Thursday, 31 December 2015

How trade with India helped Lollywood

by Asad Sayeed and Kabeer Dawani

The evolution of the Pakistani cinema
Movies released in 2004 [top], 2013 [bottom left] and 2015 [bottom right]
Photo credit: Wikipedia

In 2015, the cinema industry in Pakistan is doing better business than at any point in the last 30 years. This exciting revival of cinema in Pakistan serves as a case in point of the manner in which allowing the import of an Indian product that has cultural and linguistic affinity with most Pakistanis has led to a reversal in the fortunes of that sector.

Pakistani cinema industry was in steady decline for the last three decades. In the early 1980s, there were over 100 feature films being produced annually and were exhibited in over 1200 cinemas all over Pakistan.[1] By 2006, the number of cinemas had fallen into the double-digits and in 2003, not a single Urdu film was released in the country.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The price of political Islam

by Ayesha Khan

RAWA's rally against Taliban in Peshawar, 1998
Photo credit: Wikipedia/RAWA

Why does it come as no surprise to us in Pakistan that Tashfeen Malik spent significant time in Saudi Arabia and was a student at al-Huda in Multan? Because we already know that violent extremism in the name of Islam has been fostered in our country through external funding and religious education emanating from these sources, much as they care to deny this on the international stage. So what are we, ordinary men and women whose lives have been changed by this phenomenon to varying degrees in Muslim countries over the last few decades, doing to stop it?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Politics and social change

by Haris Gazdar

Pakistan's youngest political prisoner: 4 year old MRD activist Fraz Wahlah, 1985
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Last Saturday, I spoke at a panel discussion - “Pakistan: fossilized or quietly transforming” at the 2015 Khayaal Festival. Dr. Ali Cheema who teaches economics at the LUMS and conducts research at the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) and the Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) moderated the discussion. I was privileged to share the panel with the distinguished demographer and social scientist Dr Zeba Sathar who heads the Pakistan country office of the Population Council in Pakistan and does pathbreaking work on fertility and demographic trends.

Has Pakistan changed, or is it caught in a rut? Ali Cheema introduced this question using the work of two commentators on Pakistan, William Easterly and Anatol Lieven. Easterly wonders why Pakistan lags behind in so many social indicators of education, health, and women’s empowerment despite having a relatively educated and sophisticated elite, and having produced many individuals who excel in the professions globally. Lieven characterizes Pakistan as being “governed by the traditions of overriding loyalty to family, clan and religion... a highly conservative, archaic... inert mass of different societies".