Sunday, January 31, 2010

Landscape Painting In Pakistan

Landscape Painting In Pakistan…The Masters Of Punjab School.

Dr Nesom Marcella Sirhandi writes in her seminal work “Contemporary Painting In Pakistan” that post 1977, the Pakistani art scene had come of age. Says she “ though  regionalism was not a consciously segregating factor in Pakistan, it did serve to highlight differences in art form from the various provinces the individual artists reached maturity and as  a very young nation Pakistan had evolved it’s own art history.”
The Lahore artists were headed by Khalid Iqbal who stands as the leader, friend,, initiator and driving force.

Khalid Iqbal is an artist of varied shades and expresiions. Mian Ejaz ul Haq writes about him as  a nightmare for art historians as he has only one exhibition to display and also he neither signs his paintings nor dates them. He says that Khalid Iqbal did not adopt and copy any  “modern  painters automatically but in essence evolved his own style and technique. He has been described as a father of “modern” painting by Dr. Musarrat Hasan who has written a book on the eminent teacher and artist. He in fact is a realist painter but truly as described by Mian Ejaz ul Hasan , a realist painter in the modern sense.
Mian Ejaz says that he is reminded of  Mondrian whenever he sees Khalid Iqbal’s paintings. This is true. Mondrian’s “Gray Tree”, his “Still Life Showing a Pot”, all remind you of the same eye and perception.
Dr. Sirhandi writes thst;
     “He chooses his sights carefully as he often paints on location, and prefers to paint a scene as it is rather than to change it’s elements. Even before he became identified with landscape subjects, he would study his subject at length before he approached his canvas., his landscapes the result of his meticulous observation and brush work, are literal visions of rural Lahore. The lay of the land,it’s flora, rural architecture, animals and occasional figures are recorded sensibly and accurately. Khalid’s paintings reflect his close attention to climate, temperature, season and time of day.

Mondrian Grey Tree.

Mondrian Still Life.

Khalid Iqbal

Khalid Iqbal

Khali Iqbal (Dr Marcella Sirhandi's book)

Khalid Iqbal (Dr. Marcella Sirhandi"s book)

Khalid Iqbal (Dr. Marcella Sirhandi's book)

Khalid Iqbal (Dr. Marcella Sirhandi's book)
(Reference Dr. Marcella Sirhandi's book Contemporary Painting In Pakistan by Ferozsons, internet article ,Wikipedia., Facebook)

Shah abdul Latif Bhittai

Shah Abdul Latif  Bhittai, An Eternal Flute Song Of Love From Sindh.

Dr Surlay writes about Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai that:

No might is here of Rumi’s verse
No Jami’s soul rapt music swings
No high-tuned note of Hafiz’s wit
Within your humble minstrel song
And yet!  Strange paradox it to be
That not less searching is the calm
The simple music of his lays
Than wise deep utterance of Islam.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was born in Sindh in a prosperous family.in1690 AD or 1101 Hijri in Hala, Hyderabad .His lineage can be traced to Ali (Raziallah Taala Anhu). Initially Shah Latif came to Kotri with his father where he started formal education. There is an anecdote where it is said that he initially said only the alphabet ‘ alif’ which is the first letter in the name word for Allah. He attained mastery in  Arabic, Persian, Hindi and other regional languages and their literauture. His being educated is proved “by his kalaam” according to Dr. Trump.
He was a contemporary of Mir Ali Sher, the author of Maqalat-e-Shuara. Other learned contemporaries were, Shah Inayatullah, Makhdoom Muhammad Moeen Thattwi, Makhdoom Muhammad Hashim, Makhdoom Abdullah, Makhdoom Ziauddin and Ali Sher Qaney..
He is widely studied and written about in older times by scholars such as Mirza Qaleech Baig , Dr. Gur Bakhshani, Maulana Din Mohd Wafai, Professor Jhatumal, Dr. Soorlay, Prof. Kalyan Advani and in contemporary times by Syed Hisamuddin Rashdi and Sheikh Ayaz, who has translated Shah Jo Risalo in Urdu, a widely admired endeavour. The introduction into Urdu of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai by Sindhika Academy  is a great service to humanity and the lovers of “love, Tolerance, Islam and Sindh” alike. The eternal messages of   Shah’s unique, universal poetry is described  by Fehmida Riaz as “ his poetry showered Sindh as an all embracing rain that not only enriched the region but whole of humanity” and “ his Kalaam is  a miracle, a miracle where Sindhi language is expressed in Bait genre where he is the master. His spontaneity, total abandon to eternal love thought, the timelessness, the eternity of his thought is so perfectly described in his poems in Bait genre of Sindhi poetry.” She quotes his verse:

Raheeman dhaga prem ga, mat toro chatkaye
Tootay tau phir na juray,jaray ganth par jaye!
رحیماں دھاگہ پریم گا
مت توڑو چٹکے
ٹوٹا تو پھر نہ جڑے
جڑے گا گانٹھ پر جائے

This genre of bait has an individual, unique melody, which is so prevalent in Shah ‘s poetry. This is the reason why the beautiful, soul reaching sound of his melodious poems, a message of universal love is to this day is sung in his Sindh, in the form of Aqeedat Kalaam, by devoted, dedicated musicians, on his mazaar and other places. The instruments used are also a form of string instrument known as Tanpura , so widely used in Indian music, yet unique to the devotional poetry performance of Shah Jo Kalaam.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai fell in love with a lady who was initially denied to him in marriage but according to some historians was later given to him in marriage. He started sitting in a desolate quiet place, later known as Bhit Shah, a sandy dune, where he would be surrounded by musicians, minstrels, followers and devotees. He was always engrossed in thinking, looking for answers and he was very fond  of music. His religious inclination was Sufi thought which leads one to find the love of God and the path is Maarfana, meaning  To know God. He was the follower of Qaadri Tareeqa.
Sindh was at that time (and still remains) a land of love, tranquility, Peers, faqirs, tolerance and basically a tranquil way of life. According to Dr. Soorlay, Sindh was like pond wherein you throw a pebble , a few ripples are created and it goes back to it’s tranquil state. The message and practice of tolerance, love of God remains to this day an identity of the lives and peoples of Sindh. Here devotees to mazaars, both Muslims and Hindus, now even Christians come in large numbers and gain some respite and attain hope, from miseries and pains(dukh) of this wretched worldly lives. Shah;s poetry reflects the healing with love and the quenching of the thirst for finding eternal peace and love in one’s own soul.He describes the worldly love and incidences of lover’s quarrels in such deep undertones of Sufistic thought, that the love of Allah shines through like a burst of  sunshine after a dark rainy cloudburst. Says he;

Ghara toota tau yeh awaaz aayee
Naheen  dono mein ab judaai!

Shikast jisme khakee se hai paida
Rabab –e-rooh ki naghm serai!

Wisaal-e yaar ki rahat pe qurban
Tareeq-e zuhd o rasm paarsai!

گھرا ٹوٹا تو یہ آواز آی
نہیں دونو میں اب جدائی
شکستے جسم خاکے سے ہے پیدا 
رباب  روح کی نغمہ سرائی
وسالے یار کی راحت پی قربان 
طریقے زہد و رسمی پرسی 

(Urdu translation Shaikh Ayaz)

I hear the sweet sound of the broken clay pot!
A melody to my ear, for now they are one,
Sohni and Mahiwal,
Only when the worldly body is defeated will you hear
The sweet tunes of your free soul!  (Shaikh Ayaz’).
Through the path of ‘Tareeqat’ will you find
On the ‘Rabab’!
Zuhd, and the practice of abstinence
Is like the solace of finding your beloved! (translation ,my own from Shaikh Ayaz’s)

Writes Shaikh Ayaz in “Risaala Shah Abdul Latif”,

“ His poetry’s supernatural character is not shackled by philosophical explanations, but it is easily comprehended by both the learned and the ordinary”. “ He describes the everyday imagery around him, the life and tales of his folk stories, the contemporary culture and traditions in colorful and fine detail in his poetry.” “ All this has the undercurrent of his Sufiistic thought”.

Writes Sheikh Ayaz about the Sufiistic thought in Shah’s poetry ;

“ There is not evident example of Rumi’s influence on his poetic thought. He does consider life a continuous journey. He does believe that life and death are two stages in this process. Otherwise the human life journey neither has beginnings nor a final end. At times he considers life and death as two separate yet similar existences between the conscious and the sub-or-unconcious. He believes that conscious thought is afraid of the difficulties and hurdles to existence in environment and struggles to remove the hurdles but is unsuccessful usually. On the other hand when human effort is towards  finding and attaining unity of existence with the real beloved that is God, then one finds refuge from pain of existence and finds the eternal bliss of being. Shah believes that “want’ is the dynamic force , soul serving, and  an act requiring full concentration. The waiting, desire and wanting of something is no less enjoyable than finding your goal or beloved.”

Sur Khambat, which Sheikh Ayaz says Shah wrote mainly in the majestic honor of the prophet (peace be upon him) is full of the verses describing moonlit nights.

Says Shah,

Kahaan woh aur kahaan too,maah-e kaamil
Tere haq mein Qayamat us ka jalwaa!

