Day of mayhem in Lahore

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(originally posted on Daily Times)

By Imran Chaudhry and Faizan Warriach

LAHORE: Police broke up Christian protesters in the city with tear gas and baton charges on Monday, a day after suicide bombers killed at least 16 people outside two churches, police said.

The protesters had blocked the Ferozepur Road. “Police wanted them to disperse peacefully and did not take any action,” said Nayab Haider, a spokesman for Lahore police. But a hit-and-run by a woman motorist who was surrounded by the unruly and hostile mob killed two protesters and provoked the crowd, some of whom started throwing stones at cars and private property. “When police tried to stop them, they stoned police and beat officials with batons. In retaliation, police baton-charged them followed by tear gas firing,” Haider said.

Sunday’s attacks, claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, occurred minutes apart in Youhanabad, a Christian locality of the city. Police said they targeted two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant. Following the blasts, enraged residents beat and burned to death two men they suspected of involvement, a police official said. Protesters also began smashing up shops and attacking vehicles. “I and my driver were coming to Lahore when protesters stopped us, struck our car with batons and beat my driver and told us to go back,” Zulfiqar Ali, a resident of Kahna, south of Lahore, said of Monday’s violence by rampaging mobs of Christian protesters.

Mob violence and clashes between protesters and police continued on Monday. The Ferozepur Road looked like a battlefield. Several people including protesters, police and innocent citizens received injuries during the riot. District government called up three companies of Rangers and deployed them in Youhanabad to control the law and order situation, which calmed down after successful negotiations between the government and Christian community’s representatives. Pakistan Muslim League-N’s Rana Sanaullah talked to the media after visiting Youhanabad and said that terrorists have no religion and they were against Muslims, Christians and people of all other faiths living in Pakistan.

He said terrorists have attack the national unity and want to shatter it, and it is high time the nations show national unity in the face of anti-state elements. He said that the security of churches would be increased in the entire country. Rana said that after the Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched, it was expected that the terrorists would conduct such terror acts. He said that terrorists would not succeed in their ill motives. Meanwhile, bishop of Lahore appealed to the protesters to calm down and not take law into their hands. He said protesters must remain peaceful and members of the Christian community should not resort to violence.

Police had to use water canon, tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters. A large number of protestors from the Christian community came out on the Ferozepur Road near Youhanabad and clashed with police in which several protestors were injured. The protesters blocked the main Ferozpur Road and shouted anti-government slogans. Armed with clubs and batons they stopped ordinary citizens, beat them up and vandalised their vehicles as well as public property. The metro bus service was also suspended due to the protest.

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National College of Arts Students’ Showcases Artworks

(originally posted on Daily Times)

By Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: Four-day National College of Arts (NCA) students exhibition concluded in which 120 students’ calligraphy, fresco miniature paintings and artworks were showcased. In the exhibition, as many as 120 students of traditional arts diploma program of NCA have displayed their work regarding Calligraphy, Fresco Painting and Miniature Painting.

On the occasion, NCA Principal Prof Dr Murtaza Jafri said that ‘with every exhibition NCA showcases , we are moving forward but much work has to be done in promoting the message of arts’. He said that in the exhibition people from different age groups have participated and admired students art works. A large number of NCA students, faculty members, professors and different walks of life people have visited the gallery and admired their art work. While students have also used zero size brush for finely that enhanced the beauty of their work.

Ustad Saif-ur-Rehman

Talking to Daily Times Ustad Saif-ur-Rehman, whose students displayed their artworks said that Fresco painting art work is rare art nowadays, that connected its dot lines with Mughal Art era.

Fresco work at Wazir Khan Mosque Minaret

He said that he had worked a lot to preserve the heritage which was being in the line to eradicate. Ustad Saif-ur-Rehman, who belongs to district Attock, said artists needed only appreciation and surely his students had put their efforts in making artworks and he wished them a good luck. He informed that natural colors were used in the painting which is purified from the chemicals and made after crushing the original stones like Feroza and Kajal as well as Peli Miti (Yellow Clay) is also used in the painting.

Ustad Gohar Alam , teacher NCA

Another teacher, Ustad Khurshid Alam Gohar Qalam said that we should promote our indigenous culture to the world level, and our Islamic calligraphy is our asset we should preserve them. Students who completed their diplomas in session of 2007 to 2014 had collectively thanked thie teachers who taught them so well that they were able to make artwork and present them for criticism. Rabia Sana student said that she had worked on the theme of gates of the walled city in her art work and her paintings blend past and present tradition of ours. Another student Rizwan Ali said that he had tried to mix several colors in his calligraphy painting which he had completed I time frame of seven days. He was inspired to Bin Qalandar art work, he added.

