People’s History of Pakistan

THAAP encourages people specially youngsters to come forth and share their thoughts with a purpose to explore, strengthen and extend the rich culture and its expressions in art and architecture in Pakistan. 6th International THAAP Conference took a successful start on 6th of November and continued till 11th of November 2015 on the theme of “People’s History of Pakistan”. The Conference put forth quality research papers allowing a proactive discourse on the same in which participants from varied professional backgrounds and delegates from Bangladesh, Germany, India, UK, US and from various cities of Pakistan participated.

History of Pakistan

By: Sahar Saqlain – Photographs Courtesy: THAAP

Inaugural Session on Day-01 of the Conference began with the welcome address by Prof. Sajida Haider Vandal, an educationist, architect & CEO of THAAP. She explained that the Conference had been organized by THAAP in collaboration with Kinnaird College for Women University, Lahore together with the support of Higher Education Commission, Islamabad and Global Arts Limited. She thanked the guests for their active participation in the Conference and explained that THAAP is a not for profit registered organization founded in 2006 which has various subsets including THAAP Talks, THAAP Publications and THAAP Crafts. She also explained about the initiative of “University of Culture and Art”, an upcoming venture that will play a pivotal role in laying the foundation of future generations. Prof. Pervaiz Vandal, an architect, educationist & THAAP Conference Convener was the keynote speaker of the event. He explained that THAAP has played a pivotal role in improving the state of education along with promoting socio-economic & cultural development in Pakistan. Right Reverend Dr. John Alexandar Malik was the Guest of Honor and Prof. Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin, Chairman HEC Punjab was the Chief Guest of the event. The Session was concluded with the inauguration of THAAP Photography Exhibition on the same theme of the conference.

First Session was chaired by Dr. Mubarak Ali, an eminent historian, activist and scholar of Pakistan. 1st paper of the Conference was presented by Ms. Meher Ali. Her paper titled “The Hidden Left: Communist Activity and Influence in Pakistan’s Early Years” focused on the historical writing on Pakistan’s earliest years that have long been dominated by nationalist narratives and has often limited the space for alternative viewpoints. 2nd paper of the Conference was by Dr. Hanif ur Rehman and Mr. Jamshed Khan (read by Ms. Zainab Fatima). Their paper was titled, “Irony of History: Pakhtunistan, Bacha Khan and Afghanistan”. The paper evaluated questions such as why Abdul Ghaffar Khan popularly known as Bacha Khan raised the issue of Pakhtunistan when the referendum for Pakistan vs. Hindustan was being conducted in joint India. 3rd paper of the session was presented by Dr. Riaz Ahmed Sheikh, titled “Peasants uprising in East Bengal / East Pakistan (1946 – 50)” discussed an important chapter of East Bengal’s peasant’s struggle for their legitimate rights. 4th paper of the session was by Mr. Towhid ul Islam which (read by Sultan Syed Bukhari), titled “Political organism of Pakistan: examination of political structure of local bodies in Pakistan”. The paper focused on different forms of political systems been exercised in Pakistan and examined the original structure of Pakistan’s democracy. This was followed by a discussion session & lunch break.

Second Session was chaired by Architect Ahmed Pervaiz Mirza and the 5th paper of the Conference was presented by Ms, Samina Iqbal titled “Sheikh Safdar Ali and the Emergence of Modern Avant-Garde Art in Pakistan”. Paper highlighted the works of Sheikh Safdar Ali: within the framework of Modern art in the newly established Pakistan; the shifting paradigms of his artistic development from the 1947 partition to the later works of his life. 6th paper of the Conference was presented by Dr. Kanwal Khalid on “19th Century Painters of Lahore Tell the Story Behind”. The paper presented a research on three paintings to represent the contemporary events of the troubled period of Sikh Rule, which have now become a history. 7th paper was presented by Ms. Aisha Asim Imdad titled “Truck Art: A Story in Motion”. The paper explored the colorful art on the trucks and analyzed the decorative elements & ideas that these flamboyant images portray from the view point of the people who create them. 8th paper was presented by Sadia Pasha Kamran, titled “Popular Culture of Cynicism and its Aesthetic Demonstrations in Pakistan”. This study investigated various features that promote the culture of cynicism, mockery and satire in Pakistan. The delegation then moved to “Gallery 39K” where the art work titled “Is Saye Kay Parcham Talay” was put on display, curated by Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mr. Abdullah Qureshi.

On Day-02 of the Conference, Mr. Muhammad Owais Rana from “Citizens Archive of Pakistan” highlighted the importance of archiving history with alternate methods. He shared the photographic & oral recordings of experiences of people at the time of partition. Third Session of the Conference was chaired by Mr. Mushtaq Soofi and the 1st paper of the session titled “People’s Poetry as People’s History: The Role and Contributions of Habib Jalib and Sibte Hasan” was presented by Mr. Raza Naeem. His paper focused on the long career and role of the Pakistani revolutionary poet Habib Jalib as people’s historian. The 2nd paper was presented by Mr. Umair Ghani titled “Archaeology of Nostalgia: Present History of Pakistan People through Photographs”. His paper elaborated that “The eyes only see what the mind registers” and in absence of reliable photographic images, the journey into the heart of any culture and its custodians fails to capture countless noteworthy details. The session was concluded with a proactive discussion session.

Fourth Session of the Conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. Gulzar Haider and the 3rd paper of the day was presented by Prof. Dr. Anwar Shaheen and Mr. Sajjad Zaheer, titled “Migration among the Hindus of Sindh in the Historical Context” with special reference to their movement in space and in the temporal context. 4th paper was presented by Dr. Humera Naz from Karachi, titled “Woman and History: A Critical Appraisal of the Chronicles of Medieval Sindh”. Her paper elucidated that the Sindhi folklore provides an insightful view about the customs and traditions prevailing in medieval Sindh. 5th paper was presented by Dr. Khataumal Lohano, titled “Life of the Meek: Shall they Inherit the Earth?” which highlighted the trials, tribulations and struggles of those who are ‘otherised’ with the help of life histories of three denizens of Tharparkar. The paper was followed by a discussion session & lunch break.

