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December 7, 2018

First Afkar-e-Taza Think Fest being held at IBA tomorrow


December 7, 2018

The first Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest in Karachi will take place at the Institute of Business Administration’s City Campus tomorrow.

Grounded in the work of scholars from around the world, this academic literary festival endeavours to bring to the public robust and sound academic work in an easy and accessible format, said a press release issued on Wednesday.

Announcing the event, the chairman of ThinkFest Karachi, Dr Miftah Ismail, noted: “Karachi, my city, boasts only a handful of literary festivals. Our city is the main metropolis of Pakistan and so should have a plethora of such events so that our people can learn and think more and work towards making the vision of the Quaid a reality in the country.” Underscoring the academic, yet public, nature of the event, Dr Farrukh Iqbal, dean and director of the IBA, said: “We are glad that IBA has brought the ThinkFest to Karachi. After its success in Lahore earlier this year, it was only natural that an event focused on bringing academia and academics centre stage in the developing discourse of Pakistan is held at IBA, which was the first international academic collaboration of Pakistan.”

The schedule for the first Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest was then released by Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash, founder of the ThinkFest, who said: “We have carefully crafted this one-day intellectual feast for Karachiites. In addition to matters of national and international significance, we have a number of Karachi-specific panels too.”

The day will begin with a keynote by acclaimed writer Hanif Kureishi, who has won several accolades for his work which has been translated in several languages and adapted for both theatre and film.

Several international speakers will then team up with local academics, thinkers and opinion-makers on a range of panels, with Dr Azeem Ibrahim and Dr Flagg Miller talking about extremism and Al-Qaeda with Imtiaz Gul, Dr Kirsten Harpviken from Oslo sharing his insights on Afghanistan with veteran diplomat Ashraf Jahangir Qazi and senior journalist Zahid Hussain, and Dr Huma Baqai teaming up with Dr Joseph Massad from Columbia to talk about the situation in the Middle East.

Closer to home, several economists will weigh in on the state of our economy, with Dr Farrukh Iqbal, Dr Nadeem ul Haq, Nasim Beg and Maheen Rehman commenting on it with Khurram Hussain. The media—and its threats within and without—will be dealt with in a panel with Fahd Husain, Owais Tohid, Asma Shirazi, Mazhar Abbas and Zarrar Khuhro. Another top panel will discuss where Pakistan is really headed with Najam Sethi, Dr Ishrat Husain and Nadeem Farooq Paracha with Maria Memon.

Continuing the solid academic streak, Dr Adam Kotsko from Chicago will talk about neoliberalism and its demons with Dr Asma Abbas, and Dr Anupama Rao from Columbia will speak on her work on Ambedkar and Iqbal, as competing visions for Pakistan. There will also be a panel on Gandhi and modern India by Dr Goolam Vahed from South Africa.

Popular history and culture will also feature strongly in the ThinkFest with Christian Wolmar talking about his new book, Railways and the Raj, with FS Aijazuddin, Lucy Inglis on the history of opium with Ali Gibran, and Dr Anand Taneja will release his jinns in conversation with Dr Ali Usman Qasmi.

Focusing on Karachi and its issues, there will be a panel on urbanism with Marvi Mazhar, Fizzah Sajjad, Ali Arqam and Nida Kirmani. The women’s movement and progressive politics will also feature as panels in the programme.

Introducing the speakers, Dr Faiza Mushtaq, co-director of the ThinkFest Karachi, noted that she was keen that every single panel should have at least one woman on it. “We have tried to be as inclusive as possible, but this is a work in progress. Hopefully, by next year we shall have more women panelists.”

The ThinkFest Karachi will also pay tribute to the poet Fehmida Riaz with a commemorative panel with Muneeza Shamsie, Rukhsana Ahmed, Aamer Hussain and Syed Noman ul Haq. The ThinkFest Karachi will start at 10:30am and continue till 7:30pm. It is open and free to the public.

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