Film on slain Pak­istani so­cial ac­tivist wins award in Turkey

Di­rec­tor of the Orangi Pi­lot Project, Per­ween Rah­man was shot dead on March 2013

Gulf News - - India -

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

Per­ween Rah­man

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