31 December, 2010

Artistic way to bid farewell to 2010

Sana Jamal

Akram Spaul's realistic paintings.
ISLAMABAD: A remarkable exhibition of 76 paintings, prints and sculptures by 29 artists was held at Gallery 6, Islamabad to bid farewell to year 2010 in an artistic manner.

Upon entering the gallery, one is bound to get enthralled by the paintings that sparkle with energy which fill one’s soul with positivity and brings liveliness to the mood. Each painting was a testimony of the strength of imagination of the artist, his/her well-balance composition and masterly execution.

The artists’ whose noteworthy paintings were put on display included Sadequain, Akram Spaul, Abid Hasan, Akram Dost, Arjumand Awan, Asim, Babar Mughal, Matloob Baig, Shahla Rafi, Rashid Arshed, Masood A. Khan, Omar Waheed, Munib Khan, Tayyab Munawwar, Aleemdad, Sana Arjumand, Arjumand Hussain, Amjad Hussain, Arsalan Naqvi, Nida Bangash, Nazir Ahmed, Mutaib Shah, Imran Jatoi, Irfan Dehri, Saima Ali, Kausar Iqbal, Imran Hunzai and Tariq Luni.

A visitor glancing at the paintings of Abid Hassan.
Three paintings of the grand painter of Pakistan, Sadequain were also on display. This limited-edition work has never been seen or documented before in Pakistan or elsewhere before.

The first set of paintings was by Shahla Rafi, a landscape painter who has been painting landscapes from 1970s which fall into the realm of romantic realism – a striking example where volition, value and objective reality.

Next in line were Abid Hasan’s full of life abstract painting through the application of paints and chemical processes on silver paper applied on canvases or boards. His compositions were outstandingly shimmering, intense and lively, reflecting an inner powerful voice that cannot remain unheard.

Asim, Lahore-based teacher, presented a unique work with cloth, beads and silver and golden threads adding a vivacious look as well as uniqueness to his work.

30 December, 2010

Challenges and opportunities in media discusses at 3-day seminar

2nd Munsalik National Annual Seminar for Journalists

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Challenges and opportunities in media, reporting on critical issues and issues of women in media were discussed in a three-day (27-29 Dec.) seminar titled “Framing Social Issue, Shaping Individual Responses” in Pakistani media.

Media is a key player in any society to highlight issues of public concern, shapes public opinions and inspires the policy makers, therefore there is need to guide the key player of the society. This consensus emerged on the concluding day of the seminar that mainly covered issues on women in media along with ideological leanings of media houses and analyzed the ideological differences in a society, to understand the difficulties faced by women in the media with special focus on working condition and sexual harassment.

28 December, 2010

Young artist visualizes ‘Error 404’

'Paper planes'
Sana Jamal
ISLAMABAD: Colorful yet original portray of the society captured in the canvases by Sara Khan welcomes the element of uncertainty in life and leave us pondering for a solution. Young painter Sara Khan’s ten paintings and drawings will be on display from Dec. 28 to Jan 2 at Rohtas gallery.
The artist has attempted to seek a solution to the worries of the society through her artwork. “My paintings give the message of enthusiasm with inspiration and motivation to keep our spirits high” said the artist during the press preview on Monday.

The exhibition title ‘Error 404’ signify that the element of uncertainty in life keeps us restless and we are constantly in search of solution to our routine life problems but instead of a solution we get the error 404.
When we are looking for a certain website on internet, sometimes it gives the error 404 which means that website is inaccessible. That’s from where I got the idea for the title of my artwork” explained the artist while talking to Pakistan Observer.

Natasha Iqbal, the curator of the gallery believed that “each painting of Sara Khan is a story with an unfinished end. Each artwork arise a new question in the minds of the onlooker.” Despite of the usual happy-go-lucky version of life, “her (Sara’s) art pieces represent a new interpretation of life which symbolizes the element of uncertainty in life.”

'Family Portrait'

Some of the notable artworks were titled ‘Unamused’, ‘Family portrait’, ‘Paper planes’ and ‘Rock and a hard place.’

In the ‘Family portrait’ the artist portrays a dysfunctional family in which conflict, misbehavior, and anxiety on the part of individual members which occur occasionally. The anxiety on the faces of family members is evident in the portrait with oil on canvas. 

