Daastan’s Core Team Turning Heads and Inspiring Awe

Daastan’s Core Team Turning Heads and Inspiring Awe

If there is one thing that Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Ammer, has always praised and even boasted about, it has been about how he is blessed to have a team that is exceptional in all their skills, singular in passion, and absolutely awe inspiring when it comes to helping Daastan get ahead in all areas and mold it into a company that surpasses all expectations associated with it. Mr. Ommer attributes Daastan’s continuous success to his brilliant team, that never fails to amaze him and has never let him down.

Ms. Mahnoor Naseer:

The first core member we will celebrate here is Mahnoor Naseer. Mahnoor’s journey with Daastan began when she applied to be a part of the debut batch of the Literary Fellowship. Throughout the fellowship, she showed more than enough potential, and on graduating she proved it too, when she launched a global digital platform for artists to share their work, called “The Ancient Souls”. She helped Daastan set up their operations across the border in India, and eventually rose to the level of Editor in Chief with her constant struggles to aid Daastan on its journey towards legendary heights. An electrical engineer by profession, she has never let her degree limit her to one field of expertise and has self-taught herself to be a storyteller, a poet, and a transcriptionist. Recently, she has had the honor of being selected as a Citizen Historian for the 1947 Partition Archive, which is a non-governmental and non-political organization working on the preservation and archival of the stories of people who were displaced in the 1947 partition.

Ms. Mahnoor Naseer

Ms. Momina Latif:

The second member to be brought to the spotlight is Momina Latif, the design lead at Daastan, who is also Co-founder Jadugar and co., a company which provides corporate design solutions to products and brands. She is the brains and creative head behind most of the book covers published through Qissa, and has provided Daastan with some sensational social media designs over the years. She has been selected as a mentee for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a program held in London which gives professional training to help develop women’s small, and medium enterprises into growing sustainable empires. She will be receiving training from the world’s best entrepreneurs in the world, who will teach her how to unlock her hidden potential and scale to newer heights.

Ms. Momina Latif selected as a mentee in Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Ms. Sidra Amin:

The last, but essentially the most important one, is Sidra Amin. To sum her up in just a few lines would not be possible, but to name a few of her accomplishments – she is the Co-Founder Daastan, the person who has put piece upon piece together to bring the company where it stands now. She is also Co-Founder Words and Metaphors, KPK’s first spoken word platform, as well as Co-Founder Peshawar Book Club, which holds monthly meetings and discusses each book chosen in depth. She is a mechatronics engineer by profession, and an expert at surprising everyone with all that she can achieve. She has lately been interviewed by Dergi, a lifestyle magazine which has a reach of more than 5000 across social media. In the interview, she talks about her inspirations, and how to create the magic that we see sparking off of her. She has also been invited as a speaker of the WomenWill panel at BizFest Peshawar.

Ms. Sidra Amin, invited as a speaker in Peshawar BizFest 2018
Qissa Goes Groovy; An Internationally Renowned Music Artist Joins Us

Qissa Goes Groovy; An Internationally Renowned Music Artist Joins Us

In May of the year 2018, we were joined by an internationally acclaimed scholar and content creator on Qissa. Over the years, due to Qissa, we had gotten the opportunity to meet and professionally cater to hundreds of intellectuals from all across Pakistan, and a year into operations, we even started welcoming those from abroad. It always was and still remains a moment of pride for us when well-known and celebrated personalities trust us with their life’s work, and give us the opportunity to supply to them any services they might need.

“Inspired Discourses”:

Such was the case of Mr. Aadil Farook, a non-commercial music artist celebrated worldwide for his work, and one who already had an international publication, brought his work to Qissa. He listed his book titled “Inspired Discourses”, an exceptional piece of writing that renewed for the readers the traditions and heritage of Islamic intellectuality, bringing it into the spotlight to be debated over and discussed again. His writing brought forward the abundance of rich Islamic knowledge, in all schools of thoughts including but not limited to legality, theology, philosophy, as well as mysticism. His literary achievements were not limited to this book, rather he was also an author of two other books of Islamic poetry. All of his books have received excellent reviews from all around the world.