Keh husne jaawidani ke muqaabil
Theher saktaa naheen husne do roza

Tere is umr bhar ke mahaasil se
Kaheen barh kar hai us ka aik lamha!
کہاں وہ اور کہاں تو ماہ کامل 
تیرے حق میں قیامت اس کا جلوہ

کے حسن جانویدانیکے مقابل 
ٹھہر سکتا نہیں حسن ے دو روزہ 

تیرے اس عمر بھر کے محاصل سے 
کہیں بڑھ کر ہے اس کا ایک لمحہ

(Urdu poetic translation Sheikh Ayaz)

There is no comparison
Betwixt the full moon and my beloved!
His appearance is the last day
Of thine existential beauty!

Can mortal beauty exist even for a day
In the presence of eternal beauty?

Struggle in your difficult path of mortal existence
He exists eternally in infinity, his one moment , but eternal!

(English translation from Shaikh Ayaz’s Urdu poetic translation, mine).

Sur Yemen Kalyaan; which Sheikh Ayaz says means to keep the heart under control. He says that Shah describes beautifully and emphatically the difficulties and ways in which one reaches the journey to the attainment of God’s eternal love. This he describes by using simple allegories and references for everyone. Says Shah;

Thais Apne Waqaar Ko na laga
Un ke kooche mein baar baar na jaa!

Raahguzaron mein tau diye na jalaa
Raah geeron ko daaghe dil na dikha!

Lab Khamosh wa hairat abdi
Raaz kaif wa musarrat abdi!

ٹھیس اپنے وقار کو نہ لگا 
ان کے کوچے میں بار بار نہ جا
راہگزاروں میں تو دے نہ جلا 
راہگیروں کو داغ دل نہ دکھا

لب خاموش وہ حیرت ابدی
راز کیف وہ مسرّت ابدی

( Urdu poetic translation Shaikh Ayaz).

Pray, do not hurt your dignity, O lover,
Do not go to his street lest you are insulted!

Light not the lamps of love in pathways
Hide the wounds of love from passerby!

Lo and behold  in eternal rapture,
The eternal joy of the treasures of  Quest!

(English translation of Shaikh Ayaz’s poetic Urdu translation, by me)

(Risala Shah Abdul Latif , Urdu Manzoom Tarjuma, A book by Sindhika Academy, Karachi).( distributers; B-24, National Auto Plaza, Marston Road, Karachi. Ph;0213- 7737290).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Contemporary Painters Of Pakistan...Irfan Gul At Art Chowk Gallery.


Irfan Gul  with one painting of series Forbidden.

One of the very talented painters in Pakistan, Irfan Gul has opened his first solo exhibition of paintings at Artchowk gallery in Clifton, Karachi ( Irfan was trained at the National College Of Arts, Lahore, one of the finest art institutions in the country. He initially took a major in textile design but a minor in fine arts with miniature painting opened up his much desired inner door to self discovery and vocation as a painter. His paintings express his deep probing, and questioning of his all life experiences from childhood  uptil adulthood. There is intense focus on the female,anatomical, lower body imagey,almost as if he is remembering his own birth. His imaging the back, the pelvic region and female introitus almost gives the viewer an inner view into the pain, the  difficulty faced both by the mother and the infant during delivery and after.Maybe he is influenced and revisiting this inerasible experience in the birth of his own daughter. The frequent use of blues, greens ,teals and yellows also in a cold way shows the lack of warmth for the experience and the memory.The painting showing incomplete body images with single distorted hands is reminiscent of the disfigured beggars so often found in carts by the bazaars and mazars in Pakistan. On the other hand they may reflect the distortions, the imperfections of our own selves and also the deception and hypocrisy in those around us. His intensely penetrating paintings seem to ask the viewer again and again as to what is the truth. What is the true meaning of beauty? What really is the true representation of existence,as it appears or as percieved.
His fine mastery of the technique of miniature painting is reflected in all his work. He has used, pigment on Wasli,acrylic, pen and ink. The perfection and finesse also shows his initial training as a textile designer. the figures do not show their faces as we are used to. Their, backs , hips, hands,legs speak volumes. An image almost like a placental envelope, a red thread "payal" on a woman's foot,show the detailed observation by the painter's eye. It leaves a lingering memory and insists on the viewer to start thinking about the female in our society, her difficulties, her life!

Upon my asking about the theme of Forbidden , the painter described tha inspite the prevalent "Love" culture in all our stories,poetry and literature, the discussion and expression is almost like a forbidden fruit. This hypocrisy he questions also.
The Art chowk gallery is a good endeavour by women who had this gallery online . Now this physical space in Clifton will give art lovers a place to enjoy themselves.
 The Detail Observation.

The Forbidden Pleasures In A |Darkness!

What Justice Direction...Where Are We Heading,In Pakistan!

Shazia in mortuary.

Post NRO, the supreme court lawyers threaten a strike to pressurize the government to implement the NRO judgement. Prime minister Yusuf Reza Gilani says that we accept the judgement over the NRO in letter and spirit. The questions bieng asked and rightly by the 'Lone Crusader' Ms. Asma Jehangir is that are the methods or wordings used in the judgement fair and free? She says that the culprits are declared 'beneficiaries' even  before thembieng proved guilty. Her very bold and candid article in Dawn today shows the stand she has taken.(
Many folks are confused , why this intense debate and concentration on the president. Why is the direction bieng taken by the government and the Pakistan army bieng opposed in many tv channels? How will it help the people who have suffered at the hands of the terrorists? What about th people who are  bieng killed in Frontier everyday at the hand of the terrorists. Innocent people like, elected nazims, naib nazims. Should the sacrifices bieng given by the ANP leaders and representatives and the army be negated and made trivial?
What will be the real result of opening up the Pandora's box now that there is popularly elected government in place?
Have the rightists who have made money and become beneficiaries in every percieved way by getting money and arms and favors from USA  under Zia ul haq and Afghan Jehad, so much infilterated the media?
What is Geo tv policy? Showing Barely clad, pelvis gyrating, Indian shows on the one hand and demonizing the elected Pakistani representatives on the other hand?
Double standards seem to rule many tv channels and others..
There is a very virile, poisonous feeling amongst the nationalists in Sindh as evident by the vicious speech of Mr. Qadir Magsi in Karachi recently. He was saying that we do not accept as Sindhis people who came into Sindh after 1954. He says that we have given our jaagirs, our land and  wealth to the people who came in Sindh. There can be a debate on the issue of economic progress and how the migrants from India settled in Karachi built a robust progressive city and much of Sindh's economy.Just by saying that we are Sindhis does not help Sindh at all. Also his virulent stand against MQM will not help the cause of Sindh also.He smells of racism and then Sindh has many races, Urdu speaking children born here are just one of the many linguistic groups. There are now baluch, Pathan, Punjabis and many more. Karachi bieng a cosmopolitan city represents many people.The nuisance value game bieng played by Mr. Magsi will really not help the Sindh cause at all.
The president made the Sindhi Cap and Ajrak a demonstration of his allegeiance to the Sindh cause. I think this was right. Why not ? Afterall PPP is the majority party in Sindh and has massive representation in all four provinces.
In order to enter the new century Pakistan needs massive human resource education and training. If we go towards divisive politics and trivialising the anti terror and in Pakistan context, the war in Frontier region especially, we will implode.
So where is this 'free judiciary\ really taking us?
If there is a grudge about May 12th, Tahir Plaza burning and such incidents, the like the 'Truth and Reconciliation  commission' in South Africa we may need another. Then there will have to be another NRO eventually because otherwise there will be civil war and genocide, on a massive scale. Do we want that?
Sindh has to be loved, taken on board and I think Pakistan cannot afford now to destabilize the popularly elected government and head for a civil war in Sindh. The policy of taking everyone on board bieng persued by Mr. Zardari is so far the most prudent. Inspite of bieng not a politician before he seems to take the country forward dexterously.
Had we chosen the path as described by the rightist forces, what would have been the scenario?
How would we have run the economy even for a month. How would there have been control on inflation?What about food shortages?
The energy crises is  not the doing of the present government. Had there been dams and power projects in the last dcade we would have had some relief. This crises is collectively everyone of us' fault. Why we opposed the dams.Why did we not demand construction and installationof new power projects? Why did not the people take out rallies then?
The rightist parties and the double crossing religious parties think that just by removing Mr. Zardari the problems will be solved. They are lying and trying to put dust in the eyes of the people. All economic and industrial experts are of the view that the energy crises will only be solved by adding more new capacity. Where will that money come from. Or are the religious pseudo-intellectuals make a new 'Ram' of the ' Saamery and fool the people?
Pakistanis should come out of their presupposed, false spin  ideas and face realty. The truth is bitter. We are morally and socially corrupt. Here lawyers are defending an accused fellow lawyer against a 12 year old little murdered girl and making the victim's family as the culprit.Thislittle girl was a Christian, so the so called religious party who chant go America go will not take out a rally in support of her and demand justice! Here we threaten and burn and kill Christians by false accusations of blasphemy when we need so much tolerance and forgiveness. Here  our lawyers , especially in Lahore, beat media journalists and threaten to physical assault if they give coverage to any one against them. Today they locked the court against journalists in the case of the 12 year old servant girl media case where they were supporting the accused.The domestic violence bill which was opposed and was made to lapse would have given such servant persons some shelter and rights.This bilol was vehementally opposed by JUI-F, a religious political party in the parliament.
Is this independance? Is this 'free' justice?
I warn you that there will have to be many 'Truth and Reconciliations!
We cannot move forward, not with blind justice, not with double standards, never with dicvisive politics.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Sexual Harassment  In The Workplace; The state in Pakistan.
Dr Meher A Zaidi.

Pakistan is a  country of 170 million people, out of which women constitute some roughly 50% of the population. As some 25% of population is between ages  14- 30 years, a large chunk is young people. Many are in schools, colleges, and many are working in industry, offices, schools, clinics, hospitals, service sector like hotels, restaurants, banks and other financial institutions and organizations , colleges, universities, households like maids, cooks, drivers, ‘chowkidars’ or watchmen, transport sector like, school vans and buses, private bus and coach service, public sector buses and institutional transport like university and college buses. In the transport sector a large number of boys are employed where they work as conductors, cleaners and helper boys. Sometimes especially in associated work services of transport minor boys are also seen working. In rural areas where a large agricultural workforce is present, both men and women are employed as farm/field workers, and children as helpers. Other agriculture services support are also employed such as mechanics for repair of tools and machinery, tractors and other motors, plumbers etc. The labor laws do provide some safeguards regarding work and employment but no laws concerning sexual harassment are there in Pakistan.
As a large number is working and going to schools , colleges ,clinics , hospitals factories, offices in urban  areas, sexual harassment issue has to be tackled in a more decisive and concrete  manner in order to  give a safe working environment to all concerned. In Europe and USA the issue of sexual harassment in workplace was finally settled after much advocacy, debate and  struggle for rights as far back as 1967. Large corporations, industries, organizations, government departments , schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, clinics ,adopted the implementation of the laws, provided an intra organizational training and policy, and facilitated a work environment free of sexual  harassment. The laws of gender discrimination are incorporated in these statuettes in USA as they are protected against in the constitution. In Pakistan in order to reach a more egalitarian approach to work opportunities and environment, AASHA (Alliance against Sexual Harassment) has incorporated the gender discrimination with the section against sexual harassment in it’s “Code Of Conduct” for organizations. (
In Pakistan the issue of gender discrimination and sexual harassment is confused and mixed with religious, traditional and masochistic attitudes and prejudices. There is a large need for media and civil society to clarify these attitudes and create awareness on these issues.
In Pakistan the  “Sexual Harassment Bill” has only been recently ratified and passed both by the Senate and the National Assembly. President Asif Zardari has to sign it and it is widely known that he is in favor of creating a workplace environment free of harassment and gender discrimination in order to increase employability and productivity of Pakistani workforce. He will sign willingly. The resistance initially offered by Mr Babar Awan, a stalwart of the ruling PPP has been mellowed by an amendment to the bill to replace the word ‘women’ with both men and women and a punishment to a fine upto Rs.500,000 and jail punishment upto 3years. Ms. Sherry Rehman has played a pivotal role in getting this bill passed. This bill was move  by Dr. Attiya Inayatullah although initially Mufti Muhammad Ajmal (JUI) was the initiator but due to absence could not  table.
According to Dawn newspaper in an article dated 22nd January ;” The draft defines  harassment as ‘ any unwelcome advance , request for sexual favors, or other, verbal and written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with the work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant, for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment.
All organizations, including federal and provincial government ministries, departments, corporations, educational institutions, private commercial organizations and registered civil society associations, will be requested to constitute inquiry committees of at least three members, each, one of them being a woman, to probe complaints and give their findings within 30 days to concerned , competent authority that will award recommended penalties.
Minor penalties are; censure, withholding for specified periods of promotion or increment and stoppage at an efficiency bar in the time-scale, otherwise than for fitness to cross such bar, and recovery of compensation payable to a complainant from pay or any other source of the accused.
Major penalties include; reduction to a lower post in time-scale or to a lower stage in a time-scale, compulsory retirement, removal from service, and fine, a part of which can be used as compensation for the complainant. In case of owner found guilty, the fine shall be payable to the complainant.
An inquiry committee may recommend to an ombudsperson for appropriate action against a complainant whose allegations are found to be false and made with malafide intentions while  a party aggrieved by decision of competent authority may prefer appeal to the ombudsperson to be appointed by the federal or provincial govt. Appeals against the decisions of the ombudsperson at the federal level can be made to the president and at the provincial level to the governor’
As information provided on AASHA website shows a great deal of networking , advocacy, research, lobbying and owning by persons like Dr Attiya Inayatullah, over the last decade , finally gave a ‘Code Of Conduct’ to organizations both private and civil society whereby a ‘Zero Tolerance’ to sexual harassment was agreed upon. These ‘ Brave New People’ who adopted the Code for their enterprises and organizations .
As an example of violations and sexual harassment complaints in the journalistic sphere by senior female journalist shows how important it is for Pakistan to implement the laws against sexual harassment. She suffered a lot and was unable to file a suit and was derided, ostracized, ridiculed for no fault of hers. Her open letter is available on the net .
It has been proven in studies that majority of victims are women but men and children also suffer. In Pakistan, due to a large unorganized work force, traditional and religious taboos and dogmas, most cases of sexual harassment go unreported. This bill may be helpful in providing a large chunk of working persons with redressal and help in prevention and containment of this menace , but there is  a need to bring the unorganized sectors into it’s ambit also. I do hope that Women’s and Labor, Human rights’ organizations also look into this aspect.
Bieng a doctor , I have personally witnessed nurses, young female doctors, students bieng harassed in all sort of ways by senior doctors, hospital, clinic administrators, professors, male doctors working in wards innumerable times. The implementation of this law will greatly curb this menace in hospitals and clinics. Many cases of patient abuse by doctors are also prevalent. I am not sure if this bill will cover that. In  North Carolina, the employee is also defined as a vendor or contractor who may not work on the premesis of the employer.
There are many such issues and categories which need to be included in this law eventually as the passage of the bill was just a primary step towards removing gender discrimination in employment.
In Pakistan, there is a need to spread awareness and implementation mechanisms have to be put in place. All large organizations, corporations, universities, colleges, schools, government departments, industries need to develop a training program and implement a Code Of Conduct . The media needs to spread awareness and associations and organizations to the grass root level should participate. The lawyer community should play a very active role in helping the victims.
What Is A Policy?
As North Carolina says “ The policy of the state of North Carolina is that no state employee may engage in conduct that  falls under the definition of unlawful workplace harassment indicated below. All employees are guaranteed the right to work in an environment free from unlawful work place harassment and retaliation.
What Are The Definitions?
Unlawful  Workplace  Harassment:

It is unwelcome and unsolicited speech or conduct based upon race, sex, creed , religion, national origin, age, color, handicapping condition as defined by GS 168A.3 that creates hostile  work environment or circumstances involving quid pro quo.(North Carolina State).
In Pakistan AASHA( Code of Conduct document states that ;
Gender harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, causing interference with work performance, is made a condition for employment or creates an intimidating hostile or offensive work environment or the attempt to punish the refusal to comply to such a request. The intimidating behavior or act can be of a person in authority, who controls conditions of the complainants’ employment or from a co-worker, who as result of intimidation can make the work environment hostile for the complainant.
What Is Hostile Work Environment?
It is one that both a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive and one that the particular person who is the object of harassment perceives to be hostile or abusive. Hostile  work environment is determined by looking at all of the circumstances including frequency of the allegedly harassing conduct, it’s severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.
What Is Quid Pro Quo?
Quid Pro Quo harassment  consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors , or other verbal or physical conduct when
1)   submission to such a conduct is either made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.
2)   Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis of employment decisions affecting such individual.
What Is Retaliation?

It is the adverse treatment which occurs because of opposition to unlawful work place harassment.
In Pakistan such a case is available to study  in the form of a letter of a female journalist working with a private tv channel  ( This case study shows the disadvantages both to the reputation , work environment , integrity of the organization in failure to adopt the Zero Tolerance policy against sexual harassment at the organizational level and discrimination and loss to a  senior female journalist.

How To Act?
·       Make and implement a Code Of conduct for your organization, institution, department.
·       Make a reporting system and put manuals and mechanisms in place.
·       Training and awareness at all levels should be adopted.
·       Put procedural SOPs in place and easy access to complainant.
·       Make network with legal help, other organizations for facilitation at all levels.

(Ref: Dawn newspaper, internet, AASHA, State of North Carolina website).

PS: President Zardari signed the bill on 29-1-2010 making it into law. now we should all safeguard and work for it's implementation. The bill includes harrassment of women on gender basis in any form including, verbal, physical, innuendo, instigating others to tease etc and sexual harassment in any form.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Art Shops Lane, Paintings Galore....Karachi.