In ‘Unamused’, the clown lying on the ground and the people gathered around the clown with unhappy faces both represented the dejected look on the faces of people in our society. Using charcoal and pen on paper, the artist has brought forward selfish nature of man. “The nasty faces of the figures in the artwork depict the actual, concealed nature of humans which is being self-centered” said the artist.

26 December, 2010

Remembering the Quaid

Students pay tribute to the Father of the Nation
Published in Pakistan Observer
Sana Jamal
ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis recalled the revolutionary struggle of the father of nation and Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan on 134th birth anniversary of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on 25 December.

Students of Islamabad and Rawalpindi paid tribute to the father of the nation through performing and visual arts at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) on Saturday. The event including a number of lively activities was organized by PNCA with Ministry of Culture to renew the pledge to follow Quaid’s guiding principle of Unity, Faith and Disciple, in order to promote prosperity, peace and harmony in the country.

A huge number students, teachers and parents attended the day-long event in which children from different schools of Rawalpindi and Islamabad participated. The activities included national songs, folk dances, traditional acts, speeches, skits and tableau. A painting competition was also held in which the students paid homage to Quaid through artwork highlighting the different phases of life of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Meanwhile a puppet show was arranged to highlight the life and struggle of Quaid-e-Azam.

Quaid-e-Azam’s message to the students that “you must devote yourself whole-heartedly to your studies, for that is your first obligation to yourselves, your parents and to the State.You must learn to obey for only then you can learn to command” was also remembered at the occasion which was delivered by Quaid at Islamic College, Peshawar on 12th April, 1948.

Rich colours and energy depict women in Artwork of Nahid Raza

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Lively colours mixed with strong emotions in the paintings of Nahid Raza depicted strong woman and conveyed the message to respect and value women.

The artist, Nahid Raza greeted the guests with a gentle smile at the inaugural ceremony of her painting exhibition here at Tanzara art gallery. "My paintings show strong women, who fulfill all their responsibilities.” said the artist.

Upon entering the gallery, one is bound to get mesmerized by the resounding energy from the multi-colored art pieces of Nahid Raza, a veteran artist with more than 4 decades of experience.

“Her (Nahid’s) rich colour palette and varied surface textures help create brilliant effects, making the paintings aesthetically pleasing” said Noshi, the curator of the art gallery.

The exhibition included 33 paintings depicting different facets of women. The artist has used acrylic on canvas to display marvelous artwork. The leading contents in the paintings were faces of women which seemed to be sway the onlookers into a fantasy world.

Some of the marvelous work by the artist was presented in the themes of ‘Hidden faces’, ‘Symbols of love’, ‘Alone’ and ‘Generations’. “The theme ‘Buraq’ with the head of a woman and body of a mare (female horse) depicts the element of spirituality in woman” said the artist while talking to Pakistan Observer reporter.

25 December, 2010

Swara’ criminals must be dealt with iron hand

Sana Jamal
Islamabad—“Neither Quran nor the law of the land allows brutal customs such as Swara under any condition” Justice Fakhrunisa noted at a seminar here Thursday. The seminar held at a local hotel on Thursday at the end of the two-year project of Rahnuma, affiliated with Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) with the aim to sensitize people against the barbaric custom of ‘Swara’.

Dr. Anjum in her introductory remark said “Sawara is a custom of marriage as compensation which takes place between two families to end a family feud. The innocent girl who is only four or five years old is handed over to the enemies so their men folk who have committed the crime can escape punishment.”

Around ten young women came from Swabi and Mardan, two cities in KPK to tell their horrifying tales at the experience sharing seminar of FPAP.
“My husband, the man I was given to in Swara sold three of my daughters that he had sired. He wanted to sell my boys next and would beat me regularly for resisting prostitution” said Saba (pseudonym) sharing her story. Her terrible story brought tears to the eyes of many and awareness among few about this brutal custom called ‘Swara’.

Children Parliamentarians demand basic Child Rights

Sana Jamal

Islamabad—Children Parliament Pakistan (CPP) demanded the government to ratify direct steps to put a ban on child trafficking, child labour and on involvement of children in armed conflicts. The members (children) of the CPP forwarded these demands in the form of resolutions passed by the members in Islamabad during its second session, held at a local hotel on Friday.

Children’ Parliament Pakistan (CPP) is the first ever initiative by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) to raise awareness and promote child rights in Pakistan.

Major demands by the CPP members included establishment of a Child Affairs Ministry to defend children’s rights; ban on child marriages, wages of child workers to be equal to an adult and complete ban on child prostitution.

