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KARACHI: Oxford University Press Pakistan (OUPP) inaugurated the 15th Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), highlighting ‘Sustainability’ and the power of words to ‘Change the Mindsets,’ at a local hotel. KLF, as always, is set to be a vibrant celebration of fresh ideas, creative perspectives, and the art of storytelling.

Arshad Saeed Husain, Managing Director, OUP Pakistan during his welcome speech said, “To see the change, we need to change, and good literature has the remarkable ability to instigate that change, as it challenges our preconceptions, and inspires action. Through this year’s theme of sustainability, we aim to explore how words can catalyse mindset shifts, promote environmental stewardship, and drive towards a more sustainable and equitable future.”

Hussain highlighted three areas to ensure a sustainable future: affordable quality education, adequate healthcare services, and ample employment opportunities for the youth of Pakistan.

Celebrating the power of literature Conrad Tribble, US Consul General, Karachi said, “The global dynamics now require a collaborative and intrinsically combined approach towards solutions. KLF is a great platform to bring around a cohesive network of talent, voices, and stakeholders together for the best step forward. I am honoured to be part of such a celebration of diversity of voices and perspectives shaping our world. Literature has always had the power to transcend borders, connecting us through universal themes.”

Relating to the theme Dr Rüdiger Lotz, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany stated, “The Karachi Literature Festival’s importance is increasingly recognised on the global stage. Allama Iqbal, one of the most prominent voices of the 20th century studied in Germany and that makes our bond with Pakistan stronger. As we confront global conflicts affecting millions and environmental shifts, we also grapple with the opportunities and challenges presented by artificial intelligence. We acknowledge that navigating this landscape, literary perspectives and writings will remain invaluable.”

Alexis Chahtahtinsky, Consul General of France, Karachi, said, “I’ve been visiting Pakistan, particularly Karachi, for the past 40 years. The Karachi Literature Festival is a vibrant cultural event that everyone should definitely attend. Notably, a French writer, Kanize Murad, is set to participate. Kanize Murad, the granddaughter of Turkey’s last Sultan, has family ties to Balochistan. She is known for her writings on Palestine, particularly Gaza, where the ongoing events are deeply tragic.”

Martin Dawson, Head of Mission, British Deputy High Commission, Karachi, said, “As we explore the theme of sustainability, let us remember that literature can foster a deeper connection with our environment. I commend KLF for its commitment to promoting dialogue on concurrent issues that stand to impact life as we know it. We all find the threads that once woven create the fabric of humanity that goes beyond cultural divides.”

The 15th Edition of KLF has been greatly facilitated by the unwavering support of HBL, Getz Pharma Pvt. Ltd., NEO Paint along with other supporters of literature. In his remarks at the inaugural, Ali Habib, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, HBL said, “At HBL, we believe in being a proactive part of the paradigm shift. We are working on initiatives to positively impact and enable the transformative power of literature to enrich lives and inspire change. We are proud to sponsor the Karachi Literature Festival, a platform that celebrates the power of words to change mindsets.”

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Keynote Speeches by Arif Hasan, architect, planner, activist, social researcher, and writer; and Selma Dabbagh, British-Palestinian writer, and lawyer, offered insightful perspectives on the intersection of urban planning, social activism, and provided thought-provoking insights into the themes of identity, justice, and storytelling within the context of literature and social change.

The inauguration ceremony concluded with an award distribution powered by Getz Pharma for different categories including the English Fiction Award, Urdu Poetry Award, Urdu Prose Award, and The Little Book Company Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Books in Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, and Balochi languages.

An inspirational discussion on celebrating the richness of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry had Moneeza Hashmi, Wajid Jawad, and Bari Mian. Their intellectual perspectives were complimented by a soulful recital of selected poems by Adeel Hashmi. The second panel focused on the need for modernizing agriculture and empowerment at the grassroots level, to drive economic prosperity. Muhammad Aurangzeb, Salim Raza, Miftah Ismail, and Dr Ishrat Husain were the panelists while Ali Habib moderated the stimulating conversation.

Commenting on the need to do more in the agricultural sector, Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO HBL said, “It is time to cultivate innovative solutions and sustainable practices that can lead our nation toward regional and global competitiveness.”

The film screening of Gandhi and Jinnah Return Home was followed by a Q&A session. After the launch of two books, the audience walked away highly moved and inspired by the classical dance recital by Nighat Choudhry on the much loved ‘Hum Dekhein Gey’ and ‘Bahar Aye.’

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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