State Ban on Kolwah Literary Festival Sparks Academic Outcry; Experts Deem Cancellation Unwise

The Kolwah Educational Festival, planned to honor school teacher ‘Shaheed Najma’ in the Gishkaur area of Awaran on June 22, 2024, was canceled by order of the Pakistani Army. Despite receiving permission from the Deputy Commissioner of Awaran, the administration intervened on the day of the festival to prevent it from taking place. This decision has caused concern among the scholarly and literary communities of Balochistan.

Shabir Rakhshani, a prominent intellectual, expressed his views on social media. He noted that several university students from Gishkaur had returned home for their vacations and had been preparing for the festival for four months. They had obtained the necessary permissions, yet the event was abruptly canceled without explanation on the very day it was to occur.Baloch writer Abid Mir also criticized the cancellation. He pointed out that in Awaran, such events cannot happen without government approval, which the organizers had secured. He speculated that the festival’s dedication to Shaheed Najma Baloch, a school teacher who had committed suicide last year due to harassment by a government official, might have been a factor in the cancellation. Mir questioned what threat an educational festival could pose to the government.

Mir further lamented the silence of political representative Khairjan Baloch on the issue, suggesting that Khairjan should advocate for and organize the festival himself. He argued that such actions would benefit the community.

Rakhshani added that the young organizers, having experienced the world outside their region, were motivated to improve local educational conditions and share their experiences. He criticized the administration for not engaging with the organizers beforehand to address any concerns, suggesting that outright cancellation was not a wise decision.

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