13 December, 2011

‘No story is worth dying for’

Journalists safety must be top priority 

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Safety of journalists should be the top priority for media industry as well state institutions to ensure the freedom of media in Pakistan. Speakers warned that competitive pressures can force reporters to take unnecessary risks, but journalists must remember a cardinal rule of journalism: no story is worth dying for. This consensus emerged on the concluding day of international conference on ‘Media and Professionalism: Keeping Journalists and Journalism Safe in Hostile Environments’. 

18 November, 2011

Zulfi’s realist paintings on display at Tanzara Gallery

ISLAMABAD: Tanzara Art Gallery’s latest exhibition that opened on Thursday features contemporary realist paintings of Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi, who has wonderfully captured landscapes, and urban scenes. 
The art exhibition of the Lahore based artist comprises of 31 paintings, which flawlessly reflect the serenity of the rural side of Lahore as well as the vibrancy of the urban life of the city.

Zulfi’s rich canvases explore diverse dimensions of realism. The presence of trees, clouds, and rivers add the element of simplicity, depicting nature as well as the serene life of countryside. While the carts, pedestrians, banners and architectures are the accurate depiction of modern day life. It is in fact the truthful description of the apparent world, which sets the realist painters apart from rest. But what makes the paintings of Zulfi sacred, is the way he paints the four seasons as one can feel the element of spirituality germinating from his work. Zulfi’s works contain a gentle feel of each season depicted in the artworks. The presence of gentle wind, and light pouring through mist, the slight movement of leaves or waves in the river, is manifested in his paintings.

17 November, 2011

Japan’s Hidden Beauty revealed in pictures

Islamabad - Black-and-white photographs of Kijuro Yahagi, a Japanese photographer, may not have the eye-catching luster, but the pictures reveal Japan’s true beauty hidden in nature. The window to Japan’s beauty is accessible for Pakistanis, as the photographs by Kijuro Yahagi have been put on display at National Art Gallery, Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) on Wednesday. The travelling exhibition has toured China, Canada, France, Iran, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, and USA. 

The exhibition introduces 85 black-and-white photographs selected from the book “Hidden Japan– Shizen ni Hisomu Nihon”, a collection of photographs taken by Kijuro Yahagi. Yahagi undertook a valuable journey throughout Japan and travelled 20000 kilometres visiting places such as Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagasaki prefecture to explore the true Japan. Yahagi has explained his work in these words: “In gazing at the nature of Japan as it is, the present state of the country emerges through my photographs.” 

12 November, 2011

Flowing Colours to make waves in Islamabad

“Bahtay Rang” opens at Gallery Louvre 

Islamabad – To the good fortune of art lovers of Islamabad, Gallery Louvre is continually introducing innovative artwork from different regions of the country. The latest inductions are from two major cosmopolitan cities of Pakistan, Karachi and Lahore. The art exhibition titled “Bahtay Rang” features effervescent canvases of Khusro Sabzwari and Ali Karimi. 

06 November, 2011

Travelling Art Exhibition fascinates Youth

Islamabad – The Public Art Show at Iqra University, Islamabad is perhaps Pakistan’s first travelling art exhibition, which aspires to draw a new audience towards art, in particular young generation. With this unique and innovative project, the organisers have proved that exclusivity in art is no longer in vogue, and it’s about accessibility nowadays.

05 November, 2011

Rhythmic display of Japanese drums and dance

Young Performers captivate the audience
Sana Jamal‎ 

Islamabad – On Friday evening, the Auditorium of National Art Gallery rang with the thunderous drumming and energetic dancing show presented by the Japanese students. The Japanese Musical Performance was an impeccable example of esprit de corps of the Japanese people towards their revival from the devastating Japan Earthquake.

Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oe, in his speech stated that “the energetic performance of the students represents the team spirit of the Japanese people, who are struggling to rebuild their lives” after the devastating natural disaster” that hit Japan in March 2011.

02 November, 2011

Pictorial icons of Urban Social Disorder

'Karachi Kahaniyan' opens at Khaas Art Gallery 
Man. No. 1

Islamabad – Moeen Faruqi’s latest exhibition at Khaas Art Gallery, that opened on Tuesday, precisely captures the consequences of urbanization such as stressful life, social disorder and identity crisis. The rich colours portray the beautification of apparent lives including homes and attires, as one leap towards the urban lifestyle, while the eccentric facial expressions of the human beings depict the emptiness inside one’s heart as one move away from the traditional way of life. 

