’ll just share the brochure for the program which was handed to each one at the entrance hall. 30226784_1907439159289367_744874120855945216_nThe halls were filled to capacity and the stalls were full of people eagerly browsing through the books. There was so much energy and interest, that I felt very happy.

The sculptures of Quaid-e-Azam, Allama Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib were really wonderful.

Here I am sitting next to the founder of our nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.



Sitting next to Allama Iqbal in his thoughtful pose. I’m happily displaying this book ‘Tulip of Sinai,’ with his poetry.

The way the chairs were placed next to each personality, let people get photographed next to each of them. I loved this endearing touch to the occasion.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking and a bit of my reading session:30440928_1211781302286291_8918003836724906881_n


I just want you to know that it was a good festival which has been arranged from 6th till 9th of April daily from 10.00 AM till 10.00 PM. The attendance has been very good and the response shows that reading and books are here to stay. I was so happy to see that many institutions had sent their students here in their uniforms. There were books in Urdu, English, Pushto and even in Chinese language. I was keen to see a book worth Rs. 1,50,000/- ($1500 approximately.) – Which was a collectors’ book on Chughtai’s paintings. I didn’t succeed in seeing it.

Uxi Mufti is standing third from our left.

It was a pleasure to see that Uxi Mufti the wonderful author and supporter of folk art and folk heritage in Pakistan, was also there. He is the son of the great Urdu writer Mumtaz Mufti. We must talk about him sometime. I loved his book ‘Talash’ which he wrote in his late eighties. Uxi went and wrote its’ sequel: Allah. (- Because in Talash the author is looking for Allah and such spiritual yearnings.) Here is a picture shared by Uxi on his Facebook.

Generally speaking, I was thrilled, and felt very blessed too. I want to ask you one thing; Do you go to book festivals in your town? Please do, you will certainly enjoy it. I’m sure you will learn something new and interesting. Most important of all, you will find parts of yourself there……

Who says there are no readers in Pakistan?

Stay  blessed! 😉




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  1. What a wonderful festival! Thank you for sharing this special memory with us. I loved listening to you speak and loved what you said about not being afraid to be different from others. Have a blessed weekend, Shireen!

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. It means the world to me! I am so glad you liked this blog. I had returned from Lahore the night before after a very busy spell there. Seeing off my girl and son-in-law to settle in Canada was an emotional moment for me. Yet I was happy to have made it back. All the best wishes with your blogs. They always give me energy and thrill. Lots of love.

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