Assassination of Governor Punjab and the Context of Blasphemy Laws – Seminar

Date: Wednesday, 12th Jan 2011
Time: 7pm
Location: Room G3, Russell Square Building, SOAS
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG

After the recent barbaric assassination of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab – Pakistan is again standing at a crossroad.

Salman Taseer’s crime: To show support to Aasia Bibi – a victim of the Blasphemy law. He was in support of efforts to get her pardoned by the President of Pakistan, whilst also supporting/suggested changes in the implementation of the law, which at times has been used for the wrongful victimisation of religious minorities.

SOAS Pakistan Society is holding a talk/seminar in the wake of this tragic event and we are honoured to have the following panel.
SPEAKERS:
Dr. Tahir Kamran
Iqbal Chair, University of Cambridge
Former Head of History Department, Government College Lahore. He has worked on extremism and terrorism.
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed
Jinnah Chair, University of Oxford
An academic and prolific writer on security issues in South Asia and politics of the Muslim world.
Dr Tahir Wasti
PhD in Law, SOAS
He worked on Islamic law in his PhD.
The development of Islamic law and its application in the Muslim world.
Prof. Asad Ali
Social Anthropology, Harvard University
He covered blasphemy issue in his PhD at Chicago University Title: ‘Adjudicating Muslims: Law, Religion and the State in Colonial India & Post-Colonial Pakistan.’

Note: This event is free and open to all.

Contact:
Sheharyar Khan (President) 07403167905
Amir Ali Khan (General Secretary) 07888756837
Email: soaspaksoc2010@gmail.com
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Poet in the City: Faiz Ahmed Faiz – 17th Jan, London UK

An event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the most prominent poets of the Indian sub-continent, who wrote in both Urdu and Punjabi, and whose humane work was filled with love, dignity and resistance to injustice.

This spectacular event will feature:
Javed Majeed, distinguished professor of postcolonial studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and an expert on Urdu poetry, who will provide a biographical introduction and will speak about Faiz’s great contributions to poetry and to world culture.
Poems by Faiz will be read in the original language and in translation:
In Urdu: Senior journalist, Saqlain Imam who now works for the BBC’s Urdu World Service in London
In English: Actress and playwright Sudha Bhuchar, Artistic Director at Tamasha Theatre company
In Punjabi: Renowned Punjabi poet and translator, Amarjit Chandan whose latest book is ‘Sonata for Four Hands’.

Musical settings of Faiz poems will be performed by Swati Natekar, a renowned vocalist from a hereditary musical family in Mumbai, accompanied by distinguished tabla player Hanif Khan.

From 6.30pm on Monday 17 January 2011
Hall One at Kings Place
90 York Way, London N1 9AG

How to buy tickets
Booking now open online, by phone or in person from the Kings Place box office:
Tickets cost £9.50 if booked online via www.kingsplace.co.uk
Otherwise tickets cost £11.50.
Box Office 020 7520 1490

For enquiries relating to your booking please contact tickets@kingsplace.co.uk.
To check ticket availability please use the online booking service.
For general enquiries or comments, please use our online feedback form or email info@kingsplace.co.uk

This event is presented by Poet in the City in partnership with the friends of Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Faiz by Sadeqain

Faiz, Ghalib and Iqbal by MF Husain

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Feica Lost and Found?

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No, no, this is NOT Feica!

There are numerous rumors about our Karachi-based Punjabi Cartoonist Feica as having been lost reminding us of our recently lost and found personality, Poet Afzal Saahir who also happens to work at radio Musst FM103. But just because Feica works at the same radio station does not mean that he is lost as well or that after getting lost he will be as findable as Saahir.

Such rumors have underlying implications that if Feica’s country is about to be lost or is a ‘lost cause’ than Feica is too. But this view remains unsupported by the facts on the ground. We all well know that half of Feica’s country already became lost in 1971 illuminating all the ‘lost-caused’ aspects of it where Feica at 15 was gearing up in Multan to fall in love for the first time.

We are not sure if he did but we do know that two years later he had appeared afflicted with cartoonism at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, and has not been reported lost since.