01 November, 2011

Sufism showcased in exhibition at Nomad Gallery

Art Exhibition: Colours of love and peace 

Islamabad – The challenges of the modern world maybe numerous, but through his vivid artwork, Mohsen Keiany, has offered simply one solution to diverse problems – the message of Sufis. In his latest exhibition at Nomad Art Gallery by Mohsen Keiany, a Britain based Irani artist, has used rich colours, and figures interwoven with poetry to convey the message of love, peace, and humanity to respond to the mounting challenges of extremism and racism all over the world. 

What makes Mohsen's paintings exceptional is the fact that along with vivid colours and figures, the artist has incorporated verses in Nastaliq. As the beautiful hues of blues, oranges, reds and yellows give a serene look to the paintings, the remarkable calligraphic work adds a mysterious touch to the artworks. The text though illegible, is Persian poetry by Hafiz, “I use Divan of Hafiz as the prophecy, which gives me guidance to answer my questions and gives me direction” maintains the artist.

28 October, 2011

Japanese Animation Film Fest in Islamabad

Islamabad - By posing the question, “have you ever wished to go back to the past to change the future?” the Japanese Ambassador Mr. Hiroshi Oe generated a special interest among the audience at the Japanese Animation Film Festival held at National Council of the Arts, Islamabad. Interestingly enough the theme of the first animated film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” was about time travel, a subject that has thrilled imaginations of not only fiction writers and filmmakers but also millions of minds. 

25 October, 2011

Winter brings fear and joy

Published in Pakistan Observer (25 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal 

Islamabad – With the first chilling winds of the season, the cold weather has made its presence felt in the capital city quite raucously, sending alarm and fear for have-nots and delight for haves. Those who can afford it, have already prepared for the season, and have brought out their woollies to cope with changing weather conditions. In contrast, there is a big proportion of Pakistanis including the flood-affected people and Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are taking the change as a threat and challenge to their lives. 

For some, the changing season may bring joy, compelling them to savour the delights of winter food such as dry fruits, soups, coffee, chocolate and milk, and inducing them to plan a trip to a nearby hill station to witness the snow fall. But for those homeless, flood-affected people who still await badly-needed relief goods and gears, winters are not only uncomfortable, but potentially dangerous. According to National Disaster management Authority, more than 8 million people of Sindh have been affected by the floods 2011.

16 October, 2011

In search of Cultural Identity..

Art exhibition at Hunerkada opens

Published in Pakistan Observer (16 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – A thought-provoking exhibition of drawings, followed by a video presentation was held at Hunerkada Art Gallery on Saturday. The latest art exhibition by Asma Arshad Mahmood, a Toronto based artist, portrays her effort to connect the dots of identity with lines of culture and origin. Complicated subjects such as politics, religion and history emerge as the voice and images of her work.

15 October, 2011

Gallery Louvre’s vibrant entry in Islamabad

Published in Pakistan Observer (15 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – With the largest solo exhibition of Pakistan’s renowned artist Ahmad Zoay, Gallery Louvre has stepped in Islamabad’s art and culture scene. “Gallery Louvre is a new comer to the capital but has been part of art scene for over a decade” told Salim Lalani, one of the curators at the gallery. The first Louvre entity was launched in 1999, in the heart of Karachi city, and since then, it is regarded as one of the recognized names in the art galleries of Pakistan.

The gallery, located in the posh area of the capital city, has carefully selected the recent works of Ahmad Zoay for its first exhibit, as the bright multi-coloured canvases not only refreshes the soul but also leaves one with a very pleasant feeling for a long time. The art show that opened on Friday evening would continue for a month.

12 October, 2011

Artistic dialogue between Berlin and Karachi

Exhibition “Through my Eyes - Soul of Pakistan” 

Photograph by Hameed Moinuddin on display at
an exhibition “Through my Eyes – Soul of Pakistan”.
Islamabad – A photo exhibition titled “Through My Eyes – Soul of Pakistan”, featuring around 50 photographs shot in Karachi by a Pakistani photographer, Hameed Moinuddin were put on display at Art Hall, Kunstklinikum in Berlin on Tuesday, October 12, 2011.

Hameed’s inspiring photographs have been beautifully integrated with poetic texts, which are written by Maria Dost, a Berlin based author and photographer. Her poetic expressions, along with the pictures, are articulated in such a way that gives an impression of artistic dialogue between Berlin and Karachi.

11 October, 2011

Reflecting Age of Neo-Colonialism through Art

Published in Pakistan Observer (11 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Since Art is considered a reflection of the society, the changing times and consequential circumstances seem to have greatly influenced the artists of our times. One such artist is Amin Rehman, who excels in employing textual expression in his artwork. Amin’s latest art exhibition titled ‘White Wash: Art in the Age of Neo-Colonialism’ opened at Rohtas Art Gallery in Islamabad on Monday.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Canadian High Commissioner Ross Hynes and his spouse Madame Vanessa Hynes, who greatly appreciated the work of the artist. The exhibit attracted scores of art lovers from the city particularly foreign diplomats, because the art show has something different to offer. Amin has used text as a language for his paintings, literally using sentences as the subject of his artwork. And that’s what makes the artwork unique as compared to other art exhibitions where the viewers appear perplexed while trying to decipher the obscured meaning behind the artist’s endeavor.

