The very idea of a festival is an absolute joy for me and my organization. Since 1992, my organization's dream to host the first international festival of puppetry in Pakistan has crystallized into a palpable reality, and we have walked this path ever since evolving into something that has become an enormous inspiration, and interest, for both the audiences and fellow artists alike. Now, we have held 15 international festivals of performing arts, never looking back even once.

Living in a fragile region, doing internal and global networking of artists has been a real learning experience. There was a time when there were only a few questions about simple fears to answer to our colleagues coming to Pakistan. Now, in just a few years, there has been so much that has happened in this region: Pakistan's nuclear tests, the war in Kargil, the post-effects of 9/11, the Pakistan-India political tensions, the war in Afghanistan and the spill over effect of the Taliban in Pakistan, America's 'crusade' with the 'war on terrorism'. All these have left Pakistan and this entire region in an isolated state and a very delicate situation. Coming to Pakistan now has many more fears than mere floods, or dust, or even having a bad stomach; it has now become projected by the media as something close to life threatening for news sensationalism, whereas the ground realities are extremely different. It is only when the people actually come here to the festival that they manage to see, and understand, the true face of a culturally rich and thriving Pakistan instead of the media's version of it.

In the midst of all of this, we have managed to cheer millions of people. They have shared an enchanting experience with more than three thousand delegates, from all over the world, who visited Pakistan and left a wealth of knowledge, art, and a sense of cultural roots like nothing ever before. The world performing arts festival is the result of all these images and aspirations that have fused together from the area of puppetry, theatre, music, dance, and film in the melting pot of what the international festivals have been. We strongly felt that all the forms must exist together on one platform, as a tribute celebration of all the grand art forms and disciplines.

This year's festival features around sixteen foreign companies and several local troupes from all disciplines of the performing arts. We expected a much higher international turnout for this year's festival, but the international strife in the region and global events have drastically affected the attendance. However, we promise a very exciting festival with some truly memorable international and Pakistani performances. We also hope that The World Performing Arts Festival Pakistan in the year 2004 will be even greater, and in the years to come will definitely become a vital festival of the world. With all this we struggle and hope to change the perception of people about the world and its culture and regional differences. I hope to share this magical and historic experience with you, and hope that you enjoy this year's festival.

Faizaan Peerzada