Arts and theater in Pakistan: A front line against extremism?

The celebrated Rafi Peer troupe got featured at this year's Lahore literary festival, after surviving Islamist bomb attacks. But civil society and free expression in Pakistan may still be measured as one step forward and two back. 

Khalid Mahmood/Wikimedia Commons

The stage lights are coming on in the main hall of the modernist Alhamra Arts Center. It is the last night of the Lahore Literary Festival and the venue is packed with people sitting in the aisles and standing at the rear. Hundreds more are pressed together outside at a large screen, waiting for this Sufi-inspired music, drama and dance spectacular.