Director of groundbreaking new women-led Pakistani series hopes men will watch too

A poster of 'Churails', a new groundbreaking Pakistani TV show directed by London-based Asim Abbasi and to be premiered on August 11, 2020. (Courtesy: Social Media)
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Updated 11 August 2020

Director of groundbreaking new women-led Pakistani series hopes men will watch too

  • Asim Abbasi says his “job is done” if the series 'Churail' helps men become empathetic toward women’s issues
  • Says he titled the series Churail to subvert the meaning of a word that was long been used to label women negatively

KARACHI: The British-Pakistani director of a new groundbreaking Pakistani TV show that aims to put the spotlight on stereotypes about Pakistani women said he hopes men too will watch the show and develop a more empathetic attitude towards women’s problems.




Actress Sarwat Gilani feeding a horse during filming of the new TV series 'Churails' in Karachi in 2019. (Photo courtesy: Zee5 Global)

The ten-episode 'Churails', which is the Urdu word for witches, releases on Tuesday on the Zee5 app. It stars top actresses Sarwat Gilani, Yasra Rizvi, Nimra Bucha and Mehr Bano as four women who start a detective agency to expose cheating husbands behind the facade of a burqa boutique.
“After watching it, even on a marginal rate, [if] they [men] become empathetic towards what a woman goes through and understands them better, I think my job is done,” London-based Asim Abbasi said in an interview with Arab News. 




Director Asim Abbasi seen behind the scenes of the TV series 'Churails' in Karachi in 2019. (Photo courtesy: Zee5 Global)

Abbasi said he had titled the series Churail to subvert the meaning of a word that has long been used to label women 'negatively'. In his show, Churail is a woman who opposes oppression and is liberated emotionally, physically and sexually, he said. 
“I have put forward the issue of the status of a woman in a patriarchal society without giving moral judgement on it,” he said. “Churails is not just about how a woman should stand up for her rights but also how she is downplayed in our society through acts of child marriages, domestic violence, abusive attitude, and judgement on her physical appearances.”




Actress Sarwat Gilani during filming of the new TV series 'Churails' in Karachi in 2019. (Photo courtesy: Zee5 Global)

“Mainstream media all over the world generally portrays a woman in a very suppressive and deprived state, who needs a man as her savior and a guiding force,” said leading lady Gilani, who plays the role of family woman Sarah who finds out her husband is cheating on her, which leads her to meeting the three other women with whom she sets up the detective agency. 
“But in Churails all these women uplifting and supporting each other in fighting their battle," she added. 




Sarwat Gilani poses during a cut scene of the new TV seres 'Churails' shot in Karachi in 2019. (Photo courtesy: Zee5 Global)

Yasra Rizvi, who portrays the role of event planner Jugnu Chaudhry, said her character was “breaking all the stereotypical portrayals of women in our media.”
Mehar Bano, who portrays Zubaida, a young girl from a poor family who wants to be a boxer, said she took boxing training to play the role. In the play, her father beats her after he learns that she wants to box. 
“At that point, the Churails squad rescued her and then inspired by their mission, she also became their part,” Bano said.
Nimra Bucha, who plays a self-determined woman from a middle class background, described her character as such: “Batool has had enough to bear from men and the society and now leads her own life on her terms and conditions.”


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.