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
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
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. MALIHA ABIDI
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. AREEBA SIDDIQUE
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. FATIMA BAIG
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. MAHOOR JAMAL
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. HAFSA KHAN
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.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan is expected to announce the date for his anti-government long march to Pakistan’s federal capital at a power show in Multan on Friday, according to a video clip of him addressing his supporters which was shared by one of his aides on Twitter.
Last month, Khan became the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history who was driven out of power in a no-confidence vote.
He has since accused the United States of orchestrating the downfall of his administration with the help of his political rivals, saying that Washington was vexed at his desire to pursue an independent foreign policy.
US officials have repeatedly denied the allegation.
“Our last political gathering before the Islamabad march will take place tomorrow [on Friday] in Multan,” he can be seen telling a group of his supporters in a video clip shared by Usman Dar who advises him on youth affairs.
“I will announce the day when my entire nation must reach Islamabad,” he said, adding the actual objective of the march was to secure “real freedom” for Pakistan.
عمران خان کا اپنے جوشیلے نوجوان کارکنان سے خطاب! کل فائنل کال کیلئے تیار رہنے کی ہدایت کر دی! آخری جلسے سے پہلے بڑا اعلان ہو گا! الیکشن کی تاریخ نہ آئی تو اسلام آباد مارچ کی تاریخ آئیگی! نوجوانوں تیار ہو نا؟ امپورٹڈ_حکومت_نامنظور pic.twitter.com/h8peUt0jPh
Khan, who is also the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has called for early elections in the country while promising to hold political protests until the new government announces the date for the next polls.
Khan previously warned the government that a “sea of people” would arrive in Islamabad on his call.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday defended Imran Khan for visiting Moscow the day Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine, saying the former prime minister could not have foreseen that the war was going to begin during his visit.
The timing of Khan’s trip to Russia annoyed Western nations who were trying to internationally isolate Putin’s administration for launching the war in his neighborhood. The heads of various foreign missions in Pakistan also wrote a joint letter to the country’s previous administration, urging it to condemn the Russian aggression in Ukraine soon after the invasion.
Pakistan’s new foreign minister, who is currently in New York to attend a global food security conference at the United Nations headquarters, told a news conference he would “absolutely defend” the former prime minister.
“Pakistan’s [former] prime minister conducted that trip as part of Pakistan’s foreign policy and without knowing … at the time that the current conflict would start,” he said. “I believe it is very unfair to punish Pakistan [for that visit].”
Pakistan’s foreign office also maintained in the past that Khan’s Russia visit had been in the making for a long time, adding it was not possible to postpone it shortly before it was scheduled to start.
The former prime minister, who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote last month, said he was trying to pursue an independent foreign policy by strengthening relations with Russia and China which led to the downfall of his administration under an international conspiracy hatched by the United States.
His assertion has been repeatedly denied by US officials.
“Pakistan is not part of any conflict,” Bhutto-Zardari said while reiterating his country’s position on the war in Ukraine. “Pakistan would not wish to be part of any conflict. We would like emphasize on the importance of peace and dialogue.”
Asked about India’s decision to revoke the semi-autonomous status of the disputed Kashmir region, he described it as an insult to the United Nations its Security Council resolutions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government annulled Kashmir’s special constitutional status on August 5, 2019, to annex the Muslim-majority state with the rest of the Indian union.
The administration in New Delhi more recently published a list of redrawn political constituencies for the Himalayan territory under its control earlier this month, giving greater representation to the region’s Hindu areas while paving the way for fresh elections.
“The actions of August 5, 2019, and May 5, 2022, by India in illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir is not only an insult to the people of Kashmir but is an insult to the United Nations and to the Security Council’s resolutions,” he said.
QUETTA: A massive forest fire that has been raging for ten days in different parts of the Koh-e-Sulaiman mountains in southwest Pakistan intensified on Wednesday, with three people reported dead as provincial and federal disaster management authorities struggled late into Thursday to douse the flames.
The fire has consumed hundreds of trees dotting the Koh-e-Sulaiman — a mountain range connecting the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — and forced residents of nearby villages to move to safer locations.
The Koh-e-Sulaiman region is home to the world’s largest Chilghoza (pine nuts) forest, annually producing about 640,000 kilograms of the edible seed. It also houses different species of animals and birds, including chukar partridges, ibex goats and rabbits, which are under threat from the fires.
The first fire started on May 9 in Musakhail district, lasting over a week and affecting pine nut trees in a 22 kilometers radius. The fire had barely died down when a second blaze erupted late on Wednesday in the Saraghalai area of district Sheerani, with three locals killed as they tried to help in rescue operations.
