KLF: Anti-festivity and pseudo-literary aura

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The Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), keeping alive its tradition of getting its luster faded, aura suffocated and melodies sinking with every passing year, took a great leap this time, in this regard, and concluded with sheer disenchantment for all the literary and scholarly quarters of the town. I still remember the beauty, charm and enthusiasm associated with the event that, once, used to be a pronounced carnival and happening for the bipeds of not only Karachi but the whole nation. Since it kicked off as a solely poetic, enlightening and artistic rampage, all and sundry, in general, and literary figures, artists, youth and academia, in particular, would look forward to it impatiently and zestfully, throughout the year. Despite being an enormously thronged venue fully sieged with thousands of vehicles parked in the surrounding streets and open spaces, it has never been a no-go-area or a body-search point for even a beggar or a vagabond; even during the most sensitive and crucial phases, in regard to security situation, and the times of terrorists’ attacks, the subject festival has been the only event where thousands of people used to enjoy peacefully, happily and freely, beyond any physical, mental or psychological coercions.
The most charismatic aura, filled with humanitarian and social magnificence, it used to offer was the free socialisation and familiarisation of the common rut, celebrities, intellectuals, scholars, performers, statesmen, diplomats and people from other walks of life without any question of ethno-lingual, socio cultural, geopolitical, official or economic identities and distinctions. And, then, the sinister waves of elite culture, sponsor mafias, bureaucratic coercion, commercial ventures, pseudo-intellectualism, mock-creativity, and, above all, a fake spirit stormed in and began to play havoc with this fiesta’s delicacies, purity and sublimity. Every year, concerning quarters discuss the sheer lapse and decline with pangs of spiritual agony, but nobody pays heed to their reservations and recommendations as the aged scholarly and creative assets of the country are not regarded valuable and significant in this trip aimed at materialistic gains proceeding on dilapidated track of art and literature.
On the first and the inaugural day, my one of my books’ 2nd edition was being launched by the Paramount Publishers and I was invited to present the book to the readers with my on-spot signatures and a few lines for their sweet memories. So, I, accompanied by a few other friends from journalists’ and educationists’ circles, vehemently visited the venue, but was shocked to know that nobody, except the VIP pass holders, was allowed to enter as the President Arif Alvi was about to pay his formal visit. I presented my press card and the proofs of my being an academician and an author, and requested the security staff to allow me to go inside but they refused to entertain any identity card other than the VIP Pass. Same happened to more than a dozen journalists and literary figures on the gates; the embarrassing situation was that two female foreign writers were also amongst the affected guild.
The mindboggling development was that the security officials had cordoned off a broader area including the hotel premises that was not a property of the state, the government or the President himself. I further requested them to allow us to proceed to the adjoining lawns and lodging area for waiting, but that request, too, was declined arrogantly. One elderly woman protested and asked why a lot people were enjoying wandering here and there without any serious intensions to go inside, the actual space for the festival, the reply was “they have passes”. One could easily perceive that certain passes were distributed amongst the masses who seldom had something to do with the festival and were busy in rushing towards the food-courts and selfie-points with their families and toddlers. An overall ambience of distress and sense of deprivation and humiliation was prevailing over the situation and people were returning with grim expressions on their faces. The melancholic experiences and inhuman and anti-art-and-literature practices went on repeating themselves for all the three days with regular intervals as various ministers and statesmen graced the occasion, on and off, with their highly elegant and generous presence.
The question arises, here, as to why the terms like “literature” and “festival” are exploited to stage these kind of elite assembling and commercial adventures. We apologise! It is the sole privilege of the management and the organising bodies to grant or refuse permission to others for joining their events, but, at least, you should have ethics to announce generally, through all media, that “rights of entry are reserved” or conditional to the possession of VIP passes. You do not have any right to hurt the feelings and self-respect of the middleclass people who are the most enthusiastic and supportive assets for your certain ventures and their success.