Satirist and scriptwriter Anwar Maqsood mesmerised the audience at the seventh edition of I Am Karachi (IAK) Talks at the JS Auditorium, IBA, on Friday evening.
Talking about the census controversy, Mr Maqsood said that the findings of last year’s exercise showed that in Karachi, they only counted the male population as it was called ‘mardamshumari’.
He said that as a cosmopolitan city Karachi welcomed everyone with open arms, provided opportunities to study, work and live but ironically the city and its culture lack one thing — ownership. He added that he was glad that organisations such as IAK were restoring a sense of ownership in the youth, something that earlier generations had for this city.
Mr Maqsood and other speakers, including author Dr Asif Farrukhi journalist Iqrar ul Hassan and transgender activist Kami Sid, shared their insights into Karachi’s constantly changing dynamics — from inclusivity to violent to resilient to tolerant.
The session was hosted by comedian Shehzad Ghias Shaikh who kept the audience laughing.
Iqrar ul Hassan, host of a popular TV show on ARY News, came and spoke about how he had motivated people to work together and improve their cities. Taking a lead from his TV show, he got more than a million people to sign up as volunteers to paint and fix their own cities and towns.
Dr Farrukhi took the audience on a nostalgic tour of Karachi. He talked about his father, Aslam Farrukhi, who when he moved to Karachi after partition, was looking for a mushaira to attend.
“He didn’t just find one. He found four,” said Dr Farrukhi.
IAK’s president Amin Hashwani started the event after observing a moment of silence for the lives lost in Friday’s attacks in Karachi and Orakzai.
“Karachi is changing … it has been changing for the last 70 years. The question is how is it changing — for the good or the bad? And the jury is out on that as it is something that is always changing,” he said.
“There is a quote by Confucius which says that to put the world in order we must put the nation in order; to put the nation in order we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order we must first cultivate our personal life. We must first set hearts right so at the end of the day it’s all about the heart … and the heart of the elites needs to change first ... when I talk about the elite, I don’t just mean the rich. I am also referring to people with influence, power, privilege, the educated class, etc,” he added.
IAK executive director Ambareen Main Thompson agreed with Mr Hashwani and said that while it was true that Karachi was changing, the city’s fervour, resilience and josh had not changed — case in point, despite the attack at the Chinese consulate on Friday morning, people bravely stepped out of their homes to attend the talk.
IAK Talks is a series of inspiration talks by citizens who are champions in their own league, who dared to dream and strived towards achieving those dreams with determination, who are role models of patience, perseverance and persistence. The purpose of these talks is to create a platform that motivates people to work together for the betterment of Karachi.
Originally published in Dawn, November 25th, 2018