LAHORE - The first Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest will be held at the Institute of Business Administration’s Karachi Campus on Saturday (December 8).

Grounded in the work of scholars from around the world, the academic festival endeavours to bring to the general public robust and sound academic work in an easy and accessible format.

Announcing the ThinkFest, Chairman ThinkFest Karachi Dr Miftah Ismail said Karachi boasts of only a handful of such literary festivals.

Underscoring the academic, yet public, nature of the event, Dr Farrukh Iqbal, Dean and Director of IBA, said the IBA had brought the ThinkFest to Karachi. After its success in Lahore earlier this year, it was only natural that an event focused on bringing academia in the developing discourse of Pakistan should be held at IBA.

Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash, Founder of the ThinkFest, 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 event will begin with a keynote by acclaimed writer Hanif Kureishi, who has won several accolades for his work which has been translated into 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.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim and Dr Flagg Miller will talk about extremism and Al-Qaeda with Imtiaz Gul, Dr Kirsten Harpviken from Oslo to share 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 talking about the situation in the Middle East.

Dr FarrukhI qbal, Dr Nadeemul Haq, Mr Nasim Beg and Ms Maheen Rehman will comment on economy. The media—and its threats within and without—will be dealt with by a panel with Fahd Husain, Owais Tohid, Asma Shirazi, Mazhar Abbas and Zarrar Khuhro. Another panel comprising Najam Sethi, Dr Ishrat Husain, and Nadeem Farooq Paracha will discuss with Maria Memon where Pakistan is heading.

Dr Adam Kotsko from Chicago will talk about Neo-liberalism 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 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 panellists.”

The ThinkFest Karachi will also pay tributes to the poet Fehmida Riaz with a commemorative panel with Muneeza Shamsie, Rukhsana Ahmed, Aamer Hussain and Syed Nomanul Haq. It is open to public.