Inspired Discourses, written by Mr. Aadil Farook

The Author’s Journey:

His artistic abilities were not limited to writings. In fact, he was also known for his 6 songs and 1 instrumental composition which had been aired on top FM stations across Pakistan, and could easily be compared in quality to the legends of music themselves. Mr. Aadil owned a website on his own name that he ran himself, and was eventually nominated for the British Muslim Awards, a highly prestigious award that honored the successes of Muslims residing in Britain. His list of achievements also includes translations of two books, authored by a mystic and Sufi, from Urdu to English, making it widely available for the world. Due to his exceptional accomplishments, he has been likened to Allama Muhammad Iqbal. 

From the High Mountains of Kashmir to Sun Beaten Valleys of Punjab, We Capture the Stories of All

Our journey as one of the only reliable and quality assured self-publishing platforms in Pakistan has been an extraordinarily rewarding one. We have been the choice of so many brilliant storytellers from all across the country, and even beyond, as authors from over 17 countries across the globe have chosen Qissa to publish their work till now. Our platform now features stories in more than two languages, and 13 genres. The way Qissa scaled and became global in the span of just a couple years stunned us, and heartened us even more, to keep pursuing our dream of providing publishing services that were easier, faster, cheaper, and helped us materialize the dreams of our writers.

Our History:

During all this time, we have also had the opportunity to discover young potential, and have published storytellers as young as 19 years old from KPK, and 15 years old from Sindh. Both the writers received extra special marketing from the forum of Daastan, and so reading their stories, many others were inspired to make history as well.

Youngest Author from Punjab:

Another such whiz-kid was Ms. Sameen Irshad, who published her book “My Were-Story” at the age of 14, becoming the youngest author published through Daastan from Punjab. Her novel was 50,000 words long, and for a teenager it was extremely well written. The novel was based on the fantasy genre, featuring real life and legendary myths of werewolves. The team campaigned extensively for her crowdfunding, bringing her story to print.

A 14 year old, Ms. Sameen, authors a 50,000 words novel – My Were- Story

The Next Khalid Hosseini:

Next in line came the youngest author of Kashmir, a 22-year old lady named Ms. Ayesha Siddique, who wrote a story based in Afghanistan titled “The Freezing Point”, with eerily accurate imagery and use of Pashto language for someone who had neither visited the country, nor could speak the language. Her novel was remarkable in its writing style as it brought to mind the approach of the best-selling author Khalid Hosseini. It was a heart wrenching coming of age story, that highlighted the way terrorism and extremism had ravaged what was before a country that housed beauty that left the mind reeling. The author’s work was brought to print through crowdfunding, and her experience with Daastan was so amazing that she immediately set about to writing a second book, which she envisioned to publish on Qissa again, when it was ready. 

Ms. Ayesha becomes our youngest author from Kashmir
Jostling the Crowds by Staying on Top of the Start Up Game: The Wining of Preston University Startup Cup

Jostling the Crowds by Staying on Top of the Start Up Game: The Wining of Preston University Startup Cup

Over the years Daastan has had the honor of being the recipient of many different awards given by both big and small sources. The achievements have included but have not been limited to qualifying as far as the top 25 in the Pakistan Startup Cup, being featured in Inventory of Digital Technologies for Resilience in Asia- Pacific, and winning the SATHA Innovation Award – to name just a few. Each accomplishment brought with itself resources or opportunities that laid bare the way to the next, and so the list of trophies kept on increasing.

The Preston University Cup:

One such award that found its way to the hands of our team, was the Preston University Startup Cup. In the May of 2018, Preston University Islamabad organized its 6th successive national Inter University business plan competition called “Preston Entrepreneurial Challenge” and opened its gates to almost a hundred students from all across Pakistan to bring their innovative idea to the forefront. The teams that applied for the prestigious award not only included private university students, but also those belonging to public universities to ensure everyone got a fair chance to exhibit their product or idea. Of 237 entries, only 31 were selected for the grand finale and invited to the university. The event itself had various challenges so that one clear winner could rise to the top. Daastan stood singular among all, and was awarded Preston University’s first ever Startup Cup.

