The Karachi Literature Festival inaugurated in 2010 and in five years has become the leading cultural event in Pakistan: The Tribune
A Parsi, a Bohri and I get into a conversation about the on-going TTP talks. The Parsi talks about the possibility of growing a beard. Since I am rather addicted to my look I joke about declaring myself a dhimmi (non-Muslims of an Islamic state) and paying jizya (tax). We laugh because we can and because we feel liberated enough to joke about it. Yes, it’s the KLF, the dark humour is perfectly acceptable and you naturally feel slightly freer when you have just heard a speech by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson.
Sustaining Karachi’s literary roots
A few years back, literary and cultural programs were a regular feature in the major cities of Pakistan but due to various challenges they have become scarce. In this light, KLF is an important step in the right direction and belies the poor impression of Pakistan by putting forth the country’s writers alongside the global literary elite. KLF is also a reflection of Pakistan’s societal resilience and self-belief which is instrumental in holding large events like this one. The tenacity of Karachi’s society makes a successful case for the international community to ignore the negativity that pervades the country and they fly in droves to interact with an audience hungry for cultural expressions. At the Festival the oft mentioned bullets and bombs are replaced by a fusillade of verbal gunfire and the figurative violence is usually done by a vociferous audience who unleash their questions and comments on the panellists and moderators.