Fans of literature, including myself, got lucky this past weekend by getting to attend the 9th Karachi Literature Festival 2018 at the Beach Luxury Hotel. The event consisted of several sessions regarding literature, drama, book launches and Qawwali. There were several stalls like News One, City FM 89, Radio One FM 91, Habib University, British Council, Careem, Tapal and The Citizens Foundation bustling with activity outside the main building of the Hotel.
One could not only get the best taste of literature but could enjoy good music, free tea and win prizes at the stalls by answering a few questions. The best that I met was a little girl, Kazima, a 3rd grader from the C.A.S School. She was working with TCF and collected funds for a classroom under construction for one of the schools of The Citizens Foundation. It’s hard to say no when such a cute little angel is requesting for something. Kazima, exuded confidence unmatched especially for kids her age. I found this to be a very good way of promoting confidence and shaping the communication and social skills among kids. Also, the activity was an excellent way of inducing compassion and an urge to contribute to the unprivileged in the people of all ages.
After being amused by the astounding etiquettes of Kazima, I got to the main garden where a session on Dil Dil, Boom Boom, Jazba Junoon: Impact of Pop Culture on Pakistani Society and the World was about to begin. This was an intriguing conversation between Amin Hashwani and Salman Ahmad. Amin Hashwani is the founder of Charter for Compassion/Pakistan, a businessman and a social activist whereas Salman Ahmad is a musician, rock guitarist, physician, activist, and professor at the City University of New York. Salman is also the author of the book Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution. He is popularly known for being Junoon’s lead guitarist.
The conversation began with Salman telling about his exposure to Pakistani music. He was brought up in the USA and moved to Pakistan for studying medical. The first Pakistani song he heard was Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi May Aye by Nazia and Zohaib Hassan. He gives credit to Nazia and Zohaib for inspiring him to grow as an artist. His conversation was embellished with relevant and inspiring quotes like when he focused on how an individual need to muster up all the courage he can to become who he aspires to be, he quoted Thomas Jefferson,
“One person with courage is a majority”
Reminiscing about the times when Salman met late Junaid Jamshed, those were the times when the majority of the people listened to English or Indian music. No one thought Pakistani music to be “cool”. That’s when Dil Dil Pakistan grasped the nation’s attention and still has its glory alive in the hearts of Pakistanis no matter in which corner of the world they are.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby
THE ROCK-HARD DUO
Salman met Ali Azmat at the age of 19. The duo proved to have the best bond despite their differences. Salman was more into Classic Rock whereas Ali liked Mehdi Hassan but they made the best combination of what they individually liked doing. According to Salman. “We taught each other”. Here Salman quotes
“You wouldn’t be educated if you stay with the people that always agree with you”
This was my second experience listening to Salman live, the first was when he was playing guitar at a concert and the second was this when I actually realized that he is not just a great musician but a great speaker with a deep insight on life. While talking about our recognition as a Pakistani abroad, he said that instead of boasting on our nuclear bombs we should focus more on “defining ourselves”. Bringing Nazia and Zohaib’s example into the light, they went to India with just one song but got an immense amount of recognition. Sayonee, a very famous Sufi rock track from the band’s album Azaadi (1997) is the most recorded song in India. Their work defines who they are and gives them the recognition of being a Pakistani.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” – Paulo Coelho
THE JUNOON REUNION
Salman enticed the audience by announcing the Junoon Reunion happening very soon this year. After 15 years the band will be getting together and will tour the whole country bringing their music back to life. This is one big great news for all the Junoonies.
THE AMAZING IRTEASSH!
Salman also presented Pakistan’s rising stars towards the end of his session. Recalling the event, he mentioned that he was invited by Amin Hashwani’s mother, Sultana Hashwani at a program called Ubhartay Sitaray and he discovered some talented singers from the platform of the show. Salman found the four girls who left him overawed with their beautiful voices and the audience totally agreed with his dibs on their potential. This four girls’ group, known as “Irteassh”, had already made strides in Pakistani music last year when they collaborated with Salman Ahmad and Momina Mustehsan for the song “Ghoom Taana” as part of 10th season of Coke Studio. Irteassh sang several pieces at KhiLF, with Salman on guitar, like Ghoom Taana, Dil Dil Pakistan, Jazba Junoon and Imagine (John Lennon). Sajjar, Aisha, and Eman were the girls who left us all in the state of absolute awe when they started singing. The group’s fourth member, Simal couldn’t attend the event as she was in Islamabad.
All good things come to an end and so did this enthralling session with Amin Hashwani and Salman Ahmed.
I found the whole festival to be a must visit as there are not only sessions throwing light on literature and important societal matters but a scenic view of the waters, book fair, food, music, games, and prizes are some of the temptations for the visitors. Most importantly, you feel great about taking credible and rational knowledge back home.