Amateur theatre group from Pakistan tours USA with Partition stories

My article on Islamabad-based group Theatre Wallay’s theatre project ‘Dagh Dagh Ujala’ (This Stained Dawn), that toured the US recently, published in Scroll.in today – Partition retold: A Pakistani theatre group dramatises survivor stories to shatter myths. Below, the unabridged version filed on Oct. 26.

DaghDagh Ujala-Isbd

Scene from the play, Islamabad performance. Photo courtesy: Fizza Hassan

Beena Sarwar

An amateur theatre group in Pakistan has started its tour of the USA with a dramatisation of Partition stories based on interviews of Partition-survivors by group members.

The play’s title Dagh Dagh Ujala’ (This Stained Dawn) refers to the first words of the Urdu poem ‘Subh-e-Azadi’ (Dawn of Freedom) by the acclaimed poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Penned in 1947 on the eve of India’s Independence from British rule and its bloody partition, the poem is popular on both sides of the border. Continue reading

Lift the goodwill: Indians, Pakistanis find creative ways to protest hate, violence, bigotry

Dunkin' Donuts sign in Islamabad with the Pakistani and Indian flags: peace meals

Dunkin’ Donuts sign in Islamabad with the Pakistani and Indian flags: peace meals

The right-wing Shiv Sena’s recent vigilante actions targeting Pakistani musicians, sportspeople, and diplomats in Mumbai have led to embarrassment and widespread condemnation in India, and of course to the right-wing in Pakistan gleefully pointing fingers at India.

There have also been compassionate and creative responses from Pakistanis, who have all too often suffered the poison of bigotry and injection of religion into politics.  After a Pakistani family had to spend the night on the footpath in Mumbai because they lacked the requisite papers (Form C) allowing them to stay in a hotel, Pakistani entrepreneur Iqbal Latif responded by offering free meals to Indians visiting Pakistan at his Dunkin’ Donuts franchises. His gesture was widely reported and drew a massive response in India.

A friend in India points out that the hyped up anti-Pakistan protests are a predictable forerunner to the upcoming state elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that are critical for the ruling coalition in particular. That may well be the case, but meanwhile, Indians are also finding ways to creatively and peacefully express their distaste for bigotry and hooliganism. After the Sena successful blocked respected Pakistani musician Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai, one Indian made a painting that he tweeted:  Continue reading

The real cost of conflict in South Asia

My article on the symposium I attended last week at University of Texas, Dallas, published in Aman ki Asha

The real cost of conflict in South Asia

Peacetalks symposium: Raza Rumi, Pritpal Singh, Amitabh Pal, Nyla Ali Khan. Photo by Beena Sarwar

By Beena Sarwar

Born in the Rawalpindi area in 1943, Suresh Bakshi was about four years old when his family left their ancestral home after Partition in 1947. But he still remembers and has strong feelings for the place where he was born.

These feelings created a powerful conflict when, as an Indian Army soldier, he fought in the 1965 war against Pakistan. Continue reading

Pakistani, Indian citizens appeal: “Let’s talk peace”

Over 400 artists, writers, activists, academics, lawyers, businesspeople, journalists and students from Pakistan and India appeal to their governments, fellow citizens, politicians and media to strive for peaceful relations between the two countries

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s piece for Raksha Bandhan at Puri beach, Odisha, with a message urging India and Pakistan to “Stop Bullets, Be Friends”

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s piece for Raksha Bandhan at Puri beach, Odisha, with a message urging India and Pakistan to “Stop Bullets, Be Friends”

It started out as an admin note to members of the Aman ki Asha Facebook group, by volunteer moderator Samir Gupta on August 30, 2015. The pinned post he put up on the AKA group wall read:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 3.23.14 PM“Peace or war?
———————–
As our governments and militaries lose their minds and continue to escalate this dangerous game of military conflict, it is the duty of all members of this group to stand together and demand peace in all fora available. We expect members to be responsible for peace and refrain from making provocative posts and comments. We expect you to be bipartisan”

Several group members commented there, expressing their support for the idea. Continue reading

Something to celebrate

Celebrating Indian and Pakistani Independence Days with Karachi Truck Artist Haider Ali and friends at Dover Rug (L-R): Ken Shulman, Hardeep Mann, Haider Ali, Mahmud Jafari, Jaspal Singh. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Celebrating Indian and Pakistani Independence Days with Karachi Truck Artist Haider Ali and friends at Dover Rug (L-R): Ken Shulman of Away Games, Hardeep Mann, Haider Ali, Mahmud Jafari, Jaspal Singh. Photo: Beena Sarwar

A friend points out that my last few posts have been about death and loss. Then with Pakistan and India’s Independence Days coming up (Aug 14 and 15 respectively) someone asked, ‘What’s there to celebrate?’ My response: Yes, there is much to mourn, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be that much to celebrate. As Jimmy Engineer says, the fight between good and evil is an eternal one. Doesn’t mean we stop living. When Indians and Pakistanis jointly Celebrate India, Pakistan Independence Days for Peace, Aug 14-15, 2015, it symbolises the desire to own an occasion that has been appropriated by hyper-nationalist, jingoistic war-mongers. Through this joint commemoration and greeting and wishing each other, we defy our government and security establishments’ efforts to create a negative narrative about ‘the other’. That, surely, is something to celebrate. Continue reading

Rest well, Praful Bidwai — humanist, peacemaker, activist

My personal tribute to a true secularist, humanist and peacenik not just of India, but of South Asia and the world, published in The News on Sunday and Aman ki Asha; unabridged version below

Praful Bidwai (Journalist, Aktivist, Indien); Foto: Stephan Röhl

Praful Bidwai. Photo: Stephan Röhl

“The funeral for Praful Bidwai is scheduled for the 27th June 2015”. The bald announcement on June 25, 2015 emailed from the South Asian Citizens Web newsletter run by our mutual friend Harsh Kapoor came as a shock. Continue reading

An app for India Pakistan love, the patriotism question, and peace-mongering, regardless

20150218-AKA pageMy latest Personal Political post for Times of India blogs

I have for some time been in touch with a young Indian software engineer turned project manager turned ‘digital nomad’, Amrit Sharma. Last week in the Aman ki Asha page that I edit published weekly in The News, Pakistan, we featured a small report on a heart-warming initiative he has started (all the articles are online at the AKA website).

In August 2013, Amrit launched India Loves Pakistan for the joint commemoration of India and Pakistan’s Independence Days. The aim: “to add the human element into the India Pakistan relationship”.  Now he has launched an Android app called “India or Pakistan” through a self-funded tech startup. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 142,928 other followers

%d bloggers like this: