8th Karachi Literary Festival: Innuendos and references

MAMOSA Report: The 2-day 8th Karachi Literature Festival was held this month at a local hotel, organized by the Oxford University Press (OUP). Events included book launchings, English and Urdu poetry recitals, stand-up comedy, author meet-and-greets, art exhibitions, film screenings, music, dance and a book fair.

By DR. SHAHNAWAZ SOOMRO — As a Pakistani visiting my home land after many years, I was delighted to attend the well organized and well participated Karachi Literary Festival. The sessions on arts, music, poetry and books were delightful. Kudos to the KLF organizers.

I would like to mention two aspects that stood out prominently and that I felt were demeaning and unwise.

The first impression one gets is that of KLF’s dependence on funding from countries like UK, US, Italy, Germany and Switzerland and its dependence on Pepsi and many other corporations. Can the government, the industries and the people of Pakistan famous for their charity not pool in and organize this event themselves.

The other prominent theme that emerged was the new trend or fashion of intellectuals to repeatedly indulge in a smear campaign about their own military. There were endless demeaning half hidden innuendos and references to ‘Pindi and Aabpara’. It appeared that not saying these words would make one look unfashionable and non-progressive. There was no sessions do discuss the actual process of democracy, elections and accountability.

There was never a mention of what is wrong with our bureaucracy, police, election commission, judiciary, education, health, and parliamentarians and how these institutions may be made better. No speaker pointed out that 23 MNA’s made a law giving legal cover to ‘Jirga and Panchayat’ in Pakistan. It was sad to see well meaning people being brain washed on a set pattern – exactly like a Mullah would do to his ‘Madrassah’ students.

The trend to unthinkingly adopt popular labels to explain every phenomenon cannot help people of Pakistan to seek solutions to their problems. Is there a relation between the sources of funding and the thinking and the themes adopted by the KLF?

Dr. Shanawaz Soomro

(The above appeared in Letters to the Editor, Pakistan Today, Feb 13, 2017)

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