LAHORE:The 6th edition of Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest in collaboration with the Alhamra Arts Council will start at Alhamra, The Mall today (Saturday).Announcing the event, ThinkFest Chairman Najam Sethi said, ‘Yet again we have brought a stellar programme with nearly 20 book launches and several topical panels.’ The event will open with a wide-ranging talk with acclaimed author, Mohsin Hamid, in conversation with Prof Waseem Anwar from Kinnaird College. Titled ‘Challenging Truths’ this plenary will set the tone for the two days of talks and discussions. The day 2 will open with a plenary featuring former federal finance minister Dr Miftah Ismail, in conversation with the Executive Director of IBA Karachi, Dr S Akbar Zaidi, on the most important topic of the day, the economy. Among the foreign speakers are Prof Mehran Kamrava from Georgetown University who is a world-renowned expert on Iran. He will be speaking on his books on Iran and the Arab world. Journalist Bette Dam is also participating where she will launch her new book on Mullah Omar, as well as be in conversation with Shahbaz Taseer for his book on five years of captivity with the Taliban. Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed from Sweden will launch his landmark book on the Quaid e Azam, in conversation with Salman Akram Raja and Asad Rahim Khan. Prof Tuba Eldem from Germany and Turkey will share her views on the Russo-Ukraine war while Prof. Aristotle Tympas from Greece will speak on climate change and technology. Dr Sarah Holz from Germany will also launch her book on exhaustive research on the Council of Islamic Ideology and its role in Pakistan. Furthermore, Poonam Ayub will launch her new book on Sir Ganga Ram, the builder of Lahore, while Prof. Adeel Hussain from New York University will talk about two of his recent books, one on law and Muslim Political Thought and another on Nehru. Dr Ilyas Chattha is also poised to launch his seminal work on the Punjab borderland after partition, with a focus on smuggling and other exchanges, and Dr Fouzia Saeed will speak about her new book on Pakistani women’s history. Pointing out that the ThinkFest has got speakers for several universities from across the country, Yaqoob Khan Bangash, the founder of the ThinkFest said: ‘Ours is an academic festival and so we are happy that so many university professors are speaking at the event from all over Pakistan.’ Dr Bangash also noted, ‘Ours is an open event, free to all, and with no barriers between the speakers and the public. There will be a Speakers Corner where the attendees can come and deliver their own talks.’ The ThinkFest will also have talks on issues critical for Pakistan today. In collaboration with PILDAT are two talks, one on youth and another on technology, both in reference to the elections. There is also a talk on development schemes in Lahore, both new and old, and their impact. Climate change will also feature on three important panels, bringing in important comparative perspectives. A panel with leading politicians including Malik Ahmed Khan, Fawad Chaudhary and Mustafa Khokhar will talk about the latest political crisis while leading anchors like Gharidah Farooqi and Mansoor Ali Khan will explore the role of media, and another will focus on disinformation and media. A panel of leading jurists will also comment on 50 years of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution this year. Other panels will cover issues like Religious Freedom, Privatisation, Fashion, Urdu drama, Cinema, business, Mountaineering and other themes.