08 October, 2011

Faiz remembered as a symbol of Hope

Umeed-e-Sehar ki Baat Suno
Published in Pakistan Observer (5 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Faiz Ahmed Faiz was remembered as the symbol of hope, heroism and constant struggle for the people of Pakistan particularly for the youth and oppressed class by the academics on Tuesday.
The poetry of Faiz was depicted in the form of mime act and musical performances by the students of the University of Gujrat (UoG). The event titled Aik Shaam Faiz ke naam (an evening dedicated to Faiz) was organized by UoG, in collaboration with the, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and National Testing Service Pakistan NTS.

Students presented an impressive mime performance themed on the great poet’s optimistic poem “Umeed-e-Sehar ki Baat Suno” (Hark to the hope of the dawn). The act, portraying the efforts of Faiz in bringing revolutionary changes in oppressed society through his poetry was highly appreciated by the fully attentive audience.

Memory Lingers On: Remembering Victims of 2005 earthquake

Published in Pakistan Observer (8 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Six years later, since the massive earthquake struck northern Pakistan in October 2005, the heart-rending reminiscences continue to live on in our memories. The day is a memento to remember those who lost their lives and loved ones, and also to pay gratitude to those individuals, organizations and governments who offered assistance for relief and reconstruction work in the affected areas.

Today, special ceremonies and prayers will be held all over the country, particularly in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Bagh to pay homage to thousands who were injured and displaced due to the calamity. Though the suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake was of unimaginable proportions, but the calamity also brought out a positive aspect of the nation, proving that Pakistanis are rightly considered one of the most charitable nations in the world.

To commemorate 6th Anniversary of the 2005 Earthquake, a photo exhibition has been arranged in Islamabad commemorating the victims of the devastating earthquake and highlighting the relief and reconstruction efforts.

04 October, 2011

Rediscovering the maestro Sadequain

Published in Pakistan Observer (4 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad - To relive the legacy of calligraphy art, and rediscover the work of Sadequain, one of the finest painters, a book launching ceremony and exhibition was held in Islamabad on Monday. The grand exhibition was organized by Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) in collaboration with Sadequain at National Art Gallery. The exhibition can be rightly called a visual treat for the art lovers as this is the second largest display of Sadequain’s magnum opus since his demise in 1987.

The ceremony started with a documentary on Sadequain made by PNCA in 1975. The book launch was followed by a presentation on the life and achievements of Sadequain by Dr. Salman Ahmad, a nephew of Sadequain and President of Sadequain’s Foundation of San Diego, California. The book titled, Mystic Expressions by Sadequain – an odyssey to exaltation with Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz and Sadequain” has illustrations, which could be taken as interpretations of poetry of these famous poets by Sadequain. The illustrations of Ghalib were done in 1968, of Faiz during the 1970s and ‘80s, and of Iqbal during the 1980s.

03 October, 2011

Young pupil promote Pak-Japan understanding

Published in Pakistan Observer (30 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Inspiring words and splendid colours at the Art and Speech Competitions about Japan not only expressed the talent of young Pakistani students but also promoted Pak-Japan cultural understanding and relationship.

02 October, 2011

Good old family system is fast fading away

International Day of Older Persons marked 
Published in Pakistan Observer (1 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – In this era of technology, with all its advantages, the traditional values and morals are at a greater risk of fading from societies, causing generation gap. This gap is leading to breakdown of traditional values, diminishing the centuries old difference between the eastern and western societies as regard to care of elder members of the family. 

Multi-generational families, distinct feature of East, are becoming a thing of the past in many modern Asian cities where today’s young people prefer to maintain their privacy and stay away from traditional united family system. To the misfortune of elder generation, the western concept of nursing homes for veterans is emerging fast in Asian society including Pakistan where young are usually advised to take personal care of their parents respectfully.

01 October, 2011

‘Hamara Yaqeen – Piyara Cheen’

Students hold peace walk to mark National Day of China
Published in Pakistan Observer (1 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD – Chanting slogans ‘Hamara Yaqeen – Piyara Cheen’ students of Islamabad thronged the Parade Ground (D-Chowk) in Islamabad, on Friday, to endorse the Pak-China friendship. The peace walk was held on the eve of the national day of the People’s Republic of China to pay tribute to the long-lasting friendship.

