A moment’s silence for the departed

Published: March 4, 2013
While some thought it was best to cancel ongoing events, others felt that the show must go on. DESIGN: KIRAN SHAHID

While some thought it was best to cancel ongoing events, others felt that the show must go on. DESIGN: KIRAN SHAHID


In recent months, Karachi has had a more happening entertainment scene than usual. Apart from going to the cinema to unwind with some popcorn and watch a movie, there are other options like watching a play or indulging in some retail therapy at the mall or an exhibition. Recently held events such as musical performances and the three-day literature festival are also examples of the thriving leisure time activities that give citizens of the bustling city a break from the stress and humdrum of daily living. Sadly, Sunday night’s brutal attack on the Shia community in Abbas Town has brought a flat line to the city’s cardiogram.

Out of respect for the victims of the tragedy, the crew behind Angan Terrha — a play that is attracting quite an audience — cancelled Monday night’s performance. The production received its first blow in what is touted as 100 days of consecutive theatre as the government announced a day of mourning. The play did not take place Monday night and a number of other activities at the Karachi Arts Council were also called off.

“Calling off the play for a day was the most appropriate decision in such circumstances,” Ahmad Shah, the president of the Karachi Arts Council, told The Express Tribune. “It is pointless to perform when your city has suffered from such a major debacle. We have also postponed some of our other events.”

The blast took place when a tribute to the well-known Sindhi poet Sheikh Ayaz was underway at the Karachi Arts Council. This event, too, was cut short and wrapped up earlier than intended. Another mushaira that was scheduled to take place at the Arts Council today (Tuesday) has also been postponed until further notice.

While some thought it was best to cancel ongoing cultural and entertainment events, others felt that the show must go on. The National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) tribute to Ameer Khusro went on unhindered; the academy’s upcoming performing arts festival that is scheduled for March 15 will also go on as planned.

“We will probably carry on according to our plan,” said Zain Ahmed, the artistic director of Napa. “Such events are very unfortunate and saddening but you don’t really know how they are going to be stopped and we can’t do anything about it,” he said. “Till when are we going to delay the festival? There isn’t a particular date after which such sad events will stop taking place,” he said helplessly.

Atrium Cinemas also called off all of its shows till 7pm on Monday, to show solidarity with the victims of the Abbas Town blast. “This was a significant event and city-wide mourning is being observed,” said an official of Atrium Cinemas on condition of anonymity. “But what really makes business suffer is the small and insignificant strikes that happen every other day. The situation is never that bad, but people are just afraid to leave their homes,” he said.

Lawn exhibitions also saw thinner traffic. An exhibition of Mausummery by Huma taking place at the Pearl Continental had less visitors on Monday as compared to its opening days. But Huma Ahmad of Mausummery by Huma said this was expected. “The tragedy is huge. It is a big thing that a bomb exploded in a residential area. For me, business becomes secondary. My sincere thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Here’s what Twitter users said when we posted the question: cultural/entertainment events in Karachi were cancelled in light of last night’s tragedy. Do you agree?


I think they should go on but it may be a good idea to tone down celebrations to show solidarity.


No, because that’s what militants/extremists/terrorists aim for; to shut lives of common citizens.


I think the show should go on. Attacks are targeted. Cancellation of activities is main objective of these terrorists to promote Karachi’s negative image


there are ways to show defiance and cancellations are not a solution. Things should go ahead maybe with decency and care


Out of respect. We don’t get too many chances to reflect on solidarity. Alas it takes such calamities. But a good gesture indeed. We belong to a culture where dholkis are cancelled because of a death in the neighbourhood. Here we are talking about many deaths, and massive losses. Let’s stand together. We all can have fun together later.


Yes. For Humanity and solidarity.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.                   

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