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Dr Raymond bids farewell to Karachi May 23, 2008

Posted by lollywoodhungama in Uncategorized.

It is distressing to note that there is a lack of cultural activity in the public sphere in a city like Karachi, inhabited by 16 million people, said Dr Petra Raymond, the outgoing director of the Goethe-Institut, Karachi.

Sharing her four-year experience in the metropolis with The News at her office, she said “Karachi is a huge city but there are a very few public venues.”

There is the Arts Council of Pakistan but it has no theatre, music, museum and an opera hall.

“Art is restricted at hidden places like clubs or private houses,” she said, adding “one can not have access to it unless someone invites you there.”

She said the European culture is missing here and it needs a cultural exchange. However, for a cultural exchange, you need a place where you can interact with each other and your performance is visible.

She said Karachi has not much to show in terms of cultural activities. She reads about cultural events in newspapers but they are private activities and everyone does not have access to it. “They are restricted events” she mentioned. Another common problem is that one has a lot of “parallel worlds.”

“You may go to the Sunday Bazaar in Defence but you can not go to an adjacent club,” Dr Raymond expressed.

She further stated that around 80 film festivals take place in Germany each year. In contrast to it, there is only one film festival (Karafilm festival) in Karachi and “I heard, finally plans are being made to organize another festival in Islamabad.”

“We want to support such cultural activities,” she said. Pakistan has a film industry, known as Lollywood.

However, there are no proper film schools or universities in order to educate people particularly about film making. “I wonder where these producers get training for film making,” Dr. Raymond said.

“It is high time more museums should be built in Pakistan because it is loosing its cultural and art heritage,” she said, adding that precious Pakistani paintings are being sold abroad.

“You have wonderful cultural and historical sites like Moen-Jo-Daro, Buddhists sites, Taxilla etc, which need more attention and protection,” she said.

“Culture should not only be used for displaying the soft image of Pakistan,” she expressed. She added culture is much more than that. “It is essential for the identity of people and development of society,” she said. “Pakistan is a very young country where nation-building is still an issue,” she said, adding that a cultural identity is very important for it.

Dr Raymond told The News that the roots of culture and history last much longer here and “you have something here, which is important for mankind.”

She then gave an example of the importance of Egyptian culture which is renowned in the world. Another aspect discussed by her was tourism. One can enjoy hospitality especially in the North but there is a lack of infrastructure.

She mentioned when she came to Pakistan, she had not heard about Moen-Jo-Daro because there was no information about it abroad.

“We want to exchange our understanding about the role of culture in the development of society,” she said. She said the past is always important and one should be linked with it. “Of course, one should be innovative but without learning from the past, one cannot create new things,” she mentioned. Hence, the integration with the past is important.

She said the image of Pakistan is focused on a specific topic like bombings and political instability but she says she doesn’t feel that she is targeted more than anybody else in the terms of security.

However, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, there was a lot of trouble in the city and everyone wanted to stay home. However, after the elections, democracy has a chance to exist. The politicians should learn from the past and also focus on rebuilding trust in Pakistan. There is a need to create culture of dialogue, to listen to someone who has a different position for creating tolerance and a mutual basis for coexistence.

Dr Raymond who studied German history and literature and did Ph-D in the same subject said she is leaving Pakistan with mixed feelings. She would be posted at Goethe-Institut in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Dr Markus Litz, the new director speaking at the farewell for Dr. Raymond said that his first job would be to learn the Urdu language and he would start this from the next month.



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