In celebration of Pakistan's 70th birthday the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) was held outside Pakistan for the first time on 20 May 2017 at London’s Southbank Centre (Alchemy Festival), in partnership with Oxford University Press Pakistan, the Southbank Centre, Rukhsana Ahmed, and Bloombsbury Pakistan (whose KLF London team are Nadir Cheema, Nigham Shahid and Tariq Suleman). Click here for the London programme.

The annual KLF was launched in March 2010, founded by Ameena Saiyid and Asif Farrukhi, directed by Ameena Saiyid, and produced by Oxford University Press. Inspired by the success of the first two KLFs, the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) was launched at end-2011. The momentum begun in Pakistan with the KLF led also to the Islamabad Literature Festival (launched in 2013), the Teachers' Literature Festival (launched in 2014), and many others.

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. The first book was printed in Oxford in 1478, two years after the printing press came to England. Today OUP has offices in 53 countries, disseminates resources in 190 countries, publishes in more than 102 languages, and is the world’s largest university press.  OUP Pakistan was founded 1952 and is committed to promoting reading, and improving education and the intellectual quality of life in Pakistan. It has gained a reputation for publishing academic, general, and reference books which are considered authoritative and definitive works on Pakistan. It has an extensive school and higher education publishing programme of high-quality books cognizant of the local environment. Included in the countless praise earned by OUP Pakistan are congratulations by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes on the series of poetry books written in English by Pakistanis (postcard from Ted Hughes to OUP Pakistan in Pakistan's 50th birth year, 1997). Dr Ralph Braibanti of Duke University, NC wrote: The contribution made by OUP Pakistan to Pakistan Studies is remarkable. Your steady flow of first-rate scholarly studies constitute the major corpus of research on Pakistan which no scholar can ignore. You have transformed the field from one of intellectual aridity to one of verdant respectability (1997 letter to OUP Pakistan).

The Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre. It was founded with the Festival of Britain in 1951. Its year-round festival programme encompasses art, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, literature and debate, and features world-class artists from across the globe. It reaches 6.25 million people a year, through over 5,000 events. Its annual 11-day Alchemy festival, of which the KLF was a part on 20 May, showcases the rich cultural connections between South Asia and the UK. Now in its eighth year, Alchemy has grown to become the largest festival inspired by South Asian culture outside of the subcontinent.

Bloomsbury Pakistan is a non-profit organisation. In 2001, a group of Pakistani scholars launched the Oxford University Pakistan Discussion Forum which became a hub for debates on South Asia. By 2006 the Forum’s hub moved to SOAS (University of London), and began influencing the movement to restore democracy, human rights, and civil liberties in Pakistan through creating public discourse, building connections among academics and professionals working on (or wanting to work on) Pakistan, and publishing. In addition to social sciences and humanities academics, Bloomsbury has hosted Pakistani newspaper editors, analysts, and writers (fiction and non-fiction), for broad-based discourse.

01.pngNadeem Aslam writes about a Pakistani who has moved to the UK in Maps for Lost Lovers: “Compared with England, Pakistan is a poor and humble country but she aches for it, because to be thirsty is to crave a glass of simple water and no amount of rich buttermilk will do.”