Ustad Gohar’s Work, picture courtesy https://islamiccalligraphygohar.wordpress.com/

Peaceful marches to be held in city to promote Punjabi

(originally posted on Daily Times)

By Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: After having two brain-storming sessions it was announced by the World Punjabi Congress (WPC) that peaceful marches will be held in Lahore & other divisional headquarters and every month one-day National Punjabi Conferences will be organized to press the demands; participants reiterated that Punjabi language should be extricated from the mire of archaic usage, purism and literary fundamentalism.

The second National Punjabi Conference was held on Friday at Punjabi complex under the aegis of World Punjabi Congress (WPC) to highlight the injustice being consistently meted out to Punjabi language and culture. A Lahore Declaration was passed unanimously reiterated the points made by the learned speakers. It also said that if peaceful protests are not heeded then next step would be to make demonstration in front of Punjab assembly if demands as espoused by different speakers are not met.

In his keynote speech, WPC Fakhar Zaman declared that despite our efforts Punjabi is not being given the rightful place by making it a language for the primary level, establishment of Punjabi University, a radical change in the curriculum in colleges and university, employment of over more than ten thousand MA Punjabi degree holders and language of Punjab assembly be declared Punjabi. He regretted that Punjab government and its anti-Punjabi bureaucracy is regrettably treating step motherly treatment to the language of great Sufi poets, cultural ethos and cultural heritage of Punjab province.

He further said that the TV channels and print media is showing little respect for this language, which according to UNESCO report is the 10th biggest language in the world. HE said social media importance could not be ignored and will be used to spread message of Sufi poets and to promote Punjabi language among new generation .In the end, a mushaira was also held. They were also of the view that contemporary Punjabi languages should be translated into English and be posted on the Internet.

On the occasion, Punjab Higher Education Commission chairman and former Vice Chancellor of Gujrat University Dr M Nizamuddin said that ‘Punjabi education model’ was possible and was being running successful across the border in Indian Punjab. He said Punjabi should be taught at the primary level and also that a Punjabi University should be established in Lahore.  He added, we should start work from without having delay and not relay on’ brick models’ .

In the first session , Poet Tanvir Zahoor made inaugural speech and said linguistic movements only successful when effort being put collectively by writers, teachers ,intellectuals and common people .

-punjab farmers/growers

Mudassir Butt another speaker said ‘only collective united front save the dying spark of Punjabi language, we have to re-orient our behavior & approach before heading ahead and to make successful this Punjab movement’. He questioned from the audience to ponder that after the forty years struggle in making Punjabi language official language of the Punjab province we haven’t been successful.

‘Azam-e-Pakistan Parade’ marks Pakistan Day

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(originally posted on Daily Times)

By Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: The city’s festive-mood revived after holding a colorful Azm-e-Pakistan Parade shattering the fear of ‘Talibanization’ in the society

It was the Pakistan’s first ever Azm-e-Pakistan civil Parade led by people was held at Liberty roundabout in capital metropolis on the 75th Pakistan day where people participated in large number and scenes of national zeal and unity were witnessed. The Pakistan Resolution Day also called Pakistan Day was commemorated on March 23 every year to remember the historic ‘Pakistan resolution’ was passed on March 23,1940 at ‘Minare Pakistan which actually paved the way to make independent country for Muslims in the then sub-continent, resultantly after seven years Pakistan came into being.

People from all walks of life along with children, families and especially youth came to witnessed the colours of national unity and regional traditions which springs onto the Azme Pakistan Parade and national songs were played on the moment. Whole parade was narrated with live commentary. Citizens appreciated Azme Pakistan Parade. Zaman Ahmed who came along with family to see the parade said’ these types of cultural activates provide platform to relax in already tense situation of the country and more events should be held and I am happy to be apart this crowd’

Total seven entry points were set up from where people were instructed to enter into the main boulevard road including entry points from Sir Saeed road, K-chowk, Haliu road, Zahoor Elahoi Road, Main Market. The Azm-e-Pakistan Parade formally started when DCO Lahore along with Punjab police marchers and city traffic police wardens uplifted the Pakistani flag and took a round from liberty roundabout passing from main market and came again in Liberty Chowk. After that, Punjab police march-past in front of the participants of the parade. It was followed by displaying Pakistan biggest hand-carry national flag which was presented by 350 students of the different schools, police also held flag march and equestrian squad which was applauded by the viewers.

Papu Saeen drummer when along with his drummers’ team beat the drum people got charged and youth danced a lot. In the end, singers including Ali Azmat , Jawad Ahmed and Shoukat Ali performed. Nabiha, a college student came with her family said that ‘I am here to support Pakistan and seeing such types of events actually boosts nationalism and today we only Pakistani’. Before the sunset , administration of the parade wind up the events as darkness lured.