Daastan Stands Tall:

The purpose of this event was to provide a platform to the rising entrepreneurs of country, and help them exhibit their ideas to some of the most expert minds in the domain so they could provide technical guidance, as well as to investors for seed money. Daastan exhibited Qissa, and pitched in front of jury members from both private sectors such as SA Consulting Private Limited and government sector, like Ignite. The contest was sponsored by more than ten different brands and businesses. The chief guest of the competition was President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Amir Waheed, and the event was organized under the distinguished leadership of Mr. Shuja Humayun, the Director Entrepreneurship at Preston University.

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Utilizing Stories to Teach Life Lessons – Daastan Joins Hands with Al-Huda International

Utilizing Stories to Teach Life Lessons – Daastan Joins Hands with Al-Huda International

The establishment of Daastan was not just a step towards bringing the writers of Pakistan a way to get themselves recognized, but rather also a resource which we wanted to utilize to help improve the educational sector of Pakistan. Ours was a mission that focused on spreading knowledge and for this goal, the team always welcomed any opportunity to engage in and positively modify the currently sorry state of education which is, more often than not, experienced by students all over Pakistan. Our Founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Amer, also has an exceptional track record when it comes to writing pieces that not only enhanced the knowledge of the children who read or interacted with it, but also quite enjoyed themselves while they were learning. A previous example of this was the animated series Teetoo and Tania, aired on PTV, the script of which was written by Mr. Ommer himself.

Daastan x Al-Huda:

Therefore, when we acquired the chance to partner with Al-Huda International in Wah Cantt, we were more than excited to get on board. The team of Daastan generated tailored content, which aimed to enhance the learning experience of the 700+ students enrolled in the school. We wanted to promote learning through storytelling, which would thoroughly capture the interest of the student listening to it and help them relate to and therefore learn from the story being read to them.

Mr. Ommer on Color Day in Al Huda Int. Wah Cant., narrating his story

Painting the World with Words:

Daastan ran its first prototype of the said vision of proliferation of knowledge through stories, on more than a hundred students. The tale which was read to them was titled “Bakhshu Mian”, and the story was written and read by our founder himself. The story was a treasure trove which highlighted the importance of being grateful for the blessings endowed upon us, such as our eyes which help us see the light and colors. The recital was aptly written for the theme which was being celebrated in the school, which was “Color Day”, and taught the students moral values that helped them recognize their privileges over others, such as the blind people, and be thankful to Allah Almighty for them.

Want us to revamp the teaching structure of your school? Drop us an email at merasawal@daastan.com and let’s start transforming the future together.

The Ground Breaking and Stigma Shattering Fourth Season of Stories Untold

The Ground Breaking and Stigma Shattering Fourth Season of Stories Untold

Zainab’s Story:

Following the horrific misfortune that befell the beautiful little six-year-old Zainab Ansari belonging to Kasur, Punjab, a wave of fright and panic went through all of Pakistan. Each person was recounting the report of that tragedy the family of the little girl had gone through, and the trauma they must endure for the rest of the lives, all because of the horrendous acts of the perpetrator. It wasn’t one life we lost the day we as a nation failed Zainab, but rather some part of the whole nation seemed to have died along with her.

The Stories Untold Season 4, themed I am Zainab

I Am Zainab:

At that time, many of the organizations stepped forward to improve the situation and do whatever it is they could to help. Daastan, after careful consideration of how to help our nation which was going through a moral crisis, decided to launch the fourth season of its signature writing competition, The Stories Untold, in honor of the life that was lost, by labeling the theme as “I Am Zainab”. Through their stories, we wanted our writers to address the grave issue of child abuse, and encouraged them to write about whichever form of abuse they chose, whether physical, sexual or emotional. We wanted the storytellers to not only highlight, but write about effective ways through which the children could be protected from such experiences. Another purpose of this theme was to encourage our community to write stories which would then serve as guidance and educational material for their children, helping them learn about this social evil and ways they could protect themselves from it if ever faced with any such scenario.

