The title of the event is taken from the Poet Laureate Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s poem Takhliq (Creation), where the full verse reads, in translation: ‘New worlds derive their pomp from thoughts quite fresh and new/From stones and bricks a world was neither built nor grew.’ Indeed this is exactly what this event is hoping to achieve. It is through new and fresh ideas which spur on new creation, innovations and development; new worlds are never created by bricks or mortar, but through the thoughts which germinate in the minds of the people. This event aims to become the incubator of fresh thoughts in Pakistan so that not only does the country develop but we too personally gain from such interactions.
There is a real dearth of intellectual activity in Pakistan, especially in the social sciences and humanities. Neither do we have high quality research coming out of the country, nor do we have many world-class scholars working in the country. There is also very limited public engagement with social science and the humanities and therefore discourse is often mired in conspiracy theories and flights of fantasy. Even with science, real scientific conversations take place within subject specific conferences and events, which are inaccessible to a general audience.
To radically change and shake up the intellectual environment in Pakistan, the Afkar-e-Taza (New Thoughts) festival will bring together scholars from across the social sciences and humanities in an academic yet accessible discussion of cutting edge research and knowledge. The concept behind the event is to replicate the rigour of an academic conference with paper presentations, with the ease and accessibility of a literature festival, by engaging scholars in a lively discussion about their research with the general public.
Our concept will ensure that public discourse in Pakistan is not hijacked by unscientific deliberations, but is carried out within a highly rigourous yet accessible environment, so that Afkar-e-Taza—new thoughts are created, nurtured and realised.