The bright expressive colours used by long-distance truck drivers across Pakistan have inspired a new fashion range.
The bright expressive colours used by long-distance truck drivers across Pakistan have inspired a new fashion range.
To counter the emergence of fundamentalism in Pakistan, the ruling classes as well as intellectuals are advocating the revival of sufism. However, it is evident that ideas and the system cannot be revived because fundamentalism is a product of a certain time and space and fulfills the needs of that age.
Secondly, the very idea of revivalism indicates intellectual bankruptcy and lethargy of our intellectuals who are either not ready or do not have the capacity to understand the very phenomenon of religious extremism and its advent as a result of social, economic and political changes in society. A number of myths are associated with sufis. One of the arguments being that they converted non-Muslims and are responsible for the spread of Islam through the subcontinent. To portray them as missionaries discredits them as an impartial community. To convert someone means that they initially did not believe in the truthfulness of other religions. If this view is correct, it does not explain how they could create goodwill among people belonging to different religions.
– The ‘forced fasting’ of Zia’s time, like many other such laws, was never reversed by the PPP despite its third time in power. The reason could be that during Zia’s years, the fundamentalists became so powerful that they were now the masters of the country’s fate
Recently, a police SHO barged into Nairang Gallery located on Jail Road, Lahore, which is an art gallery-cum-rendezvous spot for the city’s social and cultural elite, intelligentsia and artistic and bohemian classes, and harassed the staff as well as visitors and customers present for violating the ‘holiness’ of Ramzan. According to him, food and beverages were being served there during fasting hours. He also objected to the attire of the female staff and customers there, calling it revealing and thus un-Islamic, and against the sacredness of Ramzan. He did not like both genders mixing freely either. He misbehaved with and even manhandled the female curator of the gallery. This incident has stirred a wave of condemnation and protest from civil society and the cultured classes.
This kind of forced ‘sanctification’ of Ramzan is a routine matter in small cities and towns in Pakistan. Such highhandedness by the authorities in small places is seldom reported in the media. For instance, the following incident, which, somehow, did get reported in a leading daily may give a faint idea as to what kind of thrusting of one’s values on others is prevalent in our society.
On September 16, 2009, during the month of Ramzan, about two dozen people were made to parade semi-naked in a market place in Mianwali, with their hands tied by the clothes stripped off their bodies, on the orders of a deputy district officer before they were put into the lockup. The guilt of those subjected to this humiliation was that they were caught sipping tea at some tea stalls at the railway station and bus stands during fasting timings.
This act of disgracing human beings reminds one of the black days of General Zia when ‘Ramzan violators’ were given similar treatment by the authorities, by painting their faces black or shaving their heads in public. But the irony of the matter is that this practice continues even during the government of a supposedly secular and moderate political party. However, with events like the one that took place in Mianwali, one fails to find the difference between the present regime and that of Zia.
According to the present laws, the administration grants special permission to some eateries to serve food and tea to patients, travellers, etc, during the fast. The above action against alleged Ramzan violators by the local administration of Mianwali raises two questions. First, how did the police establish that the alleged Ramzan violators were not patients or travellers? Second, how would a patient or a traveller know that the eatery serving food and beverages during fasting timings does not have such permission from the administration? Obviously, a customer would presume that such an eatery has permission. He would not demand to see the license first before ordering any eatables. The customer could be an uneducated person who may not even be able to read such a paper issued by the administration to the eatery. Then why were those citizens of Pakistan punished by the authorities?
Before the black year of 1977 — when Zia took over Pakistan — all restaurants here served food and beverages during fasting hours in Ramzan. The only difference was that during Ramzan, the doors and windows of the eateries were covered with thick curtains so that those who were fasting and passing by the restaurant were not tempted by the eating and drinking activities going on inside the eatery.
Since the inception of Pakistan till the government of the PPP before Zia’s coup, the above-mentioned norm remained in practice. After the PPP’s regaining of power in 1988, many draconian laws and practices from Zia’s regime were undone. Unfortunately, however, the ‘forced fasting’ of Zia’s time, like many other such laws, was never reversed by the PPP despite its third time in power. The reason could be that during Zia’s years, the fundamentalists became so powerful that they were now the masters of the country’s fate.
In any civilised society, it is considered an individual’s prerogative to follow a certain religious practice or not. Many people in the cities of Pakistan live forced bachelor lives away from their native towns. Even living in their home towns, many people have their work places situated far away from their homes. The only source of food and beverage for such people is the eateries. Many from amongst them suffer various medical conditions that force them to eat and drink regularly. For instance, a diabetic person has to eat at regular intervals to maintain his blood sugar level. A kidney patient has to take a lot of liquids to flush his kidneys. A person suffering from low blood pressure can faint without sufficient salt intake. There are so many other instances where the old, sick and weak have to indulge in a normal food and beverage intake to live. Where would such people go if they are not even allowed to drink water outside their homes? Thirst and hunger can be felt at any time whether one is in the concealment of a house or moving out in the open.