The Response to our Competition:

Despite the social stigma surrounding the topic, we received a bucket load of entries, out of which a dozen were selected as finalists. The authors of these stories were put into contact with a professional psychologist, so as to ensure that the message that their stories would be spreading was an accurate one and could be followed through as real advice. The team of Daastan went through various such screenings to make sure the stories would be child friendly and could serve as a genuine guide for both parent and offspring on what to do in these situations.

The finalists selected were all published digitally through Daastan, top 5 of which would also go into print so as to help spread this message as far and wide as possible.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2081433495403685
The Highlights of Stories Untold Season 4
Entwined into Qissa’s Tree are Internationally Acclaimed Botanists

Entwined into Qissa’s Tree are Internationally Acclaimed Botanists

Qissa has seen and been an avenue which promoted a fair share of fiction writers over the years, and we have been very grateful for the way it has grown. However, when we started Daastan, we didn’t have only the storytellers in mind who we wanted to publish. In fact, ours was a dream to propagate knowledge and ease the way through which one might find a way to share with people what they had learned over years of schooling, or special bits of information that a person accumulates due to being passionate about a certain field. One thing which we really looked forward to welcoming on Qissa was academic writing, which helps the readers explore whichever subject they wished and wanted to learn about in detail.

A Sapling was Planted:

Qissa already featured a research work, a guidebook which helped equip the freshly graduated with skills they might need for finding a job. Another such publication that found its way to the bookshelves of Qissa was a work titled, A Practical Guide to Herbaceous Flora of District Lahore, Punjab”. As the title suggested, it was a book containing detailed morphological descriptions of the herbs and flora of the area of Lahore, in the easy and navigable alphabetical order. It contains basic but vital information about a plethora of herbal species, which is specially aimed to help the ‘Hakims’(Homeopaths) of the region broaden their medicinal plant base and acquire thorough knowledge on its uses. The authors include Ms. Mehwish Jaffer, a PhD Scholar who has to her credit six international and national scientific papers. Her co-author is Ms. Shabnum Shaheen, who has to her name six international monographs and books, 68 research publications, and has won a gold medal in an international conference of Botany.  It was an honor for the team when they chose Qissa as their platform for publishing, and we hope that such intellectuals and distinguished individuals will keep making Daastan their first choice for any publishing related services they might require. 

Book cover, A Practical Guide To Herbaceous Flora of District Lahore, Punjab
Qissa Receives Attention from the Specialists of Different Fields; We Became the Choice of a Geneticist

Qissa Receives Attention from the Specialists of Different Fields; We Became the Choice of a Geneticist

Literature has always been an area which helps bring together people from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter if you grow up to be a rocket scientist, a dentist, pursue a career that is service related, or don’t undertake higher studies at all, if their lives inside the writer a storyteller who has the ability and creativity to see through the veil that covers our reality, they will find their way to art. Art and literature enable people to be truly themselves, and sometimes, even more – without any prosecution or judgement from the world.

The Purpose of Qissa:

It was this higher reality that we wanted to provide the people who became a part of our platform. We wanted to give them the motivation to spin words into tales, without having to worry about any of the procedure that follows when you want to get these stories out to the public. And we knew we were on the right path when, despite rejection and demotivating factors in the industry itself, we received an overwhelming response from the community. From their support, their love, and their eagerness to be a part of our platform, we understood that they wanted us to go on and expand operations as much as we could.

About the Author:

As Qissa gained popularity, we started receiving the attention of highly qualified people from many different fields. One of the authors who joined us, Ms. Hafsa, was a geneticist who believed in finding a fix to problems no matter how deep she needed to dive in to root them out (and at times, her search for solutions took her gene deep). Her book “Hossana”, is a collection of prose poems with illustrations, that was crowdfunded and brought to print through our community. It features different languages, and different genres. The book is divided into sections: the first one raises questions that go bone deep and rattle one’s perceptions about life. The second provides answers, helping us reconcile with reality – and the last is titled messages, connecting us irreversibly with the author who helped us along this journey of thoughts and knowledge.

If you are an author who wishes to get published, drop us a message on Daastan.