The walk titled “Friends of China Peace and Harmony Walk” was arranged by different organizations including Islamabad Crescent Lions Club (ICLC), DEVCOM-Pakistan, All Pakistan China Friendship Association (APCFA), Sir Syed Memorial Society, Saba Trust, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and Federal Directorate of Education.

Participants waved the flags of Pakistan and China, while a number of children showed up carrying placards with slogans: “Long live Pakistan China Friendship”, “Hamara Yaqeen – Piyara Cheen” (our faith, the loving China), “We are proud of Pak-China Friendship”, “Pak Cheen Dosti Zindabad”.

30 September, 2011

WPC demands extensive role of women in Politics

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Following a round-table conference, a unanimous declaration was passed by the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, on Thursday, calling for equal opportunities for women in the public and political spheres. The Parliamentarians also agreed to build consensus among their respective political parties to provide at least 10 per cent quota for women on winnable general seats before the next elections.

29 September, 2011

Revisit of Foreign Policy urged

Published in Pakistan Observer (27 Sept. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – In the wake of worsening Pakistan-US relations, speakers at a seminar on ‘security situation and role of media’ urged a diplomatic solution and revisiting of foreign policy. The interactive discussion on media's role, arranged by South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) at SAFMA center in Islamabad, soon turned into a debate on foreign policy of Pakistan.

Lt. Gen (R) Talat Masood, analyst, urged a “diplomatic solution to rising tension between Pakistan and the United States following US accusations against Pakistan armed forces.” He however noted that despite harsh criticism in American statements, there is a space for reconciliation. He observed that, “the relationship between Pakistan and US is going through a critical stage and both the two countries should revisit their policies to avoid strategic collision.”

28 September, 2011

Hajj – a mean to strengthen Islamic solidarity

Published in Pakistan Observer (28 Sept. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Prominent Islamic scholars from around the world, on Tuesday, highlighted the real message of Hajj and advised the Muslim Ummah to close their ranks to establish a unified Islamic approach against serious challenges.

Speaking at the two-day international conference on “Hajj - Unity and Solidarity of Islamic Ummah”, organized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Cultural department of embassy the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic scholars called for a united Muslim stand during Hajj. The conference was attended by a large number of Pakistani and Iranian scholars as well as intellectuals from countries including Afghanistan, India, China, Bangladesh and Tajikistan, are participating.

27 September, 2011

Population management can help develop nation

Published in Pakistan Observer (27 Sept. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Manageable population can lead to progress of the country while the uncontrolled population rise can result in shortage of basic necessities of life. This point of concern was raised at national seminar on World Contraception Day held on Monday in Islamabad.
Senator Suriya Amiruddin noted that “with a population of 177 million, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country of the world” and added that Pakistan has the highest population growth rate in the world at around 2.05% and if the populace keep mounting with same rate, Pakistan is likely to become 4rth most populous country of the world by 2050.

25 September, 2011

Structural changes in society stressed to offset VAW

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Women from South Asian region often experience and face gender inequalities due to rules of a patriarchal social system, which makes it difficult for women to seek their due rights as they have little support from the community and state. To address the concerns of survivors of violence, a number women rights activists from the region gathered at the South Asian Conference on Violence against Women (VAW) to review policies, and institutions in South Asia that have attempted to provide relief to women survivors.

24 September, 2011

Artists depict the beauty of Potohar region

Published in Pakistan Observer (24 Sept. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – A captivating exhibition titled
“Hues from Potohar” that opened at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) display the work of prominent artists from the Islamabad and Rawalpindi depicting the splendor of Potohar region. The art show is featuring over 120 paintings and sculptures, based on imagery, striking bright tones, landscapes of Potohar region and vivacious hues weaved by artists of exquisite skills.

“The exhibition is a homage to all those who had been instrumental enriching the hues and colours of the plateau and giving Potohar a unique character of its own” said Nahid Imam, artist and director of visual arts at PNCA. On the opening day, a large number of participating artists as well as art lovers gathered at the National Art Gallery to get a glimpse of the remarkable art pieces that truly depict the Potohar’s rich historical and cultural heritage as well as its geography. Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of the US Ambassador to Pakistan was also present on the occasion.

23 September, 2011

Gender Equality Impossible Without Help from Men: Plan 2011 Report

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Girls and women around the world can only win the battle for gender equality if boys and men in their lives join the cause to help improve their lives, says a new report released on Thursday in Islamabad. The report ‘Because I am a Girl: The State of the World's Girls 2011’ published by the children's rights organization Plan International, states that men of all ages - fathers, brothers, husbands - must play an active role if gender equality is to be achieved for girls and women.

