Founders and Directors in Alphabetical order
Ameena Saiyid, Festival Founder and Director
OBE, Sitara e Imtiaz, Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Ameena Saiyid joined OUP in 1979 in Lahore, working in sales and editorial, with responsibility for the Punjab and NWFP, and later moved to Karachi. She left OUP in 1986 to set up her own publishing house, Saiyid Books, which grew into a successful business. In 1988, she was invited by OUP to rejoin as head of OUP Pakistan, and thereby become the first woman to head a multinational company in Pakistan. In 2005, Ameena became the first woman in Pakistan to be awarded the Order of the British Empire. The OBE was awarded in recognition of her services to women’s rights, education, democracy, intellectual property rights and Anglo-Pakistan relations. In April 2010, she became the first woman elected to be president of the 150-year-old Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI). On 15 February 2013 Ameena was awarded French knighthood (Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) "for her contribution to Arts and Literature." In April 2014 Ameena was invited to London to receive the UK Publishers Association Copyright Protection Award won by Oxford University Press Pakistan at the London Book Fair's inaugural International Book Industry Excellence Awards. On 23 March 2018 she was awarded the Sitara e Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan for excellence and courage in the field of literature, for her services and contribution to education and publishing, and her support of Pakistani literary writings.
Taking over as head of OUP Pakistan in 1988, Ameena rapidly built OUP Pakistan’s publishing programme to the extent that they started publishing a book a week, instead of a book a year in earlier days. She recruited and.trained editors, designers and illustrators, sales and marketing staff, and expanded OUP operations from Karachi and Lahore to the rest of the country, opening offices in Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan and Faisalabad. She established a network of nine bookshops in Pakistan, and organized the first nationwide book fair held simultaneously in twenty towns and cities in Pakistan. Today there is no school in the private sector in Pakistan which is not using an Oxford book. Ameena grew the Urdu publishing programme exponentially. In 1997, OUP Pakistan published 37 books in the Jubilee Series to celebrate 50 years of Pakistan’s independence.
Included in the countless praise earned by OUP Pakistan during Ameena Saiyid's leadership are the congratulations sent by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes on the series of poetry books written in English by Pakistanis (postcard from Ted Hughes to OUP Pakistan sent in 1997, the year of Pakistan's 50th birthday). Dr Ralph Braibanti of Duke University, NC wrote: The contribution made by OUP Pakistan to Pakistan Studies is remarkable. "Your steady flow of first-rate scholarly studies constitute the major corpus of research on Pakistan which no scholar can ignore. You have transformed the field from one of intellectual aridity to one of verdant respectability" (1997 letter to Ameena Saiyid).
Cramped by the small size of a residential house in Karachi from which OUP Pakistan was operating, Ameena bought a two-acre plot in the Korangi Industrial Area and built an office of 40,000 sq ft and a warehouse of 20,000 sq ft. She equipped the new office with the SAP and other global best practices to enable OUP Pakistan to operate at high efficiency. The new building is a celebration of Pakistani art, craft and culture.
Ameena's aims are to publish and sell as many books as possible, to develop a large number of bilingual dictionaries in Pakistan’s national and regional languages, to set the standards for school textbooks and children’s books, to employ the best possible people, to manage the business in an ethical manner, to be a good employer, to continue publishing textbooks for schools, colleges, and universities, to contribute to the academic community, to promote readership, and to project a positive and soft image of Pakistan and Pakistani authors.
In pursuit of these aims, from January 21-25 2009 Ameena attended events in every time slot on all five days of the Jaipur Literature Festival. By the last day of the Festival she approached the head of British Council India, to seek sponsorship and supportive partnership for a similar festival. The British Council's response was immediately positive, asking her to submit a written proposal. She also spoke with some of the organizers of the JLF, such as Teamwork headed by Sanjoy Roy, and others. Shortly thereafter (February 8, 2009) her report on the Jaipur Literature Festival was published in Dawn (see pdf attached to this webpage), and she submitted a written proposal to the British Council. A few months later Asif Farrukhi also joined her. In February 2010, Pakistan's first literature Festival of its kind was launched, organized by the British Council Pakistan, and Oxford University Press Pakistan, and founded by Ameena Saiyid and Asif Aslam Farrukhi. Inspired by this, the Children's Literature Festival was launched in 2011, co-founded and co-directed by Baela Raza Jamil and Ameena Saiyid, and the Islamabad Literature Festival launched in 2013.
