Jan 1 rallies across Pakistan in solidarity with victims of extremism; demanding a coherent Foreign Policy, empowered Local Government

Aman Ittehad rally, Hyderabad, Jan 1, 2013

Aman Ittehad , a coalition of non-government organisations and individuals around Pakistan has been commemorating Jan 1 every year with rallies around the country, in solidarity with victims of terrorism and to demand better governance, democracy and economic policies. Here’s the press statement for this year’s rallies, being held in dozens of cities including Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Mithi, Mardan, Loralai, Gilgit and other places.

PRESS STATEMENT  Continue reading

Online petition and GIA demo against invasive TV show

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) has called for a demonstration against Abb Takk TV’s show Khufia for its gross invasion of privacy and human rights, to be held today, Monday Dec 30, at 4:00 pm at the Karachi Press Club. If you’re in Karachi, please show your solidarity by joining them. Also please read and sign this online petition “Act against AbbTakk TV for violating privacy and human rights

Media/Pakistan: Worse than Maya Khan. The vigil-aunty TV moral brigade strikes again

Abb Takk Khufia

A still from the offending show – it was difficult to find one that didn’t reveal the victims’ faces.

As if there aren’t enough human rights violations in Pakistan, sections of the media have joined the ranks of the violators, accosting individuals on the streets, barging into private homes, accusing people of being gay or bullying them to prove otherwise. The show, part of a vigilante series sensationally titled Khufia (Secret), was broadcast on Dec 15 on a new channel called Abb Takk – here is the programme link (if you can bear to watch). These vigil-aunties can do this because the people they target are poor and resourceless, with no armed security guards. (Here’s the link to the PEMRA feedback form and the Abb Takk email address: md@abbtakk.tv if you want to register your complaint. Please do share a copy with Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, at this link). My article on the issue in The News, Pakistan and Hardnews, India. More below.
Continue reading

Play for peace: Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Milne Do’

Mahesh Bhatt-Imran Zahid play

Mahesh Bhatt’s forthcoming play is creating a media buzz

My article in the Aman ki Asha page of The News, Dec 4, and in the TOI blog

Play for peace: Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Milne Do’

A behind-the-scenes look at what is driving a veteran film producer and peace activist’s fourth stage production, coming up

By Beena Sarwar

It was Google’s “Reunion” ad released on the web that pushed Delhi-based actor Imran Zahid to move on an idea that he has been thinking about for some time, creating waves in the media.

Last week Imran messaged me, asking for story ideas for a stage play “to promote Aman ki asha and the concept of ‘Milne do’ (let them meet) to be staged in various cities of India and Pakistan in association with Mahesh Bhatt Saab”. Continue reading

‘Chittagong’: ordinary people, extraordinary courage

chittagong My column ‘Personal Political’  in The News, Pakistan last week, also for monthly Hard News, India 

“Chitta-kya?” A masterly tribute to Master-Da

By Beena Sarwar         

I want to thank the Indian scientist-turned-filmmaker Bedabrata Pain for his powerful feature film about the 1930 uprising against the British in Chittagong in the part of Bengal that is now Bangladesh.

Beautifully shot and filmed, with stellar acting by a largely amateur cast, and music by Shankar Ehsan Loy, “Chittagong” (2012) has a gripping, non-linear narrative (with nary an item number). Unlike most accounts of the time, Pain’s film does not end with the 1934 execution of Surya Sen (“Master-da”) the schoolteacher who planned the daring raid on Chittagong armory with an army of mostly schoolboys. Their Indian Revolutionary Army (IRA) took over the town for a day as the British fled. Continue reading

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