Joint Struggle to counter VAW urged

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Speakers at a conference here on Thursday urged for collective struggle and structural reforms to challenge Violence Against Women (VAW) in South Asian countries particularly. The three-day South Asian conference on “Reclaiming Space: from victimhood to agency: State and civil society response to VAW” organized by Rozan in Islamabad was widely attended by women activists from all over Pakistan who were joined by delegates from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Mukharan Mai, the chief guest of session shared her own story from a victim of violence to a survivor and then an activist taking forward the movement for education of young girls. With the motto to “stop violence through education”, Mukhtaran weaved the struggle of VAW by educating not only women but also men in her region.

22 September, 2011

Mental, physical activity needed to counter Alzheimer

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Experts urged Pakistanis to remain engaged in healthy physical and mental activities to counter threats of Alzheimer disease, as “people who were less active during their leisure time nearly quadrupled their risk of developing the mind-robbing Alzheimer's disease.”

Speaking at a public awareness seminar to mark World Alzheimer’s Day arranged by Shifa International Hospital (SIH), on Wednesday, consultant neurologists insisted the government to establish dementia clinics and nursing homes. The expert panel included Prof. Mohammad Tariq from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences; Dr. Ismail Khatri, Head Neurology Division SIH; Dr. Arsalan Ahmad and Dr. Azhar Saeed, both SIH neurologists. Physicians emphasized on promoting awareness of the disease amongst general public and educating physicians to screen the elderly patients for dementia.

20 September, 2011

Acid crime Bill may lapse within next 30 days

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has expressed its concern that if the Bill against acid crimes was not adopted within 30 days, it would lapse and lose its credibility. In a statement issued here on Monday, NCSW noted that on one hand the incidents of acid crimes are on the rise in the country while on the other hand, the Bill against acid crimes, which has been passed by the National Assembly, is at a standstill as it awaits the approval of the Senate. “This significant bill may lose its credibility and would meet similar fate like Domestic Violence Bill, if it is not adopted within next 30 days” NCSW official told Pakistan Observer.

10 September, 2011

CRM stresses for Commission on Rights of Children

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - To observe and protect the rights of the millions of ill-fated children across the country, Child Rights Movement (CRM) has demanded the government to establish National Commission on the Rights of Children, since “there is nobody with a statutory status for the protection of their rights at federal level.”

09 September, 2011

World Literacy Day marked in Islamabad

Promoting a Culture of Reading in Pakistan

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Literacy is, rightly termed as ‘a bridge from misery to hope’. It is the ultimate key to open the door to progress, self learning which enhance human competencies and also help to achieve many other rights. On International Literacy Day (September 8) - a day aimed at highlighting the significance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies, several programmes were in arranged by academicians.

08 September, 2011

Remembering a great Story teller - Ashfaq Ahmed -

In this era of information technology, those old days are swiftly fading away, when children would restlessly wait for the time when their parents would tell them fascinating stories. Those stories used to be vital means of means of educating and entertaining the young generation. But regrettably, this primary activity of learning at home is losing its fame because of abandoning the habit of reading specially the Urdu literature including the great Urdu storytellers.

One of the finest storytellers of Urdu language was Ashfaq Ahmed (Aug 1925 -Sept. 2004), whose seventh death anniversary was observed with reverence on Wednesday. But the great story teller is still alive in the memories of many because of his enthralling tales with great morals which are often repeated by parents and grandparents as bedtime stories for the children.

26 August, 2011

Remembering Ahmed Faraz: Poet of Romance and Resistance

Road named after Faraz in Islamabad
Published in Pakistan Observer (26 Aug 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Ahmed Faraz, the poet of love and defiance, was remembered by his friends and admirers on his third death anniversary, observed on Thursday.
Ahmad Faraz, who has often been compared with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, holds a distinctive position as one of the greatest romantic Urdu poet of our times, with an excellent yet plain style of writing which a common man can easily understand and relate to. Recalling Ahmed Faraz, a prominent journalist, Khalid Hasan remarked that “Ahmed Faraz was a classicist like Faiz Ahmed Faiz who, like him, produced poetry of great lyrical beauty and who, like his mentor, never hesitated to stand up against oppression and never was afraid of suffering for his beliefs.”

15 August, 2011

Google celebrates with Pakistanis

As both arms of clock reached 12 and the date turned to 14, August, 2011 Pakistanis geared up to celebrate one the biggest festivals of the year. Yes, our independence day seems no less than a festival with all the lightings, fireworks, bike and car rallies, and flag hoisting ceremonies. Only this time, Pakistani internet users had one more reason to celebrate and for that they are thankful to Google Doodle Pakistan special logo. This:

14 August, 2011

Happy Independence day to all Pakistanis!