Yet in a place where people are continuously being made to disappear, it is hard to assume that someone wouldn’t but i assure you that Feica at least is not lost. He is drawing cartoons for Daily Dawn and living in Karachi, a city still considered to be one of the many ‘burning’ parts of Pakistan. Even so if you don’t want to take my word for it, view the cartoon at the beginning of this post, and the one at the end. Though none provide a definite address for him in Karachi, both indicate the obvious un-lostness of Feica because of his (authenticated*) signage dated April 29, 2009.

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Pakistan: The Day of Birth to April 29, 2009

In the above ongoing scenario, Feica has pointedly placed himself beside an un-armed Single Mother and her two unarmed kids; but more dangerously, under the direct range of an agitated bird. As you can see, all this is taking place way below the popular international cinema scope featuring the Global Puppeteer with a Local Mover, and a Local/Global Shaker. All fully armed.

Indeed, it is a clean depiction of a messy situation that involves blood and explosives as the three armed parties fight each other and kill others to gain control over mineral-rich areas of Pakistan such as the North-Western Frontier Province or FATA/PATA, and Baluchistan. And if the urban educated families of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are feeling attacked, it is because these three cities hold the key to all the treasures of the country.

In this situation, it may be best to look for our lost and about-to-be-lost treasured resources instead of putting our energies in finding a totally un-lost Feica.

If you agree with this suggestion, get back to us asap as we are ready to launch the search to find all the desired lost ideas, countries, languages, national treasures, and (at least some) people.

* Feica’s signature authenticated by Poet Mudasar (the other) Punnu .

P.S.

As i was finishing this post, the news of another lost person being found had surfaced in digital format. Before we go on to reveal his identity, it is important to warn you that this person may have us stretch our carefully drawn boundaries. He falls in the category of a ‘person’ and yet can also be depicted as a ‘national treasure’ for the nation of Punjab because of the mammoth amount of work accomplished by him to gain-back a fast-loosing language, independent thinking and grounded literature.

Renowned Punjabi Poet, Writer and Archivist Ahmad Salim who was thought to be lost since Nov-Dec 2008, has been spotted today in London UK by Author/Photographer Amarjit Chandan.

Jeevay Ahmad Salim!!!

ahmad-saleem-london-04-may-09-photo-by-amarjit-chandanAhmad Salim, London May 4, 2009

Photo by Amarjit Chandan

Fauzia Rafique
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Lost and Found-2

More information is coming in after the previous post on the need to find the lost UNESCO Report that cites Punjabi as one of the languages that will disappear in fifty years.

Professor Bhupinder Singh aka Sarwan Minhás has given us this valuable information:

A short letter was sent to the editor of The Tribune a few days ago in connection with the UNESCO report. Here is the text of the letter…
B.

UNESCO REPORT ON PUNJABI

A news item “Nayar vows to save Punjabi” published in the Tribune on March 1, 2008, quoted Mr. Kuldip Nayar as follows:

“I have gone through a report prepared by Unesco which says the Punjabi language will disappear from the world in 50 years. It shocked me. I am out to save Punjabi language and culture,” he said here today.

I have tried my best to trace this report, but without success. I am beginning to doubt if such a report exists or if Unesco ever made the senseless prediction being attributed to it. Would Mr. Nayar kindly reveal the bibliographic details of the report?

Dr. Dalip Kaur Tiwana

President, Punjabi Sahit Academy

Ludhiana

From London, Amin Mughal in an email conversation with Amarjit Chandan says:

“I forgot to mention that the UNESCO’s definitions of endangered language and extinct language are extremely narrow. Of course, Punjabi would never qualify for either of those definitions. Check Wikipedia.”

Safir Rammah from apna.org sends this:

“The Saga of the mysterious UNESCO report continues. Check the editorial in the News today: www.thenews.com.pk

UBC Students of Punjabi Literature, Delightful Performers!

This post was going to indulge in a discussion on different ways to further develop Punjabi literary communities in Canada with reference to the UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature but then Sadhu Binning sent me photos that brought back all the smiles and laughs drawn by a skit performed by the ‘junior’ students of Punjabi at that Conference.

The package also includes an expected group photo with newly emptied tables that i am happy to present to you here.

UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature, First Day

For the rest, please stay posted.

The skit ‘Mr. Binning’s Retirement’ was presented by the UBC students of Punjabi to celeberate the life long tenure of their teacher Sadhu Binning. A 20-delightful-minute long exploration of all available career options of a retired South Asian Canadian teacher of Punjabi literature in Vancouver, the skit was a light-hearted view of a teacher and the system.

