Aman – Initiation

My interaction with the Aman foundation began a few years back when I was attending a TED X conference here in Karachi and they had one of their ambulances standing outside for people to check out. From the outside the yellow ambulance looked a bit bigger than the normal body carrier we see moving around this increasingly violent megapolis and not much else. What really surprised me was what was on the inside. They not only had a properly fitted ambulance but emergency medical aid utility as well as defibrillators and a doctor which rode on every call. I remember stepping away thinking naaah how could an organization maintain a fleet of these things in Pakistan and do it in the long run. My mind calculated the Approximate cost of this life saver and came to the quick cynical solution that this was probably one of five such vehicles operating in Karachi.

The realization on how wrong I was came last January when my father in law fell critically ill and after a few days on the ventilator at one of the posher hospitals in the D.H.A area we decided to move him to Agha Khan. I actually couldn’t believe myself as I dialed 1021 and had an efficient person not just handle my case of Histrionics but get the ambulance to us within a matters of 15 minutes to carry my father in law across Karachi seamlessly. That and the excellent courtesy maintained by both the doctor inside the vehicle and the driver of the ambulance is something I will not soon forget. It was on this day that I found out there are about a 100 such vehicles in operation in Karachi situated at 90 key points and this was how they handled each call.

Sadly my father in law did not make it through his illness. However this was the same year in which I started working with UNWOMEN to run a violence against women campaign called “Tashadud na manzur”. In this campaign as we reached out to 1 million people through social media in a matter of three months. I and my team were besieged by calls from females who did not know where to go when faced with violence. These were people across Pakistan who had no idea whom to contact in the case of an emergency, or simply to find out just what the side effects of the medicine they were about to ingest were. I thought by Tashadud na manzurs end we should launch some kind of a hot line, something staffed by professionals willing to help. I rattled around with that idea in my head for some months before someone put me on to 111-11-9123 or Aman Telehealth.

The same Aman foundation ran this hotline and I started to find out how to get in touch with the people behind these services. When I first visited Aman in Jan 2014, I was completely bowled over. I had expected this to be a small well staffed organization but instead it was a behemoth of good will. I do not know whether they are too humble to tell the world or want to do their work quietly, but this foundation has over the last five years spent in excess of 70 million USD in our country just to help Pakistani’s out. They have not just an amazing ambulance service and a telehealth department which handles 400 calls a day with a team of “live via voice” doctors and nurses as well as trained psychologists, but programs like Teach for Pakistan and the Amantech center which I would like to talk about in some detail in my blogs to come.

Right now I am in the process of arranging an outreach program for this organization and I am doing this because the right knowledge needs to spread to the right people. The knowledge which took me almost a year to understand could save lives and the best way I know how to do that is through social media. In the days to come I will be launching a google form that will enable you to sign up and take a tour of Aman’s facilities, there we will all get not just a briefing but can actually attend some of the activities going on daily as well as getting some CPR training. Perhaps some of us can even get involved with this organization and do something for our city and nation. Like Ahsan Jamil the Ceo of this foundation said to me last week.

“Pakistan is not a poor country its a poorly managed country and together we can work towards taking care of its problems”

Well here is to bringing Aman to Karachi and to our lives!

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A city on edge

Year after year in Pakistan we see the security situation drop another notch, a bit more of crime becomes acceptable and we go through our paces as if nothing is wrong with us or this society. This year the notorious activities of criminals in Karachi have gone up another level, as from the start of this holy month where people are supposed to exercise restraint things have gone ugly pretty fast.

Not a day goes by where you do not hear of someone you know being either held at gunpoint, kidnapped, conned or made a mamu of in some way shape and form. It ranges from cell phones to car jackings to mass robberies of entire neighborhoods and the police are either totally out gunned or more interested in making sure their record for their particular area stays completely clear (by not noting reports of incidents) then taking any action. Most of the criminals involved have the backing of politicos who sit and wax lyrical about the state of this country on our tv channels thus even if the police tried to take action the norm is a phone call from above resulting in the said criminals (chotas) release.

