KARACHI: Thirteenth edition of the three-day Karachi Literature Festival ended on Sunday with an all-time high, drawing a huge crowd of literature lovers who didn’t want to miss out on any of the exciting sessions lined up for the day.
The highlight of the day was an unexpected but delightful addition to the line-up of international speakers as renowned Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah appeared for an online session where he shared personal stories on his life and work.
“The KLF is all about bringing the best of Pakistan to the world, and the best of the world to Pakistan,” said Oxford University Press Marketing Director Raheela Baqai. “When we heard late last night about Naseeruddin Shah’s availability we acted fast to ensure he could be a part of the festival.” While speaking about the importance of literature to his craft, Mr. Shah acknowledged the role of poets such as Mirza Ghalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz in his creative journey and emphasized his love for literature festivals. He concluded that he was thrilled to be a part of the KLF virtually but would have been even happier to attend in person.
The final day of the festival began with special sessions on Sindhi, Punjabi and Balochi literature. The panels had animated discussions on how to best represent each province’s culture in the arts, how regional prose and poetry could be a valuable addition to the literature in Urdu, as well as the role of the government in promoting the arts.
Another interesting session outlined recent results from new excavations in the ancient Indus Valley. Dr. Aurore Didier, Director of the French Archaeological Mission in the Indus Basin, noted how new fieldwork had shed light on the architectural design and early industry of the civilization. Dr. Didier explained how there was so much still so much to explore about the Valley which is part of Pakistan’s ancient roots.
The event’s third day also included special talks on two pillars of the state: the judiciary and media; as well as a key driver of progress in the country: school education.
In the session, We the People: the Constitution of Pakistan, legal experts debated why legal protections mentioned in the constitution were not available to most citizens and regretted how justice was often only available to the elites. They added that major efforts to improve governance by devolving power to provinces through the 18th amendment had also been ineffective in benefiting most Pakistanis.
Another panel, Journey of the News: from Pen to Keyboard to Camera, traced the development of the media from print to digital platforms. Panelists noted that while the flow of information had increased enormously in the digital age, there was an enormous challenge of misinformation and disinformation. They also stated that while technological advancements meant that digital platforms couldn’t be censored as decisively as the print media had been in past, a lack of quality journalism continued to be a persistent problem.
One of the highlights of the day was Reimagining Pakistan’s School Education which saw National Curriculum Council Director Dr. Mariam Chughtai, Oxford University Press Managing Director, Education Fathima Dada, Institute for Educational Development Dean Dr. Farid Panjwani, and The Citizens Foundation Executive Vice President Zia Akther Abbas, emphasize how inequalities in society were hurting learning outcomes, and having a disproportionate effect on the most disadvantaged students. They also discussed the challenges of the digital age and the best ways to ensure that children develop a passion for learning.
Dr. Chughtai outlined how the Single National Curriculum had two key objectives: to stop rote learning and to move towards concept-based education.