These Pakistani women artists are using social media to #LeadChange

Updated 13 March 2019

These Pakistani women artists are using social media to #LeadChange

ISLAMABAD: In the past few years, social media, particularly Instagram, has emerged as the social media platform of choice for many contemporary Pakistani women artists who use it to promote their art and create a space for a meaningful exchange of dialogue and ideas about women’s rights and issues. Here are some Pakistani women artists and designers to follow on Instagram for their creativity as much as their activism on and offline.

Shehzil Malik shared a photo after plastering a large scale poster of 1 of the 3 original artworks she created for Aurat March 2019 in Lahore. (Photo courtesy: Shehzil Malik/Instagram)

In collaboration with Nigat Dad of Digital Rights Foundation, Malik created this original piece for a new web portal Dad's organisation was launching to make reporting harassment in the digital sphere easier for women. (Photo courtesy: Shehzil Malik/Instagram)

Inspired by Meesha Shafi's 'Me Too' story and the subsequent harassment Shafi faced, Malik created a portrait of the singer which was later used as the backdrop of Shafi's performance on 'Pepsi Battle of the Bands'. (Photo courtesy: Shehzil Malik/Instagram)

'Women in Public Spaces,' one of Malik's comics she drew in 2015 reflecting her experience as a woman occupying public space in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Shehzil Malik/Instagram)

Did you see the Aurat March posters plastered around Lahore? That was the genius of Shehzil Malik. In 2015, Malik drew a viral comic inspired by her experience as a woman in public spaces in Pakistan, which gained her a large following. Her graphic, high-color saturated pieces have since captured the public imagination. Malik has also launched a fashion line with a feminist bent and her drawing of Meesha Shafi was used as stage art atPepsi Battle of the Bands.

Samya Arif was commissioned to create art work for Pakistani rock Sufi band Junoon for their reunion concert in December of last year. (Photo courtesy: Samya Arif/Instagram)

Arif's second book cover was for Sabyn Javeri's collection of short stories 'Hijabistan,' the chosen cover was Arif's piece titled 'Cosmic Ninja'. (Photo courtesy: Samya Arif/Instagram)

Arif's piece aiming to depict a powerful and hopeful image of the future for women. (Photo courtesy: Samya Arif/Instagram)

Arif's piece aiming to depict a powerful and hopeful image of the future for women. (Photo courtesy: Samya Arif/Instagram)
Cover art for Nadia Akbar's 'Goodbye Freddie Mercury'. (Photo courtesy: Samya Arif/Instagram)

Karachi-based Samya Arif’s list of clients and collaborators reads like a drool-inducing menu of the who’s who of the Pakistani music scene: Junoon, Mooroo and the Mekaal Hasan Band, that small unknown indie band by the name of Coldplay, as well as mega brands like Coke Studio, Al Jazeera and Magnum. Arif, who teaches part time at her alma mater the Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture uses visual art and illustration to make eye catching designs such as the cover arts of novels ‘Hijabistan’ and ‘Goodbye Freddie Mercury,’ and to celebrate womanhood.

Cover of Maliha Abidi's book 'Pakistan for Women' a collection of illustrations by Abidi depicting 50 of Pakistan's most iconic women. (Photo courtesy: Maliha Abidi/Instagram) 

Inspired by UN Women's 'end Dowry abuse' campaign, Abidi created this illustration with a bride's jewellery strewn with the word 'dowry'. (Photo courtesy: Maliha Abidi/Instagram)

The late Asma Jehangir is one of the many women Abidi has illustrated and whose story she has included in her book 'Pakistan for Women'. (Photo courtesy: Maliha Abidi/Instagram)

An in process shot of a painting of Madam Noor Jehan, one of Pakistan's most revered singers. (Photo courtesy: Maliha Abidi/Instagram)

Maliha Abidi paints colorful and arresting portraits celebrating Pakistan’s women icons. Based in the UK, Abidi compiled her illustrations, such as those of the late Asma Jehangir, Noor Jehan, Nazia Hassan, Malala Yousafzai and Pakistan’s first female firefighter Shazia Parveen, into a book called ‘Pakistan for Women’ showcasing 50 Pakistanis who have contributed to the fabric of the nation. Abidi has also used her work to highlight women’s issues like dowry abuse, domestic violence and child marriage.

