Jimmy Engineer: The artist, his inner voice, the lion story and a dream Des

Jimmy Engineer stands with protestors at the 4th monthly remembrance for Peshawar school massacre, in Boston. Photo: Ehsun Mirza

Jimmy Engineer stands with protestors at the 4th monthly remembrance for Peshawar school massacre, in Boston. Photo: Ehsun Mirza

An article I wrote for The News on Sunday about the artist, humanitarian and peace worker Jimmy Engineer, The artist and more, May 3, 2015. Reproduced here with additional links and photos.

“There is a long list of people who are activists and who take up causes who get killed. It’s an endless list, and it’s a senseless list,” says Jimmy Engineer.

I’m talking to this Pakistani artist and philanthropist on the phone, having him met a few times in the Boston area. Based in Karachi, he’s visiting the USA, currently in Houston where his parents live. I’ve called to ask if he heard about the murder of activist-entrepreneur Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi.

He puts the tragedy in perspective as part of the perennial struggle between good and evil. “There will always be those who try to improve things and raise a voice to create awareness. There will always be those who want to destroy them. This happens everywhere in the world. Nature also takes its toll. Along with all the positive, there’s always a negative, like the Nepal earthquake.”

Sabeen herself well understood herself and exemplified this philosophy, accepting that negativity and evil exist but yet continuing to strive to do what is possible on a personal level. Life is a never-ending struggle and we each need to do what we can. Continue reading

‘An honest Pakistan is a better Pakistan': the ‘unsilencing’ idea and the ongoing intellecticide

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

I wrote this piece last week for EPW – Economic and Political Weekly, India; reproduced below with photos and additional links.

“Unsilencing Pakistan” was an idea first articulated in 2011. It has been revived following the recent murder of Sabeen Mahmud, who had attempted to create a space where Pakistanis could discuss contentious issues–like the human rights violations in Balochistan–without fear. Can Pakistan’s intellectuals and human rights activists survive the “intellecticide” being perpetrated?

By Beena Sarwar

When the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) announced that it was organising a seminar titled “Un-Silencing Balochistan” on 9 April 2015, it reminded me of the “Unsilencing Pakistan” initiative of the summer of 2011. Continue reading

Unsilencing Pakistan and the 5th Global Vigil #NeverForget

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Daily vigil for Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi, 8-9 pm at Do Talwar

Protestors holding daily public protest vigils in Karachi demanding justice for Sabeen Mahmud hold placards calling to #unsilencePakistan and end the culture of impunity. Today’s vigil, marking give months of the Peshawar Army School massacre, also incorporates the carnage at Safoora Chowk in Karachi where armed men in police uniforms killed 45 of the 60 Ismailis on a bus.

“It has been 17 days since I have been present here daily from 8pm to 9pm,” poignantly writes Ibad Sheikh who initiated this event and brings along his drums to pound on. “I come to celebrate Sabeen, to grieve her death, to find comfort in fellow protesters and to tell the world that I have not forgotten her.” (From APS victims to Sabeen Mahmud: Honouring all who have been taken away from us, May 15, 2015)

Protestors at the Fifth Global Vigil this weekend in various cities are demanding an end to impunity and against terrorism in Pakistan.

  • Karachi – 16th May – assemble at Danish Gah, Punjab Chowrangi at 5:30pm and march to Do Talwar.
  • Islamabad – 16th May – 5.30 pm at Press Club
  • Boston – 16th May – 4 pm – Boston Common (near the fountain by the Part St. T)
  • Toronto/Mississauga – 6 pm, 7880 Keele Street, Unit #14, Vaughan, ON L4K 4G7
  • London – 17th May – 3-5 pm in front of Pakistan High Commission

Below, an extract from something I wrote recently about the Unsilencing Balochistan events in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi:  Continue reading

Pakistan: Protest curbs on academic freedom, freedom of expression and public debate

Censored- unsilencing balochistanSTATEMENT OF CONCERNED FACULTY MEMBERS AND STUDENTS OF LUMS REGARDING THE DECISION TO CANCEL THE TALK ON BALOCHISTAN IN KARACHI UNIVERSITY SCHEDULED TO BE HELD WEDNESDAY 6 MAY, 2015:

We, concerned students, alumni and faculty members of LUMS, deeply deplore the decision by the Karachi University administration to cancel the talk on Balochistan titled “Baloch Missing Persons and The Role of State and Society”, planned tomorrow Wednesday 6 May 2015 at Karachi University. This decision comes on the heels of the cancellation of the LUMS roundtable on “Un-Silencing Balochistan”, scheduled to be held on 9 April, and the tragic killing of Ms. Sabeen Mahmud, director of the café T2F in Karachi, right after a debate on the very same issue on 24 April on the premises of T2F. Continue reading

“Unsilencing Pakistan” and the ongoing “intellecticide”

Vigil for Sabeen in Harvard Yard, April 28, 2015. Poster designed by Erum Sattar shows a painting by Frida Kahlo whom Sabeen loved. Photo: Ken Shulman

Vigil for Sabeen in Harvard Yard, April 28, 2015. Poster designed by Erum Sattar shows a painting by Frida Kahlo whom Sabeen loved, with a word play on “mARTyr” she would have enjoyed. Photo: Ken Shulman

In the summer of 2011, young academic Nosheen Ali, and journalists Sahar Habib Ghazi and Malik Siraj Akbar approached me to work on a new initiative they called “Unsilencing Pakistan” that aimed to make an online record of all the journalists, activists, and thinkers in Pakistan who have been harassed, tortured, and/or executed. I had written at the time about those killed as ‘enlightenment martyrs’, part of an ongoing intellecticide. The “Unsilencing Pakistan” idea included a statement that we got several progressive voices to endorse  — Sabeen Mahmud among them (see below). We weren’t able to take the idea forward then but the concept remains critically important as Sabeen’s murder a week ago reminds us. I was also reminded by my friend Huma’s Facebook post today about the vigil for Sabeen uses the term #unsilencePakistan; and by the seminar titled Unsilencing Balochistan that was canceled at LUMS but held at T2F after which Sabeen was killed.  Continue reading

#Rise4Sabeen: Keep the dialogue going

Protest4Sabeen-28April2015

Below, some of the widespread condemnation and protest vigils against the cowardly murder of human rights activist and upholder of free speech Sabeen Mahmud, shot dead in Karachi on the night of April 24, 2015 after she hosted a conversation on human rights violations in Balochistan. Just published: Tanqeed’s partial transcript of the discussion. No, Sabeen was not a separatist, nor did she condone violence by anyone, whether in the name of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, or honour. She was a firm believer in open, civil dialogue. The best tribute we can pay to her is to keep her legacy alive by continuing to speak up and keep the dialogue going.

Statement by Malala Yousafzai on the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, April 25, 2015

LUMS STATEMENT on Sabeen Mahmud’s murder, April 25, 2015

HRCP shocked at T2F director’s murder, demands justice, April 25, 2015

Target Killing of Sabeen Mahmud: WAF Statement, 25 April 2015

SAHR Statement of Concern on the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, South Asians for Human Rights, April 27, 2015

Karachi citizens press release, April 28, 2015

Report from Lahore rally for Sabeen, April 28, 2015  Continue reading

Pakistan #Intellecticide: Vigils for Sabeen – who was she and why was she killed?

Sabeen-Hero-Karachi-Mohsin Sayeed

Sabeen: delighted to find an old Karachi car number plate reading, “Tu Mera Hero” (you’re my hero) at the “Creative Karachi” festival, fund-raiser for T2F, 2014. Photo by Mohsin Sayeed

Vigils and protests for our slain comrade and friend Sabeen Mahmud are taking place in different cities of Pakistan and around the world. Anyone is welcome to submit online responses to the blog Sabeen Mahmud: A Tribute.

In Boston, students have organized a vigil for Sabeen on Tuesday, April 28, 7.30 pm at the John Harvard statue in Harvard Yard (Facebook Event). In Pakistan, friends are meeting at Press Clubs in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to register their protest.

Bring an apple. Or a Beatles or Steve Jobs poster. Or Farida Kahlo or Farida Khanum, Faiz, Farid Ayaz… all the things she loved. Black armbands. She loved strong visual statements.

A lot has been written about who she was, what she stood for and why she was targeted. My offerings, with a heavy heart: Onpoint with Tom Ashbrookon NPR; in in Scroll: You refused to cower in silence': A letter to a fallen Pakistani comrade; and In Pakistan, This Activist Was Martyred for Her Moderation in the Daily Beast co-authored with Asra Nomani.

Continue reading

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