Positive vibes Pakistan

Discussion in 'Social Issues & Current Events' started by Lone Shooter, Feb 26, 2012.

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  1. Lone Shooter
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    Top Pakistani calligraphers showcase works in Riyadh
    In order to preserve the centuries-old tradition of Islamic calligraphy and promote awareness about this rich form of art, the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh organized a high-profile show, which was inaugurated by President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultan bin Salman on Monday night.

    The exhibition, which is described as “a first step in an ambitious plan to boost cultural cooperation between the two countries,” features 200 rare pieces, rich in overtones of Islamic spirituality, drawn and painted in different mediums by 20 master calligraphers of Pakistan.

    Speaking after formally cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of the calligraphy exhibition, Prince Sultan said: “In my humble assessment, I can tell you that the calligraphic pieces displayed in the exhibition today rank with the best works of art from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, other parts of the Middle East and Islamic world at large in terms of style and content.”

    He said the exhibition features the best works of Pakistani calligraphers, which in fact provide viewing joy to art lovers in general.

    The grand opening ceremony was attended by members of the royal family, high-ranking Saudi officials, a large number of diplomats and members of the Pakistani community. Prominent among those present on the occasion were Prince Faisal bin Saud; Alauddin Alaskari, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs; Dr. Nasir Al-Hujailan, deputy minister for culture and information; and Mustafa M.H. Kawthar, the ambassador responsible for the Asian desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan accompanied Prince Sultan and other Saudi officials in taking a round of the show to see the calligraphic work. The show will be open from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on a daily basis for visitors until March 2.

    Speaking to reporters after taking a round of the show, Prince Sultan said Islamic calligraphy was yet another link binding the two countries that also enjoy strategic relations.

    “I very much enjoyed coming to the embassy on the invitation of the Pakistani ambassador,” said Prince Sultan.

    Saudi Arabia has learned a lot from Pakistan in many fields, he added, while complimenting the contributions of Pakistani professionals.

    Asked about the progressively growing relations between Riyadh and Islamabad, Prince Sultan said: “We in the tourism sector is learning from Pakistan's experience, while the private sectors of the two countries are building strong commercial relations.”

    In reply to a question about the move to simplify visa procedures to enable people from Pakistan and other Asian countries to visit Saudi Arabia, he said: “The Umrah Plus visa will be the first window of opportunity for different groups, especially Pakistanis.”

    Prince Sultan showed keen interest in the artwork displayed on the occasion and spent more than one hour seeing the paintings and socializing with people.

    Expressing his joy on the opening of the calligraphy exhibition, Ambassador Khan said: “This is for the first time that we brought this show to Riyadh in which 20 master artists from Pakistan are participating. Pakistan had splendid cultural heritage, which had greatly contributed to the flourishing of Islamic art in the sub-continent.”

    The masterpieces displayed are contemporary as well as classic in style and nature, said the diplomat. He said he received a huge response and encouragement from the Saudi side to organize this event. He, however, pointed out that this show is the first step of an ambitious plan that has been formulated to boost cultural cooperation further.

    The embassy, he said, is planning to organize a Pakistani miniature art exhibition in the near future.

    The miniature art show will be organized in Riyadh and then move to Jeddah, he added. The two countries are also planning to boost cooperation between their respective museums, he said.

    “I am also now encouraging Pakistani poets to come here and I will invite some cultural troupes in days to come to perform here as well,” he added.

    Khan said the embassy was just trying to offer a wide variety of art and culture for fans to enjoy. This is a great chance for people in Riyadh to see the work of great masters, he added.

    “In almost all Muslim societies, almost every household is decorated with some kind of Islamic calligraphy, featuring different verses from the Holy Qur'an or some other words from Islamic theology,” said the ambassador, adding the pieces displayed at the show look more ornamental in one's office or house.

    He pointed out that the art of calligraphy dates back to a period when writing began. It is a type of visual art often called the art of fancy lettering. A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is the art of giving a form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner.