“Three local residents who tried to extinguish the fire got killed,” the top administrative official of the area, Zhob division commissioner Bashir Bazai, told Arab News. “Four people are still stranded as the district administration is making efforts to retrieve the bodies and rescue the stranded individuals.”
Locals helping with the rescue operation said neither provincial nor federal authorities were equipped to handle the disaster.
“The federal and provincial departments dealing with the fire are not trained and equipped to extinguish the fire in the Saraghalai area since the flames are too high,” local activist Salmeen Khpalwak, who works on climate change and environmental protection projects in the area, told Arab News on Thursday. “The fire is heading toward villages and many families have migrated to safe locations.”
Khpalwak said nearly 24 villages situated in the pine nut forest were currently in danger. He said the fire in Musakhail broke out during a thunderstorm when lightning hit but the reason behind the Saraghalai blaze was not yet known.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) sent a helicopter on Thursday to extinguish the fire, local officials said, though it was unable to put out the fire as it could not fly at a low altitude due to thick smoke and the mountainous terrain.
Muhammad Younus, who works with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, said the NDMA had been requested to provide another helicopter due to the intensity of the fire.
“This morning, a helicopter splashed 3,500 liters of water fetched from the Sabakzai Dam about 45 kilometers away from the area engulfed in fire,” Atique Khan Kakar, a forest officer, told Arab News, “though it did not work.”
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government on Thursday announced a complete ban on imported cars and non-essential items in a latest effort to tackle a growing economic crisis in the country.
Pakistan is currently facing dwindling foreign exchange reserves, as its currency continues a downward spiral against the US dollar and a deal for the revival of a $6 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hangs in the balance.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced his decision to ban non-essential items, saying the move would help Pakistan save “precious foreign exchange.”
“We will practice austerity and financially stronger people must lead in this effort so that the less privileged among us do not have to bear this burden,” he tweeted.
My decision to ban import of luxury items will save the country precious foreign exchange. We will practice austerity & financially stronger people must lead in this effort so that the less privileged among us do not have to bear this burden inflicted on them by the PTI govt.
Information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced the government had finalized a fiscal management plan to deal with the economic crisis.
“Yesterday, it was decided that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, all non-essential and luxury items will be banned completely,” she said. “These include food items, luxury items and all imported cars.”
Aurangzeb said Pakistan was currently facing “an emergency situation” and Pakistanis would see the impact of difficult decisions on foreign exchange reserves within two months.
She said the government attached the highest priority to decreasing Pakistan’s dependency on imports and introducing an export-oriented economic policy.
“Local industry, local producers and local industries in Pakistan will benefit from this [policy],” she said. “This economic plan will also promote employment in the country.”
The minister announced the government’s decision to ban imported mobile phones, home appliances, dry fruits, fruits, crockery items, private weapons, shoes and chandeliers.
Other banned items include decoration pieces, sauces, frozen meat, sanitary ware, doors, window frames, fish, frozen fruits, carpets, reserved food items, tissue papers, furniture, makeup and shampoo items, confectionary, luxury mattresses and sleeping bags.
KARACHI: Pakistan’s national currency continued to slump on Thursday, hitting another historic low of Rs200 against the US dollar in the interbank market amid rising demand for import payments and uncertainty related to talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the resumption of a $6 billion loan program.
The rupee declined by 0.81 percent, or Rs1.61, during the trading session today.
The currency depreciation continued despite the ongoing negotiations between the IMF and Pakistani authorities which started in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.
“The dollar was trading above Rs200 in the interbank market due to increasing demand from importers to make foreign payments,” Zafir Paracha, general secretary of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan, told Arab News.
He said the remittance inflow was also slow since exporters were not bringing export proceeds to the country owing to the rising rupee-dollar parity which was benefitting them.
The rupee has declined by Rs17.07 against the greenback since the new government took control of the country last month.
Aadil Jillani, head of economic division at Trust Securities & Brokerage Limited, blamed the gap between external financing requirements and Pakistan’s repayment capacity on lack of policy response from the government.
“[This is] constantly bleeding markets and the economy,” he said. “This economic meltdown is taking its toll as the dollar has hit an all-time high and is trading above Rs200 in the interbank and open markets.”
Pakistan’s discussions with the IMF have become complicated due to an economic relief package amounting to $1.7 billion which was announced by former prime minister Imran Khan earlier this year.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is hesitant to remove the fuel and power subsidies included in the package since his administration fears public backlash amid rising inflation.
Economists have advised the government, however, to undo these subsidies or risk greater political and economic damage.