Calling all literati of Karachi, now is the time for storytelling

Dr Rajmohan Gandhi speaks at the Beach Luxury on the first day of the 5th Karachi Literature Festival.

The fifth Karachi Literature Festival started on Friday at the Beach Luxury Hotel with the recitation of the national anthem by the children from the Citizens Education Development Foundation. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS


Like his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, who was a staunch believer of Hindu-Muslim unity, Dr Rajmohan Gandhi is all for peaceful existence and harmony between Pakistan and India.

As the keynote speaker at the 5th Karachi Literature Festival, which started on Friday, the historian mostly talked about the unity of the Subcontinent’s countries, saying that there should a “South Asian house”.

“This regional house should work closely with the Middle East for humanity,” he said, linking his talk to a reference made by Muhammad Ali Jinnah on March 12, 1948, when the founder had spoken to resolve differences and put their own house in order.

Clad in a blue kurta with a waist coat, the historian pecked his speech with references of Jinnah and Gandhi. He arrived in Karachi on Thursday, telling the audience that he was shown “many wonderful buildings, including the house where Jinnah lived.”

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Even early morning at the inauguration of the festival, people had started gathering at the Beach Luxury Hotel in a large number, the occupied seats in the breezy garden proving that people’s passion for reading and books has not gone away as yet.

As they listened attentively to Rajmohan, he made them smile while speaking about Indians and Pakistanis. “We have a love-hate relationship that is often seen among relatives. People from Pakistan and India are locked in a relationship through culture, emotion and even blood. These deep links are also complex links.”

He also spoke of a conference which he attended as an 11-year-old boy where Gandhi, in April 1947 at Purana Qula, had said that the message they should give to the West should be of love and truth.

Also speaking at the inauguration, the managing director of Oxford University Press, Ameena Saiyid, was of the view that literature brings together as well as celebrates Pakistani and international writers. “At KLF, books matter, writers matter, readers matter and ideas matter.”

She announced that KLF will launch 28 titles this year, adding with pride that the attendance of visitors has risen from 5,000 in 2010 to 50,000 in 2013. Co-founder Asif Farrukhi, French Ambassador Philippe Thiebaud, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the German Federal Foreign Office, Ambassador Michael Koch, and British Council’s representative Barbara Wickham were among those who spoke at the event.

Awards were also given out for the first time at the literature festival. KLF’s Peace Prize with support of the German Consulate was awarded to Akbar Ahmed for The Thistle and the Drone, KLF Best Non-Fiction Book Prize was awarded to Osama Siddique for ‘Pakistan’s Experience with Formal Law: An Alien Justice’ and KLF and Embassy of France’s Best Fiction Book went to Uzma Aslam Khan’s Thinner than Skin.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2014.


True Karachiwala | 9 years ago | Reply

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