The Publishers and Booksellers Guild, the organiser of the International Kolkata Book Fair, has written to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to facilitate the participation of his country's publishers in the 2019 edition of the fair.
The Guild wrote to Khan on November 28, seeking his intervention to facilitate the participation of six publishers to the fair, an annual event which began in 1976 and is considered the world's largest in terms of footfall.
It had written to the National Book Foundation of Pakistan in September, inviting it to participate in the fair, which begins from January 30 next year.
If everything goes as per plans, this will be for the first time that publishers from Pakistan will participate in the book fair, Guild secretary Tridib Chatterjee told PTI on Friday.
"Book lovers and readers here have immense interest about books written by authors and writers of Pakistan and we have been seeking Pakistani publishers to participate in our fair for a long time," he said.
There are at least five publishers from Pakistan who have expressed interest to participate in the fair with their publications but could not due to visa issues, he said.
"This year five to six publishers from Pakistan have already applied for a visa. We are quite hopeful of a positive outcome," Chatterjee said.
He said, "We will write to the ministry requesting to look into the matter. We have written to Mr (Imran) Khan to facilitate the passage of the publishers as best as he can. I am sure he will understand the sentiments of book lovers".
He recounted Khan's 2012 visit to the Kolkata Literature Festival, a highlight of the book fair and the euphoria it created among book lovers.
Khan, also the former captain of Pakistan cricket team, had then spoken for over 50 minutes on 'Captaining a nation'.
"I remember that we had to switch off the power to save Mr Khan from fans and there was a massive chaos after his session. I still remember how he had expressed his surprise over the enthusiasm of the book lovers. He had said the fair could be the dream venue of any author and publisher and this prompted us to write to him seeking help to bring Pakistan publishers to the fair," he said.
Chatterjee said he had written to National Book Foundation secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed in September inviting them to participate in the 43rd International Kolkata Book Fair.
"We are hopeful this year Pakistan-based publishers will be able to come here," he said and referred to authors and writers from New Delhi and National Capital Region crossing the border and participating in literary festivals organised in Pakistan.
Guatemala would be the theme country of the 43rd International Kolkata Book Fair next year to be held at the Central Park Mela Complex in Salt Lake in the city.
The fair, which will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, will also be participated by countries like the UK, the US, Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam apart from 11 Latin American nations and Bangladesh.
Iran is to participate for the first time in the popular book fair, which will conclude on February 10.
(With inputs from agencies.)