The CPLC has been doing some remarkable work on this front in recent years but lets call a spade a spade they are a liaison committee not a parallel police force so there are limits to what they can do.  The result is that now mohalla committees have gone into action and started installing barricades all over their neighborhoods with armed guards on them. People often object to these barricades but do not realize that when the state leaves a vacuum someone has to fill it. This is however just the beginning and its not very hard to see compound life being the future of the residential colony in Pakistan with huge walls and armed sharpshooters to keep the ruffians out. D.H.A residents seem to think an electronic entry and exit system to their privileged community should be able to keep the evil at bay, perhaps we will need a visa to go to certain zones of Karachi soon as well.

At this moment in time though the city of lights is deserted and helpless at night. One cannot make any stops between origin and destination lest they are carjacked and things like going to the beach or the highway have really become out of the question after dark. So we are getting restricted, more and more with each passing day. If someone does not get somewhere on time the automatic creepy thoughts start entering your head. As a parent of two young kids who go to school here I personally start to breathe after they are home not before when they are in school.

So what is the solution to all this?. A local police force would be good to start with. One that is as equipped as the people who are trying to rob us would be better. For this I am sure the citizens of this city would be willing to pay whatever tax the said authorities place on us. It would be cheaper than the bhatta all of us have to pay daily in the form of panic, fear, actual theft and so on. However this will also mean that the citizens that is us need to get together and speak out not snigger away when someone loses their new phone. We need to demand our rights from the state and that does not mean making phone calls to someones friends chachas batijha who is in a political party, it means going to the concerned authorities as one and asking for help.

Many people are now leaving Pakistan from the business and the corporate community with each passing day. In the past it used to be out of  better economic opportunity being present abroad, but now it is because they cannot live in this country out of fear of being harassed or killed in their day to day lives.

I think we are now standing at a crossroads. One path leads to a struggle to uplift this nation and the other falls into an abyss from which recovery does not seem possible. If we wish to save this country we have thrived in for our future generations we will have to now take the difficult path..there is no other choice.

 

 

Fighting hunger one person at a time

Having done relief work for over two years now one thing has become plain to me, you have to focus on one thing and do it well. When the floods hit the first time round, we were all over the place providing food rations, cooked meals, tents, water proofing roofs, medicals camps, etc etc, we literally ran our selves and our group (SA relief) ragged because we felt that we should do whatever we could, wherever we could. That was because we had little or no experience in the field of relief work. However, in 2011 when the monsoon rain floods swallowed the lives of thousands again, we picked cooked meals and medical camps and just focused on those, hence making a greater impact.

Its because of this personal experience that when the chance came for me to work with an organization like the WFP, I didn’t think twice because they focus on one thing - food. They have food baskets which they use to feed people and locally produced fortified nutrition supplements to bring up nutritional levels of the malnourished all year around. So its not just one month or three months, their efforts last, its long term. Plus even though there are no floods (fingers crossed) this year, there is rampant hunger due to inflation and poverty. So much so that 58% of our nation does not have proper access to food.. imagine that number of our population. When I try to calculate how many people that is and then watch us all waste food everyday it just hurts.

The world food program will try to feed 7.4 million people this year in Pakistan, they cannot achieve this task alone. They need all of us to pitch in and its about 77.55 USD a month for a family’s food needs. Ofcourse they have not received food for a while and thus many of these poor people are malnutritioned.   Its about USD 18 per month to bring a malnutritioned kids levels back up to normal.

In order to contribute you can send your money direct to this account, if you want to volunteer to help WFP please do it here  Do whatever you can and collect any amount you can but please try to help, not just because its ramzan or because its the time to give or whatever but because these are our own countrymen. These are Pakistani’s which we can help directly, instead of talking about them or writing about them or making petitions on facebook or cursing our leaders we can make a difference in peoples lives ourselves. So make that difference. I promise you that you will never regret this decision.

To stare or not to stare

 

Pakistan has a bit of a problem, ok that’s the understatement of the year. Pakistan has a huge problem and it has nothing to do with guns or terrorists or politics or anything of that nature. No this problem is limited to our social behavior or perhaps we should call it lack of it,  upon coming into contact with a woman.

One would think while walking through a Pakistani market, be it any market here that Pakistani men have been kept locked up in a padded cell somewhere where they have never come into contact with a member of the opposite gender. As they stare at them like a dog stares at a bone after being hungry for a couple of days.

Now correct me if I am wrong but there are plenty of women here in Pakistan and plenty of very good looking ones,  so its not like we are not used to them or have not been around them. Also with the advent of first the satellite dish and then cable tv and now broadband we have had unfettered access to the woman of this world with and without clothes so what’s the big fuss about?

I could still come to terms with it in the 80′s as the cultural paradigm was a bit lets just say starved for entertainment at that time. However in the Pakistan of now where everyone gets their daily dose of skin from the top end to the bottom rung of our society why are we still so hung up on staring at women like we want to tear of their clothes and have them on the road then and there? Obviously I am being crude here but lets just face it looking at a woman like she is a piece of meat isn’t very sophisticated either.

Oh by the way before you trot out your lack of education and not used to exposure culture vulture theories let me  cease them here and now by telling you that women wearing head to toe burqas face the same kind of treatment in Pakistan as their more sleeveless sisters. No one and no class is spared from this disease as you see the same expression on men’s faces in a hi fi mehndi or in the corporate environment as you do when a woman walks by an under construction building. Whoops did I just do a sana safinaz there? No really you get stares even if you are a man walking past one of them construction sites but thats a whole different issue.

I believe the cause of this is is not the second coming of the dajjal or the Amreekan/Indian/Zionist cultural invasion but the fact that people seem to think staring “poondi” is a lesser  form of harassment. This mindset is often reinforced by their peers with statements like “yaar dekh hi tu raha hun” but really we are taking the look and dont touch policy to another level already. Even women and many of them take this treatment without standing up for themselves. However we tend to subdue and turn our women into submissives from the get go with the constant dont create a fuss go home, dont start a tamasha brainwashing which by the time they turn 16 renders them utterly devoid of understanding when they are being harassed. Those that do get it are referred to by most of us as feminists which is actually pakistani slang for cat loving lesbians who have nothing better to do then dare to raise their heads to a male dominated vicious society. Down lesbo down!!!

So how can we stop this?

a) Start early and start at home, make your boys comfortable with female company, stop telling them things like oh this is not for you this is what girls do and crap like that so they stop distinguishing from an early age between the sexes

b) Stop telling your daughters that you should bear this in any way shape or form, inform them of personal space and what they are supposed to do with their knee when someone intrudes in it.

c) Talk to them when they are of an appropriate age of the birds and the bees, in these times it should be a lot earlier than you think it is so read up a bit on it, yes on the internet will do!

d) Try to get them to study in a co education environment. Many lessons can be learnt at school other than the curriculum

e) Also teach them the much forgotten points of Islam, how women are respected in it to the level that heaven is supposed to be under your mothers feet. This may be reinforced if thought appropriate with examples from history when needed.  Teach them about parda e nazar as well as draping them in black.

f) Try to keep an open mind when your kid asks you questions, usually they ask them because they want to know not because they are trying to ruin your super efficient day.

g) Try to put a stop to or raise voice against cases of harassment prevalent around you in the work environment and in public. Which means if someone is bumping against a person in a lift you are standing in put a fucking stop to it rather than look towards the door. If you ignore this you are part of this.

h) Last but not the least please kindly stop judging people, wearing a burqa does not make someone an angel or a cold fish and wearing a sleeveless kamiz does not make someone a whore. Look at people’s characters rather than their physical attributes it proves a little bit longer lasting in life.