Jashan e Azaadi mubarak!
Wake up Pakistan.. shrug off the guilt.. Get back to work and rise and shine..
A beautiful tomorrow awaits you !

World Record for Most People Singing Pakistan National Anthem

More than 5800 patriotic Pakistanis gathered in Karachi city to sing “Pak Sar Zameen” (Pakistan's National Anthem) to mark Pakistan’s 64th independence day and set a new world record.

Before Pakistan, Philippine had the world record where 5248 citizens had sung their national anthem on 1 September 2009. It’s beaten by a number of 5800+ Pakistanis singing the anthem, claimed the organizers.

12 August, 2011

Unknown heroes of Pakistani Youth

Published in Pakistan Observer (12 Aug 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad - “Change Our World” – the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for World Youth Day (Aug 12), is more than a theme; it is an idea to inspire young people at all times. The theme rightly befits the young Pakistani men and women who comprise of more than 60 per cent of the total population and aspire to make a difference with their selfless contribution in the development of their society. From raising awareness and managing organizations to setting up blood banks and running schools; the youngsters, against all odds, are proving their abilities.

Mobisher Rabbani is one of the icons of Pakistan’s patriotic youth who is making every effort to promote Pakistan’s foreign policy, tourism, and culture through quiet diplomacy and using social media tools. He is the founder of ‘The Rabbani Foundation’, a philanthropic organization dedicated to humanity which has successfully carried out projects in UAE, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Mobisher's motto is simple: “We can begin small but why should we think small!”

30 July, 2011

Proper Use of Right to Information highlighted

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Few people, even journalists are scarcely aware that Pakistan promulgated the Freedom of Information Ordinance in 2002, which is applicable to all departments, ministries and other institutions of the Federal government. In this regard, a major development took place in 2010 when Article 19-A was inserted in the Constitution to make Right to Information (RTI) a fundamental right. The Article states that “every citizen shall have right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.”

24 July, 2011

Diabetic patients advised extra care during Ramadan

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD – While stressing on the benefits of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan, Islam also offers special exemption to the sick people from observing their fast during Ramadan to avoid any hard condition. This viewpoint was highlighted at a health seminar entitled “Diabetes and Ramadan” arranged by Shifa International Hospital (SIH) on Saturday. Health experts at the seminar urged the diabetic patients to take extra care to manage their blood glucose level and avoid any unpleasant condition while fasting. The health seminar was intended to inform that according to Islam, people suffering from major ailment and on medication are advised not to put their lives at risk by fasting.

14 July, 2011

Health awareness project launched in rural Islamabad

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Participants at a workshop urged the government to ensure that people living in slums of Islamabad have equal access to water, sanitation, and health care facilities. The health awareness workshop was arranged by Society for the Advancement of Community, Health, Education and Training (SACHET) on Wednesday to sensitize the media about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) issues, which has long been a taboo in the country.

13 July, 2011

Women in Trade Initiative to enhance women participation in Business sector

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Young generation filled with hope and passion can be a source of great strength for a nation but if their skills meet right kind of learning, they truly become an asset for the country as well as the world. To increase the the participation of Pakistani young women in the international trade sector, US Agency for International Development (USAID) in conjunction with several multinational firms launched the Women in Trade Initiative on Tuesday.

09 July, 2011

German artist’s generous approach to help flood victims

Published in Pakistan Observer (3 Apr. 2011)
by Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan looks more beautiful as portrayed in the artwork of a German artist who has never been in the country yet has used simple means i.e. pen and ink to depict the architecture of Pakistan. This elegant work of Ute Elpers, a veteran artist, offer dual support for Pakistanis; firstly the art display major landmarks of Pakistan such as Minar-e-Pakistan, Badshahi Mosque, Uch Sharif, Wazir Khan Mosque, allowing us to appreciate our magnificent architecture and secondly all the proceedings from the sale of art is expected to be donated to the flood victims.

07 July, 2011

Role of Investigative Journalism discussed

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - A proper investigative report can help increase awareness among the masses about the ills of the society, and at the same time it can portray the correct image of the nation to the outside world. To promote the culture of investigative journalism in Pakistan, a group discussion was held in Islamabad by Individual-land Pakistan, a nonprofit organization.

06 July, 2011

Report on Violence against women launched

'Zero tolerance against all sorts of violence in Pakistan' urged
Published in Pakistan Observer (6 July, 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Speakers at a report launch on Tuesday, urged the legislators to adopt Domestic Violence Bill (DVB) at the earliest, as the number of reported “incidents of Violence against Women (VAW) mounted to 8000 during 2010.”

