Education & National Heritage Minister Shafqat Mahmood will open the third edition of the two-day Afkar-e-Taza Thinkfest at Alhamra today. The festival is being held under the auspices of Information Technology University (ITU), the Punjab Centre for Governance & Policy, which will include talks, speeches and discussions by international scholars, thinkers and opinion makers converging from around the world’s leading universities. On both days, the event is open and free to the public and will continue until tomorrow (Sunday). Local Government Punjab Senior Minister Aleem Khan, former foreign ministers Hina Rabbani Khar and Khurshid Kasuri, former senator Afrasiab Khattak and lawyer Salman Akram Raja will chair different sessions on the opening day. Information & Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhary and Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht will address the concluding sessions tomorrow.The proceedings of Day 1 will start with a plenary talk by Dr Christophe Jaffrelot from Paris who will speak on Forms of Authoritarianism. On Day 1, the other panels will include a talk on Self-Determination in Kashmir by Professor Dibyesh Anand from the United Kingdom (KP) and a talk on Lahore 1929 – the Center of the Freedom Movement, by Dr Kama Maclean from Australia and Dr Chris Moffat from the UK. Local topics will be covered by a session on changes in Punjab, from Kartarpur to South Punjab, local government issues led by Member of Provincial Assembly Jugnu Mohsin and a panel on cinema and popular culture led by Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed from Sweden. Foreign affairs will strongly feature talks on United States-Pakistan relations with Hina Rabbani Khar and Ejaz Haider and a panel on Pakistan and India relations with Khurshid Kasuri, Dr Happymon Jacob from India and journalist Mehr Tarar. Former UK diplomat Sir Tim Hitchens will further weigh in on Brexit and the future of the UK in the world. The second day of the ThinkFest will start with a riveting discussion on the Manto film controversy by acclaimed scholar Ayesha Jalal in conversation with Raza Rumi. Professor Cemil Aydin will launch his book The idea of the Muslim World in conversation with Dr Tahir Kamran from the Government College University. Also launching her book on the samadhi of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be Dr Nadhra Khan from the Lahore University of Management Sciences with renowned Punjab scholar Jean-Marie Lafont from France. Dr Tariq Rahman will also launch his book on jihad in South Asia. Other talks will cover topics like Afghanistan, urban planning in Lahore, fog and the environment, nuclear non-proliferation issues and the Me Too phenomenon.The Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest will also feature three other special plenary speakers, where Professor Gauri Viswanathan from Columbia University will speak on Post Colonialism & Globalisation, Professor Akeel Bilgrami, also from Columbia, will discuss his latest work on Secularism & Identity and Sir Richard Evans, a distinguished scholar of European history, will speak on Conspiracy & Democracy. Published in Daily Times, January 12th 2019.