June issue 2009

By | Society | Published 15 years ago

The Women’s Action Forum (WAF) held an event at the Karachi Press Club on May 8 to speak against Talibanisation, demanding equal access to public spaces for all. The event, titled ‘Women reclaiming public space,’ started off with a speech by Nuzhat Kidwai of WAF, who demanded that society be de-weaponised so that extremists could not dictate terms to the government.

A host of speakers, among them Nazish Brohi, Afiya Zia and Amar Sindhu shared their views with the guests. The most touching speech was by a young student and member of WAF, Wardha Ishaque, who said that the youth of today are being deprived of all that their parents enjoyed in the ’70s, for instance, cinema and the arts, literature and poetry, and how demeaning it is when girls are forbidden from sitting with their male colleagues in schools.

Sheema Kirmani and her troupe presented a mind-blowing tableau. Fehmida Riaz’s poetry and Kirmani’s powerhouse performance made it all the more delightful to watch. The tableau ended with the group singing Faiz’s timeless Hum Dekhein Ge, originally sung by ghazal maestro Iqbal Bano. The crowd joined in as well, taking the charged up atmosphere to another level.

The next set of speakers didn’t know what was in store for them. ANP’s Ameen Khattak and PML-N’s Saleem Zia had to face a hostile audience who condemned their support of the Nizam-e-Adl regulations and refused to listen to their oft- repeated excuses.

The highlight of the evening was, perhaps, the presence of leading Indian writer Arundhati Roy, who offered three rules of wisdom: never surrender in the face of complications; never pick and choose your injustices; and never side either with the government or the terrorists.