Fifth Session of the Conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. Rahat Naveed and the 6th paper of the day was presented by Ms. Saba Samee. Her paper was titled “People’s History through Trees” which highlighted trees as being a vital element in the survival of human kind and as survivors of development, trees in Lahore tell the story of the city and hint towards the historicity of various areas. 7th paper was presented by Prof. Pran Neville, an eminent author and scholar titled “Early Portrayal of Punjabi Women”. His paper reviewed that women of the sub-continent have always been considered among the most beautiful in the world and their charms have been celebrated by poets and bards down the ages. 8th paper of the day was presented by Mr. Muhammad Ahsan Shakoor, titled “Basant and Pehalwani: Dying Cultural Traditions of Punjab (A Case Study of Lahore)” which investigated ‘Basant’, as seasonal festival which is fading away from Punjab. 9th paper was presented by Mr. Asif Nazir from Faisalabad, titled “Historical Background of Ansaris: A Case Study of City Kasur”. The paper explained the caste system in Kasur with historical background of Ansaris. The delegation then moved to Kinnaird College for Women University for a Cultural Evening followed by dinner.

Sixth Session on the Day-03 of the Conference was chaired by Prof. Irshad Burney, an architect and educationist. 1st paper of the session was presented by Ms. Tanzia Islam, Sahjabin Kabir and Mehreen Mustafa titled “The Isolated Communities of South Asia: An Outcome of the Political Mapping from Indian Subcontinent”. The paper discussed the architectural seclusion of the marginalized communities in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. 2nd paper was presented by Ms. Helena Mediavilla, titled “Lahore’s Cityscapes: Reimagining the Urban. Past and Present Imageabilities of the City”. The paper elaborated the past and present ‘imageabilities’ of Lahore traced through historical narratives of residents and their current everyday practices that shape their urban life. 3rd paper of the session titled “The Story of Contestation of Space in Karachi in the Backdrop of Safety and Security Issues” was presented by Prof. Dr. Noman Ahmed. His paper presented the findings and analysis of the transformation of urban public spaces in Karachi with a focus on safety and security issues as observed during the recent history of the city. It was followed by a proactive discussion session.

Seventh Session of the Conference was chaired by Prof. Pran Neville and 4th paper of the day was presented by Dr. Amin Muhammad Valliani, titled “Inner Structure of the Ismaili Community”. The paper elaborated that after creation of Pakistan, the Ismailis felt hard-pressed about their role and underwent a process of modernization and social change bringing progress and coherence to the entire community. 5th paper of the day was presented by Ms. Mandakini Sharma (Read by Ms. Sana Mubeen). Her paper was titled “Amrita Sher-Gill’s Paintings: A Cultural Evaluation” highlighting her paintings to have a cultural variation inclined towards the folk and rural culture of India. 6th paper was by Mr. Qaisar Abbas and Mr. Ghiasuddin Pir, titled “History of the Invisible”. Their paper narrated the Hijra’s heroic struggle for survival in hostile socio-religeo-political environment. It was followed by a proactive discussion session & lunch break.

Eighth Session of the Conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. Nauman Ahmed and 7th paper of the day was presented by Husain Abdul Rehman Qazi titled “Voyage to Waziristan (FATA)”. The research paper explored Waziristan through the eyes of a traveler who ventures on frequent journeys to the erstwhile ‘area of the outlawed’ The Gomal Pass. 8th paper of the day was presented by Mr. Mujahid Torwali and Mr. Aftab Ahmad, titled “Peoples’ Stories during the Rule of Last Wali of Swat (1949-1969)”. The paper highlighted some of the first hand stories told by elders regarding their memory of the ‘golden age’-the rule of last Wali of Swat, Miangul Jehanzeb (1949-1969). 9th paper of the day was presented by Prof. David Cotterrell titled “Empathy and Risk”. His paper explored the contradictory nature of mutually exclusive versions of truth, the way in which risk can be a catalyst to the creation of partial truths and the possibility of the loss of pluralist narratives as communities and individuals are denied access to each others’ vantage points. 10th paper of the day was presented by “Prof. Dr. Jürgen Frembgen and Till Passow” titled “Knotted Images: Lest we forget. Rugs from the war in Afghanistan”. The paper elucidated the innovation of designing and producing “War Rugs” which took place in the region northwest of Herat and spread to other parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As psychograms and images of remembrance, these Asian Nomad Rugs became contemporary documents and established a new form of Rug Art. It was followed by a proactive discussion session.

Closing Session of the Conference started with a three day conference report presented by Rappoteur General, Ms. Sahar Saqlain. Conference brief was given by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal – THAAP Conference Convener followed by the remarks of Guest of Honour of Closing Ceremony Mr. Eric Massey – Executive Director, Kinnaird College for Women University and the Chief Guest of the event Prof. Dr. Hassan Amir Shah – VC Government College University. Prof. Sajida Haider Vandal, CEO THAAP gave a vote of thanks followed by Certificate Distribution Ceremony and dinner.

THAAP Events in conjunction to the 6th International THAAP Conference 2015 included Photography Exhibition, Short Film Screening, Film Screening of Manto, Student Jamboree and Performing Arts Festival which brought a successful closure to the Conference. The theme for the next year’s Conference has been announced as “People and the City” for which the Call for Abstracts will soon be announced.

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