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Recommendations - Pakistan Story

1. The Second Floor - PeaceNiche/T2F was born out of a desire to enact transformational change in urban Pakistani society. At one end of the spectrum, capitalism is booming and the new religion is consumerism. Those interested in the betterment of lives tend to focus on feeding the needy, educating the poor, and building hospitals.

PeaceNiche/T2F wishes to focus on the issue of Intellectual Poverty Alleviation without which no form of social change is likely to take root or prosper. Political will is largely absent in the middle and upper classes owing to a variety of reasons, ranging from apathy to disillusionment. Young people, who are touted as future leaders lack awareness, access to role models, and the desire to move out of their comfort zone. It is essential, if our society is to move forward in any meaningful manner, that the youth and middle classes be engaged and shaken out of a dangerous state of lethargy.

PeaceNiche/T2F has its eyes set on the urban city dweller who has had little or no access to culture, including art, music, literature, and film and certainly no platform for creative expression and discourse. By sensitizing the urban elite and middle classes to global issues that affect humanity, through lectures, discussions, talks, and new media interventions, PeaceNiche/T2F aims to build political will, thought leadership, and a genuine desire to make a difference.

Mahenaz Mahmud [Chairperson]
Director Program Development, Teachers’ Resource Centre
Academic Coordinator, Institute of Early Childhood Education

Sabeen Mahmud [Director]
COO, Beyond Information Technology Solutions (b.i.t.s.)
Member, Governing Council, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)
Founder Member, All Pakistan Music Conference
Founder Member, Citizens’ Archive of Pakistan

2. Ajoka Theatre - www.ajoka.org.pk

Ajoka has been part of the struggle for a secular, democratic just, humane and egalitarian Pakistan for the last 25 years. Few cultural institutions have been able to thrive, even survive, in the climate of hostility and apathy towards performing arts that has existed in Pakistan. Ajoka is an exception. Set up by a small group of cultural activists in 1983, during General Zia-ul-Haq's politically and culturally repressive regime, Ajoka has struggled with determination against very heavy odds. All governments have been disinterested, if not antagonistic towards socially meaningful art. Conservative elements have been opposed to the very idea of theatre and the corporate sector has not played its role in promoting art and culture. But the commitment of the volunteer members of Ajoka and its audience has enabled the group to overcome all hurdles. It has not only survived despite the absence of financial support from the private or public sector, it has in fact grown from strength to strength. It has dealt with bold subjects, experimented with technique and blended contemporary reality with traditional form. Today Ajoka is an internationally respected name in the world of theatre and its contribution to the promotion of art and culture and the struggle for social justice and peace in Pakistan is well regarded.

ORIGIN

Ajoka, which pioneered the theatre movement in Pakistan, was set up in 1983 by a group of young people led by Madeeha Gauhar, a TV actress and theatre director. Ajoka's first play, Badal Sarkar's "Jaloos", was performed in Lahore in 1984, in a house lawn in defiance of the strict censorship laws. Since then Ajoka has been continuously performing socially-meaningful plays within Pakistan and abroad. It has now over two dozen original plays and several adaptations in it's repertoire. Organization Ajoka Theatre is a non-profit making non-commercial voluntary democratic organization. It's members come from varied class and social backgrounds.
Ajoka is financially independent. It has also worked on theatre projects with like-minded national and international NGOs, for which expenses are shared.

3. Tehrik-e-Niswan - http://www.tehrik-e-niswan.org.pk , http://www.tehrik-e-niswan.com

In 1979 a group of women formed Tehrik- e- Niswan, (The Women’s Movement). Its first All Women’s Conference was held in Karachi in 1980. This conference was attended by women from all sections of society, especially working class women from Lyari and Orangi and from various Trade and Labour Unions. Tehrik’s initial focus was on organizing seminars and workshops taking up issues like “Violence on Women”, and “Chaddar and Chardiwari”. Tehrik felt that both the sexes, men (particularly) and women (generally), needed to be made aware of the low status and position of women and the social, political, economic and cultural discrimination.