Hoisting the Flag of Literature All Over Pakistan

Hoisting the Flag of Literature All Over Pakistan

After diving headfirst into the Olympiad culture and sponsoring numerous talent hunting competitions in the span of just a few months, Daastan started attracting the attention of the big names in the community and getting invited not just to help groom the talent, but also share our experience and inspire those who might want to walk down the same path. And so, with this, we zeroed in on providing sponsorship, technical and media related support, and marketing to the literature exclusive festivals and happenings across Pakistan. The team would then help those interested find their way to their first self-published works through Qissa, empowering them to monetize their hobby and – if they chose so – to make a career out of it.

A Seminar on Feminism:

The first of such events was a seminar titled “Feminism in Language, Literature and Marketplace”, organized on Women’s Day, where Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Ammer, was invited as a guest speaker. Ommer shared the success stories of Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz – the youngest published author of Peshawar, Ms. Lareb Soomro – the youngest published author or Sindh and Ms. Faiza Kayani a police commando who defied all odds to chase her dream and published her first book through Qissa. He also spoke about how Daastan was enabling women voice their opinions through their stories, and also gain financial independence by training them to generate revenue from their writings and connecting them to resources which can help them do so.

NUST and LUMS Literary Fests:

Just a couple weeks after that, we sponsored not only the National Literary Festival by NUST in Islamabad, but also one of the biggest campus based literary festivals in all of Pakistan, i.e. the LUMS Literary Festival 2018. Through Daastan, the literary festivals received judges to adjudicate all their competitions, discounts on all books published on Qissa, the chance to talk to our team and learn more about utilizing digital tools to help them carve their out their niche in the industry. Not only this, the winners of the LUMS Literary Festival received wild card entries to the finalists of the on-going season of ‘The Stories Untold’, through which the authors would all go into print for free through Daastan.

If you want us to sponsor you event, or provide support, send us an email at merasawal@daastan.com.

Drawing out Local Talent:

This led us to powering events which were showcasing local languages, such as the Punjab Festival 2018, where our delegate Ms. Diya Khan who is a Daastan Literary Fellow and a teacher by profession, represented Daastan. The festival was organized by Punjab Institute of Languages and Culture, to promote the Punjabi language and its culture.

Panel discussion at Punjab Festival 2018

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Making Ourselves Known and Drawing Attention in Olympiads

Making Ourselves Known and Drawing Attention in Olympiads

Daastan may have started small, but in no way was it destined to remain that way as the years rolled by. When the team started out, one of their primary missions was to help train raw talent from across the whole country and maybe even beyond, and enable them in setting up their literary ventures through the Qissa portal – or help them polish their skills to perfection, making them industry-fit and ready for hiring. We at Daastan, have always felt it as one of our responsibilities to reach out and give opportunities to anyone who has even a smidge of talent, along with a ton of passion.

Sponsoring the EME Olympiad:

It was to uphold this very ideal that Daastan jumped forward at the mention of giving support to the first competition which reached out to them i.e. the EME Olympiad. A delegation from team Daastan consisting of Ms. Sidra Amin, Co-Founder, and Ms. Mahnoor Naseer, Editor-In-Chief were invited to judge the Speed Writing as well as the Poetry Slam competition. The two exceptionally talented ladies were honored to have been given the opportunity to witness such exceptional work by some of the participants. The delegation also consisted of Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, a Literary Fellow graduate and a part of Urdu Editorial Board at Daastan, who was there to judge and score the participants enrolled in Urdu based literary competitions. Daastan provided a sponsorship of almost 50,000 PKR to EME Olympiad, along with social media support.

Daastan joins hands with EME Olympiad

PIEAS National Olympiad x Daastan:

A month later, we had the opportunity to collaborate with and provide funding to the PIEAS National Olympiad. One of the biggest Olympiads being held in the twin cities, with participation from more than 30 Universities from all over Pakistan. The team of Daastan saw more than 800 participants competiting each other and showcasing their skills. Their literary modules were judged by a delegation of Daastan, consisting of Ms. Areesh Fatmee, Director PR Daastan, Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, Urdu Editor Daastan, and Ms. Aaina Batool, published author at Qissa. Daastan also offered print publishing to the winners, along with marketing on social media to provide additional support to the event.

Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari (left) and Ms. Aaina Batool with Team PiON.

The IST Youth Carnival:

In the same week as the PIEAS National Olympiad, Daastan also collaborated with the IST Youth Carnival. Our published author Ms. Iqra Saeed set up a stall there and spread awareness on the literary industry and self-publishing scenario in Pakistan, and Daastan also provided judges to adjudicate the short story competition.

Daastan’s stall set up by Ms. Iqra Saeed at IST Youth Carnival

If you are organizing an Olympiad or Carnival at your University and require sponsorship, drop us an email at merasawal@daastan.com.

Empowering as We Go – Daastan Joins Hands with Pakistani Lady Bloggers

Empowering as We Go – Daastan Joins Hands with Pakistani Lady Bloggers

Pakistani Lady Bloggers was a woman only platform that started its journey as a Facebook group, and went on to become a huge platform that launched its very own website and became known and celebrated by a lot of people across the country. The concept behind it was a fairly simple but still a profound one; the administrators wanted to develop a place where the ladies of Pakistan who wanted to join in the blogging world could take real time advice from veterans of the field who were also female. It provided a professional safe space for women to collaborate, seek advice, and learn the foundations of building and running your blog. The group also had a website of its own that shed light on how to build a proper platform online, to gain views and create content, and also ways to monetize their work.

Daastan’s Role in Women Empowerment:

Daastan has always been a huge believer in giving opportunities to the fifty percent of Pakistan that is usually left behind. From the core team that handles operations at Qissa and Daastan, to the writers who join us to get their work published, the founder and co-founders have always encouraged female presence in their workspace and have, at times, gone out of their way to ensure that the environment at Daastan is comfortable enough for anyone who might be willing to work there. Along with this, Daastan has always prided itself in the fact that multitudes of stay at home females have found Qissa to be the best forum to publicize their work and also generate revenue from it. To join our community, all you need to do is sign up and make a profile on Qissa.

Our friends at PLB hosted a spectacular event in Lahore, and was also joined by Ms. Qudsia Jamali who is our team member.

Daastan x Pakistan Lady Bloggers:

It was for reasons such as the ones mentioned that Daastan joined hand with PLB, as their community decided to shift their profiles to Qissa to further better their availability of opportunities, and enhance their visibility. It was an honor for Daastan to be chosen as the space that would enable hundreds of women to build their own empire. 

PLB-Daastan Collab – Step 1: Sign up for MeraQissa

The Pakistani Woman is proud to announce its collaboration with Daastan in empowering Pakistani female bloggers and writers of all ages and all backgrounds. TPW hosts a Facebook community dedicated to the cause of bringing together female writers of the country in way that helps them excel and learn from each other. If you are a Pakistani female blogger/writer, and looking to join our thriving community, send us a join request at https://www.facebook.com/groups/pakistaniladybloggers/Signing up for MeraQissa account is a MANDATORY step if you want to avail what PLB-Daastan has in store for you, some of which are:- better writing opportunities- better recognition of your skills on a larger scale- professional help in publishing your own book- fellowship programs to groom your literary skills- chance to attend literary events- freelance writing opportunities** strictly a women-only group

Posted by The Pakistani Woman on Monday, May 7, 2018

Want to share your expertise and skills with the rest of the world? Build yourself a profile on Qissa to get started!

The Stories Untold Season 4x; An Offshoot of Daastan’s Competition

The Stories Untold Season 4x; An Offshoot of Daastan’s Competition

With the launch of Season 4 of Daastan’s Stories Untold, Outcast Magazine, a South Asian queer-lit magazine founded by a Literary Fellow of Daastan, decided to hold an extension of the story writing competition to generate content and encourage stories in its own niche. Outcast Magazine worked to bring to light the presence of the LGBTQ+ community in the region of South Asia, and had had the honor of being endorsed by multiple internationally acclaimed platforms such as The CommonWealth Writers.

