a scree grab of the Karachi Literature Festival
New Delhi: The Indian government co-sponsored the Karachi Literature Festival which was held between the 10th and 12th of February in Pakistan. At least that’s what KLF’s website says. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations is mentioned as a co-sponsor in a list that also includes the French, Swiss, British and US embassies in Pakistan.
After a controversy erupted over India’s endorsement of the program at a time when India and Pakistan are locked in a diplomatic war over cross-border terror,the Indian government rushed to defend itself. Government sources said, “Our involvement in Karachi Literature Festival is restricted to providing airfare to four Indian authors.”
Government sources confirmed that the ICCR had funded the travel of four authors including Preeti Shenoy, Mamang Dai and Urvashi Butalia. ICCR director Amarendra Khatua told CNN News18, “We are not sponsoring Karachi Literature Festival. We provide funds to the authors who are going there.”
He was earlier quoted in the Times of India saying, “We are working to increase India’s cultural footprint across the world under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, including in Pakistan.”
The KLF began in 2010 and has gained significance since then as it now counts foreign missions of several countries in Pakistan as sponsors. This comes at a time when Pakistani artistes are finding it difficult to perform in India with a veritable ban in force. Missions on both sides remain reluctant to issue visas to people who can help encourage cultural contact.
While the Indian government maintains silence, it is clear that they are looking to encourage cultural ties even as bilateral dialogue remains suspended.