Karachi_Montage

While the world isolates itself with the fear of the corona virus spreading its virulence across the Earth and bringing the human race to a dystopian pause, the Karachi Literary Festival limped into existence with sessions on issues like Kashmir and Jihad.

While reports have it that there are 189 cases of COVID-19 now in Pakistan, at the start the cases had obviously not surfaced. Here is what a report on the festival which commenced from February 28th to March 1, 2020, said: “While the country at large has been fortunate enough not to get affected by the dreaded coronavirus (so far, that is), the 11th edition of the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), held from Feb 28 to March 1, 2020, was not as lucky. The threat did bite it (ouch!), bringing the number of visitors considerably and visibly down, even though there were enough at various points in time for the organisers to justifiably call it a success.”

Maajid Nawaz was in thrall to extremist group Hizb al-Tahrir, a path that led to torture in an Egyptian jail. In this extract from his forthcoming book, Radical, he describes how he was recruited to the Islamist cause.

HIDEOUS HINDUS Massacre Muslims’ was the rather offensive title of the leaflet. I still remember that title. That one leaflet has changed the course of my life in ways probably unthinkable for its anonymous author. It laid bare the behaviour of the Hindu extremists in what was a shocking and deeply inflammatory episode.

At this point in his life, Osman, spurred on by the likes of Public Enemy’s Professor Griff, had taken an interest in politics. He followed the ‘Intifada’ that had been going on against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and the role of Yasser Arafat’s PLO. This struggle for Palestinian liberation, and the crushing Israeli response, complete with tacit American support, had long been a running sore in international relations. In the context of my story and so many others, it was undoubtedly a factor that justified the Islamist narrative of victimhood.