Young Afghan writers and poets steal the show at SAARC Literature Festival in Agra

A galaxy of renowned writers, scholars, artists and academics from the eight SAARC countries have converged in the northern Indian city of Agra for the three-day SAARC Literature Festival.

The annual festival, which kicked off on Friday, is organized by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL), an apex body of SAARC that works in area of arts and literature.

Many young Afghan writers, poets and academics are participating in the prestigious festival this year, which aims to strengthen the cultural heritage of SAARC countries and foster greater understanding through arts and literature.

Through their creative writing, the delegates from Afghanistan spoke of the myriad challenges and opportunities for young generation of Afghans

Ajeet Cour, the President of FOSWAL, said SAARC Literature Festival provides a platform to participants from the eight SAARC countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – to exchange creative ideas.

“Exchanging creative writing helps us understand each other’s concerns and the literary trends in the neighboring countries,” said Ms. Cour, underlying the important fact that neighbors are not ‘others’ and respecting the “otherness of the other” is the only way to facilitate peace.

The FOSWAL embarked on a mission to foster greater cultural bonding among the SAARC countries in 1987, and emerged as an apex body of SAARC in the area of arts and culture.



This year, there are 9 delegates from Afghanistan, 9 from Bangladesh, 4 from Bhutan, 60 from India, 11 from Nepal, 23 from Pakistan, 9 from Sri Lanka and 1 from Maldives presenting papers and poems on various themes related to peace and prosperity in the region.

Mohammad Ibrahim Ghafoori, the Director of SAARC Secretariat, who is also participating in the festival this year, says the meaningful dialogue among cultures is the best answer to those trumpeting ‘clash of civilizations’.

“Festivals like these help in fostering mutual understanding and goodwill among the people in South Asia,” says Mr. Ghafoori, who is from Afghanistan.

Through their creative writing, the delegates from Afghanistan spoke of the myriad challenges and opportunities for young generation of Afghans.

Beside the invigorating debates and discussions on the latest literary trends, the festival also includes cultural events

Aryaan Aroon, a writer from Afghanistan, was felicitated with the prestigious SAARC Literary Festival Award this year. Aroon is a young short story writer from the western province of Herat.

Beside the invigorating debates and discussions on the latest literary trends, the festival also includes cultural events. A group of ‘Malangs’ from Pakistan mesmerized everyone with their riveting performance portraying their Sufi traditions.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in 1985 as an economic and geopolitical organization. Afghanistan earned its membership in 2007 as the 8th member country of SAARC.

Speaking at the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November last year, President Ashraf Ghani called for deeper integration within SAARC, genuine commitment to address the root causes of violence within the region and forging instruments of cooperation to bring lasting peace.