Eighty-four people were killed and two hundred wounded in a suicide bomb last night in Quetta. This morning the hotel is sombre; the breakfast lounge is quiet and guards with double barrel shotguns pace the roof tops. As I head out through Karachi the driver tells me “The City is on High Alert”. Streets are strewn with reinforced steel and barbed wire. Machine gun turrets have appeared from nowhere. (pic from my hotel room)
The car turns away from another blocked street and by method of trial and error we arrive at the most politically visible and creatively charged gathering of international Pakistani novelists, ministers, diplomats, business men, including George Galloway, and the general reading public. The air is charged. It may not be same city as the one I drifted to sleep in but along with thousands of others I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now. I step out of the car into the buzz of the festival.