    The great calligraphers whose work has been displayed at the exhibition include Ibne Kaleem, Irfan Ahmed Khan, Khalid Javed Yusufi, Elahi Bakhsh Mutee, Khurshid Gohar Qalam, Muhammad Ali Qadri, Ahmed Ali Bhutta, Hafiz Anjum Mehmood, Muhammad Ali Zahid, Rashid Seyal, Muhammad Kashif Khan, Tasneem Inam, Afrah Faiz, Abdul Razzaq Razi, Ashraf Heera, Aslam Kamal, Rana Riaz Ahmed and Hafeezullah. The work of the current Chief Khattat of Masjid Al-Nabawi Shafiq uz Zaman Khan, and former Naqqash of Masjid Al-Nabawi Asghar Ali are also among the exhibits.

    Giving his opinion about the calligraphic pieces, guest at the show Faisal Rasheed, who works at a local PR and advertising company, said Arabic script has been an important part of Islam’s cultural heritage for centuries. “The spread of Islam during the eighth century had a deep impact on every aspect of people's life including their perception of art; and this is evident from the show at the embassy,” he added.

    The desire and effort to reproduce in beautiful and creative characters verses of the Holy Qu’ran eventually generated the new art of calligraphy in Muslim societies, he noted.

    “In fact, Muslim calligraphers were doing marvels with form and content in Pakistan,” said another guest, Dr. Javid Akhtar of King Saud University. He pointed out that Islam, and as a result calligraphy, came to the sub-continent through the conquest of Sindh by Mohammad bin Qasim in 712 AD, and reached its peak during the reign of the Mughal emperors. In the area that now comprises Pakistan, Lahore undoubtedly has held the title of being the center of calligraphy in the country.

    In Pakistani culture, the ability to write and to write well in a clear hand are signs of good breeding and of a well-rounded education; thus, the young nation has produced many outstanding calligraphers, including Sadequain. Dubbed the “Picasso of Pakistan,” Sadequain’s art was unique in that it showed non-conformity and protest intertwined with a sense of impending martyrdom.

    There are more than a dozen names of artists and calligraphers who are now internationally acclaimed, he added.



    Top Pakistani calligraphers showcase works in Riyadh - Arab News
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  2. haviZsultan
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    haviZsultan PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Maybe this should be sticky...

    Cross anyone's mind yet?
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  3. Bamxa
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    I agree, i think Lone Shooter has come up with a great idea. Far too often, we dont hear the positive news from our country as it gets covered by the negative. This thread should be made a sticky ...
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  4. Lone Shooter
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    Are we wrong about Pakistan?



    When Peter Oborne first arrived in Pakistan, he expected a 'savage' back water scarred by terrorism. Years later, he describes the Pakistan that is barely documented - and that he came to fall in love with

    It was my first evening in Pakistan. My hosts, a Lahore banker and his charming wife, wanted to show me the sights, so they took me to a restaurant on the roof of a town house in the Old City.

    My food was delicious, the conversation sparky – and from our vantage point we enjoyed a perfect view of the Badshahi Mosque, which was commissioned by the emperor Aurangzeb in 1671.

    It was my first inkling of a problem. I had been dispatched to write a report reflecting the common perception that Pakistan is one of the most backward and savage countries in the world. This attitude has been hard-wired into Western reporting for years and is best summed up by the writing of the iconic journalist Christopher Hitchens. Shortly before he died last December, Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair that bordered on racism.

    Pakistan, he said, was “humourless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offence and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity and self-hatred”. In summary, asserted Hitchens, Pakistan was one of the “vilest and most dangerous regions on Earth”.

    Since my first night in that Lahore restaurant I have travelled through most of Pakistan, got to know its cities, its remote rural regions and even parts of the lawless north. Of course there is some truth in Hitchens’s brash assertions. Since 2006 alone, more than 14,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks. The Pakistan political elite is corrupt, self-serving, hypocritical and cowardly – as Pakistanis themselves are well aware. And a cruel intolerance is entering public discourse, as the appalling murder last year of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti after he spoke out for Christians so graphically proves. Parts of the country have become impassable except at risk of kidnap or attack.