05 July, 2011

“People’s Assembly” urges Govt. to restore peace in the country

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Following a two-day People’s Assembly gathering in Abbottabad, a unanimous resolution urged the Government to stress on the need for restoration of peace in the country and to invest in the people by spending on social services, health and education to lay the foundation of a welfare state.

03 July, 2011

NCHD protestors determined to continue struggle

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – More than 100 protestors have been staging a sit-in protest outside the Parliament building, since June 23, braving hot and rainy weather with hopes that Parliament, President and Prime Minister living few yards away will one day answer to their cries. The ill-fated employees of National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) are calling themselves as the victim of newly strengthened democracy in Pakistan as NCHD has been dissolved following the refusal of provinces to own it after the 18th Amendment.

30 June, 2011

Federal Ombudsperson stresses for child friendly laws

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Musarrat Hilali, federal ombudsperson for protection against harassment of women has urged on Wednesday that “justice for all children needs to be ensured through child friendly laws, rules and regulations, implementation procedures and mechanisms promulgated by the government.”

28 June, 2011

Friends of Book gather at NLA

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - With the expansion of electronic media especially internet, people have parted away from books – which wise men described as ‘a man’s best friend’. And to see book-lovers gathered under one roof, and leafing through the pages of books, was certainly a pleasant scene witnessed on Monday morning at National Language Authority (NLA) of Islamabad.

To bring friends of books together, NLA organized a unique event titled ‘100 Books, 100 Guests’ which was a well-attended event. Students, scholars, literati and writers of the city gathered round at NLA to find their favourite books, because the books were available at a modest price to quench the thirst of knowledge lovers.

26 June, 2011

National Conference on Child Rights as Human Rights

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD - Basic right of education has been recognized by Pakistani leadership under Article 25 (A) of the Constitution which states that education has been made free and compulsory to all children of the age of five to sixteen years, said Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan. She was speaking at ‘National Conference on Child Rights as Human Rights - Post 18th Amendment Scenario’ on Saturday in Islamabad. “There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children” said the Speaker quoting Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General) and she added that “every time a child is deprived the right to education, this trust is breached.”

100 Books, 100 Guests

National Language Authority (NLA), Islamabad is organizing a special and unique event entitled as "100-Books and 100-Guests" on Monday, 27 June, at 11am at the NLA premises.

According to newly-appointed NLA Chairman, Dr. Anwaar Ahmad, the objective of this event is to encourage habit of book-reading in our society and offer a 50 per cent special discount to all the friends of books.

25 June, 2011

World Drug Report 2011 launched in Islamabad

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Ahead of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched World Drug Report 2011 on 23 June at United Nations Headquarters.

In Islamabad, the Report was launched on Friday by Iftikhar Ahmed, Secretary Ministry of Narcotics Control; Major General Syed Shakeel Hussain, Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and H. E. Rauf Engin Soysal, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Assistance to Pakistan. The report named opiates such as heroin as the most damaging of the illegal drugs because heroin users receive more treatment for their problems than other drug users. Afghanistan grows the bulk of the world's opium poppies. Global opium production was 7,853 million tonnes (mt) in 2009 - Afghanistan produced just under 7,000 mt of this.

Iftikhar Ahmed called Pakistan - “a victim country” as “Afghan opium production has resulted in negative social, health and economic consequences for the country.”

21 June, 2011

'Media has a key role in combating corruption'

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Media can play a key role in combating corruption in a society which is infested with this demonic illness; however media should act professionally to present factual information to the people. This was the crux of the five-day training workshop on ‘Combating Corruption and Misuse of Public Funds’ held in Islamabad.

18 June, 2011

Weapon-free society, culture advocated

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD - “It is not the weapon but the sophistication of weapon which threaten the human beings and makes the militant stronger” commented Brig (R) Muhammad Saad at a seminar on ‘Proliferation of Small Arms and their Impact on Internal Security Dynamics’ held in Islamabad on Friday.

The speakers called for strict check on proliferation of small arms and prohibition of gun violence by restricting use of arms to promote a weapon-free culture in society.

16 June, 2011

Preparing future women journalists of Pakistan

Published in Pakistan Observer (16 June 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – In order to polish the new generation women journalists, Women Media Centre (WMC) Pakistan in collaboration with SZABIST University arranged a practical training workshop in Islamabad. Senior journalists and cameraman were at hand to share their professional experiences and media ethics with the future women journalists of Pakistan at a five-day Television course on “Combating Corruption and Misuse of Public Funds” supported by National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

15 June, 2011

“Flight of Imagination” - Inspiring Miniature art exhibition

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Solo art exhibition titled “Flight of Imagination” by a brilliant artist Samreen Asif opened here at the newly-built art gallery of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Samreen’s elegant miniature artworks explain her journey as she explored the ways that could lead to knowledge, pursuit and preservation of traditional miniature art. “After ceaseless struggle, I thought to create novel style of my own, portraying various art schools such as Kangra, Pahari and Persia” she said while talking to Pakistan Observer. 21 art pieces of Samreen have been put on display at the exhibition which will continue till 17 June.