An illustration of a girl's wall including a poster of a girl with the words "Girls Just Wanna Have Their Revenge Mostly". (Photo courtesy: Areeba Siddique/Instagram)

A portrait Areeba Siddique made of her mom. (Photo courtesy: Areeba Siddique/Instagram)

Siddique's illustrations are clever commentary on life for some girls in Pakistan with strict parents and a lifestyle mix of both the traditional and contemporary. (Photo courtesy: Areeba Siddique/Instagram)

Siddique illustrates women getting ready for a wedding. (Photo courtesy: Areeba Siddique/Instagram)

Areeba Siddique’s drawings on her Instagram page have the most clever detailing: A cell phone lit up with texts from mom next to fingers applying the words “Follow me on Instagram” in henna on another person; inside the intricate pattern of the mehndi design is this sentence: “no more boys name in our henna. ONLY INSTAGRAM USER NAMES.’ With nearly 67,000 followers, Karachi’s Siddique shares not only her feminist artwork and illustrations depicting the delightfully mundane happenings in the lives of mostly hijab-clad women but also presents glimpses of her own personal style and design process. She most recently collaborated with a homeware line that put her artwork on mugs and dishes.

A take on 'Rosie the Riveter' Fatima Baig's work focusses on portraying South Asian beauty and strength. (Photo courtesy: Fatima Baig/Instagram)

A common theme in Baig's work is the relationship between women and spirituality showcased with the inclusion of cosmic elements like the moon and stars in her pieces. (Photo courtesy: Fatima Baig/Instagram)

Similar to many of the contemporary artists listed here, Baig is using her talent to share shine on Brown women and their many reiterations. (Photo courtesy: Fatima Baig/Instagram)

A portrait of living legend Sufi-Qawal master, Abida Parveen by Fatima Baig. (Photo courtesy: Fatima Baig/Instagram)

The beauty of the body, of diversity and of spirituality are the main stays in the art created by Fatima Baig. A native of Rawalpindi, she creates power-packed, color-saturated images depicting strong women of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, skin tones and body sizes. There are recognizable shout outs in her work to regional dress, jewelry, people (including her portrait of Abida Parveen) and a playful approach to incorporating the cosmos and the connection between women and the spirit. 

In a unique take on fashion editorials, Jamal used illustrations atop of fashion photography for this spread. (Photo courtesy: Mahoor Jamal/Instagram)

South Asian women presented in unexpected ways is a common theme in Jamal's work, like this painting with a renaissance vibe but Pakistani aesthetics in the subjects clothing and features. (Photo courtesy: Mahoor Jamal/Instagram)

Dark skin, dark hair, South Asian shapes and sizes are prominent features of Jamal's work, like this illustration she posted on Eid with the caption, 'Eid Mubarak'. (Photo courtesy: Mahoor Jamal/Instagram)

Mixing the elements of fashion photography with her gift of illustration. (Photo courtesy: Mahoor Jamal/Instagram)

Combining the worlds of illustration, design and photography Mahoor Jamal has become a person to watch in both the art and fashion worlds. With a unique approach to artistry Jamal has worked with fashion campaigns and editorials in both photography and text. Her work depicts women both realistic and fantastical, incorporating desi aesthetics like jewelry and clothing with breathtaking control.

Pop art like that made popular by Andy Warhol has been reimagined with a Pakistani twist by artist Hafsa Khan. (Photo courtesy: Hafsa Khan/Instagram)

Khan contrasts current happenings (like pizza) against classic South Asian ones (like a background of henna motifs) to create graphic pieces that play around with identity. (Photo courtesy: Hafsa Khan/Instagram)

Khan includes lots of jewellery in her pieces as a part of South Asian identity and in particular to show the regality of South Asian women. (Photo courtesy: Hafsa Khan/Instagram)


Titled 'Louis Vuitton Khan,' Khan shares on her Instagram projects which are painted or drawn on designer boxes and utilizing popular high end designer prints like this one. (Photo courtesy: Hafsa Khan/Instagram)

US-based Hafsa Khan has grown a strong following across social media for capturing the beauty of South Asian women, drawn in pop art. When talking about her work on her website Khan said, “I want you to notice the regality of the women.” Hands wearing mehndi and decked out in rings and bangles, nose rings and teekas, and traditional dresses skilfully reimagine the classic pop art graphics of yesteryear and merge them with South Asian aesthetics. The images of brown skinned women and their hands contrast against neon pops of colors, bold backgrounds and even at times designer logos leave a lasting impression.

Road to ruin: Double tax and bandits on the Pakistan-Afghan trade route 

Updated 43 min 48 sec ago

Road to ruin: Double tax and bandits on the Pakistan-Afghan trade route 

  • The Taliban’s capture of a key Afghan-Pakistan border post has sent trucking costs soaring
  • Taliban are charging drivers about $1,000 as duty in Spin Boldak with Kandahar officials demanding more 

Chaman, Pakistan: The Taliban’s capture of a key Afghan-Pakistan border post has sent trucking costs soaring, with insurgents and government officials separately taxing traders, and bandits demanding bribes to allow safe passage of goods.
Thousands of vehicles cross daily from Chaman in southwestern Pakistan to Spin Boldak on the other side, carrying goods destined for Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-biggest city.
On the way back they usually ferry agricultural produce bound for Pakistan’s markets or ports.
The bilateral trade — worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year if not more — ground to a halt earlier this month after the Taliban seized the dusty border town, but resumed this week with the insurgents seemingly firmly in charge.
They have captured a vast swath of the country since early May after launching a series of offensives to capitalize on the final stages of the withdrawal of foreign troops.
While they have not yet taken any provincial capitals, they have captured a string of key border posts — with Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan — which provide vital revenue from customs duties on goods arriving in the landlocked country.
“We loaded grapes in Kandahar and on the way we have been extorted at least three times,” trucker Hidayatullah Khan told AFP at Chaman.
“Sometimes they charge 3,000 rupees ($20), somewhere else 2,000 rupees, and in some other place 1,000 rupees,” he said.
That was on top of the taxes he had to pay Taliban officials in Spin Boldak and Afghan government customs officials who have opened shop in Kandahar.
Truckers interviewed in Chaman this week told of chaos and confusion on the Afghan side of the border.
Imran Kakar, vice president of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce, gave one example of a truck carrying fabric from Karachi destined for Kandahar.
The Taliban charged the driver 150,000 rupees (about $1,000) as duty in Spin Boldak, but when the vehicle reached Kandahar government officials were also waiting.
“We had to pay even higher customs duties as they don’t acknowledge the payments made to Taliban,” said Kakar.
The scenes were reminiscent of Afghanistan during its brutal civil war in the 1990s, when a patchwork of militias held stretches of key trade routes and extorted truckers and residents using the roads at will.
Hundreds of trucks were lined up Wednesday on the Pakistan side of the border, waiting for permission to cross.
On a dusty plain this week, with rugged hillocks as a backdrop, drivers and “spanner boy” apprentices tinkered with their vehicles ahead of the journey.
While the distance is just 100 kilometers (60 miles), the journey is fraught with danger.
Vehicles and roads are poorly maintained in Afghanistan, police and army checkpoints routinely demand “tea money” or more from every driver, and bandits also lie in wait — either to steal goods or demand further payment for safe passage.
There is also the risk they could be caught in crossfire during fighting between the Taliban and government forces.
Still, traders and drivers say they have little option but to keep on trucking.
“War has been going on, we know that, but we don’t have any other choice,” said Abdul Razzaq, a driver carrying hatchling chicks to Kandahar.
“Transportation of goods is the only means for us to feed our families,” he told AFP.

