Karachi Literature Festival
The Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) has, in a fairly short span of time, turned into one of the country’s most vibrant and key arts and literature platforms. In times when the humdrum of trying daily routines, the gruelling rat race of professional life and a dismal security situation has drained the common citizen, this open-to-all festival, studded by some of the greatest literary stars, breathes fresh life into the long-forgotten habits of affording time to savour paintings, poetry, stories, theatre or even a good, hearty conversation — habits which Pakistani households, particularly those of the middle class, had long taken pride in during the better days of yore.
This year, however, the buzz of the festival seems to have been curdled by a worsening security situation, which could deter artists and writers from attending it. During each of the five years in which it was held, the festival drew larger crowds, was attended by more and more famous writers and exhibited a trend of getting bigger and better. One hopes that it will be as packed and well attended as it was last year. Not only that, the festival’s presence in Karachi also did much to siphon some of the literati goodness from the country’s literary citadel — Lahore — to the relatively ‘art-starved’ coastal city.
Arts and literature are the widely-ignored casualties of the worsening security crisis. The Karachi Literature Festival has received little recognition from the government so far and in fact most of the major sponsors are either corporations or embassies of several friendly countries. The regular holding of such events in the country is a much-needed reminder, both to us and rest of the world, that there is much more to Pakistan than blood, bullet and bombs. This years’ edition features several prominent speakers from across the world, including MK Gandhi’s grandson, and listening to them should be a treat for festival-goers.