Author: Annam Lodhi

A written word is better than a thousand said....

This is a piece of Satire

ISPR also focusing on improving quality of videos

Rawalpindi: ISPR has successfully released its second musical video in the memory of the APS Peshawar victims. It hopes to fill the security gap of the country with such musical videos, Khabaristan Times has learnt.

“We have huge plans for spreading patriotic slogans across the country about Pakistan so that they forget their security concerns, and music is the best medium for this,” an ISPR official told Khabaristan Times.

It isn’t only music, ISPR is focusing on improving the quality of its videos, according to reports.

“We are hiring better singers and conducting stage shows,” the official revealed. “See, the army is tired of fighting and we too need a break, so we have asked to get the budget transferred to the ISPR funding so we can better entertain people in a lawful manner.”

He continued: “What we are planning now is the biggest event ever in the history of the world. We invite Taliban to fight with us to the beats! We are going to very soon conduct a dance-off!”

“ISPR has been in the shadows for many years now, but with ‘Main aisi Qaum’ and ‘Dushman ke bacho ko parhana hai’ we are finally in the limelight and we won’t let it go so easily.”

Reports suggest that the dance off will be conducted around the Zarb-e-Azb schedule and will decide the final winner of the ongoing military operation. People from the TTP are in contact with the ISPR finalising the details.

“No suicide bombing or shooting will be allowed during the show. We will definitely win Inshallah. We were born to entertain, and it’s time we bring out the showmen in us. TTP has some hidden in them too, our spies have revealed,” confirmed the ISPR official.

“The dance off will help exert the aggression on both sides, making music the platform of all fights. Because entertainment is more important than the security of the people or challenging any ideologies,” said a military analyst while talking to Khabaristan Times.


 

Originally Publish in Khabaristan Times.

 

 

This is a piece of Satire

Machine can detect sect, ethnicity and Muslim-ness of the target

Riyadh: To cater to the macabre spike – highest in the past two decades – of the beheading of terrorism offenders in the country, head of the execution committee has instructed local engineers to construct a special machine, Khabaristan Times has learnt.

“We believe in progressing with the world, introducing new technologies has always been a dream of mine”, said the head of death penalties in Kingdom of Saudia Arabia (KSA), while talking to Khabaristan Times.

The latest technology will involve students of universities along with renowned engineers and architects of the region who have been called on gun point to constructs the death machine.

According to sources, “The beheading machine will be one of its kind. The first test subjects after it will be done will be its makers. As you know it should stay one of a kind.”

The machine will give relief to the rippers and other hospital staffs who have been working really hard to clean the mess created. Reports further suggest that the machine will have the ability to detect the sect, country of origin and the way he prays if a Muslim.

“It will also keep count of the number of beheadings and the reasons because frankly, KSA has lost count,” said a Saudi Official.

Engineers working on the project reveal that the machine would behead the accused by just pressing a button and the body will be thrown directly into a grave created just below the machine.

“The idea is in the process and will be completed in a month until then the execution will continue as usual as we do not want to waste time,” said a South Asian engineer.

“147 or more have already been sentenced to death this year,” says the head of death penalties KSA. “Inshallah the number will double next year.”


 

Originally Publish in Khabaristan Times

 

 

Hold on power versus needs of the people

 

Imagine a house where the flow of cash is uncertain and almost a secret. Where the servant is asked to do all the household chores; if he wants to call a plumber for a certain job he may do so, but the servant will be ambiguous as to how he is to pay for the plumbing job.

This is what the elected Local Government (LG) members would have to face if certain reforms are not made to the current LG (Amendment) Ordinance 2015.

Electoral reforms

Rashid Rehman, a seasoned journalist, who has seen LG elections in the past and can draw a comparative analysis through experience, thinks reforms should begin by introducing a credible and truth worthy election process.

According to the Punjab LG (Amendment) Ordinance 2015, a directly elected chairman and a vice-chairman as joint candidates will be in a Union Council (UC) and on general seats six councillors. They can contest polls on party tickets or as independent candidates.

Therefore the voters will only ballot for the panel of a chairman and one general councillor from their respective division. The general members, when elected, will elect two female members, one worker, a youth and a non-Muslim member for their wards.

The Election Commission Pakistan said that this would mean cheaper and easier polling. This also means that if one member is elected by a certain party their worries are finished.

“The certainty of a unrigged election would make the process a strong foundation for the standing members,” Rehman told DNA.

Hassan Askari, a renowned political analyst, maintained while talking to DNA that KPK LG bodies are better managed compared to other provinces.

According to the Punjab LG (Amendment) Ordinance 2015, a directly elected chairman and a vice-chairman as joint candidates will be in a Union Council (UC) and on general seats six councillors. They can contest polls on party tickets or as independent candidates

“KPK is in a somewhat better position than Punjab and Sindh”, he said.

In the local government polls held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May, except for the seats reserved for women, members in all other categories were elected through direct polling. Each voter had seven ballot papers to vote for candidates.

Financial reforms

The local councils would receive their allocations through the respective provincial finance commissions and would have limited powers to impose taxes or exercise regulatory functions.