Dream Art Gallery.
When I was a child I had a fascination and a dream to visit Paris, stay there alone ,on my own and study painting. That beautiful dream never came true in the sense of staying in Paris, but I always found Karachi to be a city friendly to the arts , be it drama, film making, literary arts, fine arts like painting and sculpture. The Pakistan American Cultural Center, the Goethe Institute, the Alliance Francais, The Arts Council are some of the places that I have quenched my thirst at, for the last 52 years of my life. Paintings galleries such as the Ali Imam Gallery (previously in PECHS Society) now in Bath Island, Clifton , Arts Council of Pakistan are some of the earliest places for the painters of Pakistan. Later private galleries like Mrs. Hussain's Chowkandi, Sameera Raja's Canvas were pioneers in providing art lovers a place to feast their senses in. Many private art galleries have mushroomed now. Most of them situated in Defence and Clifton areas, where somehow , it appears art is more fashionable. Although art is nobody's private domain , jaagir, but it seems that the commerce and saleability of art is an important factor in the location of these galleries. Not that I am complaining. My journey to these places from my abode by the sea is so convenient that I can visit one place everyday and then will always have a place to go.
The surprise I felt and pleasant too was when on a visit to a paintings exhibition , I saw that a dinghy, indiscripit lane in a "Dalton Market" or 'Khadda Market'  area in Defence has changed it's profile to an interesting street full of art shops. This happened because many people who did framing for painters realized the potential of these goods as a marketable commodity, fetching thousands for one painting alone. Somehow they joined young enterpreuners and viola, the dinghy little shop or a larger expensive premesis, becomes an art gallery. The best part is one can get genuine masters like Mashkoor Raza, Mansur Aye, Changez Sultan along with newer yet very fine artists like Ashkal, Zara.As these galleries or art shops are commercial enterprises, their character remains retail only. No Paris street full of art for me here. but then, I will never complain if I see and enjoy a good painting and not a sermonising suffocating, madressah like book store or a tyre shop, or a blaring music and cd shop.
So for Karachiites and for visitors to Karachi , a must journey to this street, near Jimmy's Studio in Khadda Market.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Contemporary Painters Of Pakistan...Jamal Shah.

Jamal Shah , painter and actor.
Amongst the many contemporary painters in the Pakistani art scene today , very little information is available both in book form and the net. Many artists are following abstract  form of expression and Jamal Shah is one such painter.He is clearly amongst the pioneer in modern abstract expressionism with a strong  social commentary such as Sadequian. His recent paintings show a clear, colourful, use of leaves, flowers, human figures, cage like figures indicative of various phases of life, both for men and women. domesticated animals such as dogs, buffalo and pigeons are also seen in a form reminiscent of  forced presence.
Frankly there is a passionate almost fearful appeal to freedom amongst the 'Baasi" (dwellers) in his paintings. In many paintings the central darkness potrays the mystery, injustice, utter dejection and hopelessness of the situation or the life of the characters.The sheer headlessness of so many figures proclaims a violent cry for getting the head back in order to complete the beauty of existence and in the social context removing  the injustice of practices of ' Karo Kari', murder of women and suffocation of traditional bondage so prevalent in the rural and many urban areas in Pakistan.
Jamal Shah has a mastery in painting, having trained in Slade School and National College of Arts, Lahore.

The raw energy of suppressed sexual urges and repressed feelings in his subjects  is so pervasive in many of his paintings. I really wish that there are more art researchers and historians in Pakistan who compile this rich heritage and treasure of Pakistani paintings for generations to come.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sania Mirza Shines On Sports Channel With Chris Myers!

Chris Myers interviewed Sania Mirza, the amazing tennis star from India onthe Sports Channel and it was a great interview.
Sania Mirza is a young determined girl and this interview showed how matter of fact and mature she is for her age. Sania told how playing  tennis initially at club level in India is not very expensive, but then she belongs to an upper middle class family in India where both parents were working in business. The initial entry into tennis both in India and  Pakistan cannot be at any level but at the level where tennis courts are available. This is very limited, only in Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan.Aisam ul Haq of Pakistan is also a young tennis professional who is playing good tennis and has great promise.
Indian tennis star has shown how a consistent support and encouragement by a father can push you through to achieving success at a sport that is not so common in a region like South Asia. She is also a Muslim girl, which really does not encourage her entry into this realm of sports. Sania appears an eager young woman, who understands her shortcomings, and works hard and intellegently to overcome them. She changed her weak backhand with good training and technique lessons from Roth, a fantastic Australian coach who has worked on the likes of Roger Federer.
Young tennis players in India and Pakistan need a lot of training and coaching in order to come up to a standard of international professional tennis. They should be sponsored and promoted by international sponsors as it takes sheer determination and will by these players to be a professional in South Asia.
I really admire this young woman for making into the professional world despite all the odds and hurdles.
In Pakistan also the game of tennis is not really bieng played at a professional level. The facilities for training are too few and far between. Aisam ul Haq , the young player has also had to face a lot of difficulty in  eliciting sponsors. Here we need to encourage youth into tennis and the multi nationals and local companies should be active in sponsorship. Only a few pioneers like Saeed Meer have seriously made an effort to train young people at a club which he has maintained out of sheer determination and a sense of service to this great sport. I do not know when we will see a girl tennis star from Pakistan but I do hope that it will be in near future.
The hurdle in Pakistan is also the attitude of Muslims towards female athletes. Here in Pakistan, girls are playing hockey, cricket. In these games also they face much religious and social bigotry and hurdles. Thanks to the changing attitudes of educated parents, by their sheer determination and enlightened minds these parents are standing by their daughters to take up sport.More financial sponsorship and encouragement by international agencies and sponsors to these sports and especially women athletes will help these societies bring more players at the professional level. Also I would strongly suggest that the tennis dress code for women athletes be allowed for Muslim women in order to encourage more of their participation at international levels. This will go a long way to let the sports spaces of the world be occupied by Muslim women, who are  enlightened and healthy.
The game of tennis involves, hard work, technique improvement, power and sheer brilliance. It should be encouraged amongst the youth both in India and surely in Pakistan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto...Remembered.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with Sheikh Sultan Al Nahyan, at the Islamic Conference.