    Yet the reality is far more complex. Indeed, the Pakistan that is barely documented in the West – and that I have come to know and love – is a wonderful, warm and fabulously hospitable country. And every writer who (unlike Hitchens), has ventured out of the prism of received opinion and the suffocating five-star hotels, has ended up celebrating rather than denigrating Pakistan.

    A paradox is at work. Pakistan regularly experiences unspeakable tragedy. The most recent suicide bombing, in a busy market in northwestern Pakistan, claimed 32 lives and came only a month after another bomb blast killed at least 35 people in the Khyber tribal district on January 10. But suffering can also release something inside the human spirit. During my extensive travels through this country, I have met people of truly amazing moral stature.

    Take Seema Aziz, 59, whom I met at another Lahore dinner party, and who refuses to conform to the Western stereotype of the downtrodden Pakistani female. Like so many Pakistanis, she married young: her husband worked as a manager at an ICI chemical plant. When her three children reached school age, she found herself with lots of time on her hands. And then something struck her.

    It was the mid-Eighties, a time when Pakistan seemed captivated by Western fashion. All middle-class young people seemed to be playing pop music, drinking Pepsi and wearing jeans. So together with her family, Seema decided to set up a shop selling only locally manufactured fabrics and clothes.

    The business, named Bareeze, did well. Then, in 1988, parts of Pakistan were struck by devastating floods, causing widespread damage and loss of life, including in the village where many of the fabrics sold by Bareeze were made. Seema set out to the flood damaged area to help. Upon arrival, she reached an unexpected conclusion. “We saw that the victims would be able to rebuild their homes quite easily but we noticed that there was no school. Without education, we believed that there would be no chance for the villagers, that they would have no future and no hope.”

    So Seema set about collecting donations to build a village school. This was the beginning of the Care Foundation, which today educates 155,000 underprivileged children a year in and around Lahore, within 225 schools.

    I have visited some of these establishments and they have superb discipline and wonderful teaching – all of them are co-educational. The contrast with the schools provided by the government, with poorly-motivated teachers and lousy equipment, is stark. One mullah did take exception to the mixed education at one of the local schools, claiming it was contrary to Islamic law. Seema responded by announcing that she would close down the school. The following day, she found herself petitioned by hundreds of parents, pleading with her to keep it open. She complied. Already Care has provided opportunities for millions of girls and boys from poor backgrounds, who have reached adulthood as surgeons, teachers and business people.

    I got the sense that her project, though already huge, was just in its infancy. Seema told me: “Our systems are now in place so that we can educate up to one million children a year.” With a population of over 170 million, even one million makes a relatively small difference in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the work of Care suggests how easy it would be to transform Pakistan from a relatively backward nation into a south-east Asian powerhouse.

    Certainly, it is a country scarred by cynicism and corruption, where rich men do not hesitate to steal from the poor, and where natural events such as earthquakes and floods can bring about limitless human suffering. But the people show a resilience that is utterly humbling in the face of these disasters.

    In the wake of the floods of 2009 I travelled deep into the Punjab to the village of Bhangar to gauge the extent of the tragedy. Just a few weeks earlier everything had been washed away by eight-feet deep waters. Walking into this ruined village I saw a well-built man, naked to the waist, stirring a gigantic pot. He told me that his name was Khalifa and that he was preparing a rice dinner for the hundred or more survivors of the floods.

    The following morning I came across Khalifa, once again naked to the waist and sweating heavily. Pools of stagnant water lay around. This time he was hard at work with a shovel, hacking out a new path into the village to replace the one that had been washed away.

    A little later that morning I went to the cemetery to witness the burial of a baby girl who had died of a gastric complaint during the night. And there was Khalifa at work, this time as a grave digger.

    Khalifa was a day labourer who was lucky to earn $2 (£1.26) a day at the best of times. To prejudiced Western commentators, he may have appeared a symbol of poverty, bigotry and oppression. In reality, like the courageous volunteers I met working at an ambulance centre in Karachi last year, a city notorious for its gangland violence, he represents the indomitable spirit of the Pakistani people, even when confronted with a scale of adversity that would overpower most people in the West.