The Stories Untold Season 4x, conducted by Outcast Magazine

The Motive for Conducting the Competition:

We, at Daastan, recognized that abuse was an issue that transcended gender, religion, social, and traditional bounds, and so had its roots present in all kinds of society everywhere around the globe. Through this, both the team of Daastan and Outcast wanted to encourage stories of abuse to come forth from the LGBTQ community. The people who identified as any of these have, more often than not, been ostracized enough, and are at the brunt of many incidents of abuse that are enforced upon them as a way of punishment. The social stigma attached to such cases is even higher than the one attached to cases of child abuse, with people choosing to hush it up rather than talk about it so that the wrongdoers can be held responsible.

Your Response:

The magazine encouraged its writers to challenge the norms and break through the socially imposed boundary of remaining silent in the face of such evil, by raising their voice and penning down thoughtful, and inspiring work, between the word limit of 4000-6000. The competition received numerous entries from across the globe, and was a huge success. Being powered by Daastan, the finalists selected would be published in a print anthology, and the authors would receive a free copy of the published work. Along with this, they would also be awarded with a certificate and their names displayed on both the website as well as the Facebook page to help them gain publicity for their work.

[Short Story Contest Results]The wait has been long but it's finally over. We present to you the winner!Congratulations to Barnali Ray Shukla on winning the contest with her brilliant short story titled A Wedding Song.And congratulations to all the finalists on being a part of our upcoming anthology.All the stories were an absolute pleasure to read and we can't wait to share them. You'll be able to place orders for the print edition in the coming week so keep your eyes on our posts. P.S. 10 points to anyone who can guess the title of the anthology :)#OutcastMagazine #queerlit #VoicesUnveiled

Posted by Outcast Magazine on Friday, June 1, 2018

Literary Evenings Volume II: The Second Chapter in a Hit Story

Literary Evenings Volume II: The Second Chapter in a Hit Story

Exactly a month after the chain of events, titled “Literary Evenings” by Words and Metaphors, was kick started in the city of Peshawar, the team of Daastan traveled all the way to Karachi to hold the second one in its succession. The first event had turned out to be a huge hit, with a crowd turnout that amazed even the most hopeful among us. The poetry and performances we got to see in the event were of such good quality that weeks after the audience would find themselves thinking about the cozy environment in which all of the literary geeks felt connected as if they were a family.

The Event:

Literary Evenings Volume Two was split into two events held at separate venues so as to celebrate each one according to its needs. The first event was the book launch of Daastan’s youngest published writer from Sindh, Lareb Soomro. The 15-year-old girl from Larkana wrote her very first novel “The Secret of Spring”, and finding no avenue to bring her work to the public, turned to what would become her enabling family – Daastan. Within a few months of her sharing her novel with the team, it was proofread, edited to its best version, and then sent to print. It was such a pleasure for Daastan to have empowered such a young but a creative and budding mind. Lareb’s book launch was held in Nizamani Labour Hall where students from different colleges, writers and people with an appreciation of literature graced the event. Her launch received extensive media coverage. The news report of the event and her interviews were featured on Samaa news, Sach Tv, as well as local Sindhi news channels like Awaz.

Group photo featuring DAWN TV reporter (left), Mr. Khursheed Ahmed – a proud father, Ms. Mukhtar Soomro – a happy aunt, Ms. Lareb Soomro – Sindh’s Youngest published author and her uncle Mr. Ameen (right).

Open Mic:

The second occasion of the volume two of Literary evenings was an open mic session which took place in Pakistan Chowk Community Center. The Open Mic was themed, and people from all walks of life came together to share their works and lift the stigma from society’s notion regarding “Abuse”. Over the course of the evening, with so many hearts opening up to individuals who had gone through more or less the same experiences as them, the air grew somber but bittersweet in the knowledge that they were not alone. 

Mr. Ahmed was a participant of the Open Mic Session held under Literary Evenings Vol II
Racing Through Genres to Finally Publish Our Very First Work on Islam

Racing Through Genres to Finally Publish Our Very First Work on Islam

In the Spring of 2018, Daastan had the honor of being the team of choice for Ms. Iqra Saeed, who wanted to publish her debut book through Qissa. Her book, “Light Upon Light – Reflections”, was extremely special in the sense that it was to become the first book based on Islam being published on Qissa self-publishing. The team was over joyed to have a chance at spreading the message of peace through this book, and helping their community reconnect with the beautiful religion that is Islam.