“The overriding powers in Punjab ordinance has been bestowed upon the provincial governments”, Hassan Askari said.

This subordinates the LGs to the provincial governments, allowing the chief ministers to remove an LG or head of council and appoint officeholders after the dismissal of council heads.

“Empowering LGs is very important. Devolution must involve some financial devolution. Provincial governments have been reluctant to give away their powers for long but this must change”, Rehman explained.

Askari added that “a lot of authorities have been created and some of the power has been given to the authorities and the LG aren’t allowed to interfere. This practice shows that the provincial governments do not trust the LG bodies.”

Limited autonomy to the local councils in terms of fiscal management and control over service delivery, revenue, tax and police departments is provided by the current Act.

If the local elections are to have any real meaning, provincial governments will need to ensure that newly elected local councils have sufficient resources and authority to address service delivery and development challenges in local communities. This will require provincial governments to recalibrate their approach towards the third tier of government. At present, their instincts seem to be to ‘centralise’ for the purposes of political expediency, rather than acting in the true spirit of the 18th amendment and empowering local government structures.

Askari added that provincial governments did not want antonymous local powers; a fact that cannot be denied. But LG bodies shouldn’t be at the mercy of the provincial government

The failure of provincial governments to perform at the local level affects the poor especially. Only local authorities will be able to understand and make the right choices for their respective areas. It cannot be expected from the government to be “all seeing, all hearing”. People are able to trust their opinion leaders/heads of society, giving them an upper hand in resolving matters.

The importance of LGs cannot be stressed enough. It is one of the only ways to start democracy at the grass roots. The stronger the roots are tougher the tree will be.

“LGs are very important. Citizens need services at their doorsteps, as the MPA and MNAs aren’t within in reach. If LG succeeds people might finally get their due voice and rights back”, according to Rehman.

Askari added that provincial governments did not want anonymous local powers; a fact that cannot be denied. But LG bodies shouldn’t be at the mercy of the provincial government. They should be given enough powers, if not all, especially the allocation of money.

“LG in the Musharraf era was better though not perfect. They had more power and autonomy than the current ones”, he continued.

The irony that in a dictatorial era the matters were better than in the current democratic one says a lot about the contemporary situation. The need of the hour is defiant to get our priorities right. Is the hold of power more important than fulfilling the needs of the people?

Time will be the best answer.


Originally Published in Pakistan Today

ITP latest season to rocket theatre expectations in Pakistan

With all the art festivals happening in Pakistan, the notion that art is not imperative in this country is easily dismissed. But, Independent Theatre Pakistan (ITP), the country’s first ever ‘registered’ theatre company, tells a different tale.

“The arts council is not investing in the youth. We usually see innumerable literature festivals with the same hegemony,” Azeem Hamid, the founder of ITP and creative director, tells Pakistan Today. “Though it’s not wrong to remember our pioneers, there’s a definite need to raise the curtains on the youth’s talent,” he opines.

Hence, highlighting the need of the hour and to bring the youth’s flair to life, ITP is hosting its latest season, Teen Kahaniyan, from November 30 to December 3 at Al-Hamra Arts Council. ITP has done 12 plays since its inception in 2012, both nationally and internationally.

Their motto BUZKASHA is a word fashioned purely to translate and comprise all of ITP’s professionalism and passion. “We wanted ITP to stand out, hence this self constructed motto which means to enthral, to act, to perform,” Azeem explains.

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The fact that the ITP is the first-ever registered theatre company in Pakistan (others are either NGOs or event management companies) illustrates clearly that the love for theatre isn’t actually as thriving as one might think.

ITP, through its theatre, not only wants to play with emotions but also aims to bring back, Pakistan’s culture, thought-provoking ideas and a reason for change. The importance of theatre lies in its power to influence, interact and force it leaves with its live audience.

Ayehsa Mohsin, a theatre graduate from Canada and ITP’s director of script content and analysis, also feels that the theatre is thought of as just a mere hobby, and the interested performers because of lack of resources cannot pursue their passion as a career, “There is immense talent in Pakistan, but it is only the lack of resources, finances and almost zilch curricular help that create a lot of constraints.”

ITP has also been conducting various workshops in public and private sectors of the country to perk up the love of art in the youth.

Mehreen, the artistic director of ITP, told Pakistan Today, “We developed a core team of about 30 people; we wanted to start a systematic, well coordinated company that would represent Pakistan’s creativity and help strengthen the roots of theatre through the upcoming generation.”

Teen Kahaniyan is a set of three short stories, written by three different playwrights. Two of the acts are adapted from the writings of renowned Pakistani writers, Manto and Najam Hosein Syed, while the third is an original play by Ayesha Mohsin, who will be debuting as a theatre director in Pakistan through ITP.

Azeem claims to have legally obtained the rights to all his adaptations, for the love of theatre in a righteous way. “ITP’s ideology is to represent Pakistan worldwide; I want to show the world our capabilities and that we aren’t mere photocopiers. I am building a path, though a hard one but the right one for theatre and my followers.”

Although the three acts are very different from one another, they revolve around the same theme, i.e., to find one’s self, individuality and identity in realism. Each act will be played in a span of 25 minutes.