-papu sain

SAVE LAHORE

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(originally posted on Daily Times)

BY Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: Participants of a rally organised by Lahore Bachao Tehreek on Sunday protested against the havoc wreaked on Lahore’s environment by the Punjab government-led development projects.

They urged the government to provide basic facilities to citizens instead of wasting money on useless projects.

Lahore Conservation Society Convener Imrana Tiwana while addressing the rally said the Punjab government in the name of development projects was just wasting the public money. She said the presence of a huge number of citizens in the rally showed that Lahorites were really concerned about their city. She said these skyscrapers, flyovers and underpasses were being built at the cost of cutting of ancient trees in the city which would not be accepted under any circumstances.

She said that Lahore’s environment was being polluted by the Punjab government’s ‘misguided’ and ‘incorrect’ projects – building skyscrapers, roads, flyovers, and underpasses – without proper city, town planning on the part of the government. The city’s environment would choke and people not be able to even breathe due to these ill-conceived project of the provincial government, she added.

Tiwana said that the public interest projects should be launched in the city. She said that 93 percent people had no access to transportation facility and flyovers and underpasses were only being built for the elite. She urged the government to focus on better transport facility for the masses. She added that what the city people actually require is thousands of new buses but no one in the government is listening. The government is busy in its so-called development projects through spending the budget of Punjab’s 36 districts solely in Lahore. She said, “Being an urbanist and environmentalist I can say that city planning is a complete science.” Other speakers highlighted the importance of footpaths which were in sheer decline due to the development projects. They urged the government to build footpaths for the people who even do not have nay kind of transportation facility. Only a visionary and coherent strategy can save Lahore from the havoc inflicted by the provincial government’s poorly conceived development projects.

The enthusiastic participants of the protest rally came with posters, placards inscribed with ‘Save Lahore’. They chanted slogans against the Punjab government’s ongoing ‘development projects’ and criticised government’s lack of interest towards highly important issues including healthcare, building schools, supply of clean water to all citizens, improper sanitation facilities and transforming slums in the city into decent living localities. A large number of people including architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz, prominent furniture designer Ghazala Rahman, architects Nayyar Ali Dada and Raza Ali Dada, environmentalist Dr Munir of LSE, distinguished painter Dr Ijaz Anwer, Farhad Humayun of ‘overload band’, TV actress Simi Raheel, IA Rehman, Faryal Gohar, Tanveer Ahmed, Shahzad Hameed and Naeem Bajwa, students, children, youth, victims of the developments projects whose houses were demolished, non-governmental organisations, universities’ students, human rights activists, senior citizens and National College of Arts students, participated in the protest rally organised by Lahore Conservation Society. Lahore Conservation Society or Lahore Bahaao Tehreek is an apolitical civil society organisation active for saving the environment of Lahore.

Senior politician and prominent columnist Ayaz Amir while talking to Daily Times said that the presence of a large number of people at the rally shows that Lahorites are actually against the useless development projects of the Punjab government. He termed these so-called projects a sheer wastage of public money and time. He said the budgets of Punjab’s other districts budget were being shifted to Lahore to fund these useless projects catering to the interests of the elite while ignoring the majority of the people living in the city.

Ghazala Rahman, prominent furniture designer, said on the occasion that Lahore is getting polluted more and more and is already at number 10 among world’s most polluted cities. She said, “We need to save our environment by planting more and more tress and need to halt government’s cutting of the old tress in the city in the name of so-called development projects. She said trees are a symbol of life and must be protected at any cost.

Session on Punjabi language calls for people’s narrative of history

-village in Indian Punjab

(originally posted on Daily Times)

BY Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: : Punjabi language has been standing in the linguistic crossroads; free-thinkers had always been discredited by ‘intellectually bankrupt’ class of historians; need of the hour was to write people’s narrative history of the Punjab instead of history written by court historians of colonial powers, stated speakers of a session on ‘zuban apni apni, Punjabi language and people’s narrative’ on day one of Lahore Literary Festival.

Renowned personality Mushtaq Soofi – who has worked extensively in the field of Punjabi language – moderatd the session.

Symbol of Punjabi language writer Ahmed Saleem said people’s narrative of the general history of the region of Punjab, Indian and Pakistani Punjab included, needs to be highlighted and promoted among young generation. He said there were two narratives in history writing: one was state narrative and the other one of people’s. He said people of Punjab had always fought against intruders and invaders who came along all the way from Kabul to get Delhi’s throne and ruined the Punjab’s lands.

Saleem said that colonisation by imperial powers, including Britain East India Company, who ruled the sub-continent actually destroyed the narrative and story of common people who lived peacefully before coming of the invaders. He said colonisation always promoted foreign or alien language and discouraged local or native language – same happened in case of Punjab where Arabs promoted Arabic language, Mughals promulgated Persian language and British rule promoted English language.

