The denial of the authorities over the last thirty years of the fact, that strength lies in diversity, led us not only into this havoc of terrorism but has also visibly broken the social fabric of a very tolerant society. The extremists in the name of religion have inflicted severe damage to the diverse and vibrant culture, which had evolved from over a thousand year of coexistence.
We should have, by now, had strongly held beliefs in plurality. Our folk artists, theatre performers, singers and musicians etc., from all over the country could have flourished. Pakistan at the time of its inception promoted artists who gained world fame through the patronage of the government, which used to proudly let them perform before foreign dignitaries and facilitate their participation in the events the world over. The measured but lethal change in the government policy since the late seventies led to the evaporation of this culture. The attempts by the official media off and on to let the common man relax, entertain, and educate himself also significantly diminished while even the so called democratic governments, claimed to have a belief in promoting the diverse culture of the land, came under the overwhelming pressure tactics of the orthodox minority.
The tense diaspora of Karachi which has suffered the most, has been provided with a tremendous opportunity to share the glories of the past by the Music, Art, Dance school in collaboration with ‘I am Karachi’. This effort is extremely admirable as it rekindles hope amongst the Karachiites of returning to an exuberant life, their hallmark known to the whole world. Karachi used to be a favourite tourist destination. It is hoped that such events will continue to be held by other organisations too, on their own and without expecting any help from the governments as the politicians seem to be completely unmindful about the vitality of the culture in the life of the nations. In this regard it is not out of place to mention the forced ban on a completely peaceful and vibrant festival of Basant in Lahore which had become an international event in its own right.. sadly politicised and maligned more that it needed to be. The Mela Chiraghan in Lahore is another example, which though being celebrated annually is losing its charm because of undue restrictions and the constant fear unleashed by the forces of literalism and terror.