The two-day session (Dec23-24) was attended by Dr.Attiya Inayatullah (MNA); Mr. Olaf Kelllerhoff, Country Representative Friedrich Noumann Stifftung; Ms. Rubina Qaimkhani, Chairperson National Assembly Committee on Social Welfare and Special Education & Mr. Anis Jillani, SPARC Board member.

24 December, 2010

Art and Nature in harmony

Book launch, exhibition of sculptures

Sana Jamal
Book cover.

Artist and writer Fauzia Minallah’s new book ‘Chitarkari and Banyans – The Pursuit of Identity’ highlights the need to preserve our natural environment and to promote national art and culture. In her book, Fauzia bring to light the fading art of slate engraving or ‘Chitarkari’ and also emphasized on the preservation of old banyan trees in the capital city which is under serious threat now.

“I have childhood memories of playing in the cemeteries of my parents’ village Sirikot in the Gangar hills, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. By 1990 it was at the verge of extinction but I helped craftsmen find new market for this craft by designing different furniture items and promoted its respect among the villagers,” she said explaining her profound interest in environment. Survival of the rich folk heritage was her mission, said the author.

Artist depicts social worries of society

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Brilliant colours conveying daring thoughts were put on display in an exhibition of exquisite miniature paintings at Nomad Art gallery in Islamabad on Wednesday.

The solo exhibition titled ‘Waqt ke Sath Sath’ gave the impression that how with the passage of time the element of fear and frustration has seeped into the minds of people affecting their peace of mind. “I have painted all the frustration that has enveloped my mind due to the socio-political issues around me” said the artist, Ms. Farrah.
Ms. Nageen Hyat, curator of nomad gallery called the artwork “really thought provoking”. Appreciating the artist’s work, she said this was one of the “powerful, contemporary exhibitions of miniature paintings reflecting challenging social and political issues.”
Though the paintings speak of bold, daring issues however they were not meant to create a stressful impact on the mind of the viewers, but “to create an awareness of these burning issues in order to raise voice and combat against them”, said the artist while talking to Pakistan Observer.
Artist, Farrah Adnan explaining the nature of her artwork to a visitor
at Nomad gallery, Isalmabad.

23 December, 2010

Chinese traditional art signifies harmony

Chinese brush paintings at Pak-China Friendship Center

Published in Pakistan Observer (Dec. 20, 2010)

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Swift strokes of the brush, deep philosophical thinking and visions of nature combined in beautiful Chinese brush paintings reflecting the art and culture of China is awaiting Pakistanis at the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre.
To celebrate the inauguration of Pakistan-China Friendship Centre, masterpieces of the Chinese Brush Painting titled ‘Ink Rhyme of Harmony’ has been put on display here in Islamabad on Sunday. The exhibition is jointly organized by Ministry of Culture, Chinese Government, China International Exhibition Agency and Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

Fifty of China’s finest brush paintings at the exhibition include the works of Chinese masters Wu Changshuo, Qi Baishi, Pan Tianshou, Lin Fengmian and Li Keran etc. Contemporary works by artists such as Wu Guanzhong, Wang Mingming and Shi Chuan will also be on display.

Harmony is a keyword in the Chinese civilization and by the aesthetic realm of ‘water and ink mutual dyeing, dynamic and static co-existing’ Chinese brush paintings has fully annotated the idea of harmony in Chinese culture. Along with the message of harmony, the exhibition proves to be one of many events organized to signify the deep rooted friendship of Pakistan and China by bringing the exclusive Chinese paintings to Pakistan.

Many of the Chinese works blend painting and poetry, a technique pioneered by poet and painter Wang Wei, which has become one of the main characteristics of Chinese paintings.

Ms. Sajida, a visitor said, “Having visited China, I believe Chinese brush painting is a unique way of expressing harmonious emotion and state of the world by simple ink color. It reflects the simplicity of the Chinese people as well.”

22 December, 2010

Rare Korean Art at display in Islamabad

Korean artist gives the message to revert to nature

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Vibrant colours combined with soothing images in the paintings of Korean artist, Ae Jae Lee offered the message to the world ‘to go back to nature’ to recuperate peace in our chaotic lives. 

The painting exhibition titled ‘Sacred Forest’ organized by Gandhara Art and Cultural Association was aimed at bridging the cultural links between Pakistan and Korea.

