A Spanish love song from Quetta

Still from the video of an impromptu performance by students in Quetta

Still from the cellphone video of an impromptu performance by students in Quetta.

This little music video just made my day when a friend sent it to me yesterday: a Spanish love song by his cousin Hamza Khan, with co-singer Syed Zaryab and guitarist Naveed Ahmed. Students at Balochistan University of Information Technology Engineering and Management Sciences, BUITEMS, a leading private university in Quetta, they are also members of the Artists’ League Quetta (ALQ), a platform for the arts started by fellow student and self-taught dancer Farrukh Shaikh earlier this year. The group includes students from different departments in the University – including girls.

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

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

Campaign against VDay but not against LeJ

After the blast: Children's shoes and a doll on the blood-splattered road at Kirani Road, Quetta

After the blast: Children’s shoes and a doll on the blood-splattered road at Kirani Road, Quetta

The latest bomb blast in Quetta, again targeting Hazara Shia Muslims – over 800 kg of explosives packed in a water tanker – has killed over 70 people so far including women and children. The casualties have been mounting, with over 150 injured. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has again claimed responsibility, barely a month after the blast at Alamdar Road that claimed over 118 lives, including that of our activist friend Irfan Ali, and the unprecedented ‘coffin protest‘ that led to Governor’s Rule in Balochistan.

Let's campaign against love, let hate flourish

Let’s campaign against love, let hate flourish

The hyper nationalist defenders of Pakistan’s ‘ideology’ can campaign against Valentines Day. Even Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, PEMRA, falls in line, dutifully issuing a letter warning TV channels not to promote Valentine’s Day, as it may “injure” the “morality” of our youth (reproduced below). They can instigate campaigns promoting false accusations of blasphemy, spreading confusion and endangering lives. But catch them saying a word against the ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims –  Continue reading

Ongoing protest in Quetta; mourners refuse to bury their dead until action is promised

Haunting photo of grieving protestors sitting with coffins in the freezing cold in Quetta

Haunting photo of vigil by thousands of protestors gathered around the shrouded bodies of the blast victims; they’ve been there for 15 hours now, braving freezing cold and rain.

In a powerful statement of grief, rage and protest, demonstrators, including women and children are sitting in the freezing cold and rain holding vigil over 86 shrouded bodies at Alamdar Road, the site of the bomb blasts in Quetta. No one from the government has yet met the mourners who are refusing to bury their dead until the army promises them protection. See video footage of the dharna, ongoing for 15 hours now, broadcast online by Such TV. In solidarity, protestors began gathering at the Karachi Press Club starting at about 3.00 am, galvanised into action by Syed Ali Raza Abidi‘s tweets. By 5 am , some protestors also started gathering in Islamabad. A protest called by the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies is already scheduled from 5-7 pm at the Liberty Roundabout in Lahore today, Jan 12. (UPDATE: Karachi protest Sat, Jan 12, 2.30 pm at Karachi Press Club) Continue reading

Three journalists killed in Quetta bomb blasts

Three journalists lost their lives in the blasts that rocked Quetta on Jan 10. Here’s a moving obituary in Baloch Hal for one of them, Saif-ur-Rehman, a reporter for Samaa TV. Below, some tweets from a young journalist friend from Lahore:

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Quetta Youth Festival 2012: Winds of change?

Who says there’s no positive news coming out of Pakistan?

“Looking at the videos really changed my perception of the youth of Balochistan. Such brilliant young men and women, sitting together for a cause, enjoying, eating, singing, dancing and spreading the message of love” – Ali Rahman, on the First Quetta Youth Conference 2012

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