This year, an added feature of the Karachi Literature Festival was awards for books written on various subjects by Pakistanis.

The three prizes offered were: German embassy prize for a book promoting international peace, French embassy prize for best fiction and Coca Cola prize for non-fiction.

The German embassy prize was bagged by noted author and intellectual, Akbar Ahmed, for his work titled ‘Thistles and Drones’. The prize was given away by German consul-general Tilo Klinner.

Review of The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam by Akbar Ahmed in The NYRB

Tolstoy’s novella Hadji Murad opens with the image of a beautiful thistle flower, wrenched from a ditch, that the narrator seeks to add to his bouquet. His effort to pluck it, however,

proved a very difficult task. Not only did the stalk prick on every side—even through the handkerchief I wrapped round my hand—but it was so tough that I had to struggle with it for nearly five minutes, breaking the fibres one by one; and when I had at last plucked it, the stalk was all frayed, and the flower itself no longer seemed so fresh and beautiful…. But what energy and tenacity! With what determination it defended itself, and how dearly it sold its life!