Literature festival concludes with a vow to look beyond poverty and violence in Lyari

Updated September 23, 2019


Asif Ali Asif, a local Lyari poet, recites his poetry during the Urdu mushaira on Sunday.—Photo by writer
Asif Ali Asif, a local Lyari poet, recites his poetry during the Urdu mushaira on Sunday.—Photo by writer

KARACHI: Building linkages through creativity and the role of literature, art and social institutions to counter violence and terrorism in the concrete jungle were some of the things on the minds of the speakers on the second and final day of the first Lyari Literature Festival held at the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University, Lyari, on Sunday.

“In Lahore when I told people that I make music, they would ask me ‘what do you really do?’ But in Karachi when I introduced myself as a music composer to Obaidullah Baig, he asked me to play something. Karachi is a city, which appreciates art,” said music composer and actor Arshad Mahmood during a panel discussion on building linkages between art, artists and institutions.

Writer Noor ul Huda Shah said that the creative mind could really bring about a revolution. “Your mind, your thoughts, they can change mindsets. They can cause a revolution, revolution of thought, revolution of mind,” she said.

‘Sadly, our people don’t get enough outlets to vent their inner creativity’

President of the Arts Council Ahmed Shah said that Lyari has seen bad times but the vibrant energy of Lyari has seen it through the bad times. “The artistic energy of Lyari, the sporty energy of Lyari is still raw talent that can be nurtured through institutions,” he said.

Socio-political analyst Dr Ayoub Shaikh said that there are many fascinating stories about Lyari that should come out. “For creativity to flourish you need to look beyond poverty. The youth of Lyari should sit with their elders and ask them to tell them the stories of Lyari,” he said.

During another panel discussion about the issues of encroachment and environment in the concrete jungle, activist and trade unionist Usman Baloch said that indigenous people of Lyari were sidelined as others took over. “But the indigenous people are as guilty as the people who sidelined them because they remained silent and let others do as they pleased,” he said.

Human rights activist Saeed Baloch remembered Lyari when it had guava trees, jamun trees with so many other fruit trees and when it had many green areas. “But the KDA cut the trees and build buildings on the green areas. The deforestation turned the city into a concrete jungle. The buildings blocked the flow of the sea breeze and thus people are now dying of heat strokes in the concrete jungle,” he said.

Hanif Bin Murad said that Karachi used to be a very rich city historically, archaeologically and architecturally but as it spreads and grows, it is also destroying. “Today, this city doesn’t get water from the rivers but from boring,” he said.

Writer Laila Raza, meanwhile, observed that it was useless to make politicians understand the issues of the city. “They already have a good understanding of the city and that’s how they suck out all the city resources. If the people here fight, they are fine with that as well because after divide there is rule,” she said.

In the panel discussion about the role of literature and art, Naheed Israr said that there is plenty of creativity in the people of Karachi, one just needed an eye for it. “You see creativity even at the back of those buses and rickshaws. But, sadly, our people don’t get enough outlets to vent their inner creativity,” she said.

The day also saw more film screenings, mime performances, traditional music performances, poetry readings and an Urdu mushaira ahead of the music concert that concluded the Lyari Literature Festival.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019