I also took the liberty of taking a little twitter survey on this of which the results are given below. In the hope that perhaps reading through these tweets rather than my post will help more people understand that women like to be listened to not stared at when in the company of a man.

Usman Khaliq ‏@usmankhaliq

@faisalkapadia people have a staring problem. woh gender nahin deikhtay, bas insaan hai tou chalta hai uun kay liye.

 

SairaYasmeen ‏@SairaYasmeen1

@MehrTarar @faisalkapadia @omar_quraishi but in pakistan women consider this as harrassment regardless of whatever they are wearing

Ayesha Hasan ‏@AyeshaHasan

Staring pandemic RT @faisalkapadia: In your opinion do people in pk have a staring problem or is it the woman’s problem?

Sami Ur Rehman ‏@Sam_pk

@faisalkapadia its only pakistani’s problem :) whr ever they will go , thy will show pakistaniyat.

Zehra ‏@DrZehra

@faisalkapadia are u kidding me? Our problem? First of all u should look for a better term than ‘stare’ – more like ‘penetrate via eyes’ etc

 

Salman Latif ‏@SalmanLateef

@faisalkapadia People have a staring problem in Pk because of the sheer hypocritical morality that is socially enforced, thus repressive.

 

Qızılbāš ‏@Alihaider33

@faisalkapadia staring is a way of taking out frustration without physically hurting someone and unintentionally becoming a pervert

Sara Nisar ‏@SaraNisar

@faisalkapadia A bit of both. Varies according to the city/area you are in.

 

Komal Ali ‏@Komalali92

@faisalkapadia People in Pakistan have this problem.

 

Sahar Ahmed ‏@Sahar_Ahmed1

Its def a Pakistani trait to stare RT @faisalkapadia In your opinion do people in pk have a staring problem or is it the womans problem?

 

Zainub ‏@BuzzOff_Bozo

@faisalkapadia depends on who’s being stared at.

 

Ahmad Malik ‏@Ahmad_Malik

@faisalkapadia This will not end well.

 

Nida Khan ‏@nidak_

@faisalkapadia People are generally overly inquisitive.

 

Aizah ‏@IZ_110

@faisalkapadia People in Pakistan do have a staring problem.

 

Asif Ali ‏@Alif_se_Asif

@faisalkapadia women problem.


CinnamonCurls ‏@CinnamonCurls

@faisalkapadia Women in Pakistan have a major staring problem.

 

Samra Muslim ‏@samramuslim

@faisalkapadia People in PK have a major staring problem! Even the ones in a burqa are stared at … How can it be a women’s prob then?

 

AR Rafiq ‏@arrafiq

@faisalkapadia I think it’s a desi trait – both women and men stare for not apparent reason

 

Awais Sultan @awais 

@faisalkapadia As for staring, overseas Pakistanis do it as well. Even those who are 2nd and 3rd generation. But only at other desis.

 

Awais Sultan @awais 

@faisalkapadia The staring is one thing, but what I find more bothersome is how they slowly scratch their groins whilst doing it. Eww!

 

SaraLee ‏@Sarstastic

@faisalkapadia South Asian people have a staring problem.

 

Hajira Mahboob Faizi ‏@hmfaizi

@faisalkapadia its a common problem here.Every single person stares like there z no tomorow.Girls boys everyone has got this horrible habit

 

Ilmana Fasih ‏@ZEEMANA

@faisalkapadia till ur floor or the next woman specimen to be scanned arrives he is a #DESi

 

Ilmana Fasih ‏@ZEEMANA

@faisalkapadia gold standard test for all desis.Stand in an elevator with a person next to u.If he scans head to toe till .. 1/2

_____________________

Pic taken from this tribune blog

 

Mainstream vs social media media in Pakistan

In recent times after the leak of behind the scenes footage of a special on dunya tv and the creation of a  fake list of 19 journalists who had allegedly taken some form of bribe from Malik riaz,  a vast chasm of insecurity seems to have opened up in peoples minds about social media in Pakistan.

