Film on slain Pakistani social activist wins award in Turkey
Director of the Orangi Pilot Project, Perween Rahman was shot dead on March 2013
The film on the life and work of Pakistan’s ‘fighter for the poor’ Perween Rahman has won the second prize for best documentary at the 11th Istanbul International Architecture and Urban Films Festival.
Pakistan’s revolutionary social activist Rahman was gunned down at the age of 56, four years ago, in Orangi Town area of Karachi.
Directed by filmmaker Mahera Omar, the documentary Perween Rahman: The Rebel Optimist showcases the life and struggle of Rahman. The hourlong documentary highlights her passion and struggle for the humanity as well as reflects on her personality.
“Perween believed in cultivating human relationships. She had a very special connection with the people of Orangi. She won not only their hearts but [also those] of whomever had the good fortune to come across her. I wanted to tell her story and that of her very important work in Karachi,” said Omar.
The film was screened to audiences at several venues in Turkey throughout the weeklong festival (October 23 — 28).
Rahman was an architect, urban planner and director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) — a non-governmental organisation based in Karachi to help solve issues relating to health, sanitation, education, low-cost housing and employment.
She is rightly remembered as the ‘Mother of Karachi’ for devoting her life to the development of the impoverished neighbourhoods in the city. Rahman was a champion for the women and youth of Orangi and a role model for all Pakistanis.
After receiving her postgraduate diploma in housing, building and urban planning in the 1980s, she joined the Orangi Pilot Project initiated by Pakistani development activist Akhtar Hameed Khan in 1983. Through this project, she aimed to bring healthy changes to the lives of impoverished residents of Orangi, one of the largest slums of Karachi.
Rahman’s unique model of sanitation and housing was accepted by Karachi’s government and has since then been replicated in many other villages and towns of Pakistan. She also mapped more than 2,000 urban villages in Karachi and assisted poor people acquire land rights. She was a firm believer in human development and empowerment of common people, and spoke up against land mafias. he Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK712, which reached Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on Sunday, was the last of the PIA flights from US.
With its arrival from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, comes the termination of PIA flights from US after 56 years.
The flight operation was suspended primarily because of low traffic and losses of up to Rs1.25 billion (Dh43 million) annually due to its flights to the US. “The national flag carrier is already facing [an] acute financial crunch, therefore, it cannot operate on routes which are running in losses,” a PIA official was quoted as saying by daily Dawn.
PIA was reportedly unable to meet its direct operating cost, and poor marketing policies made the situation worse, according to The Nation newspaper. The routes were handed over to foreign airlines with good meals, an active in-flight entertainment system, low fares and efficient crew members, the media report said.
PIA had been operating flights to the US since 1961, with a total of five weekly flights to New York and three other US cities; Washington, Chicago and Houston. Lately, the twice-a-week flights for Chicago and Houston were cancelled because the routes were not financially viable anymore.
An estimated 500,000 Pakistanis live in the US who proudly travelled on PIA.
Sad and grounded
The flight suspension has deeply saddened the PakistaniAmerican community.
A frequent PIA traveller, Rafiq Asghar, said: “I always chose PIA to travel to Pakistan because I get the feeling of home as soon as I board the flight. It is a sad day for all the Pakistani community in the United States that our national airline will no longer be operating from US now.”
PIA, after discontinuing direct flights to the US, will enter into a code-sharing agreement with some foreign airlines so that US-bound passengers can be flown to London from where they will then be transferred to the American airline.
Nafisa Shah, a politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party, termed it a “sad day for Pakistan as PIA’s most prized route to New York is suspended. What PMLN [Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)] has done to national airline is unforgivable”.
Mohammad Sarwar, the former Governor of Punjab, said in a tweet that he was “concerned and sad to see corruption/political influences ruining our state institutions, especially PIA.” He believes that “the only solution is accountability/meritocracy”.
PIA incurred a net loss of Rs45 billion in 2016, which is 36 per cent higher than previous year’s loss of Rs33 billion.
Due to continuing losses, the government is to offer a new bailout package worth Rs13 billion to PIA, reported Dawn.
Traveller Pakistan Peoples Party