UAE suspends flights from Pakistan, India until August 7

Updated 29 July 2021

UAE suspends flights from Pakistan, India until August 7

  • Flights to Pakistan from the UAE have been suspended for months now due to the coronavirus pandemic 
  • UAE is home to 1.5 million Pakistanis and ranked one of Pakistan’s top contributors of foreign remittances

ISLAMABAD: Emirates, the largest airline and the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, said on Wednesday flights from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had been suspended until August 7 in line with the government’s orders.
The UAE is home to 1.5 million Pakistanis and ranked one of Pakistan’s top contributors, alongside Saudi Arabia, of foreign remittances. Flights to Pakistan from the Emirates have been disrupted for months now due to the coronavirus pandemic. The date for resumption of travel has also been extended several times now.
“In line with UAE government directives, Emirates will be suspending the carriage of passengers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Dubai until 07 August 2021,” the airline said on its website. “Furthermore, passengers who have connected through India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE.”
UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with updated COVID‑19 protocols, are exempt and may be accepted for travel, the airline said. 
It advised travelers that if their flight had been canceled or impacted by route suspensions due to COVID‑19 restrictions, “you don’t need to call us immediately for rebooking. You can simply hold on to your Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with us or your booking office to make new travel plans.”

‘Alarming’ surge: Pakistan reports over 4,000 new COVID-19 infections second day running

Updated 29 July 2021

‘Alarming’ surge: Pakistan reports over 4,000 new COVID-19 infections second day running

  • Thursday was first time since June 9 that Pakistan recorded 76 new deaths due to coronavirus
  • “Alarming and critical” situation in Karachi city as positivity ratio crosses 26 percent

KARACHI: Pakistan reported more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day running, data from the National Command and Operation Center showed on Thursday, with the national positivity rate shooting past 7.5 percent.
As per the NCOC pandemic response body, 59,707 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, of which 4,497 returned positive. The new cases take the nationwide tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,020,324, with a current positivity rate of 7.53 percent.

Thursday was also the first time since June 9 that Pakistan recorded 76 new deaths due to the coronavirus, taking the countrywide death toll to 23,209. Around 28 million vaccine jabs have been administered so far in a country of 220 million people.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s southern Sindh province is witnessing an “abnormal” surge in COVID-19 cases and an “alarming and critical” situation as the positivity ratio in the city shot past 26 percent.
Pakistan’s director general health, Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, told Arab News the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), which oversees the country’s pandemic response, was closely working with the Sindh administration to stop the spread of the virus.
“The NCOC is working closely with the Sindh government to support the NPI [non-pharmacological interventions] implementation, vaccination ramp up and upbuilding hospital capacity,” Safdar said.
The infection rate in Karachi has consistently remained high, with 8,513 coronavirus cases recorded during the last week and an average daily positivity rate of 21.73 percent.
Secretary General of the Pakistan Medical Association Dr. Qaiser Sajjad has suggested imposing a 15-day lockdown in the metropolis, saying if untested people were counted, the positivity rate had likely reached 40 percent.

Pakistanis sacrificed animals worth around $2.5 billion on Eid Al-Adha, tanners say 

Updated 29 July 2021

Pakistanis sacrificed animals worth around $2.5 billion on Eid Al-Adha, tanners say 

  • Up to 9 million animals including cows, sheep, goats and camels, were slaughtered this Eid 
  • Number of sacrifices on the rise since last year as people unable to go to Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage

KARACHI: Pakistanis sacrificed around nine million animals worth $2.5 billion on the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha last week, tanners and leather exporters have said, at least a one-billion-dollar increase from last year.
Eid Al-Adha, the second most important festival of Islam, was observed in Pakistan last Wednesday. Muslims traditionally mark the occasion by sacrificing livestock and distributing the meat among friends, family and the poor.
In Pakistan, the number of sacrificial animals has been on the rise since last year as people have been unable to go to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage due to coronavirus restrictions and have thus offered the ritual sacrifice in their home country.
Last year, the worth of sacrificial animals was estimated to be $1.5 billion.
“We estimate that around eight million to nine million animals including cows, sheep, goats and camels, were slaughtered on this Eid Al-Adha,” Abdul Salam, senior vice-chairman of the Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA), told Arab News. “Large number of Pakistanis who were unable to go for Hajj have offered the sacrifice rituals here in the country ... Sacrifices are more than our estimate of six million to seven million for this year.”
M. Danish Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and exporters Association (PLGMEA), told Arab News Rs400 billion ($2.5 billion) worth of animals were slaughtered this year. No official data was available.
“This growth is due to the restrictions on travel for Hajj,” Khan said.
Former PTA chairman Ejaz Ahmed Sheikh, who is chairman of leather supplier Bombal Leathers, said while exact figures were as yet unavailable, the overall value of sacrificial animals could be even higher than tanners’ estimates.
“It is estimated that around 3-4 million cows were slaughtered this year,” he told Arab News. “So, keeping average price at Rs 100,000, the overall value goes up to Rs300 billion, while if we add the value of goats, sheep, and camels, the value exceeds Rs400 billion.”
The rate of waste has also been higher this year, with data from the Lahore branch of PTA showing that Rs2 billion worth of hides and skins was wasted. 
PLGME’s chief Khan said material wastage was an annual problem.
“Huge quantities of hides and skins are wasted every year due to lack of proper facilities required to preserve the material,” he said.
Skins and hides from sacrificial animals are usually collected by Islamic seminaries and welfare organizations which sell them to leather exporters and tanners to meet their financial expenditures.
Qazi Sadaruddin, director at the Al-Khidmat Foundation, a non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian services across Pakistan, told Arab News the collection of skins, as well as their rates, had increased this year.
“The rates are comparatively higher this year and the collection of skins and hides has also increased,” he said.
Eid Al-Adha contributes around 20-30 percent of raw material to Pakistan’s leather industry, which PLGME expects will cross the $1 billion mark this year. In the previous fiscal year 2020-21, the leather sector contributed $833 million to Pakistan’s overall exports of $25.3 billion.
“Despite COVID-19, Pakistan’s export sector has performed very well during the last fiscal year,” PLGME’s Khan said. “We hope that this year Pakistan’s leather exports will hit the $1 billion mark”.

Pakistan invites Bahrain to invest in CPEC projects

Updated 29 July 2021

Pakistan invites Bahrain to invest in CPEC projects

  • Pakistani foreign minister co-chairs second session of Pakistan-Bahrain Joint Ministerial Commission
  • Five other Gulf countries have pledged to develop Pakistan’s deep-water Gwadar port under CPEC

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has invited the leadership of Bahrain to invest in development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as he started his two-day visit to the Gulf state on Wednesday.
Qureshi arrived in Manama to co-chair the second session of the Pakistan-Bahrain Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC), the inaugural meeting of which was held in Islamabad in February 2017. His visit to Bahrain would, the foreign office said, “add to the current momentum and positive trajectory of brotherly ties between the two countries.”
While addressing the JMC, Qureshi said CPEC offered opportunities in which Pakistan wanted to cooperate with Bahrain and other Gulf countries.
“There are great business and investment opportunities in Pakistan, especially under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” the foreign minister was quoted by the Pakistani foreign office as saying. “In this regard, we look forward to working closely with the Kingdom of Bahrain and other GCC countries.”
CPEC has seen Beijing pledge over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan, central to China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to develop land and sea trade routes in Asia and beyond. The investment plan also aims to link western China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar.
Last month, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar were among nations that pledged to support the development of the deep-water seaport.
The foreign office said the JMC meeting would focus on bilateral cooperation in commerce, investment, energy, overseas employment, agriculture, and broadcasting.
Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Bahrain in December 2019 on the invitation of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and was decorated with Bahrain’s prestigious King Hamad Order of the Renaissance award.