Karachi Press Club: A tribute
By Anwer Mooraj
It is time somebody paid tribute to the Karachi Press Club (KPC), a non-political institution established in 1958 that has played a vital role for the establishment of democracy and in the struggle for press freedom in this country. Today, it plays host to around 900 members of various religious and political persuasions. But during the course of the last 10 years, the main function of the club appears to have fallen to an outdoor relief department for the dejected and the disenfranchised.
There are many causes for the demonstrations which occur at the Press Club. On such occasions, much to the discomfort of its members, all roads leading to the Karachi Press Club to which citizens’ grouses gravitate, in the hope that a display of placards and a flurry of hard-hitting speeches might topple the government and put an end to the charade being played in Islamabad.
One of the important functions of a club is to allow members to mess, and the KPC is no exception. The club still serves a tasty, nourishing subsidised meal in an air conditioned room. But those unfortunate souls, who subsequently repair to the first floor to use the library, play cards or to test their skills at chess invariably have to listen to the blare of a political sermon by somebody who appears to have made the serendipitous discovery that a microphone and sound system handled properly could temporarily numb an audienceÂ’s thought processes and with a little luck could be heard in Zainab Market. At times one marvels at the groaner’s breath control and stamina as he labours, non-stop, for 240 minutes without breathing hard. But since this is supposed to be a democracy, the chess players are treated to the smirking animosity of a rival, so that the alumni on the first floor are given a choice of competing orthodoxies.
So when Prime Minister Gilani came up with one of his plum vocal adages a couple of weeks ago in his interchangeably gruff staccato shorthand about there not being any democracy without freedom of the press, one would like to think he was making an oblique reference to institutions like the Karachi Press Club. In a country full of salacious sadism where people have become blasÃ© about cruelty and breathe a sigh of relief when a day passes without a bomb blast or a drone attack, or rangers shooting unarmed civilians, the KPC regularly held annual elections of its office bearers, during periods of enlightened despotism, which were often more despotic than enlightened, and during what has been passing for democracy in this neck of the woods.
Source: The Express Tribune