Found in the Punjab province in Pakistan, Lahore is often referred to as the ‘city of colleges’ due to the vast variety and number of higher educational institutions in the city. Today, there are more than 80 publishing houses, around 300 bookstores and more than 20 public libraries, in addition to colleges/universities and Social Clubs libraries in Lahore. Heavily influenced by the Delhi Sultanate Empire in the 13th century, Lahore became renowned for its poetry and attracted many scholars from Baghdad and Iran. Throughout the 16th century, education and poetry flourished, much of which still survives today.
Throughout the year, Lahore hosts many literary festivals including the Lahore Literary Festival and the Manto Mela, both of which pay tribute to authors and poets, as well as facilitating book launches, mushaira (poetry recitations), calligraphy workshops and exhibitions. The city is also home to the Lahore International Book Fair. Set up in 2006, this non-profit NGO exposition is one of the largest in Pakistan and endorses the country’s publishing industry and book selling. The event hosts a number of national and international guests, with the aim of collaborating on an aligned approach in resolving industry issues, predominantly against piracy and copyright infringement.
The rich literature of Lahore projects a multifaceted international image of the city. With a coherent strategy, policy framework and targeted resourcing, the creative field of literature can be utilized as an essential component for economic growth. A draft comprehensive cultural policy has been created and pursues the preservation and promotion of culture, provision of quality entertainment, together with the welfare of artists. The government has further provided greater support to those working in the arts and literary sector, including the issuance of Health Insurance Cards to artists and their families, and by the revival of Hazuri Bagh as a Literary Recital Public Space by way of generating synergies within the local literary community.
As a Creative City of Literature, Lahore envisages:
- providing venues for events related to the designation of Lahore as a Creative City of Literature as well as reviving Hazuri Bag as a public literary recital place, revamping old Urdu Bazar into a vibrant centre for book lovers;
- proposing and developing literary activities, projects and collaborations with regional and international partners;
- encouraging international cooperation and support for literary arts and organizations;
- strengthening cross thematic events such as the street theatre and dramatic performances at various historical sites across Lahore in collaboration with the Lahore Walled City Authority; and
- initiating and ensuring involvement of all key stakeholders in achieving the objectives of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.