Pakistani filmmakers release short film to show life under siege in Kashmir

This YouTube screen grab shows a still from the short film "Article 370," written and directed by Ibrahim Baloch.
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Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistani filmmakers release short film to show life under siege in Kashmir

  • ‘Article 370’ is directed by Ibrahim Baloch and tells story of a Kashmiri woman who waits for her husband to return home after India imposes lockdown in disputed Kashmir
  • Article 370 of India’s constitution granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, providing a semblance of autonomy to the region

KARACHI: Pakistani writer and film director, Ibrahim Baloch, is poised to release a short film on Wednesday about a married Kashmiri woman whose life is shattered after the administration in New Delhi abrogates Article 370 of the Indian constitution on August 5, 2019 and strips the disputed Kashmir region of its autonomy, putting the region under lockdown.

Talking to Arab News, Baloch said he wanted to release the film, ‘Article 370,’ on the first anniversary of India’s unilateral decision to integrate the internationally recognized disputed Himalayan territory with the rest of the country. 

Trailer of film, 'Article 370'

A poster of 'Article 370', a short film written and directed by Pakistani Ibrahim Baloch and released on August 5, 2020 to mark the one year anniversary of India stripping the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. (Photo courtesy: Ibrahim Baloch)

“I started following the situation in Kashmir after India announced its decision and realized that it was primarily debated from a political perspective,” he said on Tuesday. “I was more interested in the human side of the issue. So after doing some research, I came across stories of Kashmiri women in Srinagar who gave birth during the lockdown imposed by the Indian administration.” 




A poster of 'Article 370', a short film written and directed by Pakistani Ibrahim Baloch and released on August 5, 2020 to mark the one year anniversary of India stripping the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. (Courtesy: Ibrahim Baloch)

Article 370 of India’s constitution promised special status to Jammu and Kashmir, providing a semblance of autonomy to the region. However, India revoked the provision last year, giving Baloch the idea of working on a story on the only Muslim-majority region under India’s rule. 
Shot in the part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan and called Azad Kashmir, Article 370 focuses on the life of Gul-e-Rana, a married Kashmiri woman. 
Talking to Arab News, Mariyam Nafees, who played the lead role, said that she was deeply inspired by the story. 
“This film depicts the reality and current situation of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said. “The twenty-minute visuals in the movie that show the suffering of a family in the region are full of human emotions. Projects like these are not undertaken too often.” 
“Gul-e-Rana is a pregnant woman who goes through a tough situation while waiting for her husband during the lockdown,” Baloch said. “I am confident that this film will resonate with people across the world since it projects a human story. Our aim was not to take sides but to highlight the plight of the people by telling their tales passionately.” 


Pakistan posts first quarterly current account surplus in more than 5 years

Updated 21 October 2020

Pakistan posts first quarterly current account surplus in more than 5 years

  • The country’s surplus reached $73 million due to increase in exports, remittances — SBP
  • PM Khan describes the development as ‘great news,’ saying the government is ‘heading in the right direction finally’

KARACHI: Pakistan posted a current account surplus of $73 million in September 2020, making it the first quarterly surplus in more than five years, the country’s central bank and experts said on Wednesday.
“In September, the current account posted a surplus for a third successive month,” the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in a statement. “The surplus reached $73 million against a deficit of $278 million a year earlier. As a result, the current account recorded a surplus of $792 million in Q1-FY21, the first quarterly surplus in more than 5 years.”
Previously, the country had recorded a quarterly surplus in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.
Reacting to the development, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared it as “great news” in a Twitter post, adding that his government was “heading in the right direction finally.”
He continued that the economic achievement was made due to a 29 percent growth in exports and nine percent growth in remittances over the previous month.


Despite the recent upswing in shipments abroad, the SBP data show that the country’s exports suffered a decline of 10.4 percent and stood at $5.35 billion during July-September 2020 as compared to the $5.98 billion during the same period in the last fiscal year (FY20).
The imports also declined by three percent to $10.61 billion, according to the SBP data.
Explaining the current situation, the central bank said that the current account surplus owed to buoyancy in remittances and a broad-based rebound in exports.
“The importance and benefit of current account surplus is that it strengthens the country’s external position,” Muhammad Sohail, CEO of Topline Securities, told Arab News, adding: “If your external position becomes stronger then it strengthens the currency and attracts investment that eventually reduces inflation.”
Pakistan’s external position has strengthened the national currency which has appreciated by more than Rs5 against greenback since May 2020.
“Our national currency is appreciating due to a consistent inflow of remittances — about $2 billion per month for the last four months — lower oil imports, extension in the suspension of debt payment by G-20 and stronger exports outlook due to better performance than peers on the COVID-19 front,” Samiullah Tariq, head of research at the Pakistan Kuwait Investment (PKI), told Arab News.
Some experts, however, give credit to chaning international circumstances, pointing out that Pakistan’s trade partners like the United States and European Union have gradually come out of lockdowns which has also led to greater demand of Pakistani textiles and other products.
“The improvement in the external account is due to the international factors and it has very little, if anything, to do with the domestic policy,” Khurram Hussain, business editor of Dawn newspaper, told Arab News.
The other major factor that contributed to the external account surplus is the growth in remittances due to the international travel restrictions since people now send money to their home countries through banks instead of relatives or friends who cannot do international travel too frequently.
“Both are leading factors that contributed to the current account surplus and have an international relevance,” Hussain added.