Spirit of bonhomie, peace at Faiz festival
By Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: A festive combination of thought-provoking seminars, art shows, theatre activities, dance performances, music concerts and quite a few extempore colourful happenings made the daylong Jashn-i-Faiz organised by the Citizens for Democracy at the KMC Sports Complex on Sunday an event to remember.
Different areas were marked for different purposes. On one side of the KMC lawns there were stalls put up by a variety of organisations, including the Thardeep Rural Development Programme, NSF, Fatimid Foundation, KESC and SPO. While outside the media centre, Karachi University’s Visual Art Department had a desk where students were busy doing T-shirt prints, face-painting and other related stuff.
Dhaba Art gave a very interesting, if a little strident, dramatic performance. Their piece was about the situation vis-Ã -vis extremism in which a young man was seen (only his face was visible, while the rest of the body was buried neck-deep in some kind of hard material) screaming at the top of his lungs in a hell-like place. His conversation – interspersed with screams, moaning and groaning – with another person indicated that he had killed some people in the name of religion. Then it turned out it’s a dream and he tried to think otherwise. It was a decent effort, which could’ve been improved with subtle play on words and less obvious statements.
It was a little disconcerting that people didn’t arrive in big numbers in the first half of the day and missed out on some evocative seminars which were held simultaneously in different pindals. The series of seminars began from Pindal 3 on the topic of labour issues, democratic rights, media freedom and religious extremism. Speakers representing the workers were of the view that it was important to lend an attentive ear to workers since their consciousness came from practical understanding of things.
At the seminar on ‘Impact of extremism on working class: a perspective from labour, peasants and fisherfolk’, Dr Naeem Ahmed shed light on the difference between terrorism and freedom fighting. He also mentioned that it was after the events of 9/11 that targets and tactics of the terrorists changed, for they resorted to a two-pronged strategy: militaristic and political. He said because of terrorist attacks the gulf between society and state increased and people lost their confidence in the government. People were disoriented from state institutions. He said what’s required was not an anti-terrorism strategy but a counter-terrorism plan, which would also look into the economic and social aspect of the issue.
The seminar on ‘Urbanisation, development and ethnic harmony’ took place in Pindal 2.
Poetess Attiya Dawood traced the history of civilisation and said man always needed to be civilised for his survival. She said culture played an important role in that regard but sadly as time passed by culture became a lesser priority. Parks were occupied by drug addicts, recreation spots were destroyed, and the marriage ceremonies (which used to entail cultural values) morphed into something mechanical. She said the number of spaces where people could read and bounce intellectual ideas off each other too reduced.
Dr Noman Ahmed said in the past decades urban population had increased at a fair clip. He gave the example of the post-1971 situation when a great many people from East Pakistan settled in Karachi, and then subsequently the city received more numbers of migrants from rural areas seeking better employment opportunities. This caused problems, and had there been proper planning things could’ve been controlled.
The seminar titled ‘American war — Pakistani consequences’ had a touchy opening when some NSF students, led by Ali Hadi, sang a heartfelt number symbolising the plight of the hands that were always immersed in work. Then a young student, Mujtaba Zaidi, read a paper on the topic of ‘Liberal virus and mullah poison’ arguing that the phrase war on terror was first used by Ronald Reagan in 1984.He also took the media to the cleaners suggesting they were creating confusion in society.
Salahuddin Gandapur spoke on Pushtun society while Akhtar Husain’s speech emphasised the point that unless the policies of strategic depth and India-centric approach were done away with, economic independence would not be achieved.
The last speaker of the session was noted scholar Hameed Akhtar who had especially flown in from Lahore to partake in the event. He narrated interesting incidents related to Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s life. Responding to a question, he said Faiz’s ideology was “peace and just distribution of wealth”. A session on Â‘Tolerance’ also elicited a good response from the crowd.
Taking part in the speakers’ corner, Senator Hasil Bizenjo said intolerance in society was state-produced. He argued that society in itself was not intolerant; it was the state forces that harboured extremists to justify their existence.
As dusk settled in, a group of young dancers danced their hearts out to Makrani beats.
They were joined in by a large crowd, which had begun coming into the arena in big numbers for the rest of the programmes.
The theatrical performances from Napa, a musical concert featuring pop stars Frieha Pervaiz, Shahzad Roy, Fuzon, Lal and some others were lined up for the latter part of the evening, while a mushaira was to round off the event.