Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest – SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum

shahid-mirza1

A talk by Karamat Ali
Poetry: Irfan Malik


Sept 20 at 2pm, 
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Since their creation as independent states in 1947 India and Pakistan have fought three wars and taken the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear holocaust. The two militarized states face each other across an uneasy “line of control” in divided Kashmir, frequently bringing the miseries of war to those living along the border. People of the subcontinent need peace, yet peace remains elusive. How can the roadblocks to peace be overcome?

Karamat Ali is a well-known figure in the labour movement in Pakistan and also a prominent peace activist. He is the founder of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER – in Karachi) and co-founder of The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. An eminent labour activist over the last four decades, he is the author of numerous articles and essays on labour, politics and development. Karamat is also the first recipient of Dadi Nrmala Deshpande Peace and Justice Award (2013).

Born in Lahore, Irfan Malik is the Artistic Director of South Asian American Theatre in Boston. He writes in Punjabi, Urdu, and English. His latest book of Punjabi poetry, Dooji Aurat, was published in 2015.

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD, sansad.org) and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC).

Contact
Chin: 604-421-6752
Shahzad: 604-613-0735

Art Work
Shahid Mirza. Leek 4. Mix-media on paper. 14″x27″.

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Public Lectures by Karamat Ali

These two Public Lectures are sponsored by the SFU Labour Studies Program and the Hari Sharma Foundation. They are the first of a series to address key questions confronting the labour movement around the world.

1. Lecture: ‘The Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan’
18 September 2015, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
SFU Vancouver Campus, Harbour Centre: Room 1900
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

2. Lecture: ‘Women’s Labour Rights in Pakistan’
22 September 2015, 12:30-1:30 pm
SFU Burnaby Campus: Room AQ 6106, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby
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The Sufi Legacy in South Asia

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Written by Randeep Singh

On September 13, 2014, the Hari Sharma Foundation in association with a number of arts and cultural groups, presented the conference, “Spirituality, Humanity and the Marginalized: The Sufi Legacy in South Asia” and a musical concert “Songs of Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Kabir, Lalon Fakir and Rabindranath Tagore.”

One of the musical highlights was the husband-wife team from Bangladesh, Farida Parveen (on voice and harmonium) and Ghazi Abdul Hakim (on flute). Ghazi on the bamboo flute turned music into poetry, filling the concert hall with the colour of Bengal, taking us beyond the streams and paddy fields.

Farida Parveen sang the songs of Lalon Fakir with a gusto and a tenderness in her earthy tones. The concert also featured Enakshi Chatterjee from Calcutta who opened with songs of Tagore and Madan Gopal Singh from Delhi who sang songs of Sultan Bahu and Bulleh Shah and others.

The highlight of the conference was Dr. Nile Green (UCLA) and the ensuing discussion. Green’s presentation, “Mazaars for the Marginalized” underlined the pluralistic, cosmopolitan dimensions of Sufism, of its journey across trade routes by caravans from Khurasan eastwards to Turkey and southwards through the Khyber Pass into Hindustan.

That plural and cosmopolitan spirit, Green spoke, is heard in the tradition of Sufi poetry and music which filtered into India from Khurason. It is in words like “Auliya” (Arabic), “Pir” (Persian) and “Baba”(Turkish), epiphets for Sufi masters and in the shajars (genealogical trees) of Sufis tracing their ancestry to Samarkand or the Hejaz. Sufi shrines included Greek Christians in Turkey as they did Hindus in India.

The appeal of Sufism to the marginalized according to Green was in its creation of a space where social power was redistributed more evenly. Sufis also acted as important intermediaries between the ruler and the common man in economic, political and legal matters and Sufi institutions provided food and medical care to the poor.

The piety and inclusiveness of the Sufi was questioned during the discussion period. Sunera Thobani mentioned how the Sufi pirs themselves had vast estates and wealth, whereas Habiba Zaman pointed out how Sufi spaces often clearly excluded women. Green himself pointed out today how Sufis became kings of Libya upon that country’s independence or how those of Sufi lineage sit in parliament in Pakistan. Green also reminded us of the hierarchy within Sufi orders, no where more uncompromising than in the relationship between the murshid and the pir.

One member of the audience asked whether Sufism or “Islam-lite” was a way of making Islam more acceptable and congenial to a post-911 West. Whether it is remains a topic for further discussion. But what Green reminded us is that Sufism has always had an appeal beyond just Muslims and the shariat and the importance of its role in shaping culture, Islamic or otherwise.