Women warriors for peace and a viral Punjabi music video

Asma-Bushra-wall

A poetic dialogue between two neighbours separated by an insurmountable wall goes viral. Pictured here: Asma Abbas and Bushra Ansari, performing their sister Neelum Bashir’s poem.

There’s been so much going on that I haven’t shared any updates here for a while. On Tuesday 11 Feb., Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave a talk on Pakistan and the Welfare State at Harvard that I reported on: “We can’t say we’re too poor to look after our people”, published in The News on Sunday, 17 Feb.  I was going to post it with an important paragraph that got left out of my report when I cut it down, but the Pulwama attack of 14 Feb overshadowed everything. I’ll share it at some point.

Meanwhile, the attack and its aftermath continues to overshadow India-Pakistan politics, with the Indian leadership using Pakistan as a scapegoat even as their policies in Kashmir continue to worsen the situation – see this retired Indian military officer’s comment: After Pulwama Attack, the Core Issue in Kashmir Is Being Ignored – Again. Here’s the link to the 20 Feb. discussion on Voice of America Urdu that I participated in.

Another issue I wanted to flag was the inspiring 8 March Women’s Day demonstrations in cities across Pakistan that got overshadowed – hijacked rather – by social media users selectively sharing a few controversial placards and slogans. Here’s a report in the Guardian about it: Pakistan torn as women’s day march sparks wave of ‘masculine anxiety’. On 12 March, I participated in this VOA Urdu Roundtable on the issue. Indian women had their own women’s march on 4 April. As Dr Syeda Hameed commented: “Aurtein utthi nahin to zulm badhta jayega” (If women don’t rise, the injustices will worsen). Women are rising.

Neelum Bashir-Gwandne

Punjabi writer Neelum Bashir’s message of love, hope, and peace, poignantly delivered.

On a related note, for now, I’ll leave you with this piece I wrote for The Wire that actually pulls all these issues together, about a music video for peace that has gone viral: Sister Act: Women Warriors for Peace Rap With Punjabi Poetry. The popularity of the video can be gauged by the fact that the middle sister Bushra Ansari’s Youtube channel, that had just 34 subscribers a couple of days ago, now has nearly 4,000. Kudos also to the talented eldest sister, writer Neelum Bashir and youngest sister actor Asma Abbas. Their father, the late journalist Ahmed Bashir who I had the privilege of knowing, must be so proud. Rab Rakha.

 

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