Within a year Tehrik had moved away from seminars towards cultural and creative activity like Theatre and Dance to convey its message. Consequently for the first time in the history of the country, feminist and politically conscious plays about the plight of women and other oppressed people began to be staged.
The first play “Dard Kay Faaslay” (Distances of Pain) was performed in 1981 for an all-women audience in a shopping centre in one of the most populous middle class areas of Karachi. Soon Tehrik became the cultural wing of the Women’s Movement in Pakistan. In its struggle to combat patriarchal attitudes of the society, Tehrik-e-Niswan strives with persistence and single-mindedness to create change in the lives of the people it reaches out to.

4. www.sharmeenobaidfilms.com - Sharmeen Obaid also runs a great initiative called www.citizensarchive.org of which Shanaakht Festival (Identity) is a great event.

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a registered non-profit, tax-exempt society, founded in 2007 by ten board members, who came together to preserve and archive Pakistan’s history and source of identity. The organization’s two-fold mission includes recording, preserving, archiving and making available the rich history of the country for future generations in a wide variety of new media and setting up the Living History Museum of Pakistan which will serve both as an interactive museum as well as a research facility for students and academics alike in Karachi.

5. Coke Studio - www.cokestudio.com.pk

Coke Studio embodies a musical fusion of exciting elements and diverse influences, ranging from traditional eastern, modern western and regionally inspired music. Bringing alive the magic of live recordings and performances, Coke Studio prides itself on providing a musical platform which bridges barriers, celebrates diversity, encourages unity and instils a sense of Pakistani pride. Coke Studio is an inspired step by Coca-Cola for having created a platform where renowned as well as upcoming and less mainstream musicians from various genres can collaborate musically.

This year, after the unprecedented critical acclaim and huge popularity of Season 1, Coke Studio reignites our passion and returns to the heart of the live recording studio with a new artist line up, a different sound, an innovative house band and a brand new set of performances and episodes. This season, Rohail Hyatt’s musical genius draws together the fundamentals of collaborative music that will showcase Pakistan’s rich music culture by stitching into its fabric, traditional artists, folk music influences and regional instruments in collaboration with Pakistan’s contemporary mainstream artists.

With Season 1, Pakistan witnessed fusion in its natural essence and form combining not only classical eastern and contemporary western style vocals but instruments and musicians. Live collaborations were staged all summer aired every fortnight, on every television screen, simultaneously, across Pakistan.

At Coke Studio’s Season 2, expect electrifying performances, surprise collaborations between artists and be part of their interpretation of Pakistani music on a reinvented signature Coke Studio set. Season 2 demonstrates how creative boundaries can be defined, redefined and bridged through musical improvisation reflecting the vibrancy and artistic harmony of Pakistan’s artists. Listen to the plaintive sounds emanating from the mountains and valleys of the Frontier and Baluchistan, reverberating through the rivers of the Punjab and breaking out triumphantly into the sands of Sindh and out across the open seas.

Join us and experience Coke Studio’s magical musical journey this 2009.

6. Ayesha Khan - http://www.kashfthemovie.com - Indus Valley Productions
http://www.dawn.com/weekly/images/images3.htm

7. Mehreen Jabbar of the Ramchand Pakistani fame. She's also made a large number of plays which have been very popular within Pakistan. http://www.ramchandpakistani.com/

8. Sabiha Sumar - 'Khamosh Pani' (Silent Water)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0357283/

9. Kara Film Festival - www.karafilmfest.com - Run by Hasan Zaidi, this year was the 7th Kara Film Festival.

10. Rafi Peer Performing Arts festival /World Performing Arts Festival http://www.peerfestivals.com
- Run by the Peerzada family, which consists of renowned Pakistani actors such as Usman Peerzada and Samina Peerazada (husband wife duo) plus other brothers of Usman Peerzada.

11. The Green Kaleidoscope -
The Green Kaleidoscope (TGK) is a monthly e-zine which illuminates the myriad of perspectives, interests, tribulations and achievements spanning the lives of Pakistanis - living at home and abroad - to offer a holistic portrait of what they represent.

In addition, The Green Kaleidoscope (TGK) opens up a conversation on Pakistan - a dialogue spanning the themes of art and culture, social issues, science, business, politics and religion - to find a collective voice that echoes the breadth and depth of modern Pakistan, as it stands today.

www.thegreenkaleidoscope.com - One of the main people running this is Sonya Rehman

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