Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa: Persona non grata at Karachi Literature Festival #KLF


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“I’ve been in a rickshaw”: Some critical reflections on the Karachi Literature Festival 2011

Editor’s Note: It is heartening to see at least one article in Pakistan’s mainstream press that dares to be critical of the pro-military establishment Karachi Literature Festival (KLF). We hope that other articles like this are also published instead of high fives and self-congratulations from the urban elite participants themselves. Kudos to Pakistan Today. 

KARACHI – Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), an annual international literary festival held in Karachi, starting from February 15 till 17, will be having no anti-army analysts moderating any sessions this year to avoid discomfort for pro-army analysts.

Interestingly, Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, an intellectual, author and op-ed writer, was assigned the status of ‘persona non grata’ by organisers of KLF for creating discomfort for the British, pro-Pakistan Army author Anatol Lieven in last year’s session.

The session was about the book of Anatol Lieven ‘Pakistan a hard country’ which was not received well by some analysts in the country for its military-friendly approach, and could not do well in liberal circles.

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, who is considered an anti-military analyst and was co-moderator during, last year’s session, asked some pinching questions from Anatol Lieven, which caused discomfort for the British author.

She was not called to moderate any KLF 2013 session and was not invited to participate in the festival despite a request from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) professor Dr Muhammad Waseem.

“I talked to KLF organisers and they told me that I was awarded the status of persona non grata,” Ayesha Siddiqua told Pakistan Today.

“LUMS Professor Dr Muhammad Waseem called me a few months back and told me that he wished that I should moderate a session at KLF 2013,” Dr Siddiqa said.

“I accepted the offer from Dr Waseem and he sent my name as a co-moderator to KLF organisers but he could not get a response from the management of the literary festival, she said, adding that Dr Waseem called KLF organiser Raheela and Muneeza for sending her the invitation to moderate the session with him.”

“Over this I contacted KLF organisers for their non-serious attitude on Dr Waseem’s request following which they told me that the administration of the festival has granted me the status of persona non grata,” Dr Siddiqa said.

“Last year I had a one-on-one discussion with pro-military British author Anatol Lieven on his book ‘Pakistan: a hard country’ but on arrival, KLF organisers had told me that Mohsin Hamid and Ghazi Salahuddin would also participate in the session with me,” she said.

“Some of my friends in the KLF organising team told me that Mohsin Hamid and Ghazi Salahuddin were added on the request of Anatol Lieven,” she said, adding that they also told her that the British author asked the organisers to remove her name but they added names of two more persons instead, to ease Lieven.

“Failing this, Anatol Lieven was brought to me by one of the KLF organisers for negotiations regarding what I had to put forth into the discussion, but I refused,” Dr Siddiqa added. “In this year’s KLF, the Urdu version of my book Military Inc. would be exhibited with the title ‘Khaki Company’,” she added.
LUMS Professor Muhammad Waseem when approached confirmed he had sent the name of Dr Ayesha Siddiqa for co-moderating a session at KLF 2013.

“I called KLF organisers many times and later I was informed that the literary festival has a very low budget and they cannot afford travelling expenses of Lahore-based defence analysts,” he said. “Now I have two Karachi-based persons in the session,” he added.

KLF DIRECTOR DENIES: KLF Director Ameena Saiyid told Pakistan Today that all decisions regarding speakers are taken by the KLF committee. “No one can force us to invite anyone. We try to get new authors every year for the benefit of the audience or we get authors who have published a new book. Ayesha is not entitled to be invited every year. She is not persona non grata and is welcome to attend KLF…it is free and open to all,” she said.

Source: Pakistan Today

4 responses to “Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa: Persona non grata at Karachi Literature Festival #KLF”

  1. Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa was not invited but Uncle Raza Roomi (employee of Sherry Rehman’s Jinnah Institute and Najam Sethi’s The Friday Times) is all over the place.

    May God protect Bilawal and Bakhtawar from Uncle Raza Rumi, President of PPP-Shahbaz-Sharif-Group. Before him there used to be his employer Uncle Najam Sethi who was a similar well-wisher of Benazir Bhutto.

  2. ہم میں سے کچھ بظاہر نظریاتی لوگ اپنی زبان سے تو وہ باتیں کہتے ہیں جو ہمارے نظریات سے ہم آہنگ نظر آتی ہوں لیکن یہ باتیں ہمارے دل سے نہیں نکلتیں ،صرف زبان سے ادا ہوتی ہیں۔ حبیب جالب نے اسی قلم کے بہروپیوں کے لئے کہا تھا

    دنیا کا جن کو درد ہے معدودے چند ہیں
    باقی تمام اپنی ترقی پسند ہیں

    نظریاتی لوگ جب پسے ہوئے طبقوں کا ذکرکرتے ہیں تو ان کا ایک ایک لفظ ان کی دلی دردمندی کی گواہی دیتا ہے۔ یہی وجہ ہے کہ ان کے دل سے نکلی ہوئی بات براہ راست دل پر ہی اثر کرتی ہے۔

    اعجاز حیدر، رضا رومی، ماروی سرمد، حنیف رامے اور مصطفیٰ کھر جیسے بہروپیوں کا نہ ترقی پسندی سے کوئی تعلق ہے نہ ہی پیپلز پارٹی سے – یہ لوگ فوجی اسٹبلشمنٹ کے پروردہ اور اپنی کلاس کے مفادات کے غلام ہیں

  3. Wahabiat-Salfiat-Deobandiat is cleansing Pakistan of progressive intelligentsia. The turn of life-style liberals will be next. If they think they are safe in the “Islamic Republic”, they would be living in fools paradise.