    As I’ve discovered, this endurance expresses itself in almost every part of life. Consider the Pakistan cricket team which was humiliated beyond endurance after the News of the World revelations about “spot-fixing” during the England tour of 2010. Yet, with the culprits punished, a new captain, Misbah-ul-Haq has engineered a revival. In January I flew to Dubai to witness his team humiliate England in a three-match series that marked a fairy-tale triumph.

    Beyond that there is the sheer beauty of the country. Contrary to popular opinion, much of Pakistan is perfectly safe to visit so long as elementary precautions are taken, and, where necessary, a reliable local guide secured. I have made many friends here, and they live normal, fulfilled family lives. Indeed there is no reason at all why foreigners should not holiday in some of Pakistan’s amazing holiday locations, made all the better by the almost complete absence of Western tourists.

    Take Gilgit-Baltistan in the north, where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges – the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas and the Karakorams — meet. This area, easily accessible by plane from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, is a paradise for climbers, hikers, fishermen and botanists. K2 – the world’s second-highest mountain – is in Gilgit, as are some of the largest glaciers outside the polar regions.

    Go to Shandur, 12,000ft above sea level, which every year hosts a grand polo tournament between the Gilgit and Chitral polo teams in a windswept ground flanked by massive mountain ranges. Or travel south to Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, cradle of the Indus Valley civilisation which generated the world’s first urban culture, parallel with Egypt and ancient Sumer, approximately 5,000 years ago.

    Of course, some areas of Pakistan are dangerous. A profile of Karachi – Pakistan’s largest city and commercial capital – in Time magazine earlier this year revealed that more than 1,000 people died in 2011 in street battles fought between heavily armed supporters of the city’s main political parties. Karachi is plagued by armed robbery, kidnapping and murder and, in November last year, was ranked 216 out of 221 cities in a personal-safety survey carried out by the financial services firm Mercer.

    But isn’t it time we acknowledged our own responsibility for some of this chaos? In recent years, the Nato occupation of Afghanistan has dragged Pakistan towards civil war. Consider this: suicide bombings were unknown in Pakistan before Osama bin Laden’s attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001. Immediately afterwards, President Bush rang President Musharraf and threatened to “bomb Pakistan into the stone age” if Musharraf refused to co-operate in the so-called War on Terror.

    The Pakistani leader complied, but at a terrible cost. Effectively the United States president was asking him to condemn his country to civil war by authorising attacks on Pashtun tribes who were sympathetic to the Afghan Taliban. The consequences did not take long, with the first suicide strike just six weeks later, on October 28.

    Many write of how dangerous Pakistan has become. More remarkable, by far, is how safe it remains, thanks to the strength and good humour of its people. The image of the average Pakistani citizen as a religious fanatic or a terrorist is simply a libel, the result of ignorance and prejudice.

    The prejudice against Pakistan dates back to before 9/11. It is summed up best by the England cricketer Ian Botham’s notorious comment that “Pakistan is the sort of place every man should send his mother-in-law to, for a month, all expenses paid”. Some years after Botham’s outburst, the Daily Mirror had the inspired idea of sending Botham’s mother-in-law Jan Waller to Pakistan – all expenses paid – to see what she made of the country.

    Unlike her son-in-law, Mrs Waller had the evidence of her eyes before her: “The country and its people have absolutely blown me away,” said the 68-year-old grandmother.

    After a trip round Lahore’s old town she said: “I could not have imagined seeing some of the sights I have seen today. They were indefinable and left me feeling totally humbled and totally privileged.” She concluded: “All I would say is: ‘Mothers-in-law of the world, unite and go to Pakistan. Because you’ll love it’. Honestly!”

    Mrs Waller is telling the truth. And if you don’t believe me, please visit and find out for yourself.

