Pakistani Art

Cultural Assets of the Communities of District Multan and Bahawalpur, Pakistan

16 October 2011

“South Punjab, in particular, the districts of Multan and Bahawalpur…, have a vast range of cultural assets. the living culture of the communities carries influences of the inherited ancient civilizations and historical past which flourished in this region and has permeated their present day culture and its expressions. Cultural zones within these two districts are discernable which have infused the living culture of communities influencing their lifestyle, value system and world view; giving the South Punjab region a distinct cultural identity reinforced through their shared language, Saraiki. the earliest, dating back to 3800 BCE, is that of the Cholistan desert, the Rohi made famous by the region’s premier Sufi Saint Khawaja Ghulam Fareed. Although the built assets are contained within the desert yet its intangible expressions of poetry and oral narratives, song and dance is embedded
within the culture of the region, in particular Bahawalpur. The influences of the material culture of the ancient people of the Hakra Valley Civilization can still be found in the pottery making traditions and in the motifs and designs which continue to be used. The other identifiable culture ethos permeating the living culture of the region is that engendered by the advent of the Sufi saints in the 10th century onwards.  The Sufi philosophical and material culture emanated from the ancient cities of Multan and Uch Sharif, the central abode of mystical Islam in the region, which had far reaching impact on the whole of South Punjab and further into Sind and Northern India.  the erstwhile Bahawalpur State (1802-1955 CE) has also had deep influence on the culture of the district and the built form engendered during the State period has left an indelible mark on the built environment of the
entire area, most prominent in its capital city, Bahawalpur and the twin capital Dera Nawab Sahib….”
Read the full report by UNESCO here:




Pakistan: Fixing the civil-military imbalance

21 June 2011

Pakistan: Fixing the civil-military imbalance

By Raza Rumi:

Sovereignty is the flavour of the month in Pakistan. Since the capture and questionable assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the Pakistani discourse has been dominated by endless references to national sovereignty, honour, defence and pride. This jolt to the Pakistani state of mind has come at a time when media is relatively free, a vibrant boundless Internet flashes news by the second and there is quasi-democracy straddling between opportunism of the political elites and tunnel visions of the permanent ruling class: the security establishment.

That the Americans would conduct a surgical strike in the heart of military complex and ‘eliminate’ the poster-boy of Islamism has perturbed the right wing and their patrons who had worked hard for decades to construct a xenophobic, paranoid mindset justifying the country’s military machine. Arguments on incompetence or complicity are lethal for the uber-nationalist narratives; and hence the dilemma, perhaps the greatest of crises for the right wing in Pakistan. (more…)

Elusive freedom – a painting by Anwar Saeed (’92)

20 July 2010

Elusive Freedom

A new painting by Mehboob Ali

25 June 2010

Step across this Line

11 May 2010

Quite a readable piece published by CARAVAN- thanks to Fizza Ishaq for sending me the link

AS MUCH AS SHE MAY HAVE wanted to, Bani Abidi couldn’t be there for the opening of Resemble Reassemble, the exhibition of contemporary Pakistani art on display at the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon. In fact, the Delhi-based Pakistani artist could possibly be arrested if she were caught entering the region. Though barely a 40-minute ride from Delhi, Gurgaon is in Haryana, forbidden territory for many like Abidi. Current visa regulations grant her entry into only one state. (more…)

8th International Mystic Music Sufi Festival

20 April 2010

Sufi Music and Expression of Devotion from the Muslim World is one among a rare festival initiated in Pakistan by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop.Performance Schedule (more…)

In memoriam – Asim Butt (1978-2010)

1 March 2010

He was a man, take him for all in all,

I shall not look upon his like again

(Hamlet, Shakespeare)

It is only when Asim has gone that one takes measure of the legacy he has left for his troubled and torn country. A decade long association was lost on the fateful day of January when we heard of his untimely exit from this world. For hours, I sat in my office, numb. Not that Asim’s suicide was a surprise, for he had warned us all many times of this inevitable dénouement to his dramatic life.

Five years ago, when I wrote a piece on the Pakistani poet Mustafa Zaidi and the romance with nurturing a death wish, Asim wrote to me and said that I had no clue what this was all about. His words were: “loved and was deeply moved by your piece on Zaidi… saw so much of myself in his life story, hoping I don’t die unsung and on the fringes, and wondering why you of all people would have a death wish.” Asim had suffered and struggled with his inner demons with an intensity that most of us will never appreciate. This was the first time that I knew about the seriousness of his other side: a dialectical dark side to his otherwise cheerful, loving and warm persona. Asim cannot be mourned; he can only be celebrated. He would have hated the melodramatic statements that I am inclined to write in this remembrance.

Two of my dearest friends were close to Asim in a way that is difficult to understand. Nearly a decade ago I met Asim at Ali Dayan Hasan’s home in Karachi. I was passing through on one of my occupational breaks from my assignment in Kosovo. Ali had returned from England and joined the monthly Herald and was piecing his life together. I met this lean and quiet young man who had big, bright eyes and a unique smile. We did not talk much except for a small argument over something, perhaps about a book, but I could not help being thoroughly impressed with his viewpoint. Since then I have had a series of exchanges, verbal and electronic, in which Asim was always animated, off-beat and extremely gifted with words and ideas. No wonder his art work and many of his writings are a formidable legacy for us all.

Born into a regular upper middle class family, Asim Butt was always an exception. He was different, as he would tell me. Rejecting convention, tradition and the confines of societal expectations was therefore something that started way too early with Asim. To be fair, he did pursue a path chosen for him. He attended the Li Po Chun United World College where his gift for painting became polished, and at some level he had chartered his future course. There was some meandering: a degree in the first batch of B.Sc. in Social Sciences earned from the Lahore University of Management Sciences; and later an unfinished PhD in History from the University of California, Davis. He returned to Pakistan, wrote for the Herald and other publications, and finally enrolled himself at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.Not surprisingly, Butt graduated with distinction in 2006. (more…)

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