Guests of honour included Minister for Youth Affairs Faisal Sabzwari, former mayor of Karachi Mustafa Kamal and dignitaries from the US and French Consulates. - Photo by Dawn.com

KARACHI: The Karachi Literature Festival returns to the city with an “action-packed” schedule, with four parallel sessions throughout the two days, said Ameena Saiyid, the managing director of Oxford University Press (OUP) at the festival’s launch held at the British High Commission in Karachi on Friday.

This year’s litfest includes over a 100 local and international writers, journalists and moderators, such as a winner of the South Asian Literature prize in Jaipur H.M. Naqvi, Mohammed Hanif, Ayesha Siddiqa, Zehra Nigah, Claire Chambers, Michel Boivin and Sara Suleri.

Although the launch was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., guests at the event were seen mingling and socialising well over an hour after the slated time. Repeated announcements were made to clear the walkway by the entrance, but as one guest commented “I think it is because everyone is meeting each other after so long, no one really wants to take their seats just yet.”

Guests of honour included Minister for Youth Affairs Faisal Sabzwari, former mayor of Karachi Mustafa Kamal and dignitaries from the US and French Consulates. Notable guests in the audience included among others Fatima Suraya Bajia, who was constantly surrounded by a swarm of admirers, former information minister Javed Jabbar, columnist Nadeem F. Paracha and activist Sheema Kirmani.

Starting at 9:30 am on Saturday (February 5) at the Carlton Hotel, the roster of the two-day event looks promising. With writers from the US, UK, France and Germany – this year’s event, according to Saiyid, is “a wonderful sign of success.”

“There has been so much enthusiasm about the LitFest...this is something very promising. It is wonderful to see so many writers together [under one roof], for such a rich event,” said Martin Daltry, the British Council Programmes Development Manager.

The launch began with a short film about last year’s festival, which focused on political writings from Pakistan and the need to use 9/11 as a canvas to write about Pakistan.

“Terrorism is a major issue that threatens the country, but [we need to realise that] Pakistan is much more than that,” emphasised senior editor of Newsline and award-winning journalist, Zahid Hussain. He also stated that the people in Pakistan are dynamic and want to move forward

“With bad news out of Pakistan lately…[this festival is about] going back to our roots and celebrating our adab and culture,” said literary critic and author, Asif Farrukhi.

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