Not a day goes by now when some barb is not thrown at social media here on our broadcast mediums. We have been called a gutter, invisible and non ethical as well as a form of media which has no credentials and no integrity.

Let me first point out that both the behind the screens footage and the list was created by mainstream media and not the social media of this country. Various proofs have been given to this effect in several blogs and I do not want to dwell on them, but the fact remains that because you have an accident you dont stop driving  Hence being the super hyper distribution medium that social media in pakistan is becoming these days with 6 million on face book 3 million on twitter and so on it is pretty silly to blame the medium for good or bad content. That is just like any of us, the viewing public of the broadcast media were to tell them, we dont like so and so show because it goes against what we think so the whole medium is of no use.

Secondly let me now come to the various arguments made against social media and its effective use in this nation one by one.

1) They are not journalists or reporters and thus have no clue of what is going on other than what they glean from our coverage.

In today’s day and age if reporters still think that their press card entitles them to have some kind of monopoly over opinion and how it should be projected then I am afraid they are already left behind. These days a kid with a twitter enabled mobile phone standing across the street can report on who goes in and comes out of your house for instance. They dont need “training or permission” for that. As for bloggers not having first hand information about what goes in this world, wikileaks has proved that they can break channels and cables which the mainstream media cannot even dream off,  so much for that claim.

2) There is too much anonymity is social media and thus anyone can say anything.

First of all who has made our mainstream media tekhaydars of our opinion and why should we listen to them as to what is right or wrong? What and how much actual analytical skill do they posses that they can tell for instance a person like me that x is corrupt and y is..well y we cannot really talk about? The anonymity in social media is for a reason, it is because we can actually reveal things without the burden that putting a face on the screen results in in this country.  Also if they speak of responsibility then they should try to create a few fake accounts and say what they want, no one will listen to them. Social media like any other form of media operates on the principle of credibility. Those who are credible in this media and have a following have a voice which resonates and those who are not do not have a voice. Plus when one talks about responsibility they should first look at what goes on in their own shows as Talat who I consider the voice of reason among “political talk shows” points out below…


Let me also remind the esteemed “reporters” in mainstream media that not many of them “reported” on the incident at AAJ tv in their talk shows for one reason or another..wither responsibility?

3) Social media will never take off in this country and at best can run in parallel with our print media.

WRONG! Social media ala blogs and twitter has already left our print media far far behind in circulation. Its not some bolt from heaven that has inspired all the media houses to open up their own blogs its a doctrine of necessity. When mainstream media journos are themselves on twitter all day long how can they even claim that social media is some alien different system. The truth is that social media has actually absorbed mainstream media in pakistan in its midst and is now “indispensable”  As when you use any social media tool you become part of this giant mesh, in effect those making fun of social media are actually social media users..pretty ironical if you ask me.

The fact is that the only thing standing between social media and a digital explosion which would bring the roof down on our bumbling media houses is the “language barrier” We need effective translation tools in place for the masses to be able to “Access” this media..once that happens..there will be no mainstream media or social media..it will all just become “media”

P.S – I also condemn most vehemently the vicious comments made on social media against Nusrat Javed. There is no cause or reason that can justify what was said regarding the attack on aajtv on the sm medium by some people.

Wake up calls

 

I dont know how many write ups am I going to start with the words, its been a week from hell. Seems like lately every week is a week from hell here in Pakistan and all we can do as people who actually live here is to hold on to any sort of hope, however false it may be to get by.

In the last few days 80 feet of ice came crashing down on Pak soldiers in the Gayari district of Siachen. Rescue efforts are still underway to no avail as people start to give up hope for the 135 sons, husbands and friends buried there. All for a war which has no meaning, apparently as much strategic importance as a comb to a bald man and must come to an end sooner rather than later, before more brave men are sacrificed to it on either side.