Baela Raza Jamil and Ameena Saiyid launched the Teachers’ Literature Festival in February 2014, which attracted around 2000 teachers from across Pakistan to Karachi where they attended lectures and participated in workshops and discussions on the most effective methods of teaching and learning.
In 2013 Ameena joined Oxford University Press’s regional management team with the additional responsibility of representing the interests of OUP India, OUP Pakistan, OUP Malaysia, and OUP China in Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa. In 2017, she transitioned from MD to the "Chair" of OUP Pakistan. In December 2018, Ameena Saiyid retired from OUP.
Asif Farrukhi, Festival Founder
Tamgha e Imtiaz, Prime Minister’s Literary Award by the Pakistan Academy of Letters
Dr Asif Farrukhi is former Dean, and currently Associate Professor in the School of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, the director of the Arzu Center for Regional Languages and Humanities, and co-director of the Arzu Program for Languages and Literature at Habib University.
Asif is a fiction-writer, critic and translator. A public health physician by training, he did his MBBS from the Dow Medical College, Karachi in 1984 and Masters in Public Health with concentration in International Health from Harvard University, USA, in 1988. He completed the Short Course on Health Economics and Financing from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, in 2012. He served as Senior Instructor in Community Health Sciences at the Aga Khan University, Karachi with primary responsibilities of teaching undergraduate medical and nursing students and developing modules of primary health care in under-served areas of Pakistan. From 1994 to 2014, he served as the Health and Nutrition programme Officer at UNICEF, Karachi with primary responsibility of planning, monitoring and managing Maternal and Child health related interventions in collaboration with the government and NGOs.
Asif’s academic and research interests are in literature and language. Known for his short stories and essays, seven collections of his short fiction and two collections of critical essays have been published. He has published translations of prose and poetry from modern and classical writers. His recent publications include a collection of new critical essays on Manto and Look At The City From Here, an anthology of writings about Karachi, published by OUP. Asif contributes regularly to the English- language press. Two of his adaptations have been staged in Karachi. He is the editor of Duniyazad, a literary journal of new writing and contemporary issues in Urdu.
Asif has presented papers and participated in literary events at home as well as abroad. For his distinguished work, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Literary Award by the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 1997 and the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan.
Development of modern Urdu fiction; sociocultural aspects of historical events in 1947 and 1971 with contemporary literature; Post-colonial fiction; themes and trends in contemporary Urdu poetry; translation theory.
Selected Publications in English:
An Evening of Caged Beasts: Seven Postmodernist Urdu Poets, Selected an introduced by Asif Farrukhi, translated by Frances Pritchett and Asif Farrukhi, Oxford University Press, Karachi,1999.
The Distance of a Shout: selected poetry of Kishwar Naheed, edited by Asif Farrukhi, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2004.
The Critic as a Delighted Reader: Introduction to A Critical Survey of the Development of the Urdu Novel and Short Story by Shaista Suhrawardy, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006.
Hundreds of Pathways in the Sky and the Wind, introduction to Godavri by Fahmida Riaz, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2008.
Nasooh and Nazir Ahmad: From Cholera to Book-burning, Introduction to the Penitence of Nasooh, Oxford University press, Karachi 2008.
Look At The City From Here: Karachi writings, selected and edited by Asif Farrukhi, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2011.
Upon a Time: Cultural Legacies, Fictional Worlds of the Partition and Beyond, in Qurratulain Hyder and the River of Fire, edited by Rakhshanda Jalil, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2011.