Launched in March 2010, The Karachi Literature Festival was held outside of Pakistan for the first time in the celebration Pakistan’s 70th birthday to reflect and promote the language, art, culture and literary talent on an international scale. The festival was held at UK’s largest arts center ‘London’s Southbank Centre’ to reflect upon the depth of Pakistani literary and cultural roots in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.
The festival featured a line-up leading Pakistani and international authors, academics, scholars, critics, journalist, media personalities, and artists. The festival explored the contemporary thought and vision through the interactions between the writers and readers, exchanging ideas, spoken word performances and engaging the audiences in dialogue and readings.
The festival included themes of migration and displacement in novels; geopolitical challenges facing Pakistan; education; gender and patriarchy in Pakistan; challenges faced by Urdu as a national language; and challenges facing diaspora Pakistanis in Europe which saw participations of a large number of art and literature enthusiasts. Mohammed Hanif opened the festival with his keynote speech on Pakistan’s history, hopes, and dilemmas.
This was the first time Pakistan’s literary talent and diversity was presented before the international audience. The festival not only featured and celebrated the most regarded work of Pakistani writers and artists but also focused on the challenges Pakistani writers endure; the issues of gender minorities and the lack of interest in Urdu’s preservation
In his remarks, Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, stated that literary and cultural activities can connect diaspora, especially the youth, to their roots and heritage.