As many as 150 leading publishers and booksellers from Pakistan and 40 exhibitors from 17 foreign countries have set up their more than 330 bookstalls at the Karachi Expo Center in the five-day 17th Karachi Book Fair 2022 (KIBF) started on Thursday.

Provincial Minister for Education and Culture Syed Sardar Ali Shah inaugurated the 17th KIBF while the opening ceremony of the event was also attended by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan senior leader Aamir Khan, former member Sindh Assembly Mehtab Akbar Rashidi, Chairman of Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association and Karachi International Book Fair Chairman Aziz Khalid other eminent personalities including writers, poets, and politicians.

Speaking on the occasion, Shah said that the first book he read in his life was Shah Jo Risalo on the advice of his grandfather. The new generations especially the youth gradually disconnected from reading hard copies of books. This trend not only discouraged the book reading habit but we are also going far away from our culture.

He said that all the progress in the world today is owed to the book. There is an era of digital devices, but nothing has the ability to replace the pages of a book. “Perhaps we will be the last people of today’s era who have had the pleasure of turning the pages of the books,” he added.

The minister said that Urdu and Sindhi language is not being given attention in our private educational institutions, as only 2 percent of private schools will have trained teachers who could teach Urdu and Sindhi language in the future. “If we do not transfer our language to the next generations, then these books will remain useless. It has become necessary to protect our language”

He said that such book fairs should also be held in Hyderabad, Larkana and other districts of Sindh. He also assured his cooperation for organizing the book fairs. “The ministry is the regularity authority only. We always encourage stakeholders, society members, organizations, and institution to come and play their positive role. The ministry would provide if anything was required”

On the occasion, Rashidi said that two years ago when the whole world was dealing with the epidemic and we could not even meet our loved ones to increase their courage during the illness, books stood with us. “When you read a book, you gain awareness of a new world. A book is a medium that connects you to the world. The habit of reading books makes you strong mentally and socially,’ she said

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Aziz Khalid said that this book fair had been inaugurated by school and college students even before official inauguration. “The KIBF which was started 17 years ago is proving to be a fruitful and productive event. Public interest in the book fair is increasing every year,” he added.

He said that the price of paper is increasing day by day and the prices were out of the reach of the readers. The federal government should to reduce the tax on paper and this matter may be raised in the provincial assembly so that affordable books can be provided to the common man including the students.

First day

Even before the official opening, a large number of students of various schools and colleges participated in the 17th KIBF being organized by the Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association. Writers, poets, social and political personalities who came to the exhibition termed the book fair welcoming for the city of Karachi and said that such an exhibition would be very helpful in improving the image of Karachi.

In the book fair, the children of many schools expressed their happiness. Students and parents were buying their favorite books at discounted prices. The interest of women in the book fair was also noticeable. A large number of readers were also taking an interest in local Urdu, Sindhi, Persian, Punjabi, and Gujarati books and literature.

The event

The event brings together publishing and distribution houses, domestic and international publishers, booksellers, librarians and institutional customers on a single platform. Publishers from Iran, India, Turkey, Singapore, China, Malaysia, England, UAE and other countries are attending the international event.

According to the KIBF organizers, more than 330 stands shall display books on all subjects to discerning readers including vast numbers of families, students and book lovers from all over the country. KIBF aims to motivate the nation’s youth and students to take part in cultural and creative activities to strengthen their role as pillars of an intellectually, scientifically and culturally flourishing future.

Around 400,000 people are expected to visit the 17th KIBF. The event will be visited by book lovers, students from all groups and ages, professionals from all walks of life, academicians, writers, librarians and general public.

Various book launchings and book release ceremonies will also be held for notable writers during the fair besides entertaining contests like drawing, recitation, extempore speech, and quizzes for kids. Karachi International Book Fair timings are 10 am to 9 pm daily from Thursday, 08th till Monday,  December 12, 2022.

Related: 17th Karachi International Book Fair to begin tomorrow

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Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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