Ambassador of South Korea, Choong Joo Choi inaugurated the unique Korean painting exhibition at Khaas art gallery, Islamabad on Tuesday. Madame Choong was also present at the occasion and the ceremony was widely attended by artists and art lovers of the city.
The title of the painting ‘sacred forest’ gave the impression to the spectators that the artist was living in a place like small forest and the view of the forest with trees and birds offer joy and peace to her.

21 December, 2010

Islam advocates Human Rights

10th Annual Human Rights Conference in Islamabad

Published in Pakistan Observer (21 Dec. 2010)
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Islam offers the best solution for all human rights issues. This consensus emerged at the 10th Annual National Human Rights Conference held in Islamabad on Monday.

Around 300 participants from government, civil society and media organizations attended the conference which was organized by International Human Rights Observer (IHRO), working in collaboration with United Nations.

The messages of President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on international human rights day were read on the occasion.
President Asif Ali Zardari’s message noted “Our faith Islam also teaches us deep respect for rights of all human beings and upholds the eternal values of” equal rights, justice and peace.”

Whereas the Prime Minister Gilani’s message recalled “Human Rights as mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have emanated from the basic principles of Islam, enshrined in the last address of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.)” He further stated “the holy month of Muharram, a landmark in the history of Islam highlights the importance of sacrifice for a noble cause.”

 Dr. Khalid Sulehri, President of IHRO in his welcome address said “Khutba-e-hujja tul Wida, the last address of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is the basic charter of human rights.”

Shafique Chaudhry , Director of Parliamentarian Commission for Human Rights believed that Islam provides equal rights to all human beings. He observed that it was not only the duty government to defend human rights “but each one of us is human rights defenders.”

17 December, 2010

Bangladeshi renowned artwork at display in Islamabad

Published in Pakistan Observer (15 Dec. 2010)
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Artwork from Bangladesh based on surrealism titled ‘The International Show’ was put on display at the Nomad Art Gallery here on Tuesday. The exhibition includes the works of 10 eminent Bangladeshi artists offering a unique opportunity for the art lovers to relish the worldwide celebrated artwork in the capital city.

The exhibition was inaugurated by the High Commissioner of Bangladesh Suhrab Hossain and will continue to be a source of delight for the public till December 21.
The contemporary exhibition includes 33 paintings depicting the artwork of 10 Bangladeshi artists Mahabubul Islam Baabu, Syed Mohammed Shamim, Zahir Hossain Newton, Rezaun Nabi, Mohammed Fakhruzzaman, Anisuzzaman Anis, Abdul Aziz, Rajaul Islam, Shahin Akhter Lipi and Fehmida Khatun.

The curator of Nomad gallery, Nageen Hayat believed that the artwork of Bangladeshi prominent painters is “of international level yet the concept was quite local which everyone can relate to.”

Artists of the exhibition have not only grouped to follow common ideals of promoting peace, but “seeing their work one will easily understand that each of them is imbued with nature” said Ms. Hyat discussing the nature of paintings.

16 December, 2010

Speakers discuss the legality of drone attacks

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: “Without determining the nature of conflict in Pakistan in light of international law, legal status of CIA-operated drone strikes can not to be established” said Dr. Robert. He was speaking at a session assessing the legality of pilot-less drone attacks in the backdrop of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The informative session was organized by Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), an independent research think-tank in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Speakers came up with a mixed reaction on the legality of drone attacks as the session ended in a limbo.

“The legal status of CIA-operated drone attacks is in limbo under the international laws as the state has failed to effectively control militant groups operating within the state”, said Dr. Robert P. Barnidge, Jr. an expert on International law and terrorism and lecturer at UK. “Even if the Pakistani government has tacitly approved U.S drone strikes in Pakistan, each attack needs to be assessed on the principles of distinction and proportionality” he said.

Dr. Niaz A. Shah who is a Lecturer in Law at law School of UK said the U.S relies on the article 51 of UN charter to justify the use of drones inside Pakistan. “However, this particular article can only be implemented if one state has attacked another state or a state maintains an effective control over the non-state actors, which intend or have attacked the other state.”

Pity the Nation - Khalil Gibran (1934)

"Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave
and eats a bread it does not harvest.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation."

