Karachi Press Club, the first press club in Pakistan, has formally been around since 1958, when it was formed by a group of journalists in a stately Victorian-era manor. Today it has some 900 members focused on promoting democratic ideals, who gather at the clubhouse watering hole in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan for debate, discussion, and drinks.
The KPC headquarters includes a press conference room, library, bar, and chess room, among other facilities. Up the stairs and through a spartan room is a space that is worth vying for an invitation to. The inside of a makeshift wood panel partition is festooned with whimsical doodles by Feica, celebrated political commentator and cartoonist for Dawn, the country’s largest selling English language daily.
The fabric may be fraying on the well worn sofas in the library but this is a tight-knight community pulsating with ideas and intense discussion. Overheard snippets of conversation among the old journalist “comrades” include “it was there on the lawn that I was arrested during Zia’s rule,” “a leftist state would care for all equally but I see it as a mother that will pay more attention to the child that is downtrodden,” and “if our government were secular, religion would not be able to create divisions.”
The Karachi Press Club has organized countless protests against the government and rallies demanding civil and human rights over the decades, making it a sometimes controversial group to belong to. There have been attacks on the journalists themselves, the building has been vandalized, and their website has been hacked. Throughout it all though, the members hold dear the club, and what it represents.