the-south-asian.com January 2004
Letter From Pakistan- December 2003 – January 2004
By Buk Mai
A Farewell to Arms in South Asia ? LOC Cease Fire.
For the last 100 year of the south Asian history much of the living among different religions has been along a peaceful coexistence . The British were smart enough to start the Balkanization of the south Asian territories so that their Imperial & economic hold never died down. So the recent peace overtures described in this letter have to be read with the old song playing in the background ………… "Bachpan ki Mohabat ko dil se na Juda Karan …………"
Indian Literary Group in Pakistan : "Awaz dey Kahan hai,
duniyan meri jawan hai …..[shout, where are you ?, my world is young …..]
MF Hussain and Satish Gujral's arrival is awaited in Karachi to display their works at Pakistan –India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy [ PIPF-PD] . 200 paintings will be on display including those of 50 artists from India – A Classical dancer by the name of Rekha , and Seema Saigal a classical Indian singer will release her CD here – apparently she has sung the works penned by Iqbal and Faiz. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, famous Physics Professor & Peace activist from Islamabad University [ Quaid-e-Azam] will also be showing a documentary along with Anand Parvathan from India .
Ajoka theater group of Madiha Gauhar returned a few weeks ago after touring / performing in India yet again . This time it was "Bullah" , the play on Bulleh Shah the Sufi Poet . Their performances took them to the eastern Punjab towns of Jullundur , Amritsar , Ambala, etc .
Pooja Bhat and Mahesh Bhat the directors were also in Karachi from Bombay working on the shooting of the a film .
Karachi “Kara” Film Festival : Dec 11- 21
won the Best Supporting Actress award at the 3rd Karachi Film Festival for Leela
. Like many Indians, Deepti's
roots are also in Pakistan . and in 2001 she went to see Lahore to visit the
places where her parents studied and lived.An Indian
documentary, which explored the lives of slum-dwellers in Mumbai, won
the best documentary award, and another Indian documentary 'The Play Is on'
- on street theatre performers in Kashmir - won a special award from the
Hamid’s novel “Moth Smoke” [ about a young man’s genital life’s
orbits in Lahore ] was made into a movie called “Daira”
. “Khamosh Pani” [about woman’s compromises in Pakistani society –
basically a sikh mother’s suicide in a village
well to avoid shaming
her young fundamentalist son ]
by Sabiha Sumar was also shown. “Raat
Chali hai Jhoom Key “ ,
shows great the great potential of Pakistan’s new film directors . This
movie is about a young MIT educated yuppie’s schizophrenic introduction
into the life of the Karachi’s lower classes . He is about to sign a
multi-million dollar Microsoft’s contract, when he is seduced into
spending the night by a classic charms laden woman with whom he has been
carrying on a phone-affair.
Dimple Kapadia starring in Leela,
Anant Patwardhan's ‘War and Peace’ and a film based on tabla maestro
Zakir Hussain ‘The Speaking Hand’.
Bolo Polo …… [Speak Polo]
Snookered in Karachi
Sponsors were PIA, Chimera [ Nokia] and Bank Al- Falah. The marketing efforts need to be improved as there were no souvenirs . calendars , picture postcards , etc of our Squash Champions. Jansher and Jehangir watched the matches dressed impeccably in suits and ties . Amr Shabaana [ Egypt] who was the winner of this World squash Open in Lahore was a treat to be seen ; he is very fast - about twice as fast as his opponents ; left-handed - he has a devastating smash that puts the ball in the cross court front nick. He used it effectively in all his matches at will whenever the ball came on to his forehand at service time .He should be there for sometime – all players watch out.
Of airplanes and trains
There is much talk of Jumbos-747 of Indian Airlines and PIA , flying across India and Pakistan by January 1, 2004 . Hyderabad in India is also being considered . Let us hope that the issues of Visas is synchronized properly. The Samjotha express train between Lahore and Delhi is also being tinkered with and greased up for the many journeys it may be sent out on .
SAARC on, Commonwealth Off
The SAARC Regional Prime-Ministers conference is on January 4-6, 2004 in Islamabad:
The Indian PM has finally agreed to meet the rest of the gang. Good for him. Can these bunch of leaders deliver any peace and good news for the ordinary folk? Not really. The Commonwealth, whatever they are supposed to do, has told General Musharaf to get out and give the power back to the Parliament – as if Parliaments really work. CDA in Islamabad has managed to pull down a monument of the Ghauri Missile at a local intersection.
Solution / way out is to create small links with peace loving , progressive, thinkers-activists in south Asia , via the NET . This is the only way forward and hope that the trigger happy armies don’t suffer from another ten year itch – call it the General Malaise & Hunger [ or have an ISI syndrome = Invisible Soldiers Incorporated], and a coup again in ten years. Governments can’t deliver anything of value in South Asia. The patient is dead but he does not know it .
Peshawar University botanical gardens, about a hundred years old, were saved in the nick of time. Thanks to some lobbying by the Sarhad Conservancy Network. Let us see if the same luck holds true for the temple where the Peshawar Cantonment board has set its sights on.
The Lahore Mall road and Canal Bank underpass was at last completed on December 1, a long ongoing project that caused Lahorites to exercise their patience, thanks to the non-planning of the LDA..
Good fresh fruit and dry fruit [ chalgozas, almonds , pistachios] are in. Tomatoes were being sold for Rs.100+ a kilo in the days near Eid. Who says you can’t make money here. Indonesia's president ,Sukarnoputri Devi is here on a 4 day state visit . The Aga Khan and the President were at the convocation ceremony of the Aga Khan university in Karachi looking very elegant in their robes.
Karachi Stock Exchange rose by about 200 points at the news of the cease fire and confidence building measures. Similar tremors were felt across the border at the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The newly opened National Commodities Exchange has put in the highest bid for the Hyatt Regency Hotel, as part of the plans for its office space building. Good things never cease to happen in the land of the pure.
Car production of Hondas, Toyotas and Suzukis is to be stepped up from the current production level of 30,000 to 100,000.
Standard & Poor has raised Pakistan’s credit rating from Stable to Positive.
Un-employment is at an all time high. No figures have been published, due to possible embarrassment to the government; an opening for a secretary usually causes about 3000 applicants. At least the M.Sc. graduates are being absorbed as Daewoo bus drivers. The last time this happened [around 1990’s the case of the yellow cabs being driven by graduates] caused the dismissal of the PPP government by the old bureaucrat of a president G.I.Khan [ who mentioned this as a cause for the dismissal in his speech], in whose name a university [ one of the better ones ] now runs near Tarbela Dam in the boondocks.
Happy Eid, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year to all the readers.
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