13 June, 2011

End to Child Labour – still a dream

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - On World Day against Child Labour, few chotus (child labours) in Pakistan are aware of the importance of this day as they strive to earn their own and family’s bread. It is a fact that several million Pakistani children work for extremely long hours in exchange for little pay at the risk of maltreatment. Instead of being in school, these children are left at mercy of a cruel world where they continue to struggle hard as child labours.

Despite government recognition of laws against child labour and empty-pledges made by politicians to end child labour in the country, these children - our future - is being crushed by the unkind society.

One such child labour, Siddique Nawaz, 11, working for the last 4 years is not alone in his profession but has little or no hope for the fulfilment of his dreams to become a police officer. When asked about his dream Siddique told this scribe: “If I am able to continue my education I will join the police force and will severely punish the drug addicts.” No wonder why Siddique is so dismayed by the people who use and trade in drugs. To the fate of irony, Siddique’s father, himself a drug addict, is one of the causes for Siddique becoming a child labour.

Narrating his sorrowful story, Siddique continues that it was her mother’s dream that he could get a good education but the fact remains that if her children would not work she cannot live an honourable life without begging or compromising with the society.
Siddique’s painful practical life began when he was only 7 years old and was deployed with his cousin to wash parked cars at Sunday Bazaar in Aabpara. After 2 years of experience he was able to earn Rs. 200 plus per week when misfortune hit him and underground mafia (that controlled the area) began demanding 50 per cent of his earnings which forced him to leave the place and find a job elsewhere. One bright Sunday, Siddique met one of his old car customers who offered him a job at his clothes shop and since then he considers himself a lucky one to get a job of Rs. 4000 per month.

Like Siddique there are several thousand children living miserable lives by working 10-14 hours a day and earning as little as Rs. 10 per day in the glamorous cities such as Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.
Most children work in auto-mechanical shops while several others work as car washer and cleaner. Others can be seen mending flat tyres, selling flowers at traffic signals, or selling fruit and vegetables in markets or working as house-maids.
Child rights activists have long urged the government to compile new statistical data on child labourers as there has not been a National Child Labour Survey since 1996 which had found that 3.3 million of the 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Pakistan were “economically active on a full-time basis”. Coalition against Child Labour Pakistan (CACLP) report claims that there were 21 million children employed as labourers across the country.

ILO 2011 report has warned that an appallingly high number of children are still caught in hazardous work - some 115 million of the world’s 215 million child labourers.
A recent report on ‘State of Pakistan’s Children 2010’ released by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) revealed that “the trend of child labour is decreasing globally but unfortunately in Pakistan there has been an increase in child labour.”

Children working as labour are denied education, which is now a recognized right for every child between the ages of six and 14. The plight of our child-labour demands urgent action by both the government and society to end the exploitation of young children and secure the future of our next generation.

12 June, 2011

Lok Mela – recognizing the less publicized artists of Pakistan

Sana Jamal

Islamabad: Art and music has incredible power to inspire and cheer up people as well as convey peace. This saying remains true for the culture festival in Islamabad, known as ‘Lok Mela’ which is considered as a breath of fresh air for the citizens of the twin cities in these times of confusion in the society due to ongoing tensions.
Lok Mela is an annual folk festival organized by Lok Virsa where a number of artisans, folk artists and rural musicians from all over Pakistan participate and display their creative work.

Apart from offering entertainment to the people, the 10-day festival is an excellent opportunity for the less publicized artists to showcase their artistic ability to a larger audience.
Saleem Mughal is one such artist from Gujranwala who has put on display his marvellous miniature wood architectural pieces. “This artwork is rare Pakistan and I have been working in this field since 1970s while imparting the artwork to students at my hometown” he enlightened.
The pavilions of Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Sindh, Gilgit Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) are truly window to Pakistan’s cultural diversity as it offers the native folk music, traditional household items and cuisine of the respective region. The vibrant Lok Mela can be rightly termed as ‘mini Pakistan' due to the rich cultural variety of each pavilion.

Tehseen is another unrecognized artist of Pakistan who excels in the field of calligraphy on leather, a rare artwork. “My exquisite style of art is marker-dot or edgeless painting technique which is highly appreciated by the visitors” he informed.
Sindhi folk dance was a main attraction of the festival while Sindhi traditional household items such as hand-fans and pots were highly appreciated by the visitors.