(Dawn Images, August 29 2010)
“A nation dies when it gives up,” says Imran Khan and no matter what, we must not give up on this nation.
These past two weeks have been devastating for Pakistan. But amidst tales of woe, misery and the break down of law, order and civil society, what we must grasp on to and move forward with are the unprecedented man-to-man efforts that are being made. There is so much to complain about but there is also a lot to be appreciative of. As always, the glass is half full as well as half empty, depending on how you chose to see it. Foreign aid may have taken time to come and the state may have failed the nation completely but the way citizens have poured their hearts and souls into relief efforts must be considered when judging the nation at large. Twelve hundred may have stood numb while two brothers were being brutally murdered in Sialkot but thousands if not millions have come together to help the flood affected. It’s a sign that humanity is not all dead in Pakistan. It brings us hope, if nothing else does, that all is most definitely not lost.
One understands the massive outcry against everything outrageous that has hit Pakistan in the past two weeks.
As Ali Zafar rightly wrote on his Facebook page, ‘Every time you think what worse can happen to this country, aren’t you surprised?’
Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with expressions of disappointment, dismay and absolute disgust at the government’s paltry flood relief efforts and then repugnance against the Sialkot incident. No one is unaffected. That said – and this may be saying it too soon – but the will to move forward is as important as the will to stop and revolt.
Getting on is important. One believes that to rebuild what has been washed away, it is imperative to hold on to everything that remains intact. That means that economic activity – on all levels – must be sustained be it in the corporate world, government sectors and yes, even fashion and entertainment. Artists should not be condemned for acting, musicians for singing and designers for creating new collections any more than the man next door who drives to his 9 to 5 desk job every morning. Life must go on and for many people, the show equates to life and livelihood.
One does look forward to the Bono and Sting concert with Ali Zafar, to be held in Lahore if reports are to be believed. And more so for the music it’ll make than the funds it’ll raise, let’s not be hypocritical to say otherwise. But entertainment and luxuries are no longer palatable without the philanthropic angle and it will stay this way for quite some time.
Sensitive to the issue, a very cautious Pakistan Fashion and Design Council canceled their press conference and issued a press release announcing dates for the upcoming PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (to be held in Karachi between October 11 and 14) instead. It quoted from the Economic Survey of Pakistan, claiming that “about 38 percent of the Pakistani workforce is employed in the textile and fashion industries” and that fashion week, being a trade platform, would further that growth. Furthermore, the council and fashion week sponsors announced that finale showings would be ticketed events this year and proceeds would be donated for the relief and rehabilitation of flood victims.
Meanwhile, several altruistic individuals came together in Lahore, putting luxury items on sale for flood relief. The Fashion for Flood Relief campaign, organized by Mehrunnisa Khan and Rema Qureshi at the Royal Palm, was participated by over 70 fashion designers, furnishers, jewellers etc from all over the country. Over Rs 2.1 million were raised and donated to the Jazba Foundation. The organizers plan to repeat a similar sale before Eid.
Things were just as vigilant in Karachi where the humdrum of activity kept funds rolling into charities. Around 88 artists from all over the world donated their works to Noorjehan Bilgrami’s Koel Gallery, managing to raise Rs 3,322,000 in what they called the Silent Auction. Proceeds from this event were donated to three organizations carefully selected by the Gallery Committee, the first tranche going to the Karachi Relief Trust. The remaining 45 pieces should manage to raise a considerable additional sum too.
On a smaller level, fashion boutique Ensemble hosted a qawwali night featuring Farid Ayaz and according to Shehrnaz Husain, around Rs 5 lakhs were raised that night. Speaking to Dawn Images she said that the committee aimed to have these events on a regular basis – the need is so high – following up with one big charity gala a year.
Flood relief drives have been stirring in all sectors. As multinational corporations are matching any personal donations made by employees, members of the fashion and entertainment fraternity are coming together for a cause that has stirred everyone from slumber. There isn’t an individual that hasn’t been helping, be it for the V Need U drive outside Agha’s in Clifton or the Build a Home campaign that has already started rebuilding homes in Shikarpur. Or the countless enterprises that are working their socks off as we speak. The level of destruction is so great that even all these personal efforts put together may not be enough but it’s a beginning and every penny counts.
As many TV hosts are now insisting, one must forget for a minute the failings of the system and concentrate on what one can do to help. Personal efforts and the power of one will make a difference – it always does – and negativity, pessimism or whining will not.