Khalil Gibran (The Garden of the Prophet - 1934)

15 December, 2010

Attacks on educationists hamper progress in Balochistan: HRW repprt

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Nationalist, sectarian and militant groups are engaged in killing of teachers and harming educational institutions resulting in hampering development in Balochistan, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released here on Monday.

The 40-page HRW report, "Their Future is at Stake: Attacks on Teachers and Schools in Pakistan's Balochistan Province," documents the killing of at least 22 teachers and other education personnel by suspected militants between January 2008 and October 2010 in Balochistan.

“To educate or to seek education in Balochistan today means risking your life and your family’s,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“By perpetrating such atrocities, Baloch nationalists are harming Balochistan’s development instead of advancing it,” he added.

According to the report, since 2008, more than 200 teachers and professors have either transferred to Quetta or have moved out of the province entirely. Nearly 200 others are in the process of making such transfers.

11 December, 2010

International Mountain Day observed

By Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Northern Pakistan is known as a paradise for mountaineers, trekkers and hikers however this paradise has been unfortunate to receive due attention of the concerned authorities.

To highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development, National Institute of Folk and Heritage- Lok Virsa and WWF-Pakistan arranged an art competition at the Heritage Museum here on Saturday. The exhibition of artwork by school children was followed by a seminar for youth to inculcate awareness and trigger action on issues relating to consistent mountain development on International Mountain Day (11 December).

‘Through the Gender lens’ launched

Handbook on Gender Based Violence launched

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: As the World celebrated the Human Rights Day amidst seminars and talks, challenges to human rights in Pakistan have enlarged as the number of internally displaced persons, extra-judicial killings and gender based violence increased this year. Relating to the theme for Human Rights Day for 2010 ‘human rights defenders who act to end discrimination’, a handbook titled ‘Through the Gender lens’ was launched here at Islamabad.
The research-based book is the product of Uks research and publication centre, Islamabad in collaboration with UNFPA and is meant for Pakistani youth to analyse and develop gender-sensitive media content on Gender Based Violence (GBV).

10 December, 2010

Pakistan Girls Education Initiative (PGEI) launched

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Enhancement in education budget, equity and gender equality of education are desired for correcting the present imbalance in education scenario. These were the remarks of the speakers at the launching ceremony of UN “Pakistan Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI)” at Pakistan National Council of Arts on Thursday. The event was jointly organized by Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), UNICEF and UK Department For International Development (DFID).

Time for Islamabad to go smoke-free

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Non implementation of anti smoking law is encouraging extensive use of tobacco leading to the deaths of 274 people a day and causing at least 25% of deaths in Pakistan. 
Counseling services, high rate of taxation on sale of tobacco and complete ban on tobacco were few measures suggested on Monday at a gathering.

The meeting titled “Pictorial health warnings and implementation of anti smoking laws” was organized by an NGO, The Network for consumer protection with media and civil society.
“Smoking kills 274 people every day in Pakistan” claimed Dr. Arif Azad, Executive coordinator of The Network. “Printing of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs is a great achievement of anti-tobacco advocates”. But non-implementation of laws that bars sale of cigarettes to children under 18 and smoking in public places prevail due to feeble law implementation machinery.

The objective of the meeting was to suggest drastic measures to implement anti-tobacco rules in Islamabad in order to make capital city a model (smoke free) city for the rest of the country.

09 December, 2010

‘Say No to Corruption’

World Anti-Corruption Day today (9 Dec.)
By Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: It is a general perception that corruption in Pakistan is increasing with rapid pace and it not only destroying the society but also the economy of country. This belief has been confirmed recently by the latest Transparency International Index which has ranked Pakistan as the 34th corrupt nation out of 178 countries of the world. Last year Pakistan was on 42nd position.

Sharing his views on World Anti-Corruption Day, Shiraz Hassan, a writer commented “Like World Press Freedom Day, there will be seminars, talks and activities to mark it, but after all is said and done about the evils of corruption, the vicious circle of corruption will continue.” He summed up his motto in one sentence: "Today one does not have to be a revolutionary to create a storm. Just being honest is enough."

The report titled the National Corruption Perception Survey 2010 showed an enormous rise in corruption from Rs.195 billion (2009) to Rs.223 billion (2010). Police and bureaucracy were the two most corrupt sectors while land administration was placed third in corrupt practices. Corruption in judiciary, education and local government sectors has also increased as compared to 2009, report said.

