The Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF-2017) ended with memorable tribute to Mashal Khan. A resolution condemning the lynching of the Mardan university student was also passed. “The publically lynched body of Mashal should not be buried, it must stay alive in our thoughts, words, pens, books and speeches as a sign of never ending protest against the heinous a mindset, using doctrine of peaceful Islam for their personal interests. This is a turning point for a positive transition in the history of Pakistan. It would lay the foundations of a society where flags of human liberty, individual freedom, diversity, progressive attitudes, obedience for the institutions and security of human life shall be held higher with pride and prestige,” the resolution stated. The atmosphere of the capital remained fragrant continuously for three days with the powerful words of more than 150 national and international intellectuals, scholars, academicians, writers, poets, analysts, historians, performing artists, young emerging leaders, musicians, singers, actors and a few of the very wise political figures as well as bureaucrats, who took part in the festival. The dominant topics discussed at the festival were the need of the equal justice for all citizens in Pakistan; hopes about basic and higher education; need for universal access to basic health, clean drinking water and cheap housing facilities for the rapidly increasing Pakistani population; and re-discovering the real history of Pakistan. Other topics included the fall of Dhaka; how social media had revolutionised the daily life in Pakistan; the shining parts of Urdu literature; and how English Literature had developed an amalgamation with Urdu literature of the subcontinent. There were brilliant dramatic performances on stories of Asmat Chughtai, Intzar Hussain and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi by young artists from National Academy of Performing Arts at the festival. The impressive readings of Amrita Pritam’s ‘Mein Tenu Phir Mila Di’ (I shall see you again) by Sarmad Khoosat and Nimra Bucha took the audience in another magical world of romance and realism. In addition to all this, 17 new books were launched at ILF-2017 on different perspectives of Pakistan, including “Hold Your Breath” by Waqas Khwaja; “Uss ko Ik Shakhs Samajhna tou Munasib hi Nahin” by Nasir Abbas Nayyar; “How Pakistan Got Divided” by Maj Gen (r) Rao Farman Ali; and “Pakistan ki Tehzeeb o Saqafat” by Kishwar Naheed. Hence, ILF-2017 has left a lot of dynamic impressions on the participants. Being an ordinary student of life, I maintain that Pakistan needs to go on towards the “roads not taken” already where art dominates, people are respected, rules are followed, truth is accepted, peace dwells forever, people think rationally, tolerance prevails, human interactions are preferred and love is considered as a shield against all conservative school of thoughts. I would underline a few of the very important points which stole the hearts and no one could help but getting away with the narratives. One of the speakers was honest in saying that our society is based on communal wars. For a common man, there was no justice, there is no justice and there will be no justice in the existing system in which we are exercising the same attitude towards the people of Balochistan as we did with people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). How long Pakistan can go on with its silent, hand wrenching and hair pulling policy towards elements of national injustice, unrest and instability? Isn’t it surprising to note that in 60s, countries like Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam were far behind in economic growth compared to Pakistan, but now it is hard to find Pakistan anywhere in scales. This is a point of reflection that what kind of legacy we are going to leave for the coming generations? The state of education has no exception. Being the highest recipient of financial aid from USAID and other international donor agencies, Pakistan has not performed well also and remains a failure in diminishing the gap between schools for the rich and schools for the poor. Adding insult to injury, lack of a uniform educational policy is further widening this gap. The curriculum could not promote an interaction between students and teachers instead it is giving fragile foundations of root learning to their rich minds. Schools in remote areas are still waiting for basic facilities. About all the misconceptions regarding history, there were slogans during ILF-2017 that let history be free. Pakistan has passed through 70 years of ignorance and disillusion from the true narrative of its history which has caused a severe damage to the state institutions, democracy, social integration and the youth of this country. The long 70 years in the state of denial has led Pakistan nowhere. However, it is not too late. Let’s accept what we have done and let’s mend our future for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. It is the right time to equip the youth of this country with treasure of imaginations, creativity of thoughts and ability to challenge the stereotypes. ILF-2017 has proved to be an iconoclast in many ways. It has reinforced its last five years tradition to remove ignorance from the society and to encourage the critical thinking, reasoning of arguments and promotion of literature, art and values of human liberty from the handcuffs of orthodox schools of thought and extremist mindsets. It has rejuvenated our love for books, the books which have been thrown in mud of ignorance and caused creation of constant intellectual suffocation in the society. Resultantly, there are walls between individuals and their sentiments, between human beings and their moral values, between us and all the divine principles of tolerance, harmony and respect for differences. I barely wanted to end this piece with a pessimistic note but it is heartening to say that just one day before the start ILF-2017, 148 km away in city of Mardan, Mashal was brutally tortured and mercilessly killed. There were two completely different mindsets working on both these events. At one side, we had Oxford University Press Pakistan which was preparing for ILF-2017 in Islamabad to enlighten our vision about the broader world of art, humanity and peace through promotion of art and literature whereas on the other side, misguided, frantic, ignorant “Lost Generation” was skinning an innocent human being. Is this the legacy we want to leave for our children? I leave it to you to choose for yourself. How beautifully Dr Arfa Sayeda Zehra summed up during ILF-2017 the need of truth to prevail before it is too late: “A slogan has a high pitch, but very short life. The truth, even if said in a whisper, stays forever, till the generations to come.” Asif A Malik is an educationist,fellow of PGLS 2016 class Russia, Member of National Academy of Young Scientists (Pakistan), Country Chair in Pakistan for Global Network for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, India and currently associated with COMSATS IIT, Islamabad as assistant registrar. He tweets at @AsifMalik30.