“When a common Karachi-wala hears the name of Lyari, they say “Oh! The place of violence!”. Such is the irony of our ignorance. What people forget is there are humans in Lyari. And these residents, who have seen decades of violent activities, want nothing to do with extremism. To be fair, they’re tired. But they didn’t just sit there waiting for someone to pull them out. They stood up with the help of each other, dusted off, and became the ambassadors of peace.”
Fahim Shad, CEO of Mehrdar Art and Production, feels that it is highly imperative that we break the enforced stereotypes embedded in our nature to be able to establish peace.
The Mehrdar Art and Production (MAP) is a Karachi based Film Production house established in 2013 specializing in positive socially motivated content. They also provide free workshops on Journalism & Documentary film-making to deserving students designed to produce more community journalists and filmmakers. The goal of MAP is to provide opportunities to the deserving and underprivileged ones, and make the city more inclusive for everyone. A step towards that vision, MAP has taken Lyari, one of the most important towns, known as the home for multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic communities is at the epicenter of the metropolitan city, Karachi.
“Considering the rich history of Karachi, and us being its keepers, we feel a duty towards our city. This city is resilient, the people of this city are the epitome of strength. It is our responsibility to safe-keep and celebrate the history of this battered but beautiful city.”, Parveen Naz, Co-founder MAP, explains.
“Lyari is known as the mother of Karachi. Mothers need to be celebrated. They take the pain and suffering on behalf of their children. And thus, is the case with the mother of Karachi. We owe this to her for her sacrifices for us. Hence, our decision to initiate the project of Lyari Literature Festival.”
A decade back, Lyari observed a massive decline in political, Art, cultural, and Social activism due to prevailing violence extremism. Half of the diverse youth population enthusiastically joined violent grouting groups and demonstrated deviance. On the other hand, the senior stakeholders confined themselves to their abodes. This way, a huge social vacuum had been superseded by non-social actors for a decade or more.
Lyari’s ever famous initiative namely ‘street schools’ were forced to close. The community-based organizations (CBOs) stopped functioning, community centers turned abandoned and libraries were left empty. The effects of widespread violence were deep-rooted in every individual’s mind and people of Lyari had become xenophobic.
At once, the heart of Karachi went in the hands of gangsters for gang war. Lyari was a place which never slept, but now its days have turned into darkness. Political and social fabrics turned into ashes thus, within fifteen years, the mushroom growth of extremist and terrorist activities influenced badly on literature, art and educational activities started to decline. Cultural activities died their unnatural death. In the environment of fear and harassment, everybody enclosed in their shells. In all this mess, Lyari has lost its true personality in local and national media.
In this situation, a new generation growing in Lyari where the suffocating environment of extremism affects life and the mindset, the new generation takes the support of literature, art, culture, and education. They carve a new window of hope for themselves, these progressive cultural and literary activities result into fresh blossoms in the given suffocated, dreadful and disastrous environment. Now, these activities are taking place into mega-events with the special focus that one day the tree of hope may turn into a blossoming garden.
Lyari Literature Festival is an effort to promote peace and harmony through Art & Literature of and for Aam Aadmi. Tools like art, cultural and literary activities can play a pivotal role in developing positive counter-narratives, especially in universities. This festival seeks to increase student engagement by creating opportunities for participation in art, cultural and literary activities through arranging a 02-day
‘Lyari Literature Festival’ in Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari, Karachi. The central theme of the festival will be ‘Safe, Peaceful Universities’ through art, literature and cultural activities. The 02 days
Lyari Literature Festival will engage faculty and students of Lyari and other University and the festival will feature cultural exhibits, art corners, food, bookstalls, book launch, mushairay, reading corners, panel discussions, expert talks, workshops, and open house discussions in 03 other universities of Karachi.
“We believe that Lyari should grow as a peaceful, liberal and progressive town, students through their universities struggle to revive the real Lyari and provide this type of activities to AAM AADMI in their own areas and environment. In short, re-institutionalization of a peaceful society is not possible escaping the ‘Literary culture’.”, says Sadia Baloch, Program Manager, Lyari Literature Festival.