Aalmi Mushaira 2011: Just another oldies affair?
The mushaira was not widely publicised due to more happening events like the World Cup and Pakistan Day.
In a candid interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist in 2002, Azhar Abbas Hashmi claimed that the tradition of the Aalmi Mushaira in Karachi started as a means of improving the city’s image of genocide and lawlessness.
Over the years, people of different nationalities, religions and political persuasions connect on an intellectual level and obtain what composite dialogue can never wholly impart: a feeling of unimpeded unity.
The Aalmi Mushaira 2011 commenced with similar expectations at the Karachi Expo Centre under the auspices of the Sakinan-e-Shehar Quaid Karachi.
The event was held against the backdrop of political tension and violence. And yet, Karachi’s fragile political situation did not stop poetry enthusiasts and budding Urdu poets - the only thing that reigned through the evening was the poignancy of each recitation that was delivered.
And with every performance came the traditional “Wah, wah!” which for many people revived fond memories of those spell-binding mushairas of the 1950s where distinguished Urdu poets would lure yielding audiences into a state of spiritual rejuvenation.
The mushaira included 27 poets, including Baikal Utsahi, Mairaj Faizabadi, Partia Wajpai and Kumar Wishwas from India; Zakia Ghazal from Canada; Habibur Rahman and Hamid Ali Madani from Saudi Arabia and the distinguished Jalal Azimabadi from Dhaka.
Various poets from Pakistan such as Iftikhar Arif, Amjad Islam Amjad, Abbas Tabish, Baqi Ahmed Puri, Dr Inayet Ali Khan and Muzaffar Khalish also participated in the mushaira.
Dr Inayet Ali Khan’s amusing couplets added zest and flavour to the evening.
Tinged with a magical cadence, the performance instinctively attracted laughter.
It almost seemed as if for a single night, the lost glories of Urdu ghazals had been revived. Despite creating a fleeting surge of poetic brilliance, the essence of the mushaira could not be effectively conveyed.
The audience consisted mainly of middle-aged and elderly people. Very few young people attended the event which, in itself, is matter of great concern.
It is important for literary-circles to realise that in order to protect themselves from risk of extinction, more people need to be informed about such gatherings. Perhaps then the strategy of using Urdu literature as the blueprints for bridging boundaries could have been realized more effectively.
Even though the performances were superbly rendered, the event was not extensively publicised and practically stood of being unnoticed due to more newsworthy happenings such as the impending cricket match and preparations for Pakistan Day. Another Aalmi Mushaira has been planned for 27th of March at Karachi Gymkhana and will hopefully gain more coverage and publicity than this recital did.