- Giving Pakistan’s Nargis Latif the Recognition She Deserves
- Pakistan’s Walls as Structures of Hope, Not Division
I’ve spoken previously about poverty, overpopulation, terrorism, and corruption being some of the words which come to people’s minds when they hear the name ‘Pakistan’. I spoke of how this country was not short of amazing people wanting to bring positive changes in a place tarnished by corruption and fighting. I introduced readers to Nargis Latif, in an attempt to give her the recognition she deserves as her work is a source of strength for this nation.
She is not the only one though.
Walls of Peace
‘I am Karachi’, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and Vasl Artists Collective have taken Pakistan’s largest city by storm, uniting to man the ‘Walls of Peace’ initiative. This project focuses on replacing the negative politically-charged graffiti walls with visual images and messages that showcase positive values such as peace, tolerance and diversity.
Karachi, a city with one of the largest populations in the world, is home to people of different races and backgrounds. With continuous tension between political parties and ethnicities over the years, the walls of Karachi have been splattered with hateful slogans, political and religious messages, vulgar language and other opinionated content. ‘I am Karachi’ — an organisation comprised of concerned citizens and the civil society — aim to rebuild the city in diverse cultural and social ways by promoting activities and campaigns. They aim to do this through art, sports, dialogue and culture.
‘I am Karachi’ started this campaign in 2015 and were aided by students from art schools, universities and organisations. Since then, thousands of walls have been re-painted in various neighbourhoods, and they now showcase colourful stencil art, truck art, positive slogans or simply multi-coloured paint.
The project has different aspects to it — the Stencil Art Project is being headed by Munawar Ali Saeed and his 15 artists; Bachoon Say Tabdeeli comprises of children mapping their school area on walls; ‘Individual Artists Project’ is responsible for reclaiming the walls surrounding the city’s airport.
So far, some areas where the newly-painted walls can be seen are Hassan Square, Civic Centre, Saddar, Shahrah-e-Quaideen, MT Khan road, the airport, Kala pull, Shirin Jinnah Colony and Lyari. As a witness to the ruined walls during my childhood in my home city, I can definitely say that these ‘Walls of Peace’ are vibrant, cheerful additions to Karachi’s roads and make journeys through the city both positive and colourful.
Inspired by the wall in the Iranian city of Mashhad, cities in Pakistan have reclaimed walls naming them Deewar-e-Meharbani or the ‘Wall of Kindness’. The movement was started by a group of young men in Peshawar, which is the largest city of Pakistan’s Northern Province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The wall was repainted, and a few hooks and hangers were fixed onto it to portray the concept of hanging clothes and other items on the wall so that those who cannot afford to buy such items can help themselves to the items they need.
The project quickly spread to other cities and Walls of Kindness have appeared in Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Islamabad, Quetta and Sahiwal. These walls now host items such as packaged food, water, milk, clothing, shoes and blankets all over the country for the needy to help themselves to.
Pakistan is a country filled with different terrains, diverse people, contradicting ideologies and delicious food. It is a well-known fact that the country faces many problems every day, and I won’t say that all of the negative perceptions of the country are incorrect. However, I can say that despite all its difficulties, the country is home to people who have warm hearts. What makes Pakistan fight all its battles every day is not its government or its army, but its people.
Despite all its difficulties, the country is home to people who have warm heart
In Pakistan, every person is fighting to spread happiness and make their little corner of the world a better place. So, for everyone who thinks Pakistan is a dangerous country, come visit. It’s definitely not as frightening as you think or as the media makes it out to be. Visit Pakistan and witness ordinary people doing extraordinary things; laying out food for hundreds during Ramadan, teaching street children, providing free healthcare, repainting walls, rebuilding houses and simply being good people.
Featured image via dawn.com