Before we proceed further, it will be helpful to see this mobile-phone photo of a youth who could so easily project the body language of his teacher.

Sandhler as Mr. BinningShamsher Sandlas, the ‘Mr. Binning’, ready to hail Nasiruddin Shah?

The ‘Mr. Binning’ character played by Shamsher Sandlas brings out all of Sadhu’s laid back mannersim where though disinterested in climbing social ladders, he does oblige Mrs. Binning (Rupinder Gosal) time and again by giving a good shot to each presented career choice by turning it into a viable opportunity. From making an on-the-spot call to Actor Om Puri in India and arriving there for an audition on the next flight from Canada- to playing golf with BC Liberal Politician Ujjal Dosanj as a career move- to going all out for a chance to become a Punjabi Pop Singer- Mr. Binning tries everything with mild enthusiasm, and good-natured submission to various hiring requirements. Yet he FAILs at everything. This leaves an open stage and eight happy artists to ponder over various new possibilities.

The Seven UBC Students who predict Sadhu Binning’s post-retirement career options as being NIL. Shamsher Sandlas (Mr. Binning), Rupinder Gosal (Mrs. Binning, in red shirt), Daljit Mahal (Om Puri, Ujjal Dosanjh), Harman Bains (Actress), Rupeela Gill (Director’s help), Akashdeep Villing (Actor and Music producer), and Aman Oberoi (Music producer) in ‘Mr. Binning’s Retirement’.

The Eighth, if you are wondering, is Sadhu outside the frame at this point; and, if you find that people are not standing where their names indicate than please be my guest because i also can not understand all the moves made by our youth.

Moral of the story? Mr Binning CAN NOT do anything but teach Punjabi, and/or that Mr. Binning MUST NOT do anything but teach Punjabi. Sounds good to me because i know that teaching Punjabi the last few decades has not stopped Sadhu from working on his creative writing, and that is what matters the most.

An interesting observation is that the teacher role of Sadhu presented by his students who all appeared to be second generation Punjabi Canadians, is the same as is revered in South Asia for centuries where the love of teaching a particular discipline makes a teacher a strong role model for the students or at least, someone that they respect, learn from and remember as they move along to shape their lives. Yet at the same time, unlike the traditional model of a teacher in South Asia, Sadhu does not create distance as means to command respect but remains informal and communicative with his students, a quality attributed to teachers in the ‘Western’ education system. The character that comes out is a cross between the two traditions.

Another observation is that each time Mr. Binning enters his living room and takes a seat after a day’s hard work, the ominious remote (weapon of TV) control finds his right hand in a brisk and un-observing manner, compliments of course, to the groundedness of Mrs. Binning played by Rupinder Gosal.

Daljit Mahal was comfortable with enacting both character actor Om Puri and our own leader Ujjal Dosanjh. Harman Bains and Rupeela Gill, the actress and the director’s assistant in the film scene, provided faster tempo and some tension to Mr. and Mrs. Binning’s slow and comfortable drawl. Akashdeep Villing (Actor and Music producer) and Aman Oberoi (Music producer) came out strong in their roles as well. And of course, in the shape of Shamsher Sandlas we may be looking at an expatriot Nasiruuddin Shah, to say the very least!

That was a lot of fun Shamsher, Daljit, Harman, Rupeela, Akashdeep and Aman, thanks; it was a great group effort to write/direct/produce the skit in such a short period of time. We also must thank Bibi Anna Kaur Murphy for her advisory role in the skit, and so, thanks Anne.

Also view Rana Nayar’s forceful comment on Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A Glass Half Full, that goes right into the discussion that is about to take place in the next post. Before we split, let me tell you that from 40-50 new people that i had the pleasure to meet, Rana Nayar got me the most confused in that after hearing his first presentation par excellence i was sure he was a British Punjabi from London but he turned out to be a Punjabi Punjabi from Chandigarh thus challenging some of my myths and assumptions.
No More Watnu Dur by Sadhu Binning
Earthy Tones by Gurdial Singh and Rana Nayar
Punjabi Books at Amazon

SL Parasher ‘Partition and Beyond’

Artist, Sculptor, Muralist and Writer S.L. Parasher (1904-1990), Art exhibition in Berlin, Inaugration on Tuesday May 13, 7:30pm by Ambassador Meera Shankar. More on Cultural Events Page

Punjab Partition