Today has brought the terrible tragedy of a bhoja air flight from Karachi to Islamabad which virtually disintegrated in mid air in a landing pattern before Isloo. Rescue workers are still picking up body parts and our main stream media is exhibiting as it does with every such atrocity new lows in journalistic ethics. Thrusting mikes in the faces of sobbing family members left behind, showing pictures of dead body parts and so on.

In the midst of all this a friend receives the following SMS which she emails to me in outrage. It reads

The instant incident of live
burrial of >135 troops of
Pak Army at Siachin is neither due to an Avalaunch
nor a Cloud burst but a Satellite targeted Laser impulse by NASA which resulted into this Objective
Oriented Killing Of Pak troops after Salalah .
Plz forward for National
Awakening Campaign . SHAME TO USA AND OUR LEADERS
From:column of Dr Ajmal Niyazi Nawa e Waqt Lhr.11.04.2012

Upon reading this two things come to mind. Firstly the sender isn’t exactly very well versed in the language they are trying to communicate in with the creative spellings galore in their text. Which begs to point to the fact that this is probably another brainwashed citizen trying to become the breaking sms version of one of our main stream media houses by spicing up a few details.

Secondly the sms and its intentions points to perhaps what is one of our deepest lying faults “the instant ability to put the blame on someone else” How hilarious is it that in the upcoming budget we as a nation will need donations from the very west we are so apt at blaming for all our difficulties just to fulfill out basic requirements. Alms for Pakistan  please? Because we really believe that even natural disasters like the floods and landslides are a result of mysterious american super weapons. Everything is your fault we are just victims of circumstance! That will be 35 million dollars sahab, we take cash only!

Another part of this amazing conspiracy based blame them mentality is the acceptability of all things arab as the shining beacon of our ummah. This is the part that is usually used to soothe over any fears of the future. Brother muslims who will be there to help us should we be going down. Brother muslims who must be given precedence in all matters from hunting licenses to serving as guaranteers for our umpteen political deals because they are so very kool. Their advice must be sought in all matters, but hold on they wont let us invest in their countries without kafeels or marry into their society or holds jobs with any kind of security or rights. Where oh where is all this permitted to us lowly dregs of this world? “Gasp” You dont say! Not in the west! OMG they are just doing this to destroy our culture further dont you know!!

Off course in all this self serving finger pointing lifestyle the conscience of our society or its ability to self examine has been all but lost. When it comes to a point where natural disasters are being attributed to fantastical imperial weapons can we as a nation ever heal that which ails us? Why can’t we stop blaming or idolizing all other societies and do both of these things to our own selves. Idolize the good in pakistan, blame what is bad in Pakistan and fix it. Do something else rather than just sit and talk expertise on every subject via texts or videos or twitter or whatever.

Do something before it is too late.

Of fashion and my confusion with it

This past week has been sort of a mixed bag for me. First of all Showcase was held in Karachi and Pak tea house collaborated to bring live tweeting from it via cover it live. It was a short event and went off well but i was unable to attend unfortunately due to the situation in the city.

I did however attend the fashion week held soon after or at least two days of it. Being a fashion bystander with a background in textiles does give me some insight into fabric but I will not pretend to know much about what was on display and analyze it. I will not do that because I really didn’t understand some of what was on display anyways as it featured a mixture of western styling and over the top antics to try to create as much hype as possible.

I do however recognize quality when I see it and it was pretty damn obvious in Bunto kazmis line as each piece seemed quite lovingly crafted. These kind of pieces even a layman can tell are one of a kind each. Equally impressive were maheen khans collection for her chic fabrics, sanam chaudrys colors and cut and shehla chatoors styling. This event was quite important social media wise as well because we at pak tea house not only collaborated to report on it but in my opinion carried off quite a remarkable feat with live tweeting, as we had about 6 featured tweeters per day, scoops on video from back stage and hidef pics of the days collections uploaded every night “BEFORE” any newspaper or magazine could publish them. Which meant that quite frankly mainstream media was playing catch up to us in this entire event rather than how it used to be in the past with bloggers writing on info gleaned from news stories. 4700 tweets from these live tweeters over 4 days of fashion week along with pics are ample proof of  the fact that some of the best live bloggers are the ones not featured extensively in our community till yet as they were here .

