Watch: Complete Panels from Lahore Literary Festival in New York 2019

Earlier this month, Asia Society hosted the fourth edition of the Lahore Literary Festival in New York — Pakistan's original "safe space for dangerous ideas." Panels this year engaged in topics including the quelling of free speech across South Asia, new voices in Pakistani narrative fiction, imagery of the afterlife in Islamic gardens, the evolving U.S.-Pakistan relationship, the art and literature icons of Lahore, food of the region as intangible cultural heritage, and the impact of Belt and Road Initiatives on Pakistan's environment.

Watch complete videos of all the panels below.

Lahore, Art, and Literary Icons

Panelists, including artist and activist Salima HashmiNewsweek Pakistan editor Khaled Ahmed, Cornell University professor Iftikhar Dadi, and moderator Raza Rumi discuss the importance of arts and cultural figures on the broader political and social consciousness in Lahore throughout history.


Writing Stories of Food

South Asian food writers, including James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame author Madhur Jaffrey, discuss the role of food in the region's intangible cultural heritage. Jaffrey was joined by cookbook authors Sameen Rushdie and Sumayya Usmani in the discussion moderated by writer, editor, and podcast host Ahmed Ali Akbar.


U.S.-Pakistan: Continuing Challenges

Diplomats, policy analysts, and national security reporters discuss the evolving relationship and present challenges facing U.S.-Pakistan relations. Panelists include former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson, Distinguished Fellow and former director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council Shuja Nawaz, Brookings Institute Visiting Fellow in Foreign Policy Madiha Afzal, and moderator Jennifer Griffin, national security correspondent at Fox News.


New Fiction, Pakistan's Bold New Voices

A panel of young writers discusses the state of literary fiction in contemporary Pakistan. They include Sarvat Hasin (This Wide Night, You Can't Go Home Again), Taymour Soomro (short story "Philosophy of the Foot"), Zarrar Said (Pureland), and Osama Siddique (moderator and author of Snuffing Out the Moon).


Imagery of the Afterlife in Islamic Gardens

Historian Nerina Rustomji explores the aesthetic of the afterlife in Islamic gardens, the paradisiacal imagery, and its contrast with the forces of nature. She discusses her research with Iftikhar Dadi, associate professor of history of art at Cornell University.


Stretched Ecosystems: Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Pakistan's Environmental Ecology

How will Pakistan balance economic growth with environmental stewardship? How will the impact of new roads and industry under the Belt and Road Initiative affect its mountains, rivers, and ecosystem? The panel addressed the likely effect of industrialization on the region, especially in Gilgit-Baltistan province, where many of the country's rivers originate. Members included IUCN Regional Director Aban Marker Kabraji, Pace University Professor of Law Erum Sattar, and Chief of the United Nations Secretary General's Peacebuilding Fund Marc-André Franche, along with moderator Issan Ahmed of AFP.


Free Speech in South Asia

As right-wing politics and vigilantism continues to rise in South Asia, what are the implications for free speech and freedom of expression? MacArthur Fellow and Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University Ayesha Jalal discusses with author, historian, and Mircea Elide Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Religions Wendy Doniger in a conversation moderated by Columbia University Associate Professor of History Manan Ahmed.