-Dulla Bhatti Punjabi movie screenshot 

He added that it is high time to “point out our actual heroes like Dulla Bhatti who fought against emperor Akber the Great, Bhagat Singh notoriously famous of bombing in the then Punjab Assembly but who actually registered his protest towards the British rule and martyred freedom fighter Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal”.

Ahmed shah abdali invasion of india

Others speakers including Saeed Bhutta and Iqbal Qaiser lamented the widely spread wrong thought about Punjabi people that they supported and welcomed every foreign invader and intruder. They said there were 382 villages of the Lahore division and according to the history every invader including Ahmed Shah Abdali or Durranis of Afghanistan ruined these villages’ daily life and property while going towards Delhi. They said these intruders while they came along with their furious forces, always ruined the landscape, culture, values and customs of the Punjabi people.

While talking about Punjabi folklores, the speakers said these were the reflections of the collective consciousness of the Punjabi culture.

They asked the government to adopt Punjabi language at least in Punjab province so natives of this land could initiate the intellectual debate in their mother tongue.

Punjabi folklore stories couple

Mushtaq Soofi said that there was an ‘intellectual bankruptcy’ among the intelligentsia while they wrote the history of Punjab. He said Sufi saints including Baba Farid, Waris Shah and Bhullay Shah had outspokenly wrote in the form of lyrical poetry on the then atrocities and wrongdoings of the rulers. He said Pujabi Sufi poets had made tremendous efforts in promoting humanism while outspokenly writing on the then ‘landscape of the Punjab culture’ and bluntly pointing out the wrongdoing of the rulers. He said the medieval history of the Punjab has to be re-written from the people’s point of view as narrative of the people had been preserved in the form of Punjabi poetry and maxims.

poetry of Punjab’s most outspoken poet Bulleh Shah

Paintings …..& ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso

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2015-03-03 16.20.12-paintings of children killed in a Taliban carnage

(originally posted on Daily Times)

BY Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: The Artists’ Association of Punjab (AAP) organised the 29th annual Art Exhibition 2015 and a commemorative show titled ‘Massacre of Innocents’ on Tuesday.

In addition to the art exhibition, the AAP held an ‘open discourse seminar’ where speakers addressed a lively audience at Alhamra Art Gallery.

This year’s annual art exhibition was dedicated to the innocent children who were ruthlessly slaughtered in a Taliban attack at their school in Peshawar. Along with the paintings on the Peshawar incident, artists had come up with avariety of themes including village landscape and others. The exhibition was inaugurated by Lahore Arts Council Chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi.

In the opening session, Ataul Haq Qasmi said that these kinds of events and art exhibitions actually had “created tolerance in our intolerant society”. He said that extremists are more dangerous than terrorists and sympathisers of terrorists should be exposed in front of the whole nation.

Qasmi said that the Peshawar school massacre somehow united the nation but he showed concerns on some factions of the society who led the agenda of Taliban without disclosing their connection with the terrorist groups. Artists and painters, he said, had always expressed on the sensitive issues and he had observed the same passion which was witnessed in Indo-Pak war in 1965. He said in that war Pakistan’ one of the greatest literature was produced including novels, short stories and painters expressing the war-led scenario. Renowned painter, art critic and AAP Chairperson Mian Ijazul Hassan said on the occasion that artists and painters should be involved in policymaking regarding the art. He said that the state’s attitude toward promoting art could be observed by this example that no single painting was bought by the National Arts Gallery. He said the best scenario in which arts could be flourished is when the artist and state work together, leading to the ‘cultural development of the society’. Another speaker, Asghar Nadeem Syed, a renowned literary figure and drama serial writer, said that artists were sensitive and did not instantly respond to the unusual happening in the society. He said that it takes time for artists and painters to absorb the depression of war like situation and this annual art exhibition is a “response to the killings of our innocent children by barbaric Taliban, with artists beautifully reflecting through their work the fear present in the nation’s collective conscious.

Nadeem said Pakistan has to win this war against terrorists, and this war is actually being fougth to “save our heritage and culture”. He referred to an example of the famous painting ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso in which residents of his native city raised their hands and cried out looking at the Nazi Germans warplanes. He said masterpieces were created when artists and painters absorbed more depression of the event.

Picasso Guernica painting

Former foreign minister Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali said that these type of art exhibitions where artists expressed their emotions were an effort towards opening up space to listen each other’s arguments. Commenting on Taliban’s so-called Jihad,he said that jihad is absolutely business of the state; privatisation of jihad has to be halted in which individual groups want to impose their extremist agenda and defame the country. Later, he recited a poem ‘flowers of field’ which included the following lyrical line: ‘apologists’ souls must bear (naked) in front of nation’.

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