When I used to teach at Forman Christian College I would organise a talk every fortnight on average. Such a high frequency of outside talks was certainly new for the college, but its Rector, Dr James Tebbe, always supported me, and once noted that when he was at Princeton, one of his professors told him that its these outside talks and events which he would remember and cherish the most after university. And that of course has proven true, for him, and for me. But why are these extracurricular talks and events important? Well, for starters, since they are outside the ‘syllabus,’ most students are able to approach them with a fresh and open mind. There is no worry of what will come in the exam, whether the tutor is noticing them or what to note down, etc. One can come to these talks without any preconditions, concerns or worries. In fact, for a lot of students, these are liberating events where they can speak their mind, ask what they really want to without the fear of being judged or marked down by a teacher or others. Furthermore, these talks bring to us the world’s knowledge. It is very different to read someone and then hear the author talk about the same text. Listening and actually talking to them makes understanding and thinking much easier. Pakistan is going through an odd period at the moment education wise. We have hundreds of universities, but little ‘education;’ we have millions of graduates but few are ‘educated.’ We seemed to have mastered the numbers game, but are lacking in the quality and creativity sector. And that, in fact, is the hardest task! Our poet laureate, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, once recited: ‘New worlds derive their pomp from thoughts quite fresh and new/From stones and bricks a world was neither built nor grew.’ Certainly, bricks and mortar only give support, and it is creative and new ideas which make and lead to newer worlds. That is, therefore, the task at hand! We have done the basics, created infrastructure, hired faculty, admitted students, etc, but how to make this whole structure into a creative organism? Into a thinking being? To achieve the dream of Iqbal, and indeed of the Quaid and our whole nation, we must therefore develop further avenues for creative thinking and endeavour, as without them we will remain a country caught up in extremism and reactionary thinking. We must open our minds and interact with the world, in order to learn and develop. To help us in this creative endeavour, we are bringing the Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest to Karachi on December 8, 2018 at the IBA City Campus. The ThinkFest took off pretty well earlier this year in Lahore and so rather than expanding outside of Pakistan, we thought of expanding within the country, because the real need, the real dearth, is here. We have teamed up with the famed Institute of Business Administration, not only because it is the premier institution of Karachi, but also since it was the first international collaboration of Pakistan, signifying our openness and interaction with the world. Rooting it in an academic institution will certainly give the festival depth and vigour, and space for open dialogue and discussion. The ThinkFest took off pretty well earlier this year in Lahore and so rather than expanding outside of Pakistan, we thought of expanding within the country, because the real need, the real dearth, is here. We have teamed up with the famed Institute of Business Administration The tone of the day will be set up acclaimed writer Hanif Kureishi, who I am sure everyone knows and loves. His novels, later plays and films, have caught the attention of generations of Pakistanis, as well as people in the diaspora, and the greater English-speaking world. His unique perspective and take on things will certainly helps us charge our mental batteries, and set us for the rest of day which will feature an array of speakers from not just Pakistan but around the world. Speakers will include Dr Azeem Ibrahim and Dr Flagg Miller who have both worked extensively on extremism and Al Qaida, Dr Kristen Harpkviken from Oslo who is an Afghanistan expert, Dr Anupama Rao from Columbia who will talk about Ambedkar as a thinker for Pakistan, Dr Kotsko who will talk about Neoliberalism and its demons, and Dr Goolam Vahed from Natal in South Africa who will talk about Gandhi and modern India. Doing a double take will be Dr Joseph Massad, the head of the Middle East department at Columbia who will talk on Islam and Liberalism and then the Middle East. Our popular history panels will include celebrated works on the history of opium by Lucy Inglis, one on the Railways and the Raj by Christian Wolmar, and even Jinns and Snakes will make an appearance in the work of Dr Anand Taneja! Not to be left behind, a large number of speakers, from Karachi and all over Pakistan, will be in conversation with our international guests and other panels ranging from talks on urbanism to the feminist movement, progressive politics, art and culture, media, and also of course a tribute to the amazing Fehmida Riaz. Speakers of the calibre of Najam Sethi, Imtiaz Gul, Zahid Hussain, Amb Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, Fahd Husain, Owais Tohid, Marvi Mazhar, Asma Abbas and others will joins us. So please do take some time out and join us on this journey in helping make Karachi Thinking! It’s free and all are welcome! The writer teaches at IT University Lahore and is the author of ‘A Princely Affair: The Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan, 1947-55.’ He tweets at @BangashYK Published in Daily Times, December 6th 2018.