08 December, 2010

Democratic steps urged on Golden Jubilee of Islamabad

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: To commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Islamabad as well so to discuss its governance structure, a conference on “Governance of the Federal Capital” was held in Islamabad on Tuesday. The speakers highlighted that Islamabad may be the seat of democracy in Pakistan but the city itself the city is not being governed democratically as the common people are facing basic problems such as lack of a decent public transport system in the city.

The meeting was arranged by the Centre for Civic Education Pakistan and the Forum of Federations and attended by academics, officials, political leaders, civil society activists and students. Senator Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, leader of the house in the Senate, was chief guest at the concluding session of the conference. He said that too many cooks spoil the broth. “It is a great mistake to think that administration of the federal capital has been improved by recruiting more administrators,” he added.

“50 years Celebrations of Islamabad is an occasion for collective soul searching on how much the federal capital has epitomized the unity in diversity in the federation of Pakistan” said Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director CCEP. He also shed light on political importance of a capital in a federation state, inviting suggestions on creation of Citizens’ Assembly in the federal capital, he said that Islamabad is seat of democracy in Pakistan but itself the city is not governed democratically although some three dozen parliamentarians owned houses in the federal capital.

Senator Bokhari criticized successive governments for plundering jobs quota of natives of Islamabad. He said that it is an irony that the people of Islamabad have been deprived of their right to have elected representatives at the helm of civil affairs at the federal capital.

UAE Day celebrated at SZIA

Published in Pakistan Observer on 8 Dec. 2010
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Students of Sheikh Zayed International Academy (SZIA), Islamabad enthralled the audience with sparkling set of traditional dances and vibrant performances to mark 39th anniversary of United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Day in Pakistan.
Playgroup children waving flags of UAE and signing poem.

06 December, 2010

4-day International Youth Conference in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s first International Youth Conference & Festival (IYCF) kicked off Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) in Islamabad on Monday which seeks to bring together 300 Pakistani and international delegates to inspire, encourage and empower the youth.

The festival has been organised by Miradore Production and Khudi Pakistan in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry for Women Development, Ministry of Labour and Manpower, UNFPA, NCHD, Google, Youtube and global Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM) as online supporters.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira was the chief guest on the inaugural day. In his address Kaira urged the youth to play their active role in combating and defeating terrorism in the country. Minister called the youth of the country ‘the ambassadors of peace.’ While highlighting the role of youth he said “The government and the security forces cannot eliminate the menace unless the young generation, particularly the students, come forward and play their role.”

The day started off with a seminar titled ‘Bridging Cultural Divides’, followed by a roundtable discussion including Ali Abbas Zaidi (Pakistan Youth Alliance), Sana Saleem, Osama Kazi, Zafarullah Khan and Karamat Ali who highlighted the issues youth of Pakistan are facing and provided solutions to challenge the stereotype thinking that often develop in the absence of direct communication channels.

05 December, 2010

‘Save Wildlife’ – theme of Arif’s landscape art

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: The panoramic paintings of Muhammad Arif Khan compel the onlookers to consider the potential threat of natural as well as man-made disasters on Pakistan’s wildlife and to help preserve the natural beauty.

“This is a painter’s way to conserve the natural assets of Pakistan” said Muhammad Arif Khan – a Mansehra based artist at his painting display at Jharoka Art Gallery in Islamabad.

The landscape art titled “Colours of Pakistan - Save Wildlife” by Arif Khan is an effort to highlight the issues and threat to Pakistan’s wildlife and to preserve country’s natural beauty.

“The growing mess, chaos, terrorism and other disgruntled attributes have rendered the environment” this is why he felt the need to raise awareness on this serious issue through his paintings, Arif said.

Tolerance & Inter-faith harmony can end Violence

Edited version published in Pakistan Observer on 3 Dec. 2010
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Through peace, tolerance and inter-faith harmony, we can put an end to violence and live peacefully. This consensus emerged at a seminar held at Nomad Gallery, Islamabad which was part of the 16 Days of Activism against gender violence 2010 campaign in Islamabad.
Nomad in collaboration with UNIFEM - Pakistan organized a seminar and art exhibition of 16 visual artists titled “We can end violence through Peace, Tolerance and Inter-faith harmony”.

The topic under discussion was “Understanding Peace and tolerance as reflected by Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam.” Stressing the need for peace and interfaith harmony, Nageen Hyat, Director of Nomad said “through solidarity and integration, we can be stronger and contribute to a respected and humane nation.”

