The five-day 16th Karachi International Book Fair 2021 kicked off on Thursday at Expo Center Karachi as Sindh Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah formally inaugurated the fair.
Former Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, renowned writer and artist Anwar Maqsood and writer Fatima Hassan were also guests at the inauguration ceremony while MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, writer Shahida Hassan, President Arts Council Ahmed Shah, Director of Private Institution Director General Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui, Adib Mahmood Sham and a large number of diplomats, delegates, scholars, and journalists also participated.
Despite the school holidays on the first day, thousands of people, including school and college students attended the book fair. In his address, Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah promised to write a letter to the federal government for tax exemption on paper. He also announced to present a resolution in the Sindh assembly to abolish tax on paper.
“The present age is the age of modern technology but hardcopy book has its unique pleasure,” he added. The minister said that due to Covid 19, the book fair could not be held last year, adding that now it will continue. Syed Sardar Ali Shah said that just like the book fair is organized in Karachi, similar book fairs would be held in Larkana, Hyderabad and other districts of Sindh.
He asked the book fair management to make a draft for exemption of taxes on paper, promising that he would put it in the Sindh cabinet. “I will also present a resolution in the provincial assembly to abolish the tax,” he added. “If the provincial assembly raises its voice then the federal government should do something,” the minister said.
Former education minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq said in his address that his relationship with books is old as he had also been a journalist.
” I try to attend the International Book Fair. Every year and I come with the children and buy the books of my choice. He fsaid that Sardar Ali Shah should play his role in resolving the issues raised regarding taxes on paper.
“When I was the Minister of Education, these problems still exist. I am surprised that this problem still exists. I have come to know that the paper factory based in Lahore has established its monopoly. Everyone knows that if a paper industry is established in Karachi, then everyone’s monopoly will end,” Mazhar ul Huq said.
Addressing the function, Chairman International Book Fair Aziz Khalid said that publication of good and quality books in Pakistan will only be possible when supply of cheap and quality paper is ensured.
He said that there are two ways to do this, adding that one is to remove or reduce the duty on imported paper or to locally make standard and cheap paper. “Due to the increase in taxes on imported paper, standard books have become out of reach of the middle class. Education should not be taxed,” Khalid Aziz said.
He requested the Sindh government should suggest to the federal government that the tax on paper be abolished for the promotion of education and reading.
Renowned writer Fatima Hassan said that this book fair shows that neither literature is dying nor language is dying. “This is not the last century of literature and language,” she said.
As many as 330 stalls of textbooks and non-textbooks have been set up where internationally renowned book publishers from Iran, India, Turkey, Singapore, China, Malaysia, United Kingdom and UAE are participating.
Writers, poets, social and political personalities who came to the exhibition welcomed the book fair and said that such exhibition would be very helpful in improving the image of Karachi.
Children from various schools also attended the book fair, reading and buying books of their choice.
The interest of students an women in the book fair is noticeable.
The fair saw public interest in books and magazines in English, Urdu, Sindhi, Persian, Punjabi, Gujarati and other languages spoken across the country.
Students and parents flocked to most of the textbook stalls in the book fair. Students bought books of non-teaching interest besides textbooks from the stalls.
The management of the book fair also organized extracurricular activities for the children in which the children participated.
An ATM mobile was also arranged by a private bank at the Expo Center so that the citizens don’t face any difficulty regarding cash.