If fasting is a religious duty then so is offering prayers. In the ‘model’ police state of Saudi Arabia, clergymen called mutawas go about the streets and market places with sticks in their hands during prayer times and harass and even beat up people to join prayer offerings in the nearby mosque. Why is Pakistan this one step behind Saudi Arabia? If laws here force people to follow one religious duty, why do they not make them follow the other one too?
What is a Taliban mindset? It is to impose one’s religious values on others. The laws of Pakistan overlap with Taliban laws. Let us admit that we are living in a semi-Taliban state, which may become a full Taliban state one day.
Courtesy: → Daily Times
by Amir Qureshi
It was only a matter of time anyway. A few days ago, a police officer along with his squad burst into the Nairang Art Gallery and beat up the female curator for wearing a sleeveless dress and interacting with men. The police officer, a SHO, was perturbed by the ‘fahash’ ambience of the place.
After being assaulted the woman and her colleagues who came to her rescue were taken to the police station and booked under an obsolete ordinance.
Nairang Art Gallery is a work of devotion to art, literature, music and design by the iconic architect Nayyer Ali Dada. Some say it’s the modern day’s equivalent of the Pak Tea House – where left-leaning intellectuals come to spend their time. They have a small cafeteria which pays for part of the operating expenses of the art gallery; the rest of the funds are put up by Nayyer Ali Dada. ….
Read more →THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE BLOG
Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. 7 years ago she started travelling with folk singers in Malwa, Rajasthan and Pakistan in a quest for the spiritual and socio-political resonances of the 15th century mystic poet Kabir in our contemporary worlds. Among the tangible outcomes of these journeys were a series of 4 musical documentary films, several music CDs and books of the poetry in translation (www.kabirproject.org). Inspired by the inclusive spirit of folk music, she has begun to play the tambura and sing folk songs of Kabir herself. Currently she is working on co-creating a web-museum of Kabir poetry & music with folk singer communities in India and developing ideas for taking mystic poetry and folk music to school classrooms. She continues to journey to new areas such as Kutch, Gujarat and draw inspiration not only from Kabir, but also other mystic poets of the sub-continent [such as Shah Abdul Latif] and the oral folk traditions that carry them to us. Her earlier work consisted of several video and radio programs created in close partnership with grassroots women’s groups in India.
– You Tube
Guests Attaul-Haq Qasmi, Chairman Alhamra Arts Council, Deedar Dancer and Naseem Vicky Stage Drama Actor. The language of the program is urdu/ Hindi.
Courtesy: Geo TV (Hasan Nisar – Choraha – 19 February 2011, ) – You Tube
Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution
“Trotsky was perhaps the greatest representative in history of the Marxist school of literary criticism, which itself incorporated what was most farsighted in the aesthetic criticism produced by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”
This extraordinary work of Marxist literary criticism, first published in 1924, is a further illustration of the author’s multifaceted genius. Leon Trotsky, co-leader of the Russian Revolution and its leading orator, Soviet foreign minister and founder and leader of the Red Army, was also one of the leading Marxist critics of this period.
Trotsky subjects the leading trends in literature and art in the early years of the revolution to criticism that is sharp but never tendentious. He illuminates and develops the Marxist method of historical materialism, rejecting “art for art’s sake” conceptions as well as their apparent opposite, the theories of “proletarian culture” and “proletarian art,” then becoming fashionable in certain left circles. …
Mehring Books is pleased to make Literature and Revolution by Leon Trotsky available to readers of the World Socialist Web Site. Click here to order
by Jamil Hussain Junejo
Peace has been remaining most desired and higher value of human society throughout the Human history. All the humanist Religious leaders, philosophers, writers, Artists have been laboriously striving hard for establishing societies where the value of peace reigns supreme. Peace holds such high esteem and concern because it is prerequisite for establishing developed and advanced societies aswel states which could be marked with social and economic justice, equality, freedom and rule of law.
NIROO & NU SINDHU ART ACADEMY ANNOUNCING ONCE AGAIN! 12th GRAND SINDHI DRAMA FESTIVAL IN MUMBAI! THREE SUPER HIT SINDHI PLAYS – 20TH, 21ST & 22ND NOV. NATIONAL COLLEGE, BANDRA – DAILY 7.30 PM Aju ji peshkash – 20 Nov 2009, Aayo Nao Zamano – World renowned record breaking family drama! BE THERE, FOR SINDHYAT, FOR SINDHI AND FOR ASLI SINDHI DHAMAAL – NU SINDHU ART ACADEMY
Sand Animation by Ksenia Simonowa from Ukraine. Really touching.
A Sindhi attorney in Los Angeles is currently working on a small documentary through the Sindhi Association of Southern California which is to be presented at a Sindhi Sammelan/ conference this July in Los Angeles, and potentially posted online. She is interested in using pictures of Sindhi singers, Sindhi art, and Sindhi historical monuments.
The documentary will be an interview of 5-10 elder Sindhis who left Sindh as refugees during the 1947 partition. The idea is to document their journey and recognize their ability to re build their lives and retain their culture. This movie will be made only to document their lives for younger generations to have a glimpse of how Sindhi culture survives in their lives. (this is strictly a non profit- educational and cultural video).
April 10, 2009