Books are better teachers than any school curriculum. They let us peek into lives– real and unreal—go to places we’ve never been, face situations we’ve never encountered and come out stronger and wiser. 5 years ago, Daastan took its first step towards realizing its goal of educating the masses through books. We wanted to make a book lover out of every individual whose life we touched and see a book in every hand. Today, Daastan has progressed with leaps and bounds and continues to expand its mission.
One such instance of furthering our vision was when we partnered with Books and Beyond in what turned out to be a highly successful series of book club events.
Daastan Chasing their Vision by Partnering with Books and Beyond
To develop interest and increase membership of Books and Beyond- a literary club from Hyderabad- Daastan decided to sponsor their second of many book club meets held at Khanabadosh Writers’ Café in Hyderabad. The book club discussed Manto, Dostoevsky, Existentialism and Socialism.
Daastan provided the attendees with literary souvenirs such as bookmarks and tote bags with phrases like “Books not bombs” and “Knowledge is power!”. The purpose of the freebies was to impart positive vibes to the members and encourage them to attend even more book clubs, thereby increasing their love for literature and reading. The gifts from Daastan were well-received and all in all, the book club was a smashing success.
About Books and Beyond
Taking birth in the soulful city of Hyderabad, Books and Beyond is a literary club that started in 2016. Its goal is to bring both amateur and seasoned readers together in a single space and break through reading barriers in Hyderabad. They are also expanding into bigger cities like Karachi. Run by a hardworking team of bibliophiles, Books and Beyond works to promote reading culture among students, revive the lost interest in reading, hold in-depth discussions between like-minded people and encourage writers to share their writings.
Under the leadership of Huda Bhurgri and Khushbakht Memon, this literary club has organized various successful events. The events include book club meetups, open mic sessions and digital discussion groups.
The Founder of Books and Beyond, Huda Bhurgri
Our very own #Oneof50, Ms. Huda Bhurgri is a power woman! She is the founder of Books and Beyond and a social enterprise Soormi, that works towards women empowerment. Her love for literature and a dream of equality drives her to hustle harder every day and amaze us with her achievements.
Ms. Huda, along with her friend, Ms. Khushbakht Memon, founded Books and Beyond in 2016 when both of them felt a void in Hyderabad’s literary space. They believed that Hyderabad was home to a number of book lovers but the diminishing reader body of Hyderabad left little room for them to openly talk about books with like-minded people. With a solution in mind, these ambitious ladies started holding book club meets in a safe and healthy environment and made a special space for Hyderabad’s literati. And thus, Books and Beyond was formed. Daastan is proud to have been a partner of such an innovative literary initiative. We love putting in our share in literary and social enterprises and increase book love all across Pakistan!
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In the summer of 2015, Ommer Amer, a then-budding writer from Wah was searching for a publisher for his first novel, The Forbidden Story. However, at that time, quality Pakistani publishers were almost non-existent. Disappointed by the lack of a proper platform to launch and market his book, Ommer decided to do something about the matter. With the help of 2 friends, Hafsa Idrees and Tahniat Saba, Ommer Amer founded Daastan—a self-publishing platform that would give access to all Pakistani writers to get their written word out into the world. And thus, we began our “daastan”.
Team Daastan has a dream—to help writers monetize their work, earn from their talent and grow Pakistan’s literary space. At a time where a large number of people, especially the youth, is tech oriented, the best way to thrive was through the internet. Ommer and his team turned to Plan9 and the startup was incubated in one of its 2015 batches. After a six-month incubation period, it took off and soared to greater heights. We went through a roller coaster of experiences—some good, some bad and some absolutely mind-blowing! (Like when we bagged the 2nd prize on an international platform)
Operating under Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Plan9 is Pakistan’s first tech startup incubator that started in September 2012. A business incubator works as a catalyst between dedicated and enthusiastic groups with unique ideas and help them to start their businesses. It provides funds from interested investors and services including office space and training.
Plan9 is one of its kind; providing its selected candidates (picked twice every year from a pool of 15 groups) with training from its experienced board, working space with computers, internet access, and even electricity so that Pakistan’s power shortage does not become a hurdle for budding startups. It has launched 130+ tech startups in Pakistan, with a vision of each business making a mark on international levels. The startups by Plan9 are gross valued at $70 million and they have raised a gross investment of $2.5 million
PITB’s tech incubator is led by founder, Dr. Umar Saif who
is also Chairman, PITB alongside Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship
and Enterprise Development, PITB.
Daastan upon its Graduation from Plan9
Since it’s incubation, Daastan has surpassed the expectations of many. Shortly after its graduation from Plan9, Daastan arranged a massive caused based letter writing campaign. Students from different schools and UET Taxila wrote letters to the Army. At the Brand Launch of Daastan in Arfa Technology ParkMughees Anwar and Rutaba Yaqub spoke as guest speakers. By the end of 2015, we had organized a number of important literary events such as the Daastan Literary Fest.
2016 was a roller coaster year for Daastan! Filled with endless work despite night and day, we organized out first ever big scale competition, The Stories Untold Season 1. Luckily, we received an overwhelming response. Soon, Daastan launched Qissa—Pakistan’s first self-publishing digital platform, enabling writers from all over the world to publish their books with a few clicks! Qissa garnered appreciation from writers and businesses alike and revolutionized self-publishing as we know it. But that’s not all! Team Daastan kept breaking through barriers by launching its very own Literary Fellowship which would bring together literary activists from all over Pakistan.