@fursid @samramuslim @Sidra_Rizvi  @Umairmirza @abdullasyed @shobz @CinnamonCurls

@faizanlakhani @Hinasafi  @Sidra_Rizvi you did create history.

Obviously none of this would have been possible without the tremendous facilities given to us by the events organizers, the seating in third row, the press passes and the ability to write what we damn pleased. So Kudos to Etihad, Maheen Khan, Deepak and the other organizers & sponsers for embracing social media in this open hearted a manner. Perhaps this is why the events live stream on twitter and via video feed reached many people at home and created an enormous buzz.

There were however some areas which were imo severely lacking in an event of this magnitude.

First of all the PR.  I do understand that it gets very tough for an agency to handle invites when the venue and the date keep on changing but if there were to be new lows in organization in an events pr they were achieved here. The helpless agency did not have invites ready till 9 pm the day before the event took place and on top of it wanted everyone from the social media community to come pick them up. We do think that this is ok with other media outlets as they have gazillions of staff boys on bikes to stand all attention while invites are printed? But in our realm such tortoise like inefficiency is usually called what it just was, invite us by email attachment next time pls, we don’t have the time to wait on you!

Secondly it is very important to know that while video live streaming seems all kool and good to announce onstage, it is a difficult thing to handle. Turning it on an hour before the event starts and that too with audio so the whole world can realize what stage and light boys are subjected to “verbally” is not exactly good publicity for the fashion industry in Pakistan.

Thirdly the delays and the rush inside did not make this event any more inviting even though it had such effort put into its decor and arrangment.  I myself saw ushers selling passes which I considered invite only on the day of the finale. Which explained to me why it seemed like the bohri bazaar of wanna be’s inside the event space. Lets not also forget that although the ramp is precious and should not be walked on, people do need a reasonably wide space to exit from, bumping into socialites with no idea of deodorant isn’t everyone cup of tea. Thank god the fashion community is so willing to rub shoulders with everyone or we could have had quite a few altercations around the ramp area.

All in all it was a very lively event which generated a lot of good feeling and positive coverage for Pakistan. That is why such initiatives must be supported, for the overall bigger picture! However with the incoming fashion week in Islamabad and what not, we are running a tad bit into the overkill area. How many fashion events can one have in the year? Shouldn’t there be some kind of standard to adhere to? Can anyone stitch together a few suits play patriotic music and try to cash in the greatest man in this countries history without an outcry? Can we have the same models display different collections night after night without any emotion?

These are some of the questions that need to be answered by not just those organizing but the people clapping to all this seated in front row. Till the next time  then fashionita, socialite or whoever you are reading this. May the ramp be with you.

 

Karachi literature festival 2012

Three years old, the Karachi literary festival at least by its lineup seems to have come of age finally. I was there last year and although there was much local talent present the international big name flair seemed to have given the festival a miss as many invited Indian authors could not get visas on time.This does not by any means indicate that international authors “have to be there” at the festival to make it a success. It was a success last time as well but unfortunately to make it register on an international level in mainstream and social media the presence of international stars makes all the difference.

Why do I mention social media here? Well its because increasingly literature festivals have become interactive  forums between authors and their readers and nothing emulates interaction more than social media. Naturally people who attend this time are far far more media savvy than last time and some of them have followings of 10,000 or more on social media platforms thus their voices and discussion will resonate at this forum.

A cursory look at the lineup shows us  Vikram Seth, Hanif Kureishi, Shobha De, William Dalrymple, Anatol Lieven among the people visiting from other shores and Mohammed Hanif, Kamila Shamsie, H.M. Naqvi and Maniza Naqvi amongst the local talent on showcase. Quite a mouth watering lineup for any reader I might add! However if you havent read the books of any of the visiting authors let me clue you in on some of their prowess.