About the Book:

Light Upon Light was non-fiction, and focused on imparting authentic lessons that would help us better understand the code of life we followed, and renew our faith and relation with Allah SWT. The writing itself was exceptional and one of a kind, as it helped the readers tackle and walk through the emotional turmoil of everyday life. Her book took references from Islamic history, and through that assisted the reader in finding the right path. It was targeted at those who found themselves at their weakest, with no one to turn to but Allah, and encouraged them to take on their trials with patience and believe that no matter how broken and damaged they were, they would always be welcome at the gates that lead toward righteousness. It inspired one to seek out eternal joy in His remembrance, and improve our deeds for the hereafter.

Excerpt from Light Upon Light by Ms. Iqra

Bringing the Book to Print:

Daastan campaigned for the funding required to bring Ms. Iqra’s work to print, and helped raise 16,000 PKR which took a little more than a month. It was successfully completed and we published a hundred copies of her book. The company faced extensive criticism at an instance before where they helped their Literary Fellow set up their own magazine. With this book coming out however, Daastan proved that their team’s ideals were aimed towards carving out a path for whoever sought them out, and bringing their work to light no matter the challenges faced by them while doing so. Later on, Daastan also helped the author by powering the literary events in IST Youth Carnival, which was being held in her hometown, and provided her with resources to exhibit her book to garner more sales.

Ms. Iqra put up a stall, powered by Daastan, to showcase her book in the IST Youth Carnival

If you have a book that you want to share with the world, drop us a message and let us bring it to print ready format and publish it.

Bringing our Daastan to your Cities through Campus Drives

Bringing our Daastan to your Cities through Campus Drives

Daastan took over the digital space after graduating from Telenor Velocity, had authors singing up by the hundreds, and was creating waves in the trade of writing in Pakistan. With Qissa leading at the forefront, it was only natural that the team started to think of ways to expand their message to the populace previously untouched due to biased social media algorithms, lack of connectivity to the relevant resources, or dearth of awareness regarding how we worked and why it mattered. To address this, Daastan’s team geared up to hold campus drives all across Pakistan.

How to Connect with Daastan:

The idea was simple; we invited our family online to drop us an email at merasawal@daastan.com or message us on our Facebook page or website if they wanted us to visit their campus. From there on, the team of Daastan would try to reach out to their resources in the said city, get in contact with the authorities or concerned people at the University campus they were planning on visiting, set a date and arrange a small event to which students would be invited.
The invites that followed were received from all sorts of individuals of our community. We visited campuses where our members worked or studied, Universities in which we were hosted by our published writers and story competition winners, and places where we were invited simply because a person chose to volunteer with us as a literary activist to learn about self-publishing and get their fellows interested in literature.

The Impact:

What started as a few visits to some universities, ended up as a full-blown offline movement in which more than 40 campuses were visited to gather the literati from all over the country and walk them through the literature industry and its workings in the most transparent way. We were welcomed into campuses of Karachi such as NEDUET, to those of Multan like Bahauddin Zikriya University. In Lahore doors of the UMT were opened to us, in Islamabad those of COMSATS, and in Rawalpindi we made waves in a session so exuberant in FUMC, it left a mark on all that attended it.
The team would go spearheaded by one or another executive member, hold an interactive session with the students and answer their questions regarding Daastan and Qissa publishing, set up a stall with our published books and cool bookmarks, and connect with all the hidden gems of the literary community.

Honorary Invites:

Along with this, the team was also invited to speak in numerous literary fests all across Pakistan. Our Managing Director was invited to speak as a panelist in King Edwards Literary Festival ‘17, while Daastan’s founder himself, accompanied by Ms. Sameen Aziz – graduate of Daastan’s second batch of Literary Fellowship, represented Daastan at KATH ’18 . In each campus drive, a prize distribution ceremony would be held to appreciate our writers.

If you want our team to visit your campus or sponsor your literary event, drop us a message on our Facebook page, or email us at merasawal@daastan.com.