Islamabad Literature Festival 2023

22 November 2023
5 min read

The ninth Islamabad Literature Festival saw three days of talks and panels discussing education, literature, and publishing in Pakistan and beyond.

We welcomed 85,000 people from all walks of life across the Festival, with many more joining the conversation online.

We are grateful to over 150 speakers across 53 sessions from Pakistan and overseas who shared their insights with us. Speakers including:

  • Senior politicians, including Sherry Rehman, Chair of the Climate and Environment Caucus of the Senate of Pakistan
  • Distinguished academics and writers, such as Victoria Schofield, a historian and commentator on international affairs with close connections to Pakistan, and poet and columnist, Haya Fatima Sehgal launched her new book on the fabled resilience of ordinary Pakistanis in the face of adversity
  • Diplomats, including UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, Jane Marriott
  • Experts from private companies such as Microsoft’s Regional Education Lead and Principal Officer for Microsoft Pakistan, Jibran Jamshad.

At the closing ceremony, poet and educationalist, Mr. Anwar Masood received a standing ovation following a resoundingly successful address to bring the Festival to a close. 

Technology and AI

A topic of so many conversations around the world, the impact of technology was another theme of the week. In his opening remarks, Managing Director, Arshad Husain said:

As a global publisher, OUP is committed to embracing technology in the right way so we can provide education for all. We firmly believe education should always drive technology, not the other way around.”

During the event, Director of Global Product in our Education division, Wayne Press joined a virtual panel on AI and highlighted the findings of our recently published AI in education report

Managing Director OUP Islamabad, Arshad Husain

Managing Director, Arshad Husain speaking at the festival.

OxfordAQA launch brings a focus on assessment

OxfordAQA—OUP’s collaboration with UK exam board AQA—launched in Pakistan this month and OxfordAQA Managing Director, Andrew Coombe joined the festival in person.

In a panel on fair assessments, Andrew explained how the Oxford 3000, a list of the most important words to learn in English, help provide a fair opportunity to all learners:

“…we will not use words that are not in that list of 3,000 unless they are technical words listed in the specification in order to ensure fairness so students do not come across a word they haven’t seen before which could mean they are unable to answer the question.”

Panel on Fair Assessments: Ensuring Equity and Excellence in Education at the ninth Islamabad Literature Festival.

The Islamabad Literature Festival, alongside the Karachi Literature Festival, seeks to create an intellectual space in which the diversity and pluralism in Pakistan’s society and this is expressed by the authors from literary and cultural traditions beyond Pakistan’s borders are freely accessible to people in an open and participatory manner. We are grateful to all our attendees, staff and sponsors who helped to make the event a success.

Reflections at the ninth Islamabad Literature Festival 2023 Inauguration Ceremony.

As we come together to celebrate people, planet and possibilities, let us remind ourselves of the role of poetry and prose in our lives and in our experiences as individuals. Managing Director Arshad Husain on the importance of literature in our lives.

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