“Terrorism originated from wrong understanding, wrong perception, poverty and misuse of power. Now is the time we should participate to remove misunderstanding for transforming peace and harmony” said Ms. Esther Park, a poet, writer, research scholar of Gandhara Art Foundation.

04 December, 2010

Ghulam Rasul remembered as people’s painter

Edited version published in Pakistan Observer on 3 Dec. 2010
Sana Jamal
ISLAMABAD: To recall the contribution of Ghulam Rasul in the field of art, a retrospective exhibition was held at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) on Thursday.
On his first death anniversary, friends and colleagues of Ghulam Rasul remembered him as a people’s painter, a legendary landscape artist and as the one who painted the true picture of Pakistan.

He was more than profound lover of nature and became famous for painting mustard scenes. Painting ordinary human beings was his first love that brought him fame as a legendary art figure of Pakistan and was honoured Presidential Pride of Performance award for Art. He was famous for painting the joys and sorrows of the people with his brush on canvas.

The exhibition includes 40 paintings of Ghulam Rasul which have been put on display at national art gallery. The presentation of his paintings depicted the different aspects of life which varied from colourful streets of Punjab to the height of Karakoram.

A number of his paintings adorn many museums of the world. Famous landscape painter Ghulam Rasul's sudden death in Dec. 2009, at the age of 67 shocked the community of artists and art lovers. He was well-known for his GR signature embossed on each painting which made him one of the most admired and celebrated landscape painters of the country.

Disabled demand access to equal opportunities

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Prejudice, lack of opportunities and official apathy - the disabled people in the country have to deal with more than just their physical disabilities in their struggle to lead respectable lives. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 Dec.) people with disability demanded for an inclusive society with equal opportunity and accessibility for all – able or disabled.

Taking an initiative to include people with disability with the society, Islamabad Serena Hotel (ISH) introduced Braille Menus for its visually impaired guests on International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Friday at the hotel premises. “Serena Hotel is the first hotel in Pakistan to launch Braille menu service to serve its visually impaired” said Peter Hill, General Manager, ISH on the launch of Braille menu at the hotel. Sharing the importance of the day with the theme “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond" Mr. Hill said “People with disability are denied basic rights but they are highly productive if given a chance to prove themselves. Employers must take positive steps on this international day and give equal opportunities to them.”

Aamir Qayyum, designer of Braille menu is a person with low vision disability. “Being a disable person, Braille is my mother tongue. I feel privileged to play my part in providing accessibility to disable people through this Braille menu” Aamir said smilingly.

According to World Bank statistics almost 10% population of Pakistan is disabled but “due to the narrow mindset of the people who feel ashamed in admitting that they have a disable person at home, we do not have an exact number of disable people in Pakistan” Atif said demanding an attitudinal change in mindset of community.

“I live a normal life but the only problem I have to face is of inaccessibility” said Farzana Kauser, 28 years old who is living with disability but is working as a filed assistant officer at National Education Foundation. Special people do not want pity or charity, they want full accessibility, she added.

Bulk of the problem which is faced by a visually impaired person is not in disability but in the attitudinal and physical barriers erected by society. Therefore, in the first instance, people with disabilities need to be identified as individuals and human beings by removing any social model or attitude barriers.

“With the right of access to public buildings, facilities and technology being denied to a wide range of disabled people, several other important human rights just become theoretical with no real meaning and value” said Atif Sheikh, President of Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP).

02 December, 2010

World AIDS Day observed in Pakistan

‘Prevention helps in overcoming HIV’

Published in Pakistan Observer on 2 Dec. 2010
Sana Jamal

“HIV/AIDS is not only a health issue but a developmental problem and the only way to overcome this menace of by taking individual responsibility of our own lives as well as of people around us.” This point was highlighted by Minister for Health, Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din in his message on World AIDs Day which was observed around the globe on Dec. 1.

World AIDs Day was celebrated in Islamabad with a seminar organised by National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Ministry of Health.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister Health said that HIV/AIDS is a developmental issue which can retract the social, economical, cultural and educational growth of a country. Hence “Prevention is our most powerful and effective weapon against the disease” he added. Minister also lauded the efforts of NACP in educating the masses and said that we should move ahead and start a new era of individual responsibility while pushing aside the stigmas, blame and discriminatory behaviour as a nation.