My earlist memory of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was when I was a child, I heard from my mother who was a Muslim Leagure as to how General Ayub had appointed a foreign minister who was quite intellegent. He would be quite eloquent and expressive and my mother would often talk about him to my father.
The next memories are when I was older, in  ninth class , I think , there was la lot of protest against GeneralAyub and Mr. Bhutto came into power. I remember the division of Pakistan and I always followed the political debates and news as I read the Dawn newspaper very religiously.  East Pakistan was made into Bangladesh and I have very vivid memories of the 1971 war. It has been a traumatic experience for me as the bombing by Indian planes and my youngest sisters constant shivering as she was an infant, still creates shivers in my spine. Mr Bhutto then became the president after remaining a martial law administrator for a short time. At that time I never clearly understood the significance of the politics as practiced by Mr. bhuuto but of course as I grew up came to know his political popularity and his style.
My next memory of him is very clear. I  was about 15 and a half years and had passed my Inter premed with first division marks and was supposed to get admission in med school in Karachi. The  admission list was displayed  the  Dow Medical College , Karachi. I was to get admission at the Sindh Medical College, Karachi along with about 27 other girls. Somehow our names were removed from the final list and we were left in the lurch. I immediately formed a Girls student Action Commitee under guidance from my mother, and started fighting for our admission rights. Finally after trying to approach Mr. Bhutto, we were given audience with Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, who conveyed to us Mr. Bhutto's message that if we took admission in a new college for girls in Sindh, Mr. Bhutto would transfer us within 3 months back to Karachi in Sindh Medical College.This he emphasised would help the girls and women of interior of Sindh. So, finally Peoples Medical College , Nawabshah was opened for us and we went to Nawabshah and stayed in the hostel alone, in a strange environment. It was a new experience for me. Tonga rides, primitive, dingy cinemas, lots of train journeys. But  time passed and we were never given any transfer. Mr Bhutto came to Nawabshah, after an year or so and had an open Kutchery which he did in all major cities and Towns. He was very communicative and  travelled extensively to meet the masses. I was invited to meet him also. I represented the college problems to him like improving the laboratory facilities and it was a very good experience. Mr Bhutto was a relaxed and charming man. He listened to everybody including the newly formed Engineering University students also. One thing I noticed even then was that the male  Sindhi students seemed to have a kind of grudge against the people of Lahore and Karachi. During this discussion, I vocally put my point of view forward to improve the conditions of schools and colleges in Sindh towns so that the students would be able to compete with Karachi and Lahore students, instead of bieng depressed.This Mr. Bhutto liked very much and he gave me a kind of very sweet admiring smile.
There was no seperate girls interscience college in Nawabshah then and the girls would do the science lab tests after the male students left in the evening. This I found very disturbing. I remember conveying this to Mr. BK Sheikh who was Mr. Bhutto's health advisor. While we waited in line as Mr Bhutto started going inside the rest house for lunch, he came near me and touched me gently on my cheek and asked me to have lunch with him. I felt honored but politely declined as the girls were waiting anxiously for me at the college to hear the fulfilment of their demands.  These were the times in Pakistan where the leaders and politicians tried to listen to the masses. Mr Bhutto was particularly good at this.
After three years in college, martial law was declared and the country saw the tragic demise of a popularly elected leader, the after effects we are still bearing today.I finally came to Karachi after fighting case in High Court. The saddest part of this tragedy is that this nation has never really questioned and made a real Truth and Reconciliation Commision. His brilliant and beautiful daughter has also been mercilessly and tragically killed in the recent past and still we are not trying to find the cause and the real conspiracy against Pakistan. His predeseccors now seem so small, with a lot of baggage, and I do not know if the party has enough resilience to survive. The sad part is that  party still hopes to carry on the legacy of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to which Benazir Bhutto excelled at!
Will his legacy endure? Will the party rise as a phoenix above the ashes of murder, death and mystery?Only history will tell!