  4. Promoters (urban elites and their wannabe flatterers)

    Raza Rumi ‏@Razarumi
    “@KarachiLitFest: #KLF is free,but you can pay a fee & become a delegate to enjoy special facilities. Details: http://www.karachiliteraturefestival.org/delegates #karachi

    mohammedhanif ‏@mohammedhanif
    I’ll be moderating Hasan Dars book launch tomorrow at 230 pm. KLF. Beach Luxury. Please come

    Ali Shahid ‏@Sensibely
    This irritating uncle in sand color shirt has insisted discussion in Urdu at “state of education” session #KLF

    karachikhatmal ‏@karachikhatmal
    Fucking excited that I’m going to be around for this year’s #KLF. Kaafi killer program hai.

    Raza Rumi ‏@Razarumi
    Just saw @tapujaveri who was being chased by countless fans 🙂

    Ayesha Tammy Haq ‏@tammyhaq
    Heard the rain took deconstruct to distruct level “@Razarumi: Missing @BhopalHouse just when I wanted to deconstruct so much 🙂 #KLF”

    Faiza S Khan ‏@BhopalHouse
    Not enough people tweeting from #KLF. This is most frustrating.

    Mehmal Sarfraz ‏@Mehmal
    I A Rehman, Farzana Majeed, @mmatalpur and @mohammedhanif at #KLF pic.twitter.com/bNXqHURw

    Adnan Siddiqi ‏@adnansiddiqi
    ‘Ordinary citizens don’t realize how powerful they are, we are in a position to make governments give us our rights.’ @TehminaDurrani #KLF

    Nasim Zehra ‏@NasimZehra
    #KLF is absolutely the place to be for those who care to think,feel & to change through the written and spoken word…sadly I couldn’t.

    Anwar A Durrani ‏@aliarqam
    #klf Agar 400 bachey #Lahore se aghwa kar liye jain tau aisa karney waley bach na saktey, they do it in #Balochistan says @mohammedhanif

    Anwar A Durrani ‏@aliarqam
    We in #Quetta hv 500K #Hazaras living and restrained to Ghettoes, First they have been killed 4 coming out n now killed there #KLF @AliDayan


    Rasha Taus ‏@RashaTaus
    @mufaruk I think so too.`Karachi Post’ indicated the festival was utterly `taken over by establishment Libs?Something similar on LUBP also.

    Free Speech Pakistan ‏@freespeechpak
    We welcome pro-establishment #FakeLiberals to #KarachiFakeLiberalFestival #KFLF #KLF #Karachi

    Mehreen Rana ‏@mehreenrana
    Not even slightly impressed by the set-ups at #KLF. Looks like amateurs have provided basic tents, a mic and speakers.

    sophia ahmed ‏@sophiaahmed
    Interesting if a #KLF panel discussed appropriate language, mannerism attributed to persons with #disability in #literature such a failing

    Ali Taj ‏@AliAbbasTaj
    @NasimZehra @MehrTarar here is a slightly different take on #KLF http://criticalppp.com/archives/243211

    Ada Khakwani ‏@AdaKhakwani
    @NasimZehra @AliAbbasTaj @MehrTarar @mohammedhanif Has @najamsethi apologized to Pak for conspiring against BB? @AliDayan @iamthedrifter

    Ada Khakwani ‏@AdaKhakwani
    Mohammed Hanif writes one article per year in support of the Baloch, usually a day before Karachi Literary Festival. #KLF

    Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC
    Urban elite pro-establishment #FakeLiberals and their wannabe flatterers of the middle class. #KLF #KFLF #KarachiFakeLiberalsFestival

    Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC
    “Literature in Pakistan is the most agreeable way of ignoring real society.” #KarachiFakeLiberalFestival #KFLF #KLF

    Free Speech Pakistan ‏@freespeechpak
    Dominance of pro-establishment #FakeLiberals in #KarachiFakeLiberalFestival #KFLF proves that literature exists in a vacuum. #KLF #Karachi

    Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC
    @freespeechpak The more a person is dominant in #KLF i.e #KFLF #KarachiFakeLiberalFesitval, the more chances that he is agency-certified.

    Saroor Ijaz ‏@SaroorIjaz
    Even though we have become accustomed to the pretentious outbursts of fake liberals (libidos), we must not be influenced by them.

    Saroor Ijaz ‏@SaroorIjaz
    The only good fiction Pakistani novelists have produced is about their critical acclaim. More of such talk to follow at Khi Litter Festival.

    Saroor Ijaz ‏@SaroorIjaz
    Wilfred Owen, a soldier and perhaps the greatest war poet, comes to mind and quickly fades away.

    Saroor Ijaz ‏@SaroorIjaz
    The vain pantomimes of shame and self-disgust exhibited by fake liberals (libidos) make for a theatre of absurd and nausea.

    Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC
    Those who routinely ignore or misrepresent #ShiaGenocide #Baloch #Ahmadis killed by #TakfiriDeobandi militants produce literature? #KLF

    Looking at the proceedings of #KLF it appears that 21,000 Shia Muslims have been killed at a different planet. #ShiaGencoide #Apathy

    There were some thugs posing as literary figures in Nazi Germany who ignored or obfuscated Holocaust. Thugs at #KLF obfuscate #ShiaGenocide

    Godfather IV ‏@godfatheriv
    RT @iamthedrifter @Razarumi @omar_quraishi @mazdaki I am blissfully informed abt sme KLF decisions & how mafias control lit fests

    Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC
    Other than a token remark in one odd session, is there a single session focused on 21000 Shias killed in #Pakistan? #KLF #ShiaGenocide

    Nishapuri FC ‏@NishapuriFC
    He in the name of human rights hides the fact that hundreds of non-Hazara Shias have been killed in Quetta alone. #ShiaGenocide He focuses on the identity of killed #Hazaras but hides the identity of killers #Deobandis. See the Irony? #KLF #ShiaGenocide