Society’s role against child abuse stressed

Published in Pakistan Observer on 1 Dec. 2010
Sana Jamal
Islamabad- Ninety four percent of doctors of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have termed the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) as a serious problem in Pakistan and recommended a training programme for medical professionals. These findings were shared during a launching ceremony of Rozan’s Qualitative Research on “Child Sexual Abuse: in Rawalpindi and Islamabad”.

“Child Abuse is not an isolated issue but it has long-term effects on economy, health and education sectors of a country” said Dr. Zehra Kamal, a Psychological expert speaking at the launch of the Rozan report on ‘Child Sexual Abuse’ (CSA). She said that keeping in mind the seriousness of the issue it should be the first priority of the health agencies.

“CSA is the least explored and least acknowledged form of child abuse in Pakistan” said Dr. Mobeena Fatima, Research Associate of Health Services Academy. Sharing the details of research, Dr. Anita Aijaz Psychiatrist from Rozan lamented that CSA was not given importance in Pakistan’s medical education.

Haiku - cultural bridge between Pak, Japan

Published in Pakistan Observer on 1 Dec. 2010
Sana Jamal
ISLAMABAD: A Japanese traditional poetry – ‘Haiku’ Mushaira "Basho Evening" was held at the National Art Gallery in Islamabad on Tuesday to pay a tribute to Matsuo Basho, the father of Haiku.

The event started with screening of Japan Video Topic (Hiraizumi: Home City of Bosho) and was co-organized by Embassy of Japan, Pakistan Haiku Society, National Art Gallery, National University of Modern Languages and Pakistan Japan Cultural Association.

Mr. Iftikhar Arif, Chairman, Pakistan Academy of Letters, was the presiding poet and chief guest of the Mushaira. While 14 renowned Pakistani Haiku poets participated in the Haiku Mushaira and recited two translations from the original Haiku poems composed by Basho and two of their own compositions.

The Japanese traditional poetry, Haiku has also gained popularity in Pakistan in recent years and has become one of the cultural bridges between Japan and Pakistan.

01 December, 2010

‘Making of’ screened at PNCA - Tunisian film clears ambiguity about extremism

Published in Pakistan Observer (28 Nov. 2010)
Sana Jamal
Islamabad -
Tunisian Embassy in collaboration with Ministry of Culture arranged an internationally renowned film “Making Of” at PNCA on Saturday night which earned a deep appreciation by foreign diplomats and Pakistani viewers. The film was screened to mark the 23rd anniversary of the change in Tunisia which ushered in a new era of development and modernization under the dynamic leadership of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The Tunisian Ambassador Mourad Bourehla greeted the guests including several ambassadors and senior diplomats from friendly countries as well as Pakistanis.

The film ‘Making of’ is directed by well known Tunisian film-maker Nouri Bouzid. It is one of the most awarded Tunisian films. The film depicts the most critical subject of suicide bombing and explains circumstances that lead one to desperation and ultimately towards extremism.

The film carries a message "Terrorists aren't born. They are made."

The title of the film ‘Making of’ depicts the making of a martyr, the making of a man and the making of a film. It deals with complex themes of martyrdom, murder, manhood and suicide.

In the movie, Bouzid expressed the desperation of youth with regard to economic and social level of the society and showed how such level prepares the ground for extremist groups to recruit and indoctrinate the young minds by spreading fundamentalist ideas.

‘Awareness, education must to control AIDS’

Published in Pakistan Observer (Nov. 30, 2010)
Sana Jamal
Islamabad - There are approximately 97,400 cases of HIV and AIDS in Pakistan. “Through awareness and education, we can fight the most dreadful diseases such as HIV & AIDS” was the message of the advocacy seminar organized by National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Ministry of Health.

The Advocacy Session of NACP held with media persons here at Islamabad on Monday was part of the campaign to observe World AIDS Day 2010. The basic purpose of the seminar was to promote awareness on HIV & AIDS among masses through media.

The session was chaired by Dr. Sajid Ahmed, National Programme Manager of NACP. A large number of govt. officials, UN officials, civil society and representatives from media participated in the seminar.

AIDS remains one of the leading causes of premature death globally. Over 41 million people are living with HIV and AIDS globally. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 90 % of the new HIV positive cases are reported in developing countries.

Pakistan is the second largest country in South Asia that stands only a few steps behind India and Nepal in terms of HIV epidemic. Until recently Pakistan was classified as a ‘low prevalence high risk’ country.