    Are we wrong about Pakistan? - Telegraph
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  5. Lone Shooter
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    Well sir to be honest I really dont know how to make it a sticky. All I know is that Pakistan is not as negative a place as its depicted and we need to show the other side of this amazing country of ours.
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    Monal Resturent in Islamabad :azn:

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    Alamgir is a Pakistani of Bengali ethnicity. In Pakistan there are about 2.4-3million Bengali ethnic peoples.
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    Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2011: Asif Chaudhry


    Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2011: Asif Chaudhry


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    Ambassador Asif Chaudhry is a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister. He was sworn in as Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova on July 11, 2008, and presented his credentials on September 24, 2008. He previously served as the Deputy Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington DC. Before that assignment, he served as Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the US Embassy in Cairo. Prior to his Cairo posting, he was assistant to the general sales manager (GSM) of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, where he served as the principal advisor on Department of Agriculture's commodity assistance programs for the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. Earlier in his career, Ambassador Chaudhry served as the Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and as the Agriculture Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland. Before joining the Foreign Service, he taught Economics at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

    Ambassador Asif Chaudhry was born and raised in a farming family in Pakistan's small village of Nindowal. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Punjab, his master's degree from the American University of Beirut and his PhD from Washington State University. He speaks several languages including Russian, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, and Polish.
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  14. Lone Shooter
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    Doing business with Pakistan

    Against the context of flooding, terrorism and corruption, it might seem a strange and somewhat misplaced time to be writing about the benefits of economic investment in Pakistan. But those who know me as a writer, will know my attempts to wring out inspiring news stories and splash a spotlight on a side to life that is uplifting, but no less real.

    I was recently sitting amongst a sea of suited businessmen in a swanky club in the heart of London, when an American-Pakistani friend shared the news that Forbes Magazine has produced an article saying that Pakistan was a good place to invest. She delivered the revelation in an excited whisper, and I watched the jaw of another friend drop to the floor. As a British-Pakistani businessman, he of course knew this to be true – but the fact that one of the most respected business magazines in the USA was saying it was an utter delight. What the media says does matter – especially in business.

    The writer of the article, Helen Coster, talks much about Lahore, the Indus Entrepreneurs and an internet mogul named Monis Rahman. Coster doesn’t shy away from some of the obvious challenges about doing business in Pakistan, but ultimately insists that “the promise of doing business in Pakistan outweighs the frustration”.

    I’m right with Rahman when he says: “You tend to hear the worst 5 per cent of the Pakistan story 95 per cent of the time,” but Coster’s story was so focused on the successful entrepreneur that I wonder whether his experience of the business landscape was unique to him, or at least unique to Lahore.

    On closer inspection, I discovered many others are saying the same. In an article in Blue Chip Magazine, another businessman from Karachi claims that Pakistan is “entrepreneurial to the core” – something others I spoke to agree on. The Invest in Pakistan website lists the top five reasons for foreign investment in Pakistan as being: abundant land and natural resources; human resources (huge English speaking population); a large and growing domestic market (a growing middle class); well-established infrastructure and legal systems (road, rail, sea, IT); and geographic location – as principal gateway to the Central Asia Republics and connections to the Middle East and South Asia.

    Putting it crudely, the labour and raw materials are cheap, the population is 6th biggest in the world and growing fast with over 50 per cent of the 180 million under the age of 20, and tax and set-up incentives for foreign investment are good.

    Business giants, like GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare are increasing investment in what it considers a “high growth market”. Rs2 billion will be invested in Pakistan over the next five years. And it’s not just inward investment that holds potential. Last week the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry announced that despite economic challenges, Pakistani exports had reached $25 billion (against the government target of $20 billion). One export, which may surprise my fellow British countrymen, is bagpipes – in fact Pakistan is the world’s biggest producer of the Scottish instrument (worth $6.8 million in 2010).

    I am not ignoring the floods, or the allegations of terror-funding, my Pakistani friends in London wouldn’t let that happen. I have my eye on the tides of disaster, but as I commit professionally to exploring Business with Britain, I can’t help but think that Business with Pakistan should certainly not be forgotten.

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    Caroline Jaine is a UK based writer, artist and film-maker with a background in media strategy, training and diplomacy

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/04/doing-business-with-pakistan.html
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