Today, Daastan is the biggest self-publishing house in Pakistan. We are working towards the betterment of the country by increasing readership and bringing the works of previously unpublished authors to light. We have helped writers monetize their work, turned passions into careers. Our team has held worldwide competitions, launched businesses, made a space in the media and much more. From one person’s dream, we have transformed into an army of readers and writerswith an unshakable will to rejuvenate literature in Pakistan.
What is a writer’s dream? Is writing an ultimate goal for a writer? Well, typically speaking, writing does fulfill a writer. But the dream is always way bigger and higher. Rhizomatic Literaties’ book launch, for example, is one one such dream. Becoming a published author, receiving acclaim for your talent and being known for your book is the actual dream. Similarly, our three talented leads of Rhizomatic Literaties did not settle for less.Rhizomatic Literaties is a special book for Daastan because it is composed of numerous entirely diverse minds that take you into a journey of exploration. You can read the book at meraqissa.com. Have a look at Rhizomatic Literaties Book Launch here.
On 7th March 2020, Daastan arranged Rhizomatic Literaties‘ book launch at Plan 9 Tech Incubator Arfa Towers, Lahore. Literary enthusiasts from all fields joined us to celebrate this milestone in our journey. Our panel of discussion engaged the visitors in a healthy talk over struggle and most importantly, literature and publishing in Pakistan by sharing their own stories. Ms. Amanda from Australia was our guest of honor who moderated the panel discussion.
About Rhizomatic Literaties
We take immense pride in Rhizomatic Literaties which is one of our masterpieces as per the unique and outstanding nature of the book. The idea behind this book was to bring together the hidden talent of Pakistan’s literary industry to put them on the forefront. Secondly, this book also speaks for the nature of our publishing industry that is inclusive and non-discriminatory. We promote writers from all sections of society. The 12 different narratives that make up this out-of-the-box book, showcase the diversity and celebrate the power and beauty of women in Pakistan.
Have Your Own Book Launch With Daastan
It is our mission to bring together writers, literary enthusiasts and all people who are eager to act as an agent in order to push forward, the wheel of our publishing industry. Start writing now and launch your book with Daastan. We believe you can! Sign up at Daastan and begin your journey today.
One of the key roles of Daastan, apart from Publishing, is marketing, advertising ,distribution and promoting Literary activities in Pakistan. Bleed, Breath, Sing is a book from a young author. We at Daastan believe in empowering young authors. Through a smooth transparent system, we establish a direct link between authors and buyers with the help of Literati Choice consequently, benefitting the writers.
On 21st Februrary 2020, Daastan arranged a book launch for Ms Komal Salman’s latest Book “Bleed, Breathe, Sing”. The event was held at National Incubation Center, Islamabad. To our surprise, more than a 100 people turned up to support and congratulate the young author on achieving this milestone. Students, teachers, social activists, researchers and even families were eager to be a part of such Literary activities, who joined us to celebrate local talent and the future leadership of Pakistan.
‘Bleed, Breath, Sing’ – At the Book Launch
The event started off with an energetic and optimistic discussion on Pakistani Society and the importance of such Literary activities in our community. Our panel included Ms Anum, the design lead at Daastan, Ms. KomalSalman, author at Qissa, Mr. Ayub a social activist and Mr Ommer Amer the founder of Daastan. These panelists discussed ways of bringing social change in light of their own unique experiences. The significance of social change in our community and its impact was their key focus.
Activities at the Book Launch
The best part about Literary activities is the audience. When literary enthusiasts meet, creativity, talent and art is bound to emerge. Our guests were no less artistic themselves. Performances and recitals by local artists were also arranged. Through these activities, we realize that it is not the lack of talent or hard-work but a lack of avenues and platforms that hinder our youth to excel in their respective fields. At Daastan, we do our best to ensure that our local artists are provided with every opportunity.
The book launch concluded with a one-on-one meetup with the author Ms. Komal Salman, herself. She gave out signed copies to our guests as a token of appreciation.
To sum up, we are proud to have helped our talented writer Ms. Komal Salman in achieving her dream. We hope to keep connecting these emerging authors to readers and buyers in an attempt to upgrade the literary industry of Pakistan. If yousupport our vision and wish to be a part of our literary activities, join us by signing up at Daastan to build our community!
It is true that political, social or religious differences must be accommodated. Borders are drawn to avoid conflict and allow people to live in a peace. Geographical divisions may seem like a progressive idea today. However, decision makers do not and can not speak for all people. Amidst these divisions, ties of love, friendship and generational attachments have to be torn. These barbed wires that mark borders, scratch and wound those who have to cross them over.
We can’t possibly mend the 73 year old political enmity, but we can surely rise above these institutional differences and talk about our narrative. The narrative of the marginalized ones. Perhaps the most marginalized in the division of sub-continent were all those whocould not cease to love and feel for their lost comrades.
An Attempt at making Peace Across Borders
To establish and spread the narrative of the literati in both countries, Daastan from Pakistan and White Falcon Publishing from India, initiated a Letter writing movement. We invited writers to send in their letters to express their concerns for regional peace. Writers could write in prose or poetry. Daastan received letters in Urdu, English and Hindi, following the main theme: regional peace.
We, atDaastan, received letters from all across Pakistan. We were amazed by the energetic response by the talent in our country. All these letters were extremely emotional and beautiful. Our team was deeply touched by the effort put in by the talented writers from all around Pakistan. The aim behind this movement was to simply acknowledge the fact that no matter how these divisions have shaped our history and geography, love and friendship can break all walls. These letters and their writers are legitimaterepresentatives of peace from both countries. The powerful voices that echo from our television screens, can not mute the narrative of peaceful co-existence.
We aim to keep connecting readers and writers in an attempt to grow and engage in literary activities. If you share our love and passion of literature, sign up with us at Daastan and let us grow together!