The long war – Personal Political column in Hardnews

Oct 22, 2009: Slightly amended version of my column for Hardnews, November 2009 issue


Beena Sarwar

My 13-year old daughter and her friends were thrilled when the government announced a nation-wide closure of schools for the rest of the week. Their joy dimmed when they learned why: suicide bombers at Islamabad’s co-ed Islamic University had killed several students. Amidst fears that more educational institutes would be targeted, armed forces-run schools were already closed.

Pakistan is at war. The entire country is the battleground. The series of bomb blasts gained momentum as expected, in the run-up to Oct 17 when the army launched its ground offensive in South Waziristan.  During the first two weeks of October, militant attacks killed over 150 people, including some 40 on a deadly Thursday in Lahore, Kohat and Peshawar.

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The MF Husain controversy: Identity, intent and the rise of militant fascism

I wrote this essay for Nukta Art in September, for its November issue which has just been published

Beena Sarwar

Cover March 2009

Communalism Combat cover, March 2009: Fighting back

The campaign against the iconic Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain, perhaps the most prominent living symbol of art under attack, is part of the political fight for India’s soul – secular democracy versus a ‘Hindu’ state.

Several interrelated issues arise from this situation, linked with intent, identity, politics, religion, the role of the state, and of course the nature of ‘art’ itself. The illogical controversy has unfortunately been allowed to overshadow the artist’s phenomenal, critically acclaimed work itself both in India and abroad.

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