William Dalrymple is the author of seven acclaimed works of history and travel, including City of Djinns, which won the Young British Writer of the Year Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; the best-selling From the Holy Mountain; The Age of Kali, which won the French Prix D’Astrolable; White Mughals, which won Britain’s most prestigious history prize, the Wolfson, and The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize and The Crossword Prize for Non Fiction. He divides his time between New Delhi and London and is a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New Statesman and The Guardian.

His sessions at the KLF [all on Day ONE]
1.  Keynote Speaker at the inauguration  (what will kick-start it all)

Time: 10:00 am to 11:00 am

Venue: Main Garden (open space)

2.  INDUS JOURNEYS: In Conversation with William Dalrymple

Moderator: Kamila Shamsie
Time: 3:00p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Venue: Main Garden

3.  Afghanistan & Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism & the Taliban

 Ahmed Rashid, William Dalrymple, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Navid Kermani

Moderator: Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Time: 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Venue: Ballroom

Hanif Kureishi is the author of numerous novels, short story collections, screenplays and plays. In 1984 he wrote My Beautiful Laundrette, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. His second film, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, was followed by London Kills Me, which he also directed. The Buddha of Suburbia won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel in 1990 and was made into a four-part drama series by the BBC. Intimacy, his third novel, was published in 1998, and was adapted for film in 2001. His work has been translated into 36 languages. He has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts des Lettres and a CBE for services to literature. In 2008 The Times listed him as one of ‘The 50 Greatest British Writers since 1945′ and in 2010 he was awarded the PEN/PINTER prize. Hanif Kureishi lives in London with his wife and children.

His sessions at the KLF
DAY ONE
1. In Conversation with Hanif Kureishi

Moderator: Muneeza Shamsie

Time: 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
Venue: Main Garden

DAY TWO

1.  LITERARY CRITICISM

Muneeza Shamsie, Hanif Kureishi, Aamer Hussein, Alok Bhalla, Stefan Weidner

Moderator: Maniza Naqvi

Time: 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Venue: Maharaja

2.  Reading by Hanif Kureishi (extremely important)

Time: 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Beach View Garden

Anatol Lieven is a professor in the War Studies Department at King’s College London., and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington DC. His areas of expertise include US strategy and political culture; Islamist terrorism and insurgency; contemporary warfare; the countries of the former Soviet Union; and the Greater Middle East, especially Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.  His latest book, Pakistan: A Hard Country was published in 2011-2012 by Penguin in the UK, Public Affairs in the USA and Oxford University Press in Pakistan. It is based on his time as a journalist in Pakistan in the late 1980s and extensive research on the ground in recent years.

His sessions at the KLF:

DAY ONE

1.  In conversation with Anatol Lieven

Moderator: Ayesha Siddiqa

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Venue: Ballroom

2.  Today’s Pakistan: An economic and political perspective

Asad Sayeed, Ishrat Husain, Anatol Lieven, Maleeha Lodhi

Moderator: Ghazi Salahuddin

Venue: Maharaja

Time: 4:00p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

DAY TWO

3. Eyewitnesses and Observers: Writing about Pakistan from a Foreign Perspective

Manu Joseph, Declan Walsh, Anatol Lieven, John Krich, Kishore Bhimani , Hartosh Bal Singh, Alok Bhalla, Navid Kermani, Daniel Lak

Moderator: Raza Rumi

Venue: Maharaja

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Off course there are many more offerings at this grand buffet of literature, and some of the best will be found in the halls where budding wordsmiths and bloggers will be gathered around writers of such repute like moths to a flame.  The above were just my version of what constitutes the “must attend” parts!
By chance if you see someone soaking up the atmosphere hunched over a smart phone, that will probably be me :) See you there!!