I have been attending Karachi Literature Festival for last 2 years and all I can say about it is – I TOTALLY LOVE IT!
I admire how the entire event is been put up and the participation of people just reinstates my faith in literature.
When I heard that KLF has decided to celebrate 70 years of Pakistan in London, I was overwhelmed by the idea.
Pakistan and UK share a special bond since ages and literature is one major aspect of that bond.
Although I was in Karachi, I followed KLF’s London launch by the minute.
The very successful, Karachi Literature Festival was held at the Royal Festival Hall of the Southbank Centre as a part of their annual festival Alchemy in London. The vision of the event was to celebrate Pakistan’s modern culture along with its rich history and culture on the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence. Known as Pakistan’s biggest literary event – KLF brought writers, scholars and artists from various backgrounds, creative traditions and academic disciplines together to portray contemporary Pakistani literature and writers.
The event was organized by Oxford University Press (OUP) in collaboration with the Southbank Centre, Bloomsbury Pakistan (London) and Rukhsana Ahmed.
There were around 20 parallel sessions encircling panel discussions, mushaira, poetry recitals, talks and performances. A broad range of themes and ideas related to Pakistan’s literature, arts and culture were discussed, 70 leading Pakistan-origin international writers, critics, journalists, scholars and artists participated.
The best part was that children were also kept in regard and Jungly Jadoogars presented an immersive theatre piece for them. An animated film by Fauzia Minallah was also a part along with storytelling by children’s renowned author Shahbano Bilgrami. Children were also invited to participate in sing-alongs with veteran Pakistani musician, Khaled Anam.
Ameena Saiyid, KLF and Islamabad Literature Festival Founder and Director, Asif Farrukhi, KLF and Islamabad Literature Festival Founder, and Adrian Mellor, Managing Director, Asia Education, OUP, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to UK, Syed Ibn Abbas welcomed the guests and speakers. A renowned novelist and journalist, Mohammed Hanif also addressed the audiences making them feel and live the history, hopes and problems of Pakistan.
Highlights of the KLF LONDON
• ‘Transphobia and Misogyny’, a discussion on legislations around transgenders and women in Pakistan;
• ‘Reluctant Returners: Migrants, Refugees and Memories of the Homeland’ a tale in with fiction characters inspired by exile and displacement; and
• ‘Pakistani Renaissance? The Best in Cinema, Reportage, Theatre and Fashion’ with the television actor Atiqa Odho, filmmaker Faris Kermani, designer Maheen Khan, and journalist Cyril Almeida as speakers.
• Portraying Pakistan’s gender and class divide, ‘Blaming the Elite: Class, Greed, and Gender in Contemporary Pakistan’.
• A stimulating panel discussion titled ‘Madrassas and Montessoris: Are Private Schools Keeping Madrassas at Bay?’ moderated by Nigham Shahid, discussion included educationists, entrepreneurs, and experts – Farid Panjwani, Ahmereen Reza, Mona Kasuri, and Ameena Saiyid.
• ‘Against All Odds: The Price of Prosperity in Pakistan Today’ analyzed geopolitical and internal challenges facing Pakistan.
• ‘Urdu ki Zid Mai: At Loggerheads: Urdu vs English vs Regional Languages’
• ‘Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: Diaspora Pakistanis Caught in Post Brexit Hate-Storm’, challenges faced by Pakistani diaspora in Europe;
• ‘Karachi: City of Lights and Gangs’ about the battle for Karachi and its resilience despite political conflicts;
• ‘Tweeting for Social Change: How Social Media is Influencing the Political Scene’ discussed the impact of social media on Pakistan’s political scene.
• An open mic session for Pakistan’s regional language poets to recite their latest offerings, ‘Satrangi Mushaira’;
• ‘In Their Own Words: Writers and Poets from Pakistan’, featured poetry and prose readings by writers of Pakistani presented a medley of readings, film clips, recitals, dance and poetry about the Partition of India.
What proved to be the icing on the cake was a closing kathak dance performance by Shayma Saiyid, followed by a music concert by a Peshawar-based music band, Khumariyaan, known for their fusion brand of Pashtun folk music.
The KLF London was sponsored by Bestway, Arts Council England, Third World Quarterly magazine, Salt n Pepper restaurant, High Commission of Pakistan in London, South Asia Institute of the University of Texas at Austin, and The Pakistan Society.
I wish I was physically present at the event to witness and savour my soul with all the knowledge and discussions that were a part of KLF, London. However, I do hope and expect KLF to keep contributing and educating people and putting serenity of literature in their beings through such festivals. I consider myself to be fateful to be able to recognize and be an attendee of KLF every year.
Loads of love and wishes your way KLF!