To add to the extravagance of theatre that is missing in Pakistan, the acts will be performed on elaborate sets, complimenting the acts, using the stage to its fullest and helping the audience better comprehend the director’s vision.

Because the theatre is not thought of as a subject, ITP wants to fill in the gaps through its effort. “A lot of things are missing in Pakistan, technical aspects, visual thinking, and jargons. This is still a niche that ITP is targeting. We are educating our audiences and our talents,” Azeem says. 

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 BU

Directed and written by Ayesha, Bu, is the representation of our society. The play written by Ayesha seven years ago, before her studies, is her vision of how society has transformed into a monster.

Bu revolves around two characters: Amir and Ali, both of whom work in a shoe stock room. They are cramped by filthy shoe racks, a world which only exists within the walls of stacked leather shoes. The location, genre and era of the play are fictional. Both the characters are cut off from the outside world until someone from out there confronts them.

Ayesha expresses her expectations of Bu, “I want the audience to feel the impact with the sort of questions I have raised in the play; they might as well have sleepless nights but I want them to think about it once they leave the auditorium.”

The cast consists of Saddam Khan, Alee Hassan Shah, Nabeel Khan; all of whom are theatre and commercial actors. They unanimously think that theatre is the gym of an actor; it is the only way to touch people’s thought and lives.

“Working with Ayesha was a great experience; she introduced us to different theatre activities and exercises. Taught us a lot of theories that we had been practicing previously but weren’t aware off.” Nabeel Khan, who is a manager at a media house, told Pakistan Today. 

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 Sammi Di Vaar

This act is a conversation between a fakir and a young girl, Munni, set in the 1920’s. The discussion is between two generations worlds apart, with many a twists and turns. The two roles are being performed by veteran actor Rashid Mehmood and a newbie, Shafaq Yousuf.

The peculiarity of this act is its language, i.e., Seraiki, one of the sweetest dialects of Punjabi but what makes it hard is that it is set in the 1920’s Seraiki and not in the contemporary version of it.

Mehreen explains her pick as, “I wanted to broaden the horizon. Revamping theatre by introducing this unique piece of culture and art was an easy selection for me. People will definitely observe many more traditional touches through our plays in the future too.”

The language may be hard for the viewers to understand but they are not the only ones, “When I was handed the script all I asked Mehreen was, what is this?” Rashid Mehmood, who is doing a stage play after 36 years, remarked while talking to Pakistan Today.

On his hiatus before rejoining theatre, Mehmood shares, “Commercial acting became easier and the theatre happening in Pakistan did not attract me. After watching Mehreen obsession for her work I was convinced I am acting in a far better and proficient environment than ever before. This might sound bizarre but it is true.”

Acting is a ever learning process, reinventing and relocating one’s talent is its fuel: Rashid Mehmood did just that even after four decades of an acting career. “I had to learn Seraiki, rehearse a lot and match their energy. It was a hectic task but it was satisfying!” Mehmood says.

For Shafaq, this is her first play and that too in a language somewhat unfamiliar “This might very well be in Chinese, but I feel honoured to be paired with a renowned name, and to be taught by foreign graduates in this field,” says the newbie.

Mehmood adds his expectations for the play, “The thing about theatre is that even if you do not identify with the language, the actors’ job is to make you feel the play in your veins; our words will travel through ears and settle in every heart and soul, I am confident.”

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 Badshahat Ka Khatma

Originally written by Saadat Hasan Manto, this was the first ever Urdu literary piece Azeem read. “The day I read it I knew I wanted to direct a film on it, which may be far at the moment. So, why not a play!”

The story is about an unemployed man, Manmohan, played by Mukarram Kaleem, who has been homeless for the better part of his life but lately with some luck landed at a friend’s office.

Mukarram, who is a well-known commercial actor and anchorperson by profession, fitted the role impeccably, “I illustrated Manto’s description of Manmohan and to my surprise it resembled Mukarram. That was it!”

One day, Manmohan, receives a call from a woman, played by Sana Khalid, who has dialled a wrong number but they strike up a conversation. The events that unfold after the call will keep the audience hooked to their seats making them wonder between reality and mirages.

Muakkaram, who last did a stage play in 2012, feels that the play will be very applicable to all and Azeem’s tailoring of Manto’s story convinced him on this, “Manto had always tried to mirror the realities of the society, this play has been done on an immensely professional level and the audience will definitely be taken by storm.”

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The season will commence from Lahore and will travel to Karachi, Islamabad and then internationally to Singapore and Bombay. “This is part of our elaborate plan to make theatre mainstream; one city at a time, some people at a time,” Azeem shares.

The future of ITP is even more amusing and thunderous. Azeem tends to introduce the Broadway culture to Pakistan after the end of his current season, with the ‘Hippy Culture’, “Once a month Pakistan’s very own brand of broadway! My first will be ‘Chicago’ in Urdu, set in the 1960’s Karachi,” Azeem shares his secret and excitement with Pakistan Today.

Watch this space for the reviews of Teen Kahaniyan by Pakistan Today soon.

 


 

Originally Published in Pakistan Today