Karachi Literature Festival concludes
on an exhilarating note

March 2023

The 14th Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), held at the Beach Luxury Hotel in Karachi from February 17 to 19, ended on a high note with a record turnout of literature lovers and art enthusiasts from all over the country. The theme of the KLF for this year was “People, Planet, and Possibilities.” Speaking on the occasion, Arshad Saeed Husain, Managing Director, Oxford University Press (OUP), Pakistan, said, “KLF is not just an event, but a movement that aims to spread the joy of reading and the light of learning across the country. I am grateful to all our speakers, panellists, and performers who have travelled from far and wide to be with us and inspire us with their thoughts, ideas and lively performances.”

Sherry Rehman, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Environment, Nicole Theriot, US Consul General Karachi, Martin Dawson, Acting Deputy High Commissioner, British Deputy High Commission, Alexis Chahtanhtinsky, Consul General of France and Danilo Giurdanella, Consul General of Italy, graced the event and shared their valuable insights. Seven book awards instituted by KLF were also announced on the occasion, followed by a host of riveting sessions, film screening and dance performance by Farah Yasmeen Shaikh.

The proceedings of the 2nd day commenced with a heartfelt tribute to Amjad Islam Amjad, Zia Mohyeddin, Imdaad Hussaini, and Masood Ashar. A panel discussion on the vulnerability and resilience in the face of climate change was held. This interesting topic was discussed by Afia Salam, Zohra Yusuf, Bilal Zahoor, and Qazi Khizar with Farah Zia moderating the session, followed by a riveting discussion on ‘The Lahooti of Sindh: A Photographic Journey,’ by Matthieu Paley and Piru Saein.

George Fulton and Nadeem Farooq Paracha’s engaging discussion on “For Faith, State and the Soul: A History of Pop Culture in Pakistan” attracted a sizeable audience. Asma Shirazi, Zarrar Khuhro, and Mazhar Abbas participated in a compelling debate on the topic of “Invasive Media: Right to Privacy.” The subsequent program was titled “EdTech: The New Normal,” and featured a panel discussion with Mahboob Mahmood, Jehan Ara, Arshad Saeed Husain, and Ehsan Saya. The Getz Pharma EACPE Film Awards ceremony was also held. Stimulating panel discussions held on ‘Unearthing Cultures of Pakistan’ and “Pakistani Drama: Kahan Se Aya Kahan Gaya Wo,” followed by the book launch of “Gluco Kahani” by Bilal Maqsood. One particular session had the audience in fits of laughter, titled, “Hum Sangeen Mazaq Ki Lapayt Mein Hein”, featuring Mustafa, Murtaza, and Faysal Chaudhry brothers. This was followed by a couple of engaging sessions titled “Big Capital in an Unequal World: The Micropolitics of Wealth in Pakistan,” and “Pakistan’s Wars: An Alternative History.” The second day came to a close with a mushaira and a film screening of ‘Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad.’

The final day of the 14th edition of the KLF commenced on an exciting note as cricket took to the stage. The session captivated the audience as the panel of distinguished speakers, including legendary cricketer Waseem Akram, Ali Khan, Ahmer Naqvi, and Hadeel Obaid, engaged in a thought-provoking discussion. The session also saw the launch of two books by Wasim Akram titled ‘Sultan’ and Ali Khan’s book ‘Cricket in Pakistan: Nation, Identity and Politics.’

Moderated by a veteran journalist Ghazi Salahuddin, a panel discussion took place on ‘Faith and Intellect.’ The panel consisted of leading economists and bankers such as Syed Shabbar Zaidi, Syed Salim Raza, and Kaiser Bengali. The pressing issue of climate change and its impact on Pakistan was given the attention with the session ‘Climate Justice and Embedded Injustices.’ Moderated by Maha Husain, the panel of experts, including Ahmad Shabbar, Zoha Tunio, and Afia Salaam, explored the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities. A number of sessions also took place on the themes of ‘Untangling South Asia,’ ‘Searching for Peace and Security among Neighbours,’ and ‘Evolving Geopolitics: Impact on Pakistan.’ One of the highlights of the day was the session called ‘From Silver Screen to Mini Screen: Goldmine of OTT Media,’ which featured Safinah Danish Elahi as the moderator and joined by panellists Faseeh Bari Khan and Sanam Saeed. Senator (R) Javed Jabbar and Shamim Ahmed, two of the prominent figures in Pakistan’s political and intellectual landscape, participated in a talk on ‘The Equitable Tax.’

In the session titled ‘Doosri Mulaqaat,’ renowned playwright Anwar Maqsood and his wife Imrana Maqsood sat down for a conversation with Ahmed Shah. The session ‘Saints, Sufis and Shrines: The Mystical Landscape of Sindh’ drew special attention from the crowd. A number of sessions took place involving renowned international intellectuals including Rassheedah Watts, Krisha Kops, Shehan Karunatilaka, Damon Galgut and Sinan Antoon. The talk titled ‘Pakistan’s Economy: Depth and Resilience,’ led by Samiullah Siddiqi and joined by Miftah Ismail, Akbar Zaidi, Muhammad Aurangzeb and Azfar Ahsan, explored the challenges and opportunities in Pakistan’s economy. Noori’s electrifying performance left the crowd in awe, while Ali Hamza and Ali Noor’s memorable hits kept the audience engaged and entertained, making it a truly unforgettable experience for everyone.